something out of the corner of my eye. A shadow, moving in the darkness of an alleyway.

I turn to get a better look, but it’s gone. I tell myself that it was just my imagination, and I continue on my way. But then I hear a low growl, and a chill runs down my spine.

The hairs on the back of my neck stand up, and I have the distinct feeling that I am being watched. I start to walk faster, my heart pounding in my chest. Then I hear it again, closer this time… a low guttural growl.

I break into a run, my heart beating hard against my chest, so hard that I can hardly breath. But it’s of no use. In a flash, the Gnoll crashes onto me.

I fall to the ground, screaming for help, but no one comes. As I lay there, helpless and terrified, I feel its hot breath on my neck. I can smell the putrid, sour stench of death on it, and I know that this is the end.

And then it strikes. The Gnoll’s teeth sink into my flesh, an agonizing pain wafts over me as it sucks out my lifeblood. My vision begins to grow dim, so dim the only thing I can see is its bright green eyes and then I slip into oblivion.

I wake with a start, my heart racing. My sheets are soaking wet with sweat and I can’t stop trembling. It takes me a minute to realize that it was just a dream, probably caused by my research last night. But the fear is still very real. And then I notice something else, my pink flowery pillow is wet with blood and when I unconsciously touch the part of my neck aching me, it comes off wet, wet with blood and a mucous-like substance.

The legend is true, the Gnoll is real. I think excitedly. My years of research has finally paid off.

And my life just got messed up.

I drive to Lola’s house minutes before she leaves for the military hospital. When she sees the wound on my neck, she screams and drops her car keys.

“Ore what is this? How did you get this wound? What bit you?” She rushes off to get her first aid box.

“It was the Gnoll Lola, it’s real.” I tell her when she gets back. Lola sighs.

“Ore, we’ve talked about this. That thing only exists in legends.”

“In Legends? I had a dream and then I wake up with a wound with teeth marks. How do you explain that?” I ask her.

“It’s a bite that could’ve been from any animal. In fact, it was probably from a dog, we should get you tested for rabies.”

Lola knows I don’t keep dogs, given that I hate them. But I don’t correct her. Instead, I log in to WhatsApp and send a message to Cain, my research assistant, a fresher who had offered to help me with my project. I’d accepted him because of his bright green eyes and well, because he was the only one who was dumb enough (according to Lola) to believe that Gnolls exist.

“Guess what? The Gnolls have finally responded. One left his mark on me yesterday.”
“Seriously?” His reply comes in almost immediately.

“Yes. I mean there was even his saliva in the wound. Don’t you see? This could change everything! We can prove that they do exist along with us, even though we can’t see them. And that they have powers.”

Lola grabs my phone.

“Seriously Ore, I think it’s time you drop this research you’re doing. Let’s say they are real, do you realize the danger you might be in? What if it, whatever it is, comes back?”

“Lola, you don’t get it. When the little girl said she saw it, no one believed her and everyone blamed a dog. A dog!!! Do you know how ludicrous it is that a dog killed two adults and left their daughter with barely a mark?” I’m nearly yelling.

“Let’s drop that and see how we can get you cleaned up and fed.”

When she goes into the kitchen, I pick up my phone from where she dropped it. Cain’s message comes in…

“What if it comes back?”

“I’ll be there waiting for it.” I respond.

When Lola comes in with a steaming plate of rice, she looks at me with her “I’m your big sister so you’d better listen look.”

“I’ll be sleeping in your house today. And now, don’t say anything. If this Gnoll is real as you say, it will come again and I’ll be convinced.”

I reluctantly agree and together we drive back to my house, where she cleans up my room and announces that she’ll sleep in my bed while I stay in the guest room.

In the night, I keep on tossing and turning on my bed, waiting to hear something. Eventually, I get so restless I stand up and go to the kitchen to drink some water. And that is when I hear the growl again, coming from my room.

I pick up a knife and tiptoe to the room, listening and waiting for another sound. And then two gunshots ring out. I push the door open and run inside, to see Lola holding the gun. On the ground, a Gnoll, with its hairy brown fur, and bright green eyes is groaning on the ground. Slowly, before our eyes, it begins to change, first the hairy brown fur, then the sharp finger like limbs. The whole body is turning human. And when Lola beams her light at the figure on the ground, it’s Cain who’s lying on the floor, lifeless.

#geniuswwalk down the street, mind wa

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