Sebastian watched the manhole cover from under his newspaper blanket. Two nights in a row he’d seen something emerge from the tunnels beneath the park–of course, he’d been chin deep in a bottle of whiskey each night. He wondered if it would happen a third time. He’d forced himself to stay sober that day–not an easy feat for a man such as him.
The heavy, metal cover lifted into the air and slid across the cobblestone walkway. Sebastian shrank back into the protection of the newspapers draped over his body. He couldn’t remember exactly what he’d seen the other nights. Now that he wasn’t inebriated and he was about to see it again, he wasn’t sure he wanted to remember.
A hand–more claw than hand, really–slipped through the opening and hoisted a beast from out of the bowels of the park. It’s long crocodilian snout sniffed at the air. It stood up on its hind legs in the pale light of the arc lamp just down the path. Its massive tail flicked back and forth along the ground behind it. The heavily scaled creature bent at the waist and slid the cover back into place with a single hand.
Sebastian’s body shook uncontrollably under the pile of newspaper. The beast sniffed the air and turned its massive head toward the sound. Sebastian squeezed his eyes shut and waited to be devoured. After what he imagined was at least ten minutes he opened his eyes again. The creature had disappeared.
Sebastian sat up and the newspapers rained to the ground from his park bench. He focused his eyes on the manhole cover. He couldn’t help wondering if he’d imagined the entire encounter. Years of alcohol abuse has lasting repercussions on the mind. One day sober isn’t even to get out from beneath the shadow of alcoholism.
He sat on the bench for hours pondering whether or not the creature was real, at the same time wishing he had something to drink. With dawn approaching a rustling in the bushes to his right demanded his attention. The beast pushed through with a bloody, unconscious woman drapped across its shoulder. It trudged toward the entrance to its lair and Sebastian stood up to get a better look.
The creature pulled the manhole cover aside, and grabbed the woman by the waist.
“Hey! What do you think you’re doing?” Sebastian yelled before he could stop himself.
The crocodilian humanoid looked at the puny homeless man. It dropped the woman through the hole, and the corners of its long mouth pushed upward it what appeared to be a grin before it followed her in. Once again the hand came through the hole, this time to slid the cover back to its rightful place.
Sebastian ran. His intention was to go to the police, but he ended up at the nearest liquor store, waiting outside until they opened so he could use what little cash he had on something that would help him forget what he’d seen.