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The Creature

by Matthew Vasiliauskas

The creature came into town bragging.

Unlike some of the other creatures passing through in the past, this one had a lot of bravado, blustering and laughing about which mayors’ wives he had penetrated.

Of course, the first thing we tried to do was give him a name, but anything we suggested he would just wave his appendage and say something like, “Please, please, just call me…” and then would get distracted and never reveal his preferred appellation.

Almost immediately he started a gang, recruiting from the disenfranchised volunteer firefighters and dubbing them the Ignited Invaders. They set up a number of prosperous prostitution rings, but also constructed and supervised an exotic petting zoo which dropped depression in the town to an all-time low.

Sure, the creature was pretty arrogant, but he was also hilarious, and most Fridays you could catch his set at the local comedy club. The line that got everyone was, “Honey, trust me, you don’t want me to eat you.”

A couple years passed and the creature started getting into Heidegger, and would march down the streets, his appendage flapping and flailing, and would scream at us that we needed to get in touch with das sein, and if we didn’t overcome our geworfenheit our constant conflict with das nichts would lead us to ruin.

To remedy this, he had us donate our surplus cash reserves and eighteen-year-old daughters to a cave he kept on the outskirts of town. Now we had overcome they-self he said. Now we had reached eigentlichkeit.

Well, something that none of us could have foreseen was the war.

We had no choice but to arm ourselves and fend off attacks from the north, and to our surprise, the creature got involved whole-heartedly, slithering through the battle lines and spraying a putrid-smelling acid substance, effectively melting each and every enemy combatant.

When the smoke had cleared, he started sucking up the fatty smoldering puddles, licking his lips and insisting we try some. Before we could answer though, he started laughing and yelled, “Food fight,” and proceeded to throw and splash us with the human jelly.

Some years later the creature got a letter that one of his relatives was gravely ill, and the creature would have to leave the town.

At his insistence, we threw a big party where the mayor’s wife was raffled off to him as a parting gift.

The festivities continued throughout the night, and as the radiant rays of dawn peered over the rooftops, we all gathered together and had Dar Samuels snap a photo of us.

That photo still hangs in the post office; a gleaming portrait of us smiling, and the creature’s appendage blurred in mid-flap.

Matthew Vasiliauskas is a graduate of Columbia College Chicago. In 2009, he was awarded the Silver Dome Prize by the Illinois Broadcast Association for best public affairs program as producer of the Dean Richards Show at WGN Radio. His work has appeared in publications such as Berlin’s Sand Literary Journal, The University Of Wyoming’s Owen Wister Review, Chicago Literati, and The Pennsylvania Review. Matthew currently lives and works in New York City.

Lead image: “The result of insomnia” (via Flickr user Hitty Evie)