“We’re lost aren’t we?” Ava asked in a mocking tone, looking up at Liam.
“Nuh uh, we’re not lost! I know exactly where I’m going,” Liam said confidently, puffing out his bony chest.
“Okay… then where’s the trail? Why is it the only thing we see are trees for miles upon miles?”
“We’re taking a shortcut,” Liam quickly smirked.
Ava replied with an attitude, “Well, if someone didn’t take us through the back roads we would have been okay.”
“I thought it would be good for us to go on an adventure.”
Emma cut in, “Will you two be quiet for just five minutes? I need to figure out how to save our asses before we get eaten by wolves.”
Liam turned to her, “Don’t worry, I know where we’re going. We just need to walk for a couple more minutes.”
Three hours had passed and they were still walking. Hundreds of crickets loudly chirped across the Pennsylvanian woods. Toads croaking in the distance, hidden in the dead bushes. The three friends had to constantly duck under heavy, low hanging, branches that hung from the trees. Long, thin, twigs scratched against their exposed legs. It was about 10:30 at night and they were becoming worried.
Earlier that day around 6:00 in the afternoon, Liam took them out for a drive. They drove to an unfamiliar part of the woods that they had never been to, looking for adventure. They were on an empty back-dirt road until eventually, the road was cut off by tall trees.
They each got out of the car and stared up at the purple sunset shining behind the trees. Liam took a long, exaggerated whiff of the crisp autumn air, “Nature is so beautiful, isn’t it?”
Liam was a scrawny 17-year-old. He had short, brown, scruffy hair and loved to be outdoors. He had bushy eyebrows that he always tried to tame and had tiny hairs on the end of his chin in his attempt to grow a beard. He always seemed to think that everything was a joke which sometimes frustrated people. He was also not the brightest person in the world. He always found a way to lose everything, no matter how important it was.
Emma was a very smart girl. She had short, black, luscious hair. She was very fit and was the star on their high school track team. She had a lot of charm and never let any kind of pressure get the best of her. She always knew what to do; she had the qualities of a leader. She did everything with confidence and never questioned herself.
Ava was Emma’s little sister. She was nine years old and had shiny, long, brunette hair. She always stood awkwardly and had big round glasses. Ava and Emma always had the typical sibling love hate relationship. She didn’t have a lot of friends so she always hung out with Emma and Liam. Liam considered them family and had no problem with her tagging along.
It was late fall so the night came quickly and brought a chilly breeze with it. The trees had begun to lose their beautiful colored leaves, leaving thousands on the ground. The small breeze lifted the leaves off of the ground making a slight rustling noise as they passed against each other.
It was a full moon, rays of light glistened between the trees allowing them to have a source of light. A ghostly blue fog crept onto the ground and slowly crawled across their feet.
“Guys, this is getting really scary,” Ava whimpered. “Can we please take a break?”
“It’s okay Ava, we can use the light from the moon to see. How lucky are we that there’s a full moon tonight?” Liam asked in a positive tone, trying to cheer everyone up.
Emma stopped in her tracks and gave Liam a deadly stare, “Lucky?” she asked through her teeth. “You consider us being lost in the middle of the woods lucky!?”
“Yes?” Liam nervously replied, knowing he had upset Emma.
“You make me so angry,” she turned around and continued walking. Liam could almost see the steam coming out of her ears.
Liam quickly changed the subject, trying to lighten the mood, “Come on guys, I bet the trail is just up ahead.”
“Wait a minute,” Emma stopped walking again. “Who on earth put you in charge?”
“Well, I mean it only makes sense,” Liam shrugged, “I’m the one who knows where to go.”
“Oh you are now?” Emma crossed her arms and put on a stressful smile.
“Oh boy, here we go,” Ava rolled her eyes.
“First of all,” Emma began to rant, “you’re the reason why we’re lost in the first place. Second of all, we’ve been walking for hours with no phone service. We’re obviously not going toward any trail of any kind because we would have found it by now!”
Ava pitched in, “Yeah, I bet you just made us more lost!”
Liam tried to defend himself, “Will you guys relax? I know exactly what I’m doing. I’ve watched so many survivor shows it’s ridiculous. We can’t give up, we have to keep walking and eventually we’ll find something just you wait.”
As the three friends were walking, something changed in the atmosphere. The crickets stopped their chirping and the toads stopped croaking. A heavy silence overcame the dark woods.
Then, in the darkness, a deep, monstrous, roar sprang from the distance. The noise of fluttering wings rang out from the trees, black crows cawing loudly as they flew away. Everyone froze and held their breath trying to process what they had just heard.
Liam's stomach sank, “What the hell was that?”
Emma tried to reply but couldn’t form the words. Her body ran with emotions; her heart jumped to her throat and she thought she was going to cry.
Ava felt an alarming amount of anxiety and began to cry. They had never heard a scream like that before. It was so powerful that it shook the ground beneath them, so horrific that it sent a chill down their spines. It sounded larger than any animal they knew about, and it sounded angry.
Still crying, Ava spoke up, “Is a monster going to eat us?”
“No, that was just a bear,” Liam said softly, trying to calm her down. “We just have to be careful that’s all.”
Emma shot Liam a worried look and before anyone could say anything else, the same scream boomed throughout the woods once again. Its scream bouncing off the trees creating a bone chilling echo.
“Uh, we should probably run now,” Liam suggested.
“No, are you crazy? If we run we would make so much noise through the leaves,” Emma whispered in a panic.
“How’s this for an adventure, eh?” Liam whispered through a playful smile.
“Of course you think this is a game,” Ava scoffed.
Emma signaled everyone to kneel down, “Somehow, we’re eventually going to have to hide. We don’t know if we can outrun it so we need to stay quiet.”
They all sat quietly, closely listening to their surroundings. They all heard someone quickly approaching, running through the leaves.
In the short distance, they saw a silhouette running towards them. They all braced themselves for what was coming but the person ran right past them, not even noticing they were there. It was a girl and she ran with a limp, holding her arm as she ran.
Liam instantly turned to Emma, “Don’t you dare.”
Emma quietly stood up, “Whoever she is, she needs our help so I’m gonna go after her.”
“Okay, and what are we gonna do?”
Emma looked over at Ava who was hugging her knees against a tree.
“No,” Liam shook his head, “I’m not being put on babysitting duty.”
“She’s nine years old, I can’t just leave her here by herself.”
“Then why can’t we all just go?”
“You know that would be too loud. Liam, just stay here, please. I’ll be back quickly, I promise,” Emma begged.
“Fine,” Liam rolled his eyes.
Ava's small voice rose from the ground, “Thanks guys, I really feel the love here.”
Ignoring Ava, Emma looked around making sure the coast was clear. She turned to Liam, “There’s nobody else around so I’m gonna go.”
Emma ran off after the other person. Liam didn’t want to sit there alone while Emma was able to do all the action. Instead he was stuck with babysitting.
Liam sighed and looked down at Ava who was still hugging her knees, “You know we’re okay, right? There hasn’t been a scream for a while.”
Ava looked up at Liam, “Dude, the last time the monster screamed was not even a minute ago.”
Liam sat down across from Ava, his back against a tree, “Hey c’mon now, what did we talk about? Monsters aren’t real. It was just a bear or some other wild animal.”
“I’m not stupid, I’m nine years old. I think I know what a bear sounds like and that wasn’t a bear.”
“Okay fine, maybe it was a monster. I honestly don’t know what it could be.”
Ava started bawling, “Why would you tell me that!? You’re supposed to tell me that I’m wrong and that monsters really don’t exist! We’re gonna get eaten!”
“Oh God, I’m gonna be a terrible dad one day…” Liam sighed. “Ava, you have to be quiet or else the 'whatever’ is going to find us.”
Ava quieted herself down and wiped away her tears.
“You know Ava, there’s a song called Big Girls Don't Cry. You should give it a listen.”
“But I am a big girl!” Ava exclaimed, trying to toughen herself up.
“Oh, you are now, huh? If you’re such a big girl, then you can stay right here while I go after your sister, right? I just need to make sure she’s okay.”
Hesitantly, Ava quietly whimpered, “Yeah, that’s okay… I’m a big girl, I can handle it.”
Liam softly grabbed Ava, “Okay, then you stay right here and don't leave, okay?”
Ava gave Liam a slow head nod. Liam stood up looking at Ava. He knew Emma would kill him for this but he wanted to help too. Liam’s parents would leave him alone at the house when he was nine so this was okay. Right?
Liam gave Ava one last stern look, “Remember, you stay right here and you don’t go anywhere else, got it? If you have to run, you yell and we will come right back, okay?”
Ava gave another short nod, her chin hiding in her sweater. Liam smiled at Ava and then turned around and ran, following Emma's footprints in the dirt.
Emma followed the stranger for a while when she finally started to slow down.
Emma whispered out to her, “Hey!”
She turned around looking toward Emma, “I can’t keep running from you...I give up!” she cried out, falling to her knees.
“It’s okay! I’m not going to hurt you,” Emma calmly said, walking toward her.
“Who are you?” the stranger asked.
Emma walked up to her and held out her hand, “My name’s Emma, what’s yours?”
“My name’s Dylin.”
The girl was lengthy and had small twigs stuck in between her thick, curly, hair. She had a small, pointy nose and her face was covered in dirt and sweat. There were clean streaks that ran down her dirty cheeks.
Emma knelt down and lightly put her hand on Dylin's shoulder, “Why were you running?”
“You don’t know? There’s a monster here,” she began to tear up, “I was walking and all of a sudden I felt footsteps.”
“You felt footsteps?” Emma asked, not sure if she heard Dylin correctly.
Dylin loudly gulped, nodding up at her, “They were huge. I felt the ground shake and at first I didn’t know what was happening. I thought maybe an earthquake was happening but I quickly realized the shaking came in patterns. It was in the pattern of like someone walking and it kept getting closer to me. I ran to go hide and found a log to crawl behind. That thing passed by me, making me hop off the ground with every step it took. I caught a glimpse of it and it was huge. It must have been 25 feet tall and it was covered in fur.”
“Yeah okay,” Emma sarcastically said, “so basically you’re telling me you saw Bigfoot?”
“I don’t know what I saw. But it started sniffing the air and I think it was tracking my scent so while its back was turned to me I decided to run. I think it heard me because when I started running it let out a terrifying shriek. I looked back and accidentally tripped over a rock and fell on my arm.”
“Did the monster follow you?”
“I don’t think so; I got up and started running again and I didn’t hear anything behind me.”
“So, you’re out here all alone?”
“Yeah, what about you?”
“No, my friend’s with my little sister right now. I left them to follow you.”
Dylin’s eyes widened, “You left them alone?
Emma chuckled, “Well yeah, I knew that if they followed me it would have made too much noise.”
“You don’t understand, the monster isn’t our only problem. This place has a mind of its own. It draws people in.”
“Do you mean the woods?” Emma asked, looking around her.
“Yes, this place messes with your mind. The reason why I’m here in the first place is because I accidentally got lost. I was hiking on a trail here when I heard a small waterfall. It sounded close enough for me to go safely check it out. So, being the curious person that I am, I went to go see it. I was walking for longer than I thought I would be and I realized that the sound of the crashing water was never getting any closer. It stayed the same distance the entire time. I thought that maybe my ears tricked me earlier and the waterfall was actually farther away than what it sounded like. So, I decided to forget about it and head back to the trail. When I turned around, the sound of the waterfall suddenly vanished.
“In the snap of a finger I was surrounded in silence. All I could hear was the sound of the subtle wind blowing through the trees and leaves. I felt alone and vulnerable, like something or someone was watching me. I looked around and realized that I had forgotten which area I came from. I started second guessing myself, I kept changing my mind about which way I should go. I couldn’t even trust myself at that point. I started to panic and without hesitation I just ran. Without knowing where the hell I was going, I obviously got lost and I’ve been looking for the trail ever since. It’s like this place has lured and trapped me here and isn’t going to let me out. And it looks like it’s not going to let you guys out either.”
“Well, we didn’t know that! We just came here looking for a fun little adventure and now we’re stuck in this mess.”
Before anyone could say anything else, the crack of a stick echoed behind them. Their heads sharply turned, seeing nothing but the floating fog around them.
Emma’s breathing began to get rapid, “What was that?”
Dylin shrugged, “How am I supposed to know? I was literally right here with you, I didn’t see what made that noise.”
Emma ignored Dylin’s sarcastic remark, “Let’s get behind a tree and hide.”
“Alright, let’s go,” Dylin quickly and quietly ran over and hid behind a thick tree.
Emma followed, staring at the area where the noise came from. When they reached the tree a black silhouette emerged through the fog walking towards them. Emma looked down and saw a thick branch on the leaf infested ground. She picked it up and with her heart beating, she ran toward the figure. They saw Emma coming and tried to turn around and run. Emma easily caught up to them and swung toward the person's head with full force. The person's body went limp as they flew forward landing on their chest. Emma stared at the unconscious body laying on the cold floor. Breathing hard and feeling accomplished she knelt down and flipped them over revealing that it was Liam.
A hot red flushed Emma’s face, “You idiot! Why did you sneak up on us like that!?” she screamed at him.
Dylin came walking over, “Do you know this guy?”
“Yeah he’s the one friend I came with.”
“Didn’t you say your little sister came too?”
“Yeah he was with her when I left to go follow you…” Emma's voice trailed off.
“Well, where is she?” Dylin asked, bending over trying to wake Liam up.
Emma’s breathing started to pick up again, “I don’t know, I don’t see her. I swear, if he left her by herself, I’m going to whack him with that branch again.”
“Damn girl, how hard did you hit this dude? I don’t think you have to do that. He’s bleeding from the back of his head already, he could be seriously hurt right now.”
“He’ll be fine. Right now, I have to find my sister.”
“Wait… isn’t that her over there?” Dylin asked, pointing out to a dark silhouette in the distance.
Farther in the distance there was a dark figure staring at them. It was tall and unusually lengthy, standing perfectly still. It noticed Emma and Dylin staring at it and started to walk toward them. It walked with a stride, its feet never lifting off of the ground. White appeared on its face as an exaggerated smile crept onto it, smiling ear to ear.
Emma started to back away, “That’s definitely not her.”
“Who is that then?” Dylin shot up in a panic.
“I have no idea. We need to go.”
The dark figure was steadily getting closer, the sound of rustling leaves growing louder.
Liam woke up and looked around, “What happened?” he groaned with agony.
“Liam, you need to stand up right now,” Emma whispered to him.
“Why, what's happening?” he touched the back of his head and winced, “What the hell happened to my head!?” he saw his fingers covered in blood.
The dark figure was now hovering over Liam laying on the ground.
Liam looked up and saw the figure's sinister smile, “What is that?”
Dylin and Emma were quietly watching behind a tree. The dark figure looked up from Liam and matched their eyes. Its smile slowly vanished and it stepped over Liam beginning to stride over to the girls. Dylin froze in fear while Emma left them and ran for her life. The figure went up to Dylin’s face which was covered in a cold sweat. Its hot breath blew against her face.
The figure had grey, flaky skin, almost looking like it was covered in chalk. Its eyes were as black as coal and sunk into its bony face. It was sickly skinny, its cheeks sunk in exposing its cheekbones and jawline. Its teeth were as sharp as knives, its snakelike tongue rubbing against them. It smelt rotten, Dylin winced from the scent.
“Your friend left you. That’s not very nice of her, now is it?” it whispered in a low, eerie and calming voice.
Dylin whimpered, looking away from the being that stood in front of her.
It gave her a small smirk and a playful wink, “I’ll go get her.”
It darted toward Emma who was already a long distance away. It moved with inhuman-like speed.
Liam slowly lifted himself off of the ground and stumbled over to Dylin in a panic, “Where’s it going? What did it say to you?”
She didn’t acknowledge him and stared at the ground in silence.
“What did it say!?” he shook her shoulders trying to snap her back into reality.
She continued staring at the ground not making a noise. Liam gave up trying to talk to her and ran after Emma.
Back when Liam left Ava, she immediately regretted being left alone. She looked around her foggy surroundings, feeling someone's eyes on her. Ignoring what Liam told her to do, she began wondering around. She walked cautiously, constantly looking over her shoulder. Her imagination ran wild as she thought about the horrid things the monster could look like. It could look like a zombie from the movies or could even look like a werewolf that would eat her.
Ava was staring at her shoes as she walked when she heard a loud crash ahead of her. She shot her head up and saw nothing.
A voice whispered behind her, “He’s coming for you.”
Ava turned around and saw nobody there. Her stomach dropped and she started crying. She then felt the ground start to rumble in the pattern of footsteps. Every step made the leaves jump off of the ground and made Avas stomach sink lower and lower. Ava looked around and found a thick tree to hide behind. The steps grew closer and closer until they felt like they were right on top of her. She could hear the creature's loud breathing.
“You won’t get away this time,” the creature whispered to itself in a low, deep voice.
Obnoxiously sniffing the air, it smelt Ava's scent. It could hear her rapid breathing behind a tree. The tree that Ava was hiding behind was ripped off of the ground and thrown to the floor. The creature stood 25 feet tall, towering over her. Drool dripped from its mouth as it smiled at Ava, showing its crooked yellow teeth. Its body was engulfed in dark, knotty fur.
“Found you,” it said in a deeply calm voice.
Ava let out a blood curdling scream and tried to run away. The hairy creature's giant hand reached down and swept her off of the ground, bringing her in front of its face.
“You look like a tasty treat,” it spat onto her face. Its drool hid Ava's tears running down her face.
Ava cried, begging the creature to let her go. It gave her a smirk and tossed her tiny body into its mouth. Its sharp teeth effortlessly pierced through her body. It chewed through her organs, blood gushing with every bite. The loud crunching of her bones echoed in its hollow mouth. It smiled as Ava’s warm, thick, syrupy blood spewed out of its large lips, dripping down its hairy chin. It wiped it off with its large finger and licked it clean, enjoying every last bit.
After it swallowed what was left of Ava, it started to walk deeper into the woods and chuckled to itself, “Time to find the rest of them.”
Liam was following the marks of long strides in the leaves. In the distance he could hear the noise of something heavy fall to the ground. He continued walking through the dead leaves and saw a dark silhouette of a girl's body laying on the cold floor. He ran over and saw Emma's lifeless face looking up at him. The color in her face had vanished and her eyes were open, filled with terror.
She had a clean, deep, cut that ran across her throat. No blood was leaking out as if it had already drained out of her. Liam looked around but saw no one. He heard the sound of crunching rapidly approach him. He spun around and saw Dylin running toward him.
“Look who decided to come back to Earth,” Liam snarled at Dylin.
Panting, Dylin pointed to Emma's corpse, “I don't know where we are but it sure as hell isn’t Earth.”
“What did that thing say to you?”
“It told me that it was going to kill Emma and that it was going to come back for us. With something stronger.”
“What are we going to do?” Liam put his hands over his head.
“There’s nothing we can do,” Dylin hopelessly sighed.
“There has to be something,” Liam started before he was cut off by the ground shaking beneath him.
The ground shook in the familiar pattern he felt earlier with Emma and Ava. He widened his eyes as the steps grew closer and closer. Dylin sat down and put her face in her hands.
“What are you doing? Get up we have to run!” Liam pleaded at Dylin.
“There’s no point. No matter how far we run it will always find us. I’m giving up, if you want to run then go but I’m staying here.”
Liam disapprovingly shook his head at Dylin and bolted away. He didn’t look back and kept running. He questioned himself if he was doing the right thing leaving her behind. He began questioning if she was right. No matter where he went, he would always be found.
Liam felt the footsteps come to a halt and heard a deep echo from afar, “Got you!”
He kept running, his lungs exhausted with every breath. He rested behind a tree to take a small break. He tried to keep his panting low but to no avail. Through his loud breaths he heard the cracking of leaves creeping in behind him. Then, the thumping of the ground began and the pattern was of something running towards him. He knew that he wasn’t hiding from it and it knew exactly where he was.
He started to jog away but was too tired and weak to continue at his normal speed. The steps crept close behind him until they were right above him. Liam turned around and saw a gigantic hairy beast running after him with the familiar dark silhouette peering over its shoulder. The figure turned and whispered into the beast's ear. It snorted and ran faster, passing Liam. Then, the dark figure detached itself from the beasts back and was facing Liam.
“You know, I have to give you credit, my friend,” it calmly told Liam, “out of everyone you were the hardest to catch. You never gave up and lucky for me I like a challenge,” it grinned, exposing its white teeth.
It started to stride closer to Liam, its hands behind its back. Liam took a step back and the chalky figure began to shake its head.
“No, you don’t need to do that. You’ve been running for a while now, please have a rest.” It calmly smiled.
“Please, let me go!” Liam pleaded.
“Isn’t this what you wanted?” it pleasantly chuckled, “I’m giving you the adventure of a lifetime and you want to be let free when it takes a turn you didn’t expect? That’s what makes the adventure even better!”
“Let me go, please,” Liam pleaded again.
The smile on the figure's face faded, “No, I’m sorry. That’s not how this works,” it shook its head frustratingly striding to Liam.
Before Liam had time to react, the figure grabbed his head and began crushing it. Liam tried to back away but the figure's strength was too strong for him to handle. The figure continuously whipped Liam's head to the side slamming it against a tree, his face scraping against the rugged bark. The crack of Liam's skull bounced off the trees, echoing through the air. The tree was drenched with Liam's bright blood, easily flowing down it. Chunks of his brain were stuck in between the cracks of the tree as steam hovered over it.
The figure dropped Liam's lifeless body to the floor. A pool of blood surrounded him as he laid there. The figure carefully picked Liam's pieces of brain off of the tree and plopped them into its mouth. Afterwards, it bent down and grabbed Liam by the ankles and began dragging his body, leaving a trail of Liam's blood behind.
Written by Zdias01