it would have bothered her to stand in the middle of the street with
nothing on but a robe, but she barely noticed as fear welled up
inside her. She hugged herself as a chill ran swift, icy fingers up
her spine. With wild eyes, she glanced over her shoulder. A sound
drifted through the dead air. She listened intently. There it was
again- a growl followed by quiet laughter. She couldn't see who or
what it was. Her heart sped up and she urged her feet to move. They
It was behind her. Tall hedges concealed it on that side of the road, but it was there. It taunted her. It liked fear, fed on it. She tried to scream, but all that escaped her trembling lips was a soft hiss of air. Instinct took over and she ran across the paved road. Her heart thudded inside her chest. Blood pounded against her temples. She jumped over a fallen tree branch and darted into the woods.
Frigid air stung her bare skin as she raced through the forest- dark save the dim light of the full moon peeking through overhead branches. Searching for protection, she hurried across the forest floor, thick with lifeless trees and brush. Twigs crunched under her feet. Branches whipped her mercilessly, but the pain didn't register. Escape was all she could think of.
Panic swelled, adrenaline surged. The beast thrashed through the trees close behind. Its breath came in giant huffs. She ran faster. Earthly debris dug into the undersides of her feet, yet she barely felt anything as the monster's guttural laughter found her frightened ears.
A cabin appeared in the distance, soft light glowing from its front windows. Salvation! Tears streamed down her face as she bolted towards it. Thank you, god!
She ran up the stairs, tripped, scrambled to her feet then lunged for the front door. Her frantic pounding went unanswered. She cast a horrified look behind her as she screamed for help. A howl ripped through the night air, feeding her fear. Twigs snapped and trees shuddered as the creature closed in.
Again, she banged her fists painfully on the wood door. “Help me!” she screamed.
Jiggling the knob in desperation, a sob escaped her throat. The door was locked. She ran to a window and pushed up on it. It wouldn't budge. A snarl lingered in the air and her eyes flicked from one side of the forest to the other. There was movement beyond the trees and brush, but she couldn't see her pursuer. Her chest burned like fire and her breath came in short gasps as she ran to another window and yanked up on it. It protested loudly, but jerked upward.
Filled with hope, she clamored through the window. Her robe snagged on the framework. She yanked on the cotton material, tore it loose, which propelled her onto the cabin's floor. Her hip ached from the impact. She didn't care as she quickly got to her feet. She slammed the window shut and locked it.
She felt only slightly safer with just a sheet of fragile glass between her and the creature as she wrung her hands. At first, she saw nothing beyond the window, then yellow eyes stabbed through the darkness. She jumped back. The beast fixed a steely gaze upon her and let out a spine-chilling howl. Pressing her palms over her ears, she stared out the window as she shrunk back even further into the security of the cabin. The glowing orbs grew as the monster steadily approached.
Frantically, she searched for a place to hide. There was a tiny kitchen to the right with an almond-colored refrigerator and stove tucked into a wall of oak cabinets. The cabinets were too little for even her small frame. A table sat under one window with a chair on each side, but it wouldn't suffice either. The creature would see her within moments. The back door beckoned her, but she decided to flee only if the creature found its way inside. For now, she'd stay within the safety of the cabin's walls.
Across from the window she'd climbed through sat a red and blue plaid couch with a coffee table in front. A fireplace was centered on the far left wall. No place to hide. She moved to the couch and hunkered down beside it. Whimpering, she hugged her knees and rocked. She listened to the night, praying that nothing listened to her.
The wind whistled eerily through the sycamores and the cabin creaked occasionally, but nothing else made a sound. As if afraid to move, the universal clock had slowed to a crawl. The ominous eyes had disappeared and her ragged breath steadied, but only a fraction. Maybe the creature had left. Maybe it would never come back. Her chest and throat ached as she leaned against the wall, exhausted.
She braced herself on the arm of the couch and rose, eyes glued to the window. She made her way to it and peered out. The only thing looking back was darkness. She laughed, but her breath caught when the floor trembled. Her heart hammered in her chest as the walls shook with tremendous force. The floor buckled and she fell. A howl tore through the night and twisted her insides with terror. The rocking of the small cabin wouldn't allow her to stand. She fell with each attempt . Crawling to the back door, her hand shook when she grabbed its handle. After several attempts, she finally got a grip on the knob. She twisted, pushed the door open, scurried beyond the threshold and back into the woods.
Branches slapped her face as she fled. Instinct screamed for her to run.
Don't think, just run!
The beast chased with impossible speed, gaining ground fast. A voice screamed inside her head to keep going. Don't stop! Keep going!
Hot breath licked her back as she weaved in and out of trees. She could smell its stench as it closed in. A scream escaped her throat, but only the creature could hear her now. It laughed maliciously, thrilled with the terror it instilled in her.
Tripping on the bare root of a tree, she fell forward and landed on her palms. It was over. The creature had won. She would soon meet a violent end. Sobbing, she rolled over in the dry leaves to face her pursuer.
Nothing there. She sat up. Her eyes flicked around the woods. There was nothing but trees and brush. Forest debris hung from her robe as she stumbled to her feet and took a couple of paces back. She scanned the woods again. It's gone, she thought as she let out a shaky breath. It's gone. Her heart thumped inside her aching chest. She needed a way back to the safety of civilization.
Turning around, fear cut through her insides like a hot knife. She stared up at the massive beast. She wanted to run, but terror bound her joints. The monster grinned down at her, rose on its hind legs and loomed like an enormous bear, but it was no bear. She blinked hard then stared at it in disbelief. She couldn't wrap her mind around what her eyes were seeing.
Its matted fur bristled as it readied for attack. Saliva dripped from the creature's mouth as it pulled its peebly lips back to reveal sharp, jagged fangs. A sound rumbled in its massive chest as if to prove it was real. Its eyes gleamed from amidst a mass of tangled, black fur. In horror, she realized it was laughing. It was laughing at her fear. She couldn't move as one giant paw reached up.
With claws as long as daggers, it slashed through the crisp air.
Jasmine sat up with a start. “Relax, Jaz,” she muttered. Filling her lungs with a deep breath of fresh air that blew in from an open window, she waited for her heart to find its normal rhythm. The lycan dream had left her trembling this time, which was unusual. She could usually shake off a bad dream with no problems. After all, they were only dreams, right? Then again, werewolves had scared the Devil out of her ever since she was a kid and watched- without her parents permission -a horror flick where the bad guy was half-human half-wolf. She cringed every time she thought about the creature's transformation from man to beast. A couple of months into her twenty-second year, she was no longer a little girl, yet the memory of it still frightened her.
She rolled out of bed, grabbed the robe on a hook near her and headed for a quick shower. Once finished, with her robe wrapped securely around her, she went into the kitchen. She loved living on her own and having no one to answer to except maybe the landlord who thought he was the king of some remote country. Its only a small building in the middle of nowhere, not a kingdom for heaven's sake. It seemed a little odd to place an apartment complex way out here, but she was happy to have found it. The quiet of the place made it easy to concentrate on writing her articles. She prided herself on getting her work turned into the Kingsberry Gazette before the deadline.
A slight breeze caressed her face as she leaned back in one of the chairs. Outside, the moon seemed to float in the sky like a silver beach ball in black, diamond-studded waters. She cringed. She had never liked the moon when it was full. It made everything feel...creepy.
The screech of a cat made her heart jump to her throat. Her pulse hammered as she watched the orange feline dash across the street in the glow of the street lamps. With a clatter, it knocked over her trash can next to the curb.
The landlord would be rapping on the door before the sun woke up if she didn't get it cleaned up pronto. Usually, she wouldn't go outside wearing nothing more than a robe, but it would only take a minute, so she dashed out to the scene of the disaster.
Grumbling to herself, she cleaned up the mess then glanced across the street.
“You better not come back, you little twerp. I swear I'll make fuzzy slippers out of you,” she said then started to turn towards her front door.
A raspy sound coming from somewhere near the building made her stop. She glanced around nervously. It was probably just her imagination or perhaps- wait. There it was again. A low growl. With wide eyes, she stared at the opening of her apartment only a couple of yards away. Desperate, she wanted to make a mad dash for it, but the menacing sound seemed to be coming from the bushes right next to her front door. She would never make it. She turned in the other direction. Nothing but forest welcomed her. An unearthly laughter rose from behind and she instinctively backed away.
Normally, it would have bothered her to be standing in the middle of the street with nothing on but a robe, but she barely noticed as fear welled up inside her.