The night air is cold and crisp. There is no explanation for what this place is nor how it came to be. A t-shirt and jeans with sneakers isn’t enough to keep the elements out and the wind sends chills up your spine. One full circle and it is clear there’s no hope. The tiny bit of light from the sliver of silver moon illuminates next to nothing without the stars. Suddenly, there’s a flash of bright light. Looking into the distance reveals giant thunderheads. Another burst of lightning and the surroundings can be taken in in a second. There are trees in every direction. All of them dead and brown, not a leaf in sight. The forest is dead. A strong gust rolls in a thin, ominous fog.
Another small breezes comes through and now every breath is visible, rising into the fog. The thunder is loud, seeming to shake even the strongest of the tall branches. Another flash and ear shattering thunder reveals a new truth. There is something here. Tracks are imprinted in the hard dirt. What animal they belong to is undeterminable. One thing is clear, though, it truly is a monster. Then wind picks up, and the fog passes. A third lightning strike brings another omen. Giant scratches cover the occasional tree, the cuts deep from repeated abuse.
Backing away slowly gives you a better a view and on the horizon an orange light is visible. In the time it takes to process the light smoke begins rolling over the trees. Lighting flashes as a reminder that nothing here is cause for hope. A few more steps back and you are tripping over something large. Suddenly on the ground the only explanation is the fallen tree under your legs. One glance at where it was hit sends a chill up your spine. Deducing that whatever thing is here with you can topple a tree with one swipe is the final push. Fear takes over, you stand and look for some sign of escape. Suddenly you’re overcome with smoke. Run. The fire is near now and spreading fast. The dead woods will burn through in an instant. Turning in the opposite direction you take one last look over your shoulder. What kind of hell is this? It has started to rain, not enough to stop the flames, just extend the suffering.
Legs moving as fast they’ll go and arms pumping like never before, the only hope is to run and reach the end of the forest. The physical exertion is enough to fend off the cold and eventually you stop for a break. Looking back the distance gained is clear, yet you cannot smile. Something isn’t right. The storm is not the only thing approaching. You can’t see it. You can’t hear it. You can’t smell it. You feel it. It’s presence is apparent. It’s coming for you.
You turn and run, harder than before. The pain in your legs is nothing compared to whatever that...that thing behind you is. You stumble from time to time sprinting out of control. The trees seem to move in front of you on purpose as you weave between them. Then you stop, paralyzed. You hear it now. A cry of some sort, the most horrifying thing you can imagine. It’s a cackle, a howl, and a scream of pain. Yet that isn’t the cause for your stop. Human ears may not be the greatest but it is unmistakable. This beast isn’t approaching with the coming storm, you’ve been running toward it.
Visions attack your head. All the possibilities of what this might be. Fur, snouts, horns, and legs flash before your eyes combining the beasts of your world into the evil in this one. They end with the vision of feet, those of a wolf sprinting through the forest. There may be no shot of making it out alive but for whatever reason your body begins to move, your mind accepting defeat while your body takes off, trying to split the two horrors. Maybe you can get away safely. In a trance you stumble and hit your forehead on a low hanging branch. Catapulted onto your back you stare at the sky, the minute amount of moon. Vision begins to fade and suddenly that presence is lifts. Was it all a dream? In the final seconds of consciousness you receive your answer. A low, demented laugh splits the far off pitter patter of rain. This is the end. It has come for your soul.