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Bleeding from the wounds on his face, Tyler sprinted down the path, unable to see, or hear through the consuming night and howling wind, he just kept moving.

“Run!!” his mind pleaded, not knowing anything past that primal instinct to live.

Breathing hard and unable to provide his body with the needed oxygen he stumbled, legs wobbling from the uneven ground and falling hard into the tall tangle of bushes to the left of the gravel path.

Collapsing onto jagged twigs wrapped in rotten leaves Tyler didn’t notice the small sharp scratches they gifted him during his wild fall like fleeing prey

Hunching down until face and body buried into the unkept ground he wheezed into the wet earth.

Unable to hear anything past the violent drumming of his heartbeat Tyler drew in lungful of breath as if resurfacing from a deep dive and tried to think.

“Calm down and breath, you can hide” echoed in his thoughts, as the internal battle continued with trying to regain control from that primal instinct of just running.

After long seconds of desperate heart beats, his ears stopped thumping with blood and breathing came in slow shallow rasps.

Trying to rid the stitch in his ribs with long drawn-out breaths Tyler’s senses came alive with the rotten smell of the forest floor mixed with the taste as he cleaned out his mouth spitting on the wet earth.

Moving shivering hands to his mauled face covered in blood, cuts and now forest filth he took in his surroundings.

Complete darkness.

After a few moments some moonlight rained down as eyes adjusted, weak but streaming through the clouds and barely illuminating the obscured area of the damaged bush path he had run.

Had he run enough?

Was it safe to move?

Questions rolled around unanswered as he sat up trying to take stock of what happened and what to do next.

Rustling sounds behind made him spin around violently, searching everywhere as the cold wind rustled leaves, bent trees and brought a chill to his marked face and sweat covered forehead.

“It's just the wind or insects”, his mind spoke, “It’s normal”

Though tonight it had birthed something new that had taken them.

Were those claws or talons that had come for him too?

Again, fingers caressed over his mauled face, wincing at the pain and the depth of the facial wound.

He tried to remember if anyone else had got away.

Looking back at the path Tyler kept low and willed himself to his knees, freezing at the sound of knees popping expecting something to happen.

Nothing did.

Deciding to move left so in line with the path so not to get lost he took a step.

After braving another two steps he flinched at an owl’s hooting, loud and as if approving of the intruder moving out of its hunting grounds.

Another step, then three more and confidence came with the progress.

Claws grabbed the back of his hair and pulled at the roots, shattering the silence with a scream Tyler swung around punching out, the clawing fingers retreated as his fist crumbled against a huge unmoving solid body as he fell backward from the swing.

Scrambling to his back he looked upon the monstrous shape in front of him, impossibly tall, dark and reaching for him.

He scrambled backwards mud and dirt smearing his jeans, twigs piercing the flesh of his clawing hands as he crawled away.

The beast didn’t chase, it didn’t even move.

It stayed there looking at him, still, very still, almost like a…“a fucking tree”.

He breathed out the words almost making him laugh as his bloody hands cleared his eyes. He had screamed like a nine-year-old child at a goddamn tree.

Taking the time to feel ashamed as he got up and flexing the now hurt hand as a knuckle popped and felt misplaced, probably broken but adrenaline kept the pain away for the moment.

Head shaking in embarrassment as he continued the walk as a distant scream echoed back.

Frowning at the almost alien noise he turned to look in the direction only to be hit again with a fresh wave of painful screams, it all came back like a solid punch of fear to the gut.

The blood, that sound of snapping bones while bodies were pulled apart and played with.

It had attacked, it had taken them all and he was standing there like a fool screaming at a tree.

He twisted on the spot to the sound of an almost inhuman cry as it rolled like a wave through the forest, a sound of pain and fear that cut out so suddenly all other noise refused to fill the void.

Tyler ran.

Large woodland trees dotted the land, roots and mounds covered the floor causing him to falter a few times. Unable to see with clear footing and dark shadows dancing everywhere making evil shapes almost reaching for him while the wind made it all move and sway to some dark rhythm.

Eyes wide trying to get as much light as the pale moon would allow, he continued forward as the trees thinned and a path appeared.

Yes, the path back to the car.

Reactively putting his swollen hand on his jacket pocket feeling the hard press of car keys, he felt a sliver of hope creep in.

Without waiting he continued forward into the opening, making small steps as if a deer creeping to a watering hole with eyes wide and consistently searching for danger.

His advance was halted as the body came into view.

It laid across the path face up gazing into the dark sky as if a grotesque offering.

The arms and legs sprawled wide in a starfish pose, the mouth frozen in a gaping endless scream under eyes that had been plucked.

An opening in the chest told the cause of death, slick blood and bits of flesh hung on every snapped rib as if they had been bent outwards perfectly like a blooming flower.

“beautiful isn’t it?” came a deep voice from behind.


Callum Chuck. MMA Coach from England who needs more shelfs for books and comics.


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