Ted was taking his early morning jog along the paved path that cuts through the center of the park. He loved this part of his run, with the trees on either side of the path and a canopy of green leaves overhead. At this time of the year, the rising sun was casting long shadows across the path.
Like every other morning, there were just a few other regulars jogging in the opposite direction who Ted would acknowledge with a head nod or a hand wave as they passed one another.
Ted noticed an unusual mist up ahead. More than a mist; a fog bank, actually. He chalked it up to the morning dew condensing and didn’t give it much thought until he saw one of the joggers heading his way out of the fog. The man was stumbling a little and was clutching his chest. The man finally fell to his knees and Ted thought he might be having a heart attack.
Rushing over to the man, who was still on his knees, Ted could see a look of desperate panic in his eyes. “Is it your heart?” Ted asked.
The man, who was having difficulty breathing, shook his head, pointed back to the fog from which he had just emerged, and, in a raspy voice said, “Turn around. Run.” With that, the man fell flat, unconscious.
Ted pulled out his cellphone and dialed 9-1-1. “There’s a man on the path in the park who needs emergency assistance. Please send someone immediately.” Knowing that there was nothing further he could do to help the man, Ted stood up and moved slowly toward the mist.
As he got closer, he could see the bodies of a few other joggers along the path. They all seemed lifeless. His instincts told him to turn around, but his curiosity drove him forward.
Within minutes he was surrounded by the dense fog and his breathing becoming labored. He saw some sort of dark, shadowing figure with red eyes coming toward him through the mist. He squinted his eyes to try and decipher what he was seeing, but what he saw didn’t make any sense to him.
Ted tried to turn around and run, but his body was frozen in place. Then he heard what he could only describe as some strange, piercing, banshee-like scream, just before losing consciousness.
Waking up in a what appeared to hospital room, Ted found a call button and pressed it. Three dark figures with red eyes floated into the room.
“Ah, you’re finally awake. We thought we lost you,” one of them said.
“The lesson learned is that we will have to limit our agents to no more than one year of infiltration,” another said.
“Exactly,” a third one said. “You were there for two Earth years, THRG, and we almost lost you to the human life form you were inhabiting. Fortunately, our extraction team pulled you out just in time to save you.”
Written for this week’s Thursday Photo Prompt from Sue Vincent.