Hungry! Hungry. Feed! Feed. The voice echoed through the dark halls of the old mansion.
“Hush, dear self. I will get us food soon enough. We must be patient.”
Eat! Eat. Eat! Eat. Hungry! Hungry. Feed! Feed. The voice was impatient as it grew in intensity with each uttered desire.
“Silence!” The word was spoken harshly.
The echoing voice subsided.
“Patience, dear self.” This time the words were spoken more softly. “Time will come. Trust me. Have I ever failed before?”
It was getting closer.
“Why did I leave that bloody village!?” he quavered. His heart pounded furiously in his chest, making it difficult to breathe. Getting air into his already overworked lungs was a battle, and saying the words out loud only took away what little oxygen he already sustained. Even so, he spoke as a way of trying to fight back the fear that kept him running all this time. He’d been running for a day, he thought. Perhaps more. “Damn that woman!”
Low hanging tree branches whipped at his face; one particularly sharp branch cut into the flesh beneath his eye, drawing blood. Other claw-like limbs hooked on his clothes, tearing the already tattered fabric that had once been a fine business suit. It was ill-fitted attire for running, but he hadn’t exactly expected to be running for his life through some god-forsaken forest!
He forced his way through a thorny bush that threatened to halt his advance and kept running. His legs felt as though they were on fire and cramps threatened to tear his sides apart. Still, he pushed on.
“Damn this forest. Damn that woman. And damn whatever fate saw fit to bring me here!” he shouted as he sprinted through the trees.
Up ahead he could see a trench in the forest floor. He couldn’t be sure how wide it was, but it was clear he’d have to jump. “I’m too old for this,” he grunted thinking back to his track days. If he’d been a younger man, this would be nothing to him. Calling on every memory of his high school glory days, he leapt into the air. The trench was smaller than anticipated, and he cleared it easily enough, but his tired legs gave way underneath him on the landing, causing him to roll to a dizzying stop.
For a moment, his body gave into the rest it so badly craved. He lay still, seizing the opportunity to catch his breath before shaking his head to clear it of the stars that floated just in front of his vision. When the world stopped spinning, he knew he had to get back up. “You can’t stay here,” he chided himself, “or that thing will catch you. Get up!”
A shock of pain flashed fiercely through his ankle and up his leg the moment he pushed himself upward. The sensation caused his leg to give way and he collapsed onto his stomach in the dried leaves that littered the ground.
Glancing back at his foot, he saw blood seeping through his once white sock. He reached a shaking hand toward his ankle but stopped in mid-reach as the hairs on the back of his neck suddenly stood on end. The all too familiar scent of death curled up and clouded his senses.
He twisted his neck slowly in a jerking motion, his muddy brown eyes wide as he surveyed the surrounding forest. “No,” he squeaked.
It was walking toward him. The smell of it was suffocating. If it weren’t for the clenching fear that gripped his body he would have retched.
“Did you really think you could get away?” a sinister voice asked in a too-sweet tone.
He saw a shadow standing just on the other side of the trench. The monstrous creature had drawn his attention, so he hadn’t noticed the other person. Not a person, he thought fearfully. “Please,” he whispered, eyes glued on the shadow.
The being laughed, a tinkling sound that should have been melodious and beautiful. Instead, it was twisted and hideous. “Please, what?”
“I was wrong before. What she wrote, I shouldn’t have criticized it like I did. If you let me go, I’ll do whatever it takes. Please, don’t kill me. Not like Barker.” He wasn’t making any sense. All his thoughts were jumbled up, he couldn’t get a single thought complete.
The figure cocked its head to one side. “Barker? Whatever his name was, I didn’t kill him.”
Kill! Kill. Eat! Eat. Death! Death. Mine! Mine. The voices began with such ferocity that even his screams were drowned by their cacophony.
“Hush,” the shadow said in a calm command. When the voices hushed the shadow continued. “Have you any other pleas?”
He stared wide-eyed at the creature that now stood over him like a giant spider while he was the fly. His thoughts stopped and his mouth hung open uselessly.
The beast opened its mouth and he screamed. The last thing he saw was a sick blackness, and the splattering of his own blood.
How did it come to this?