November 30, 2008
By cody donner, Phoenix, AZ

Even if we try to avoid the whisperings of the demons, they will only try harder to connect to you. They may even appear to you, as beings of different sorts, but you will know they are evil. They cannot manifest themselves in perfection. If such things appear to your eyes or in your dreams it is best to call upon your nearest priest…
Karen slammed the book shut. Sighing in frustration, she threw it aside, not caring if she broke the spine. Screw the damage policy. She had hit another religious dead end. And she wasn’t hesitating to show her frustration.
She brushed her blonde hair away from her eyes, letting it rest down the middle of her back. She did not need another sermon. She needed answers. Grabbing another book in the stack beside her, she flipped it open to a random page, and scanned the words. She quickly removed another book from her sight and let it pile up with the useless books beside her. She, as always, was getting nowhere.
She sighed again, and leaned back in the cushioned chair in the public library of Drews. She was the only one who ever came to the small insignificant building, as proven by the empty sights all around her. All that surrounded her miniature tables were shelves upon shelves of books that had sat and collected dust for five years. Karen had no idea why they had kept the building alive for such a time as that.
The only reason Karen bunked in the dismal town was because of its small but respectable private college that further strengthened her knowledge in artistic design. The best in the country, she had read during her searches for the proper colleges. She wasn’t sure if that statement was actually true, but being in the town still had its other positive effects. It was an isolated town, far from any real city or civilization. And yet, no one wanted to know each other. People went about their own business, not bothering each other with trivial matters. They kept to themselves. Karen’s version of heaven.
Karen stared at the miniscule clock on the wall, letting out its indiscreet clicks as the second hand twisted its way around the face. 6:30.
“Crap…” she whispered. She quickly scooped up all the unread books and dumped them into her backpack that lay limply beside her chair. She zipped it up quickly and slid it around her shoulder. Pulling the hair band off of her wrist, she pulled her hair into a furrowed ponytail. Finally, she adjusted her sweater, covering the last bits of her arm as she prepared for the brisk autumn weather.
Karen slowly plodded down the stone walkway. Her breath blew out in foggy wisps, wavering in the air until her face pushed through it. Her hand was gripped tightly around her pack's strap, holding it in the unstable place on her shoulder. Her eyes shifted back and forth nervously as she walked down the steps of the library.
She knew they were watching as she walked down the sidewalk under the luminescent signs portraying ads. She quickened her pace, knowing that they would still follow even if she did go faster. They would always follow her. She wouldn't be able to escape.
And yet she ran, hoping to get away. No matter. They were everywhere, in the cracks beneath her feet; in the lights that illuminated her body- she could never avoid them.
Karen continued to run down the street. The moon had a crimson glow to it- the sign that they were here tonight. She shook her head furiously. She was so paranoid. Maybe it was just all in her head. Maybe she did imagine the shadows that had haunted her. She looked at the blackened scars that covered her arms, safely tucked underneath her sleeve. No. They were real; they gave this pain to her. She needed to get away.
The moon showed itself in full glint now. The sun was gone, her only protection from them outside her home. She was in a full sprint now along the edge of a hill as she desperately tried to make it to her last sanctuary: her apartment.
She tripped. Her feet left their firm hold beneath her and sent her sprawling down the hill beside her. She could feel the jagged rocks tear the skin away from her body. Her thin blonde ponytail was ripped free and flew all over, leaving strands all around her. Her knee hit hard on one of the many stones, a sickening snap reverberated from it. She let out a gasp as the pain quickly shot through her body. Her body finally rolled raggedly to a stop at the lowest point of the hill.
She let out a low groan as she tried to regain her senses. She suddenly realized the position she was in, and tried to stand. Her knee would not comply, and replied with such pain that made her scream. She studied her leg with what little light she had, and could easily tell that it had been shattered. Her skin was already swelling and resonating with heated pain. Tears began to steam out of her eyes as she tried to move again.
Dark forms surrounded her. Karen eyes flashed around fearfully, her hurt knee forgotten. She tried to stand again, but fell. A hoarse, raspy cackle came from the figures.
Karen's eyes widened as one slipped into the middle of the circle. Blackened footprints were left silently as the large shadow walked towards her shaking body. She opened her mouth to scream, but all that came out was a hoarse whisper. Two dark hands wrapped around her throat, and lifted her in the air. Claws dug deep into her skin. Blood dribbled down her neck, staining her shirt. More shadows joined, ripping at her body, peeling the skin off her arms and legs. Her clothes were torn to shreds as she thrashed back and forth, trying to escape.
Then, all at once, they stopped. The shadow released Karen's neck, and she dropped to the floor, gasping. The shadows ran, disappearing into the night.
Her strength was depleted. She could barely move. Now, instead of running from death, she was begging for it. And yet her body still would not listen to her. Hand over hand, she dragged her pathetic body up the rocky hill, letting her legs drag helplessly behind her. She let out a whimper, the tears pouring out of her eyes, as she finally came to rest at the crest of the hill, her head just barely peaking out.
A young man, his brown hair bobbing up and down as he jogged down the street, just happen to look down that way. Nearly tripping over himself, he pulled to a stop and sprinted over the bleeding figure in the street.
"You okay?"
Karen looked up at her savior. "Yeah, I just tripped."
The man helped her up onto her feet. Karen’s body shook as she was slowly lifted up. She winced as she straightened her body, the cuts crushing together and spilling more blood out. She almost fell again. The man quickly caught her, and with a grunt, lifted her into his arms.
"That was some fall you must've taken. It looks like you were attacked by a bunch of wild beasts!"
"I was..." Karen murmured under her breath. The man looked at her quizzically.
"You say something?"
Karen shook her head, closing her eyes as she tried to block out the memory "No, no..."
The man looked her up and down. He raised his eyebrows as he saw all the traumatic cuts that continued to gush the crimson liquid. "You need to go to the hospital. Allow me to take you there."
Karen hesitated at first, and then nodded. She felt she would be safe with him.
The man put her arm around his shoulder, and they limped down the street. "By they way, my name's Mike, what's yours?"
I fell… she told herself, even as the horrid memories replayed in her head. That’s all I did. I fell…

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