Episode 4: Green Claw
The following audio recording is classified documentation for case (static) with The Enclosure, unauthorized access to this information will lead to immediate intervention. Progress further if proper clearance has been given.
(sound of a container opening and some rustling as Jared opens ice cream)
(takes bite of ice cream, talks with mouth slightly full) It didn’t start bad, I mean it actually started pretty good!
…I have so much ice cream in my freezer. All from The Royal Cow. Anytime I die, I eat a whole pint to soothe the stress…this one’s butter pecan.
I changed into my PJs, I haven’t even showered yet. I’m f-freezing…e-even with this blanket around me I’m shivering…
(takes another bite)
Ugh, but yeah no, it um, it-it started well. Really well. I-I spent the afternoon with Darius um, by-by the river….it’s a bit too chilly to go swimming now, but it was nice for a walk and a little picnic. He brought some food that he’d learned to cook in his classes and some apple ale that his dads made, and plenty of water bottles of course. We sat and just talked for a while. He’d picked me up from my place in his truck and drove us out there. He’d seemed a bit nervous for the first portion of the relatively short drive, but he loosened up after we talked a bit more. First about the weather, then about how his folks had been, and then just conversation flowed from one topic to the next.
(Takes another bite of ice cream)
Once by the river we uh, we set up the picnic uh, out on the grass near the water and then we cracked into the food. He made various finger foods for us to eat, like pigs in a blanket and fried cheese curds. I-I have no idea how early he woke up to make all of it, but it was all delicious. That and the apple ale was the most soul-pleasing lunch that I coulda asked for. We sat together and watched the river flow by, shared jokes and stories…it was actually nice to smile that much.
(Huffs then takes another bite)
It was great, you know? Then we packed up the blanket and the food containers, and we took it all back to his truck. Then we went for a walk along the river. There’s a nice little path through the grass and the trees, lotsa kids bike ‘round there during the warmer months, but we pretty much had it to ourselves the whole walk.
The thing about that part of the river, though, is that there’s a creature rumored to lurk in the water that’s been known to drag people down into the depths. Usually parents use it as a story to warn, you know, their kids to steer away from the waters and going swimming alone, I’ve personally never seen anything out there, but I know for a fact that we have files on something living in that water.
(takes another bite)
Darius and I didn’t talk about it, though. We had a bunch of other things to talk about.
(whispering) Oh god.
(takes another bite)
Yeah, so we talked about how work’s been for both of us, and also what we’ve been up to outside of work…which on my end wasn’t exactly much, so he did a good portion of the talking on that front…we walked pretty close together. He asked a few times if I was chilly, and he even offered me his jacket at one point. I had my own jacket on, but it was nice just walking together. I declined his offer, but thanked him, but gave him a little playful nudge about how he would also be cold if he gave me his jacket.
And I’m so damn cold, but this ice cream is my ritual… (take bite)
So uh, about after an hour of uh, of walking he asked if he could ask me something pretty serious. It was a big tone shift in conversation, and I told him sure. Before he could even ask, his phone started ringing in his pocket…it was one of his dads asking him to come home. Some incident on the farm– everything was fine, but they really needed all hands on deck. It sounded pretty urgent.
Darius looked a bit annoyed, but I told him that it was okay. He offered to drive me home, but his dad had sounded a bit frantic…I told him that I could call someone to come pick me up, I wanted to walk a bit more anyways.
We stared at each other for a moment, he even took a step towards me…I wasn’t sure what he had planned to do, but then he just took off his jacket and wrapped it around me, then jogged back off towards his truck.
“Tell your folks I say hi!” was the last thing I said as I watched him drive off…his jacket smelled really nice.
To be honest, I had no idea who I was gonna call. But I did want to walk some more so I did. I zipped up his jacket that was a bit too big for me, and continued on down the path.
He’s always worn jackets that are probably about two sizes too big for him, he always seems comfortable, but it just made it quite big on me.
As I walked along the river, something pulled my attention out over the water. I saw something that looked like hands struggling and some splashing, like someone was trying to get out…like someone was drowning. So without thinking, I ran and threw myself into the water…
Like an idiot. (takes another bite of ice cream)
I lost another pair of glasses…
No one would be swimming this time of year, and I-I knew that there’s something out in that river that’s inhuman, but I still dove in to save whoever was struggling…ugh, I literally knew better. But no…
The water was pretty calm, but cold as hell already. It actually stung when I jumped in. It wasn’t a hard swim to get out there, uh, to where I’d seen the struggling happening, besides all the layers that I was wearing anyways. But when I got out there, I didn’t feel anything. I went above the water and looked around and there was nothing to see. I went underwater and felt around again, and nothing. At least for a few moments, anyway. I went up above water to take in a breath, and enough time had passed for me to realize that again, I’d been duped. Before I could even turn back towards land, I felt something grab my ankle and pull me under.
Literally all I could say was “damnit!” before that thing snagged me.
Not my first time being yanked into a lake or a river or whatever, but it’s still hard to resist breathing in a bunch of water on my way down. The grip on my ankle was tight, like three strong fingers. It-it felt like it had plush, something almost furry, but definitely a clawed hand.
(takes another bite of ice cream with a huff)
Once fully under the really cold water, I tried to take in what was around me as I struggled, but all I could see in front of me was some green blur with a line of what I assume were sharp teeth smiling at me.
That was when I heard a voice come out in a bubbly haze, but in my head I could understand every word that was said to me…
Oh, been a while since I’ve caught anything
I.. I – I don’t know how I knew that that’s what it said…but I just want- I wanted to get away. I always feel off for days if my body has to reform anything, so being eaten especially sucks…
I tried kicking at the grip, but then the hands moved from my ankle to actually hold my arms so that they could uh…I don’t know, so that the creature could look at my face? And then they asked:
You’re not afraid? You don’t fight the same way most do… no screams? Not even trying to breathe anymore? (Laughs)
And then they laughed at me. It was almost worse being laughed at than held under the water, though my lungs did start to hurt from not being able to breathe. I must have sneered or something, I don’t know, but I just heard another laugh.
Do you even know fear?
That struck me as weird, but uh…uh it-it-it made me think, like…I’m not afraid of death. I’m more afraid of surprise parties and saying the wrong thing in conversation than I am of death. Death sucks, but I’ve gotten used to it.
(takes another bite)
I struggled more, I got a few good kicks in, I reached up towards the surface, anything that I could do to get free. After my last run-in with the mud mermaids, I didn’t feel like drowning again. But no matter how much I struggled, I wasn’t strong enough. My heart was pounding as I tried to fight the urge to breathe in water. The mocking became less in my focus but it was still there…I still remember how the voice sounded so clear.
So curious! Such determination, such desperation, yet no attempted screaming… this isn’t your first time, huh? But I’ve never seen you before…
I got pulled back down a bit further, as if the creature was trying to take a closer look at me. The closer I got, the blurrier the creature got…which wasn’t hard considering you can’t see very clearly underwater. Uh, At that point, everything was sore and I was feeling light-headed. I let out the air that I had been holding in since it felt like that my head was gonna burst and on reflex I almost inhaled a huge gulp of water. But I clamped my mouth shut just in time…but it got really difficult towards the end there. It was so c-cold, yet so much of me burned because I just wanted to BREATHE.
What if I just… let go? Would you make it to the surface in time?
A different kind of teasing, and it sucked nonetheless…like a cat toying with its prey, and…just like a cat, that’s just how some of these creatures are. Humans have a propensity to know better, but for some of these creatures, it’s just in their nature. I can’t really fault them for that. Besides I was food. I had just hoped that if I was gonna die, at least I’d go unconscious before I became supper.
That was about the breaking point, though. My mouth involuntarily opened and my body tried gasping for air…but there was no air. If I thought my lungs had burned before…no, that water made them burn far, far worse.
All I remember after that was thrashing and burning, and it became impossible to fight anymore, and then…nothing.
(Final bite of ice cream)
I don’t know if the creature ate anything, but my clothes were still pretty in-tact when I woke up and I didn’t see any new scars, so I guess not… I have no idea why it didn’t just commit.
I don’t know if the creature ate anything, but my clothes were pretty much still intact. When I woke up and I didn’t see any new scars…so I guess not. I have no idea why the creature didn’t just commit.
I woke up on the riverbank. Coughed up a bunch of water when I woke up, and Gods, everything still ached for a bit. It didn’t last long once I got the water out of my system, but it was still very unpleasant. I was freezing because my clothes were still soaking wet…but the most frustrating thing was that since I went downstream, I was even further from home. I must have only been outta commission for an hour or so, considering that no one had found my body and since it was well lit, I assumed that not much time had passed.
I’m always scared that someone’s gonna find my body before I wake up. Now that would be awkward for me and traumatizing for them.
Ugh, anyways I got up and started walking along the river, really just trying to find my phone. After a little while I did eventually find it, still on the edge of the path from where I jumped in. My fingers were so pruney from all that time in the water and I was shivering with all the soaked layers, but I picked up my phone and checked the time…
Ugh, (sigh) no new messages. No missed calls. Nothing. Besides a very low battery.
It’s kinda sad. What if I had died, died? When would people even notice?
But it was like the universe wanted to give me something, because then and there I got a text from Darius…a-apologizing for having to leave so quickly.
He asked if I’d gotten home…but I told him half the truth.
‘Still walking, heading home soon.’
And before I could call anyone? My phone died. I was trying to figure out who I could come to get me, I went to call Amir, and just then my phone shut off…I felt mocked.
So then I walked all the way home in soaked clothes, and the fall air did not help. I didn’t want to be out after dark, so I made sure to keep a good pace. Shivering and swearing under my breath most of the way home. It may not have been a long drive, but it took me hours to walk home.
And now here I am. I still smell the river water. I still have some weird green handprints on my ankle from where the creature first grabbed me, but no new scars…at least none that I’ve noticed. I tossed the wet clothes into my washing machine and just started my post-death ritual before recording. Getting at the ice cream and wrapping myself in blankets. I don’t care if I’m freezing, ice cream is my ritual, I am sticking to it.
My phone is finally charged enough to turn it back on, and um…ooooh shoot, a few missed messages. All from Darius…he’d asked if I’d found someone to come get me, and then another message of him offering to come get me if I couldn’t find anyone…and then another message asking if I’d gotten home. Each like an hour apart. Oh man, I worried him-
I gotta text him back, hold on.
I’m so sorry, I’m home. Phone died. Had an amazing time with you today. Hope everything’s settled down on your end.
It would be so nice to be honest… but what would I say? ‘Hey, sorry, I drowned and died then had to walk home soaking wet in the cold after my phone also died. Best case scenario, if he believed me, he’d feel so guilty. But he wouldn’t believe me, most people don’t just walk off death.
It would be so nice to be honest…but what would I say? ‘Hey sorry, heh I drowned and died and then had to walk home in soaking wet clothes in the cold after my phone also died.’ Best case scenario, if he believed me, he’d probably feel so guilty. But more likely than not, he wouldn’t believe me. I mean most people just don’t, they…they don’t just walk off death–
Ugh, it’s starting to rain again, so at least I beat that home, I guess. Just a light drizzle, but I’m already cold enough as it is…and I know that I should report this incident to The Enclosure, but honestly? I don’t really feel like meddling further. That creature was minding their own business, anyways. Why should I just drive other scientists to the river? I mean, if it was so obviously deadly, then Todd would just send me again.
I’m not looking forward to a ‘Round Two’, because of my abilities, I actually get most of the orders directly from Todd himself instead of from the higher-ups in the lab that I work in, like most of the other scientists do. A bit of a special case, I guess…one that I’m not particularly thrilled about, honestly. but…(sigh) whatever. It’s a stable job and it’s good money, so…I don’t complain all that much.
I-I might not tell anyone about this. I don’t wanna deal with all the trouble that I’m gonna have to deal with if I do. Not like Todd would be the most empathetic about the matter, and Dr. Rahal would probably worry more than necessary. I don’t think that he really emotionally processes that I come back when I die. Then, of course, I can’t really talk to anyone outside of the Enclosure…
I guess…I could reach out to Dr. Lomax? They were always a great listener and I don’t really see them much anymore. I’ve been thinking about seeing if they wanna meet up and, I don’t know, grab a bite to eat, catch up? And I have no clue what their schedule’s like anymore, I don’t really have friends to spend time with, so maybe I should change that…
I’m gonna go finish this ice cream before it melts and then I’m gonna go take a hot shower and get into some warmer clothes, I might call Darius later and see how he’s doing, make sure that everything’s all right on his end.
Also I’m definitely requesting some time off. Even a weekend would be nice. I know I’ve got some paid time off built up, so I’ll look into using some of that here soon just to recoup. Not like I’ve ever really taken a vacation before or anything, I mean all I could really do is just lounge around my house but right now that doesn’t sound all that bad.
But first, ice cream, then shower.
This has been Dr. Jared Hel, signing off.
“Jar of Rebuke” is written and produced by Casper Oliver, who is also the voice of Dr. Jared Hell.
The River Monster was played by Jason Larock.
The intro is read by Vanessa Rosengrant, and credits are read by Ashlee Craft who has created the podcast’s official graphics.
Music was created by Luke Menniss (spelled M-E-N-N-I-S-S), who you can find and support on Bandcamp, Spotify, and Twitch.
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