Prologue

Prologue: Visions

Sara woke suddenly from a deep, dreamless sleep. The type of sleep that erased all concept of time and space and left the body more exhausted than when it began.  The noise that had torn her from her restless slumber, was the stuff nightmares were made of, spawning from the deepest recesses of the mind where only the darkest fears dwelled.  The sound, so unnaturally foreign somehow struck a familiar cord, startling Sara into consciousness.  An irrational fear swept across her body causing the hairs to stand on end across the nape of her neck, as a cool slick of sweat covered her body.

“What the hell was that?” Sara asked herself as she stared wide eyed and afraid into the utter darkness that surrounded her.  Her heart thumped wildly in her chest, pounding thunderously loud in her ears as she sat in silence, pondering the chilling noise.  

A crack of a twig?  

No, the sound carried more substance than the dry crackle of splintering wood, there was a kind of wetness that complemented the shattering snap.  

A gurgle, maybe?  

Or, the surprised gasp of a person caught off guard?  

Nothing seemed to fully encompass the hellish cacophony that woke her.  Individually, the discordant sounds seemed almost insignificant on their own.  Each one so completely commonplace and even mundane.  But combined, the sound lost its common tone and dipped its toes into regions of the unknown.  No words seemed appropriate to describe it, none held the significance that it carried.  The grisly sound had flashed into reality for a single frightening moment, and was gone, leaving a confused girl in its wake.

But, there was one thing Sara was certain of…

She had indeed heard a sickening wet snap.  

Or, did she?  Maybe it had all just been a dream, and she had startled herself awake from some horrific nightmare, instantly forgetting the dream she sought to escape.  

Ugh, don’t be stupid, Sara!  Of course it was only a dream.

The clutches of sleep still tugged at her mind, muddling her thoughts in a fog of confusion. Sara propped herself up onto her elbows and looked around sleepily; the darkness inside of the tent was so complete she could almost feel its presence, unyielding and ominous.  She rolled onto her side ungracefully, the sleeping bag bound her tightly, putting up a hell of a fight, but she managed it after a short struggle. After the fight was won, Sara closed her eyes and breathed deeply, slowly, trying to cast away the feeling of dread that still lingered in the back of her mind.  With a grunt of frustration, she brought her hands to her eyes, digging her knuckles into the sockets, rubbing vigorously until the darkness behind her eyes flashed white.  Pulling her hands away, she opened her eyes once more; the murkiness before her, spattered with an array of splotched colors, slowly came into focus.  But soon the world faded back to black, shrouding her in its embrace… and dread.  

“Fuck,” she whispered under her breath, desperately trying not to wake her boyfriend that was sleeping in the bag next to her.  Every fiber of her being wanted to check on him, to see if he was feeling any better, but she knew not to disturb him.  He needed his rest.  In the morning she would pack up their things and get him the fuck out of this shit hole and to a doctor, like they should have done in the first place.  His pathetic friends could all eat shit for all she cared!  Tomorrow things would be better.

Sara wanted to scream, but released the frustration with a sigh instead.  She laid in her bag, staring at the ceiling of the tent for a long time, taking in her surroundings, listening for anything… unusual.  She strained her ears to hear anything, but only the ringing of silence answered.  There was nothing.  Not a single sound to be heard at all.  No sound of wind rustling the leaves of the surrounding trees, no crickets chirping in the distance, no song of the forest to lull her back to sleep.  Nothing.  The only sound that could be heard was that of her own heartbeat filling her ears.

How could the forest be so unnaturally… silent?

It was unsettling.

And then she heard it.  

Softly at first, but the sound was distinct and definitely real.  And then it was gone… silence.  Sara strained to hear, and after a few strenuous moments, it came again.  A rasping wheeze, faint and in the distance.  And once again, it was gone.  The silence was deafening, the thumping in her ears had become so loud it was a wonder she could hear anything beyond it.  An eternity passed, or so it seemed, as Sara waited for the noise to come again.

Nothing…

But silence.

“I must be going crazy,” Sara laughed, a bit louder than she had expected to.  She turned to examine the bag next to her, there was no movement.  The darkness had not waivered and her eyes just couldn’t seem to adjust.  She listened a moment longer, and when there was still nothing to be heard, Sara decided to go back to sleep.  Nestling back into her bag, she longed to be home among her stuffed animals, the most comforting spot in all the world.  Not to mention the lack of creepiness that her own room afforded.  Their vacation had been nothing but one problem after another.  If there was a hell, this would be it… her own personal drama-filled hell.

Sara rolled onto her side, wrapping herself tightly inside the sleeping bag like a cozy little burrito, and began to drift back to sleep.  She had a long day ahead of her and needed all the rest she could get.  Her pillow, so fluffy and inviting, cradled her head warmly as the haze of sleep pulled her from reality and drew her back into its comforting embrace.

Then it came again…

That unmistakable rasping wheeze.  And it was close.  

This was no dream, no mistake, and the ring in her ears did little to mask the sound.  Something was in their camp, creeping about while they slept, and it didn’t sound like a raccoon or any other small woodland creature foraging for food.  Rodents didn’t wheeze, or at least Sara couldn’t recall ever hearing one wheeze before, not healthy ones at least.  The thought of diseased little animals, frothing at the mouth with wildly red eyes did not sit well with her.  But, this thing was something else, something bigger; something that brought with it an aura of foreboding.  Fear swept through her, stealing her breath. Her renewed fear was far from irrational, and all too real.

What in the hell makes a noise like that?

Sara pulled the sleeping bag over her head, it was the only thing she could think to do, hoping that whatever it was would soon be on its way.  

The wheeze came again, this time followed by the crackling of leaves underfoot.  Whatever it was… it was moving.  The footsteps rustled just outside her tent, mere feet from where she lay, helplessly cowering in her sleeping bag.  Terrified, she slowly reached an arm from her bag as quietly as she could, reaching for her boyfriend to gain some sort of comfort.

The bag was empty, Alex wasn’t there!

Panic replaced fear as she frantically patted the bag beside her.  If that was Alex stumbling around the camp, wheezing like that, something was terribly wrong.  She knew she should have gotten him out of here sooner, but there was no time to beat herself up about it now.

Struggling to get free from the trappings of her zipped sleeping bag, Sara staggered to the door of tent.  The damn thing was already open!  

“I’m such an idiot,” Sara whispered to herself.  “I should have gotten him out of here yesterday.  God, I knew he needed a doctor, he should have listened to me.  Now I’m gonna have to drag his ass up that fucking hill, in the dark!”

Sara peered out into the darkness through the zippered portal.  The darkness was absolute.  She could barely see the fire pit that marked the center of their camp, and it was only a few yards away, not to mention the tents on the far side being nothing more than a contrast of dark shapes etched onto an even darker backdrop.  Sara scanned her surroundings, waiting for her eyes to adjust.  The sky emitted a soft glow, doing little to illuminate the situation; the clouds creating a dense barrier, capturing the brilliant moonlight and eagerly consuming it.  

To her left, she saw the faintest glimmer reflecting off the ground, the calm ripples of the lake’s surface shimmered in the dim light.  To the right, there was nothing but darkness.  The forest created a black void in the land, engulfing all it touched in its shadows; a great big nothing.

It’s just dark outside, you’re not afraid of the dark.  Not since the third grade.  

“Alex?” She whispered softly.

A rustle in the brush at the far end of the campsite answered her.

“Alex?  Are you going to the bathroom?” She whispered.  There were no bathrooms out here in the middle of nowhere, which Sara hated almost as much as she hated Alex’s friends, so it was possible that all the noises she had heard were nothing more than an evening constitutional.  Sara wretched at the thought, squatting in the dark without knowing what lurked in the shrubbery below… she cringed, shaking away the disturbing image.

“Goddamn it, Alex.  Are you out there?”

Nothing.

Sara pulled herself from the tent, standing just outside the opening, squinting in the dark to see if she could catch a glimpse of Alex off in the distance.  Even though her eyes had begun to adjust, it was still too dark to see that far away.  A sudden chill hit her and she realized she was still wearing her short hiking shorts and tank top from the day before, not the best choice of clothing to be out in right now.  Too exhausted by all the bullshit that she had endured over the past couple of days to care, Sara wrapped her arms tightly around her chest, rubbing her arms briskly to keep herself warm.  As long as her top half was comfortable, her legs would be fine.

 “Alex, where are you?  This isn’t funny.”

Sara looked around the site again, the fire pit had become easier to make out.  The circle of stacked stones formed a large pit that spanned a diameter of over eight feet, and the earth within had been dug away, making room for quite the bonfire.  The stones were charred black all along the innards of the pit, caking everything in a soot so thick it acted as a mortar for the stones, holding them fast in place.  She thought the size of it was ridiculous from the moment they arrived, a fire big enough to fill that pit would surely catch the entire forest on fire.  And by the state of things, it was probably a miracle the morons hadn’t set the world ablaze while she slept.  To the left of the pit lay a pile of wood, much smaller than the last time she saw it just before she went to bed.  Then there were the beer cans… a littering of cans were scattered throughout the entire campsite, which irritated Sara more than anything else.  Neither she nor Alex had had any fun this entire trip and all of their friends decided to have an alcohol fueled party, without them.  

Something to her right caught her eye.  Someone was laying on the ground, probably passed out.  She knew exactly who it was, not because she could actually see him but because the figure was fat.

“Fuckin’ fat ass,” Sara quietly bemoaned to herself.  The stoner must have gotten too drunk, or stoned… or both.  Only Splint was sloppy enough to pass out at anytime, anywhere.

She scanned the campsite to see if she could make out anything else, though her eyes had adjusted, it was still too dark to see past the tents across the way.  With nothing to see, and no reply to be heard, Sara decided that enough was enough.  The time had come to walk her happy ass into the menacing forest to find her sick boyfriend.

He’s never going to hear the end of this.

But worry had begun to settle into her thoughts, if he had collapsed in the woods he would need her help.  No matter how frustrating this entire endeavor had been, she didn’t want to see anything bad happen to him, she did love him after all.  

Sara stepped away from the tent, circling around to the right of the huge fire pit, walking right by the drunken idiot that had passed out in the…

Sara stopped suddenly.  

Her frazzled mind must have been playing tricks on her... It had to have been.  That was the only explanation for what she saw, or thought she saw.  In the dark, things are not always as they appear, but what she thought she saw, looked absolutely real, and absolutely horrid.

She turned back toward the drunken mess slowly, head leading the way.  From where she stood, only the shape of Splint’s body could be seen, a blobby shadow sprawled in the grass.  As she stepped closer, the temperature outside seemed to plummet, and rubbing her arms had begun to chafe.  The chill seemed to attack her naked skin, assaulting her body until it began to quake.  And with every step forward, the world grew colder still, and somehow quieter, like the earth held its breath in anticipation.

The shadowed figure became more defined as she approached.  His feet were nearest her, heavy boots covered in a mass of dust and smeared with grassy stains.  The boots gave way to a pair of stout legs; he was still wearing the same shorts from the day before, same t-shirt, same everything.  She carried her eyes across his body, panning from foot to…

Sara quickly turned away, a wave of nausea gurgled deep in her stomach, but she managed to hold it at bay.  Her fear had been realized.  Even with her head turned away, she could still see his chubby freckled cheeks, his curly mop of red hair… Splint’s body lay stomach down, but his lifeless eyes stared straight toward the clouded night sky.  A trickle of blood ran from his open mouth, the pooled liquid overflowing into a larger puddle that haloed his head, staining his orange locks crimson.  

Tears filled her eyes as she choked back the scream that welled up inside her.  She spun in circles, scanning the site for anything else that might be out of place, but there was nothing.  

“Oh my god, oh my god,” she whispered, not wanting to draw any more attention to herself, but the words felt good to get out.  “Where the fuck are you, Alex?  Oh god, why did you have to choose now to go to the bathroom?”

The world silently spun past Sara’s eyes, everything was in its place, but nothing was right.  The utter lack of sound removed all sense of reality, collapsing the pristine picture of natural beauty into a world of nightmares and terror.  Her sleeping bag called to her, a comfortable blanket to hide herself from the darkness, to mask herself from some unknown monstrosity that lurked in the forest, to reveal this was nothing more than a bad dream.

A burst of sound exploded through the silence, a soft crackling of leaves rang out like a shotgun blast from behind her.  Holding her breath, Sara turned towards the noise hesitantly.  Across the campsite, between the two blacked out tents on the other side, a shadowed figure stepped into view.  The tall, thin figure could have easily stood over six feet fully stretched, but slouched horribly, hunching its crooked spine drastically.  Its muscles twitched and shuddered violently, with tightly clenched fists held firmly against its sides.  It paid Sara no heed, and instead focused its attention on the nearest tent.  The shadow’s muscles jerked in sporadic unison as it awkwardly stumbled forward.

Sara screamed out on the inside, begging and pleading to know what had become of Alex.  But, her voice was nowhere to be found.  Fear had taken her, holding her firm and silent in her place.  She tried desperately to turn away, but failed.  Not a single muscle would move, no matter how hard she tried.  Sara had no other choice but to watch.

The shadow slowly leaned forward, jerking and wriggling as it entered the dark tent.  Silence fell across the landscape once more.  After what seemed like an eternity, a commotion arose from within the fabric walls, shattering the deafening silence.  The flimsy shelter shook wildly, booming voices screamed out in fright and anger.  Sara couldn’t make out any words, but could feel the emotions, the panic… the terror that emanated from the fray.

The shadow emerged once again, continuing to hunch forward to the point its arms could drag through the dirt, backing itself slowly from the tent, dragging something out with it.  The naked woman was kicking and screaming wildly as the monster pulled her out by her hair, ripping her from her slumber viciously.  The fabric walls collapsed around her flailing limbs, billowing the sides of the tent wide as it listlessly floated to the ground.   The woman clawed at her attacker’s tight grip to no avail.  She was his victim.

Sara watched as the shadow dragged Nichole, Sara’s lifelong friend, through the grass.  Even though she couldn’t see Nichole’s face, she could imagine her beautiful features twisted in pain and terror.  Sara tried in vain to yell out to her struggling friend, but her own fear still held her.  She could feel her body trembling, her heart pounded in her ears so loudly it drowned out the screams.

The shadow yanked Nichole into the air, effortlessly lifting her from the ground by her chestnut locks; dangling her about like a marionette before an audience of one.  The poor girl cried out in pain, weaving her own hands into the nest of hair in an attempt to relieve the agonizing pressure in her scalp.  The monster twisted itself around, placing Nichole directly into Sara’s view. Tears flowed down her cheeks and dripped freely from her chin, her naked body trembling and slicked with sweat.  Even in the dim light, Sara could see her friend’s perfect body flailing franticly, her breasts heaving in panicked gasps as she kicked her legs out wildly behind her, landing blow after blow against her assailant.  The monster did not flinch.

From under the mass of fabric that used to be a tent, a man yelled out, cursing loudly, slinging a string of obscenities that ran together in one long, unintelligible tantrum.  The folds of the tent rose and fell as James, frantically tried to escape the fabric cocoon he was imprisoned in.  The whole scene reminded Sara of the old Looney Tunes cartoons, and if she didn’t know any better, she could have sworn Yosemite Sam was cursin’ his way out of some whimsical entrapment.  But the image passed as quickly as it came, this was no laughing matter.

James’ struggle lasted less than a minute, and after tearing the tent from his body, he threw the wreckage aside, continuing to curse at it and everything else as he did so.  He stood at least six inches taller than the shadowed man and about twice as wide.  Years of training kept the jock in impeccable shape, and even from this distance, Sara could see his muscles flex and bulge… it wasn’t hard because he too was stark nude.  His nostrils flared as he continued to curse unintelligibly at the shadowed assailant, pointing one large finger in the smaller man’s direction.  James had a temper on him, the only consistent trait he possessed, and one of a thousand traits that Sara didn’t care for, but in that moment it was the only trait that might save them.

“Let her go you fuckin’ freak!” James yelled in the first recognizable syllables he managed to sputter since shaking himself free of the defunct tent.  Taking a step toward the shadow, he dropped his arms low and clenched his fists at his side, puffing his chest wide in an impressive display of masculinity.  Sara could feel his fury, and it filled her with a rising hope that the brutish jock would stand a better chance than Splint had.  Hell, the little stoner couldn’t have defended himself against a Girl Scout, let alone a maniac.  If anyone could end this, it was James.

The shadow did not react. Un-phased by the string of foul language, it went about its business without so much as a glance in James’ direction.  If it heard anything at all, or had an awareness beyond its own doings, the shadow didn’t let on.  Its eyes appeared as dark spheres that reflected like silver coins in the dim light, and remained locked on the naked woman’s body as she squirmed and wriggled in its grasp.  

The dark thing slowly lowered Nichole to her feet and after she was firmly planted, it pulled one of its hands free of the tattered nest of hair as a smile spread across its dark features.  A wide, vicious smile that beamed from the dark mass like a beacon, sinister and wicked, rows of jagged spires jutting from its lips.  But the distance and low light had a way of distorting reality, allowing Sara’s imagination to run rampant.  There was no other explanation for it, her fear had to be twisting her thoughts, but along with the mouth full of jagged teeth it almost appeared as if the man was growing… expanding and bulging with every convulsing twitch and every jolting shudder of its trembling muscles.  The thing began to look more a monster than a man.  

Get a grip Sara, it’s just a man, nothing more!  Pull yourself together!

Ignoring the obscenities that continued to flow from James, the monster twisted its torso awkwardly to the side, sliding its free hand down Nichole’s naked body.  Sara’s mind flashed with graphic images of rape and torture, vividly playing through an infinite number of possible acts the horrid creature could enact upon her.  Nichole didn’t deserve this.  She didn’t deserve to be touched by that thing.  And here Sara stood, petrified by fear, helpless to do anything about it… completely pathetic.  Her vision distorted in violent waves with every thunderous pulse of her racing heart, pounding so intensely it felt like it would burst from her chest.  

Fuck James, stop yelling do something you jack ass!

A movement to the right caught Sara’s attention, drawing her away from the nightmarish thoughts that filled her mind.   As the tent beside her began to rustle softly, Sara’s eyes lighted once again upon the image she would never be able to rid herself of as long as she lived.  

Sara found herself staring at Splint’s body again.  The puddle of blood haloing his red hair had grown exponentially into a large dark pool.  The whole scene reminded her of the old paintings of saints, tranquilly posed with bright light surrounding their bodies.

This was a more demonic version.  

The tent rustled again, louder this time, lending Sara the needed jolt to pull her eyes from the tranquil abomination.  Rob and Jennifer had finally roused from their drunken stupors to join the “festivities.”  And, for the first time since she had met them, Sara found herself overjoyed by their existence.  It could have been the fact that she would have been elated to see anyone else at that moment, but her typical disdain towards them had been replaced by an unfamiliar feeling of rapture; safety in numbers after all.  

The zipper holding the entryway secure squealed along its predetermined path, announcing the latest additions to the escalating situation.  Rob peered out from the zippered doorway, craning his long neck from the flapped opening like a curious bird, cocking his head to one side, questioning silently.  His eyes blinked sluggishly, as one who has just awoken often does, but as he caught focus of the situation… of the shadowed assailant, his drooping features tightened as his eyes began to bulge.  Sara could only imagine what he might be thinking, but he just continued staring straight ahead, as if in a trance, probably deciding if this was all some kind of terrible nightmare.  And as quickly as he emerged, Rob pulled his head back into the tent.

Suddenly, James was on the move.  From the corner of her eye, Sara could see him run forward, swinging wide with a mighty right hook.  His attack was quick and straight forward, nothing flashy, just a single powerful swing fueled by anger.  Sara closed her eyes, she never was one for violence; it never sat right with her.  She was a woman that fancied a good romance, light comedies, and sometimes even a good tragedy; but, violence, gore… horror, were not for her delicate palette. Sara had no intention of watching James annihilate the much smaller shadowed fiend.

But, standing in the cold, eyes closed tightly in her own little piece of darkness, Sara realized that though she despised violence, detested it, she had to force herself to watch… deep inside she needed to know the monster got what it deserved for killing Splint.  A second, more depressing thought occurred to her in that moment of awareness… for the second time in two days, she actually cared about Splint, causing her to shudder with repulsion.

Sara opened her eyes slowly.  She could feel the color drain from her face as a new wave of horror washed over her.  A churning cramp twisted her stomach into knots, stealing the breath from her lungs like she had just gotten sucker-punched in the gut.  The shadowy thing held James’ clenched fist in its hand, twisting his wrist backwards, forcing the strong man to his knees.  James wailed in agony, the painful cries struck Sara’s guts again and again.  She stared, unblinking, as the shadow kicked a man twice its size square in the jaw, effortlessly sending him tumbling backwards, head over heels into the tangle of James’ collapsed tent.  With a jerking twist of its head, the maniacal shadow turned its attention back to its screaming victim, which it still clung to.  

Who the fuck, or… what the fuck is that thing?

“What the hell is going on out here?” Rob exclaimed as he finally emerged from his tent, standing in only his boxer shorts and t-shirt.  

At least he’s not naked.

The small glimmer of hope that filled her just moments before by his presence, was dashed away by the sight of him.  If James was so easily dispatched, what hope did stick figure Rob possibly have?  Though she knew he had an extensive collection of medieval weaponry for his multiple Ren Faire costumes, she doubted he had them here or even knew how to use them.  Sara knew her luck wasn’t that good.

God, what I would give for one of those fuckin’ swords right about now!

After a short struggle with the tent, James was up on his feet again.  He was rubbing his wrist, scowling at the shadow.  His speech had reverted back to the string of foul language.  He wore his anger on his face like a mask, seething hatred seeped from his pores.

James charged ahead again, this time he stooped his shoulder low to take the thing down like he would a linebacker.  As he neared the shadow, time seemed to slow, warping reality to a painful crawl, allowing Sara copious amounts of time to really let everything sink in.  

James’ footfalls appeared painfully slow, and as he drew near, the shadow lashed out with its free arm, sending the larger man flying.  He flailed and tumbled through the air, almost floating, until his body folded backwards around a tree some thirty feet away.  

That sound!

The same sound that ripped her from her slumber screamed across the landscape as James connected with the tree.  His body fell in a limp pile at the base, and there it stayed.  Rob gasped loudly beside her, staggering backwards into the folded doorway, knocking Jennifer back inside.        

Sara closed her eyes again.

Wake up Sara! It’s only a dream!  It can only be a dream!  A nightmare!  

Wake the fuck up!

A blood curdling scream pierced her brain like a spear, drawing Sara away from her denial.  Another scream let loose, this time it was cut short, replaced by a gasping sputter of gagging liquid and meaty crack of bone.  The sounds swirled through her thoughts, spinning her in a dizzying blur.  Sara cracked her eyes open, afraid if she kept them closed she would collapse under her own weight.

“NO!” she screamed loudly, breaking her silence.  There was so much blood… everywhere.  The shadow held Nichole’s body above its head, basking in a red waterfall that flowed from her broken form.  A new feeling welled in the pits of Sara’s stomach, her fear melted away, and was replaced by hatred.

You’re gonna pay for this!

Rob charged ahead like a bumbling stick figure, awkwardly flailing his arms as he ran ahead.  She couldn’t imagine what he actually intended to do, did he watch the same thing she had?  Didn’t he see what that thing just did to James?  What it did to… Nichole?  Maybe he was charging ahead to get it over with, to meet the inevitability of the situation head on.  

That’s not the way Sara wanted her life to end, not at the hands of some psychopathic nut job killer… hell, not at the hands of anyone!  She searched the campsite with her eyes, there had to be something, anything that could be used as a weapon.

There!

The sounds of splintered bone scraping and crackling, of wet sloppy flesh ripping and tearing sickeningly emanated from across the site.  Sara flashed a glance, only for a moment, but just in time to watch Nichole’s lifeless body sail through the air and strike Rob hard in the chest.  He toppled backwards, entangled with the fresh corpse in a heap on the ground.  Blood splattered everything within ten feet, showering the campsite in globs of crimson.  Rob struggled to free himself from under the tattered, naked body.  The bloody soaked rag doll made it hard for him to find his grip.

The shadow was on the move, but Sara paid no attention to it.  Her focus was only on obtaining the weapon she had spotted.  Free of the spellbinding fear, Sara moved quickly, not wanting to give the monster a chance to get its hands on her.  Sprinting with a speed she didn’t even know she possessed, she made her way towards the dwindling pile of wood on the opposite side of the fire pit.  Before she could think about what she was doing, Sara planted her right foot atop the ring of stones and with a mighty expulsion of hate-fueled energy she launched herself across the gaping maw of smoldering embers.

Sara landed hard on the other side of the pit, an eruption of pain burst from her left heel as the sharp edge of the stone ring dug a deep groove into the tender flesh.  She wanted to yelp in pain, but held it in.  The shadow had almost reached Rob who continued to struggle with Nichole’s body.  There wasn’t much time, Sara had to act quickly.

Though violence was not in her nature, the thought of all she had lost in the past few minutes filled her with the passion to act, filled her with the will to survive.  She grabbed the weapon and rushed full speed ahead, impaling the murderer on a large stick the boys had fashioned into a poker.  The sharpened point, hardened by flame, pierced the monster just below the ribcage on its right side.  Sara didn’t know what organs she just shish-kabobbed, but she knew it had to have struck something vital.

No one could continue after that!

With a movement quicker than Sara’s eyes could detect, the monster’s strong hand curled around her neck, gripping her tightly in its grasp.  A pain she never knew existed enveloped her, blurring her peripherals in a haze of white.  She stared at the branch, amazed at the amount of blood pouring from the wound.  There was blood on her hands, she could see that much, but Sara couldn’t feel it.  She raised her head to look into the eyes of her undoer.

Sara felt the blood rush from her body, not by an outward wound, but by shock.  Suddenly cold, the world felt cruel and heartless.  Never in a million years did she think the monster could have been him.  Sara stared ahead, unblinking and unaware of anything else.

Alex’s face stared back, twisted by rage, thick streams of foam frothed from his curled lips.  His eyes looked through her like they had never met, there were no emotions there.  Nothing but a burning pit of hot, boiling rage.  His eyes caught hers, and even in the darkness she could see them, could see something flowing inside his vacant orbs, like liquid silver floating within.

Sara screamed!

Next Chapter: Opening Scenes (Tainted Script)