Ivan Newlands hummed softly to himself as he made his way through the forest, his earphones roaring in his ears, his music beating loudly, blocking out any and all sounds around him.
It was a rather damp October morning the rain still drizzling lightly above him, making the forest floor rather soggy, and causing his shoes and socks to get wet as a result.
He would often come here to escape from his home life. His father was yelling at his mother once more probably over something ridiculous, he was sure. He ducked under a low branch and he looked about the wilderness in front of him. The trees bare as it was almost winter time, moss growing and snaking their way up the bark of the trees as well the ground. The air crisp and cool making Ivan's nose rather numb. For a moment Ivan wondered if he should just go home, but he thought about the screaming match his parents were currently having and decided to visit the nearby creek.
Ivan kept to his left and weaved in and out of the thick of the trees. He only stopped walking when his song stopped in the middle of the track. With a frown, he took his phone out of his pocket to see what had happened. It died. 'I knew I should have charged my phone.' He rolled his eyes, yanked the headphones out of his ears, and haphazardly shoved his phone in his jacket pocket. Still, he had a goal and he wasn't going to stop yet.
Walking father towards the creek, Ivan had no choice but to listen to the soft pitter-patter of the drizzling rain on the leaves, and ground. Knowing he couldn't be too far now, Ivan picked up his pace a bit there was something he always did whenever he visited this creek. Going from a jog to a sprint, he felt himself break into a run now, his legs pounding heavily on the wet ground, mud splattering against his jeans and shoes as he did so. he was getting closer, he could see it, a branch hanging just at the edge of the creek.
Ivan felt determination starting to course through his veins narrowing his eyes, he picked up his speed the best he could. The branch now in his reach, he jumped, grabbing a hold of the sturdy branch, he swung his body with all his might, and let go of the branch. He went flying briefly through the air and landed heavily on the other side, rolling to a complete stop on his side wet leaves and dirt now clinging to his jacket he smiled and stood up.
"Booyah!" He cried with triumph feeling his tongue sticking out of his gapped teeth as he did a little happy dance. His triumph didn't last long though, getting across may be fun, but going back was a pain as there was no other branch on the other side to swing off of so that meant he had to clamber through the soggy muddy creek bottom and climb up the old fashion way. He'd worry about it on his way back though.
Ivan started walking forward, his back to the creek and he wondered if his parents finally stopped fighting. He sighed out and he shoved his hands into his pockets and instantly stopped walking. He didn't feel his phone. "Eh?" He patted his jacket pockets before patting his pants pockets in desperation. He checked his jacket twice and felt no phone. "Dammit." He groaned realizing it must have fallen in the creek when he jumped.
Ivan turned around jogged back to the creek peering down at the muddy dried creek with wonder. Yep, he found his phone pretty quick, inwardly cringing as it was face down in the mud. He hoped he didn't damage it. So Ivan cautiously stood on the side of the creek before he slid down careful not to hit any rocks on the way down.
It was honestly a breeze getting down as, again, he visited this creek often. It was going through the mud that was a pain in the ass. The mud was sticky and if one weren't careful it'd take their shoes as a result. Ivan had to physically pick his legs up in an almost cartoony fashion making sure his shoes stayed on. He could feel the mud, that was up to his ankles mind you, slip into his shoes, and cause his socks to become wet and filthy. Eventually, he made his way to his phone. He picked it up, it was dirty, but not broken, and when he turned it on the screen shown as usual. He used the hem of his shirt to wipe the mud off of his phone before returning it to his pockets. Back pants pocket this time around.
Figuring his walk was pretty much done for, he decided that it was probably time to go home. Ivan started to march towards the other side of the creek, the side with the branch. About halfway there he felt himself get stuck in the mud. It happened so suddenly that he nearly smacked face-first into the mud. "Huh?" Ivan looked back at his left leg. It was stuck, yes, but not in the way it should be. It was odd it almost felt like something had a hold of his foot.
Ivan grunted and struggled against the mud. He started to wiggle and kick his leg trying his hardest to free himself from whatever had a hold of him. There was no way it was mud. It took one strong pull for Ivan to free himself. He fell down, mud now all over his back as a result, but that wasn't important to him. No, Ivan, rather numbly, only watched as a hand slowly retreated back into the mud to hide.
Oh boy, did he scream. His voice reached the top of the creek and he felt his vocal cords stretch as he tried to scramble away from the spot where the hand had vanished. He wished he was dreaming, that he was just imaging this, but he knew what he had seen had been real. He also knew at this moment he sounded like a girl. Then it suddenly hit him, this is what this person wanted. This was a prank! All of his fear suddenly dissipated as anger started to take over and he felt brave.
"Is this some sort of joke? You absolute prick!" He screamed out in response. What he expected was for whoever this person was to laugh, say 'Gotcha!' and come out of the mud, but that didn't happen. In fact, nothing happened. That alone enraged Ivan. "Okay, asshat! You wanna play!? Let's play!" Ivan snarled. He got down and started to dig through the mud. It wasn't easy to do so as the mud really just recollected in the spot he dug at, but doing this was scaring whoever was down there as the mud started to move. Ivan felt victorious at this, now it was Ivan's turn to have a 'gotcha!' moment.
Then something struck Ivan dead in the face. It honestly felt like he was hit with a baseball bat... but the bet was cold and wet. It had so much force behind it that Ivan fell to his side and saw stars as a result. It took Ivan several seconds to sit up straight his head still spinning from the attack. He was looking at, what seemed to be, a giant fish's tail.
Ivan just sat there unable to truly comprehend what he was looking at. It was blue, with scales that matched the sky.
The tail moved up again, going to hit him once more. Ivan, being quick, jumped out of the way before the tail could smack him silly yet again.
He landed, and slipped, on the muddy ground again. He got mud on his face, in his mouth and all over his hair. He watched as the other half of the mud started to move. Two human-like arms and hands came up first. It looked like a zombie raising out of its grave in all honesty.
A humanoid figure rose up covered in thick brown mud. Ivan could only watch in amazement at this point. The thing was, it was only the head and torso that looked human as the rest of the body, the legs, was the tail.
Ivan watched with wide eyes as it used its hands to wipe the mud away from its face. All Ivan could see was blue. This thing had the brightest, bluest eyes Ivan has ever seen, and that's all it took for Ivan to realize he wasn't looking at a human.
Ivan didn't stay for too long. He jumped up to his feet and ran. He, in a mad panic, scrambled up the side of the creek and making it on the other side in record time. He ran even faster once he was on solid ground. his heart was pounding madly in his chest, adrenaline kicking in, he just kept running until he was back home. Ivan threw himself inside his home, slamming the door shut and guarding it like that thing was just right behind him. He breathed in and out heavily and mad with fear.
"Ivan!" His mother gasped from the kitchen table, she gawked at his filthy state and quickly came to his side. She put a hand on his head and tsked out suddenly. "You're freezing, sweetheart!" She gasped with concern. "Did you fall?"
Ivan couldn't answer his mother. He just looked at her his body completely shaking with fear.
"C'mon, I'll get you some hot tea; go get into the shower before you get sick!" She ushered him to the bathroom with urgency. "I'll get you some warm clothes too!" She called from the other side of the door.
Ivan honestly went on autopilot once he went into the bathroom. He shed his wet muddy clothes off of his body. Once naked he turned on the shower and waited. He quietly sat down on the edge of the tub and watched the water going down the drain.
He couldn't have actually seen a cryptid in the creek, right? He thought back to those eyes and shuttered, it was like they were staring into his soul. It wasn't real. It couldn't have been real. Right?