Wait Till Tildy Comes...
On Michigan’s west beaches—the wind wails most every day. Washed in the coming air, one feels life as oxygen blows in from the lake. In brewing storms, I often would sit, out of reach of the tide, and try to be calm in the coming gale. I would lean into the wind, my eyes focused on the sunset; my toes dug in the fine white sand so curiously absent of shellfish remains.
Day after day, the sun set as I inhaled oxygen. The light from the falling sun would project my silhouette by fiery glow across the forty-foot dunes behind me. Every evening was a spectacle of dramatic light, but rarely much of any true effect ever happened. It was light, and wind and myself—nothing more.
Until one day, a difference. It took hold of me right away, a morning of thick fog laid down a premonition of my coming troubles. I could taste it, dewy and foul in the air. The rain was to come down, first out to lake, then over me. I could see the rain making shapes as it scattered over the lake, its torrents growing darker. Like hail it fell, soon to be crashing over me. I sat there on the beach, watching the storm approach, trying to be still. I tried to be the eye, the calm of the storm. But I kept fidgeting, uncomfortable with an overwhelming urge to flee. My toes clenched the sand beneath me as darkness quietly took over. This night was to assure me that even the devil fears some storms.
And that’s when it happened. I was not to feel a moment of peace on this creepy eve, you see—the devil himself ran by me that night.
He did not stop to lie, he did not stop to tempt me; in fact, the devil ran right past me without so much as a glance in my direction. His pace was that of terror, his path no more than five feet in front of me. He moved with a fearful gate and disappeared down the beach in the oncoming wash of rain and wind.
Moments passed as my clothing took on the first shocking drops. I thought, questioning my sanity. But, when you meet the divine, the other-worldly, there is little room for question. That was the devil I just saw, and he was terrified. The rain intensified, and curiosity was to be my guiding light. I simply had to know--what scares the devil?
A trail of footprints, oddly wide with an unfamiliar stride trailed the beach into the dark. I promptly stood up and followed, before the prints were erased by the wind.
The trail ran dangerously close to the black water’s edge, lapping hungrily for each footfall, then receding into itself—always hungry was the lake. The wind around me took shapes, laden with water and howling—the voices of wolves it was. I followed for ages, the storm worsening by the moment. It was then I noticed the paths curved up the beach, to a small beach home, down a path through a windbreak. I pondered turning around, but fooled myself into the cabin under the pretense of taking shelter from the storm. When I reached the door, it was ajar.
With a crack—the storm grew distant as the door slammed behind me. I fumbled through my pockets till I found a lighter. The room illuminated with a flick of my Bic. I jumped backward, my body firmly against the door, my hand on the knob—there, before me, the devil lay cowering in the corner.
He was shaking, mumbling to himself—both wet and cold, Satan quivered as he tried to hide in the moving shadows.
“Turn out the light you damn fool,” he rasped from the corner.
My initial desire was to laugh, to shake, and roar at the site. This was the fearsome Satan, Lord of all Evil? There in front of me, Satan whimpering like a child. I swallowed this impulse, as it occurred to me that I might need to know what he was afraid of, for my own safety. I smirked a little, and looked around the room. I spotted a candle and lighted it, looking around the rather normal looking beach house. I walked to a bottle of brandy on a bar and poured two glasses of liquor, one for the devil, and one for myself. His shaking hands spilled the warm liquid across his wrists as he hastily drank. I sat in a recliner and thumbed through some magazines on the table beside me while I thought about what to say.
“So, what exactly troubles you, devil?”
No sooner had I spoke these words, when the room grew cold and the candle blew dead. The last flicker illuminated the horror in his eyes, focused on what appeared behind my chair. I swirled around to see behind me, an eight-foot and hideous luminous spirit. It stood eyeless, looking down with such sullen resentment, and frivolous hate as to freeze a man’s heart like water to ice.
Thunder shook the cabin with a precarious absence of lightning. The spirit stood still yet seemed ready to pounce. Another spirit came through the wall, similar but more grotesque then the first, and blocked off the exit to another room. The devil whimpered and moaned, cowering in the corner across from me.
The spirits floated up and down, corruption and death, reveling in our terror. Their arms spread wide to ensnare us if we ran.
The first spirit looked to the other with no eyes visible and spoke.
“What shall we do with them?”
“Wait till Tildy comes,” hissed the other.
The devil crumpled into a fetal position in the corner as I sank into my chair. The sprits glowed, as though petrified trees, barren and without life. The storm outside intensified to a deafening level. Crash after thunderous crash shook the house with the gale’s force. My hands reached frantically for something to clutch, to hold as I was torn apart. I desperately wished so to run, but my feet were long past feeling. I sat paralyzed with fear, like the devil in the corner. A third spirit creaked through the door, translucent with an eerie illumination of decay.
“What shall we do with them?” The third spirit hissed.
“Wait till Tildy comes,” the other two screamed in unison.
My fear was sickening, my voice was gone, too scared to scream. My blood had stopped flowing; my skin was alive with goose bumps. This was merciless terror. Time was no longer an issue, as were hopes of happiness, a future, or of anything beyond what horror awaited me.
"GOD HELP ME,” the devil screamed and ran for the other room. The spirits turned toward him and some animal instinct for survival came alive within me. My feet sprang to life, my arms pushing myself from the recliner in one movement. I reached for the knob, the door blasting open with the force of the wind and blowing the candle out.
Darkness, wind, and rain engaged me as I exploded into the night. My desire was only to run. The darkness gusting by me, and I ran. The wails of the sprits screamed out my escape, and I ran. The fear as I felt them follow, oh God I ran so hard my lungs screamed like the crucified. I ran.
And then, a cold claw on my shoulder, my body limp with submission as the spirit stood over me. There are simply no words to describe my fear at this moment, no words to describe that voice.
“What shall we do with him?” The spirit chorus hissed. Then a pause—absolute, chilling and dark.
“Wait till Tildy comes...”
I looked up at the sky; my mouth opened as the rain rushed in. My mouth filled with water as I longed to drown. I remember nothing more past that moment.
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