Jessie ran, ran for all she was worth. Her head was pounding and her lungs felt like they were filled with fire, but she couldn't stop now, she didn't know if she could ever stop. The beast was on her now, and she could hear it crashing through the dense underbrush, snapping twigs and saplings as it barreled its way along the path, tears began to build at the corners of her eyes.
The night had begun so normally. Jessie and a few friends had gone down to the lake like they did ever so often, to build a small fire, listen to music and just hang out. It was something they'd all done together since middle school. As she lay studying for finals earlier that evening, Jessie's friend Maria had called, she knew it was Maria and picked up on the first ring, to go over plans that hadn't changed in years. The pick-up, the short drive, and the things they always brought with them. …normal…
When they had gotten to their usual spot, people were already there and she greeted her friends with hugs and small talk, it had been a few days since they'd had time to see each other, with busy school schedules and some working, but they were the same friends as always, it never changed here.
For the first time though, tonight had felt different somehow, as if a darker atmosphere hung over their little group, but Jessie chalked it up to stress. She knew they were all tense, about school, tests, jobs, college, some had family issues, and so she paid no attention to the weight that seemed to press down on her as she talked with them about what was going on in their lives, colleges, relationships, and danced and listened to the little radio they had brought a long with them.
As the night wore on, the little party seemed to only get more and more intense, instead of winding down as it usually did, it was already well into the wee hours of the morning and no one seemed even the slightest bit ready to call it a night, everyone seemed energized, and again Jessie equated it to the situation, being out by the lake was being away from everyday life, problems, and it had been so long since some had come here, she figured they free feeling had taken them over, and she settles down on the bank to dip her toes in the water, with a smile on her face as she listened to the revelry behind her.
When she noticed the change, she couldn't remember, all she remembered was looking down the lake shore a little ways, and instantly snapping out of her day dream like state, a shadow seemed to approach the group through the trees… a large one, but just a shadow… it could have been an animal… a deer, maybe a large dog of some kind, but it unnerved her.. Something about it seemed wrong. The way it moved was unnatural, maybe its walk, she couldn't pinpoint what about it was exactly off, but there was something, and whatever it was it made her afraid.
Backing away from the water's edge, she stood and casually moved back towards her group of friends, not wanting to capture the attention of whatever the thing might be. Jessie milled around for a while, trying to get back into the mood, but finally gave up and went to find Maria.
Finally, picking her friend out of the scene, she went over to her, meaning to mention what she has seen, she knew Maria would just laugh about it, and put her at ease, and she felt that's exactly what she needed right now. But Jessie could even get Maria's full attention, suddenly everything erupted! Sparks and burning branches flew from the center of the fire, whizzing past her head as she instinctively fell to the ground, scrambling in the opposite direction, afraid to look over her shoulder, but as she did she could see every one scattering in all directions, and burning debris lay all along the bank. But what horrified her the most was Maria, lying just a few feet from where she has been just seconds ago, unmoving in the sparse grass. Her mind racing, Jessie turned, crawling back to her friend's side, shaking her almost violently in her attempts to wake her. But there was nothing to be done, she was gone.
Snapping out of her, momentary daze, the image of her best friend lying dead in front of her, Jessie registered the screams, the frantic movements of her friends, and the confusion surrounding them, but most of all she noticed the growling, a low, sinister gurgling noise that somehow drowned out almost everything else. Tearing her eyes from Maria's prone body she turned her gaze upwards, and felt the scream immediately build in her chest. A thing…THE thing stood, where once a bright bonfire had burned now only smoldering ashes surrounded its massive feet, and in the dying light of the fire she could make no sense of its towering frame, seemingly stitched together from, any and every living thing imaginable.
The beast stretched and contorted, roaring as it lunged from the fire pit and into the chaos beyond, snatching those who were too slow or immobilized in its claws, ripping them apart, tearing limb from body, and heads from shoulder's with its six pillar like arms. Arms that it then used to feed the flesh into a sickly looking vertical wound rending its headless torso nearly in half from throat to groin, oozing with a brackish fluid and lined with countless rows of jagged mismatched teeth, that Jessie quickly realized must be this abominations mouth.
She ran then, blindly, diving into the tree line without a single other thought but to get away. What else could she do? Her mind reeled with what she had seen in those few minutes, the debris flying past her head, Maria lying dead, that…that thing! And now she could hear it coming after her, and she knew that no one else was left at the fire, and that it was still hungry.
Smashing through the tree line and into the road she began screaming, and screaming and screaming. Her lungs were on fire, her legs were like rubber bands, but she ran and screamed. Even when she reached the cars, yanking and kicking and pounding on them, praying that one might be unlocked, that someone had left their keys, that maybe someone had escaped and hidden inside, the screaming never ceased. She was screaming and sobbing now as she gave up, turning down the road, running again. Her sides ached, but the adrenaline kept her on her feet as she went.
And then it followed again, hurtling out of the woods, nearly smashing into the opposite guardrail as it skidded with its momentum, running hunched down, using the power of its limbs to bear down on her, faster and faster.
Why couldn't anyone hear her scream? She wasn't far from developments; the closest house was in hearing range, why did no one turn on their lights, why were no dogs barking, no alarms going off with the reverberation of each of the Beast's ear shattering roars?? Roars that were closer each time, she could hear it breathing; hear the scrapping of those gut hook claws on the pavement behind her.
She was near home, and she veered back into the woods, the monstrous creature just seconds behind, no car could help her now, even if there were someone driving on the roads at this time of the morning, which there should have been, it was nearly dawn, she sky lightening as she once again left the cover of the trees, making a last desperate bolt across the field that bordered her house.
Heart drumming in her ears, even louder than the Beast she clawed her way to the top of the hill that lay just 10 feet from the back of her home, and she heard it, felt it lunge as she tripped, falling head over heel down the steep side, the world lurching and spinning all around her, the beast's final roar bearing down on her as she was sure it was only fractions of seconds before it would be on top of her, ripping her to shreds like the others. And she was screaming, and crying, and the door was opened, a light shining from inside. Her grandmother standing there as Jessie scrambled and tripped, clawing her way up the back stairs, screeching for her grandmother to run! Run now! Grabbing her, shaking her, clawing at her in desperation and frustration as the old woman stood unmoving and staring out into the darkness.
"Jessie, "she turned her gaze towards her hysterical grandchild. "Jessie, its gone now."
Jessie turned, eyes bulging with fright, clinging to her grandmother to look out, not believing. But her terrified eyes fell on nothing... Nothing but the rosy pink of a lightening dawn, and dark grass blowing gently in the field as far as she could see beck to the tree line…
Everything was perfectly normal…and Jessie fainted.