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Who Knows What Evil Lurks? : We do. Think killer mushrooms. Think crafty spiders. The winning entries in our scary story contest will leave you begging for more. : The Collector

October 31, 1994|MICK JONES

It was during that pre-dawn twilight, that one instant when the full night cracks before the rushing sunlight and the spirits leave footprints in the sand. It was such a time that Eddie "the Catman" could be found prowling.

Eddie broke the window latch with one quick twist of his pry bar. He lifted the bottom half of the old wood-framed window. As he crawled into the dark room, he knocked something over. Glass shattered against the hardwood floor. He stopped to listen. Then he remembered the house was vacant.

Eddie had been watching the old man's house for the past several days to establish the owner's patterns. Eddie couldn't believe what he had lucked on to. The old guy lived alone, there were no outside lights, and the house sat back from the street. The best thing was the old guy left just before dawn every morning. This place was asking to be hit.

Eddie flicked on his flashlight. The light revealed that he had knocked over a clear glass jar with some kind of plant growing in it.

"No big deal," thought Eddie as he hurriedly surveyed the room. Finding nothing of any obvious value, he crept over and opened the only door. It led to a long hallway with several other doors apparently leading to other rooms. He crossed over and opened the door directly across from his. The Catman silently followed his ray of light into the dark room. He slowly panned the walls for secrets to any hidden wealth.

The room was a large one. There was no window. The walls were lined with shelf after shelf of large clear jars, like the one he had broken earlier. Their labels reflected white in the artificial light.

"Maybe the old guy cans fruit or something," thought Eddie as he shined his light around. Several of the jars seemed to have things other than plants in them. "I wonder if there are fresh peaches?"

He crept closer to examine the nearest jars. Each contained something different. One had what appeared to be a miniature forest. Another had a mountain with snow. The one next to it had a miniature barn with a realistic cow in front.

"My God," muttered Eddie as he read one label after another. "Brazilian rain forest . . . Himalayan Yeti. . . ." Eddie's thoughts couldn't comprehend the reality of what he was seeing. "That cow moved!"

He felt sick. This had to be a trick of some kind. He moved to another section of the storage room and began to examine more jars.

The jars were a collection of living things in their natural habitat. Birds flying above green fields. Horses racing about in open meadows. And people. There was a drunk on a city street corner looking back at him; a milkman in his truck was shielding his eyes from the glare of Eddie's flashlight, and there was a priest praying at an altar.

Then in the next jar was a soldier in a muddy foxhole motioning for Eddie to come closer. The miniature person picked up some mud and started smearing it against the inside of the glass jar. Fascinated, Eddie moved closer. He watched as the soldier's smears spelled out a tiny message, "RUN!"

The entire collection took up the chant. Hundreds of voices pounded Eddie's brain. "RUN! RUN!"

Some of them struck their glass prison walls with tiny fists as they yelled.

In a sudden blind panic, Eddie the Catman bolted back the way he had come. Across the hall and through the open window. Out to the safety of the night. Eddie ran as fast as he could. He had to get away. When suddenly the face of the old man appeared above him.

"No!" Eddie cried, falling to his knees. "Please!"

The old man smiled down at Eddie as he picked up a large clear jar and placed Eddie on a shelf.

The attached label read, "Catman. One of a kind."

* Jones, 46, formerly of Santa Monica, now lives in Vancouver, Wash. He is an alarms engineer with US West Communications. He entered the contest at the urging of his daughter, Stacie, who lives in Santa Monica.



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