Green. That was what I opened my eyes too. A blurry wall of green, the fuzziness making me squeeze my eyes shut tightly in the hopes that when I opened them again, the world would be clear.
Instead I found a wall of black. A hazy black, it that was even possible. I blinked in surprise, my eyebrows crinkling in confusion; where had the green gone?
My question was answered just moment later when I blinked again, and the green was suddenly back. Different shades of green now, and less blurry, yet I still had no idea what I was looking at. I craned my head forward to get a closer look, blinking frantically.
And now the black was back. Except it wasn't black anymore; it was grey, an uneven dark grey, though what it was, I had no idea.
Three blinks later, I was seeing green.
Four blinks after that, grey-black again.
On and on, backward and forward, green black green black green black–
With a blinding flash, the green won over. Green that wasn't just green anymore, but forest; trees and bushes and leaves and dirt; and a wolf. A large wolf; a shapeshifter. A shapeshifter that I recognised, the grey-brown fur familiar, even though I'd only ever seen it once; that wasn't a day I was ever likely to forget.
My eyes widened as I suddenly realised something.
It wasn't just the wolf that was familiar. This whole area was familiar. The trees, the leaves, the dirt; I had seen this before. And not just the trees and the wolf, but what they were doing. The wolf prowling back and forth in front of me, growing ever closer; every movement was familiar. And there could be only one explanation.
I had experienced this before.
I knew that in 10 seconds time, the wolf – Leon – was going to freeze. He would look at me, with murder in his eyes, for a long moment, before stepping forward; and then he would leap.
And even as I thought it, remembered it, it was coming true.
Because he had stopped now, had stopped and was staring. Yet even though the stare should have made me tremble with terror, I didn't see it. I didn't see it, because I had remembered something; I had remembered what happened next. What was going to happen.
It was something I did not ever want to repeat. Something I would do anything not to repeat. Even as the thought occurred to me I was scrambling to my feet and backing away, because my body was five steps ahead of my brain and was getting me the hell out of there.
If only I could actually move. If I could, I would have done just what my body was telling me to do; to run. But now that I'd tried to, my body was exploding with pain. I was coated with blood from head to toe, blood still spilling from the stab wounds I had left, right and centre. Stab wounds that burned like fire, by whole body hurting so unbelievably I couldn't supress a cry.
A cry of both pain and fear, because I couldn't move.
I couldn't get away. And that sentence, that knowledge, scared me more than anything. Fear was blasting through me in an unstoppable wave, terror choking me up and making my heart race, as my breaths came to a shuddering stop.
Because after a low, furious growl, Leon had leapt. And then he was crashing into me, so heavy I thought a truck had slammed into me instead of him; though no truck would ever lash out of me with finely sharped claws as he did. Claws that had left burning lines of fire down my arms as I screamed, slicing through my skin like paper, the stinging only adding to the agony that was already ripping through me.
Agony that I tried to push to the side of my mind, because the only important thing right now was watching him.
Watching, and trying and failing to dodge his next attack. This time, the force of his impact sent me skidding painfully across the ground, the movement pulling at my severed muscles and making me cry out; a cry that turned into a scream just seconds later. Because faster than I would have thought possible, he was lurching forward once more, his jaws painfully locking around my shoulder as his teeth sunk deep into me. And god, it hurt; I couldn't not scream at the pain, which was only made worse by the fact that he had stabbed me in that shoulder just hours earlier. All I wanted was for him to let me go, to please let me go because it hurt, hurt so much tears were spilling down my cheeks.
But when he did in fact release me just moments later, I bitterly regrated hoping for it. Because before he did, his jaws were suddenly tightening, making me groan and sob at the pain; a groan that turned into a breathless scream as he suddenly sent me flying through the air. I half thought he would tear my arm off in the process, because I could feel the bones in my shoulder breaking and crunching in his grip, but my arm was still there; still there when my flight was cut short as I slammed into a nearby tree, falling to the ground heavily.
The ground where he was waiting. Because before I could even suck in the breath I'd lost from the impact, his claws were savaging my back, drawing out a horrible scream that clashed with his furious growl. A feral, satisfied growl; a growl that was so terrible that I moved away from him on instinct, lunging across the ground despite the pain that was just seconds from crippling me. But I didn't move far enough, fast enough, because with another slash more burning lines were being drawn across my legs, his claws tearing across my calves as he yanked me back towards him.
Back towards death. It would be a slow death, there was no doubt about that; it wasn't hard to figure out that though I had countless wounds slashed across my body, they weren't fatal. He was hurting me as much as he could, while keeping alive. A thought that made me shudder as more tears trailed down my cheeks, because I couldn't take any more of this. I could not take any more of this.
But that didn't stop him. That didn't stop him from tearing and clawing, nipping and biting, pushing and shoving. It didn't stop him from hurting me every time I tried to move away. It didn't seem like he would ever stop.
Until suddenly, he did.
At first I didn't notice, I was so riddled with pain. My vision had long since morphed into a hazy blur, and the only sound my ears could register was an endless growl. All I could taste was blood, all I could smell was blood, and all I could feel was pain. All I could feel was pain, and the hard ground beneath me as I tried to crawl away; and for once, I met no resistance.
That was until a foot suddenly slammed into my ribcage, making me cry out as I found myself kicked across the ground. With a heavy thud, I came to a stop at the base of a nearby tree, the loud crack from the impact ringing in my ears as I gasped wildly for air. Gasps that shuddered, mixing weirdly with sobs of pain that I couldn't contain; until they were cut off by the appearance of a russet coloured, human figure before me.
He said something; I didn't know what. The words didn't register properly, nought but strange muffled thumps as I stared blankly. I couldn't think. I couldn't think anymore. I didn't have the energy, the ability, not with all this pain.
Not until his hand suddenly slapped me hard across the cheek. I jerked, sucking in a wild breath of as my eyes flew wide and my hearing kicked back in with a pop.
'I have to say, I'm surprised you're still hanging on.' He said with feigned interest, his tone a horrible mix of satisfaction and cruelty. 'I thought you would have succumbed to the pain a long time ago.' I whimpered involuntarily, and he grinned.
'I can see you're close, though. Very close. One more strike might do it, I think.' His eyes were bright with malice, anticipation making his twisted words sickening. 'I guess we better find out.'
And before I could even register what his words meant, he was exploding. He was changing from skin to fur, and with a feral roar, he was lashing out, his claws raking deep into my stomach as I let out a blood curdling scream.
Because this hurt at a whole other level. The pain from before was just a shadow in comparison into this. I felt as if he had torn right through me; as if he had torn my stomach from my body, because it sure as hell hurt enough. Agony. This was agony. This was agony, because unlike the rest of his attacks, this one could and would kill me. This one, I wouldn't survive.
And part of me was glad, because death seemed wonderful compared to this.
Death that was coming even faster than I'd expected, because my vision was failing rapidly now. For a moment, I could see nothing but hazy grey-black, before the green of the forest overruled it. Overruled it, but not completely. The black was there, coming and going, growing and receding.
And with it came a voice.
A deep male voice that I couldn't identify, that I couldn't understand. But as the blackness grew, so did the voice, until the words slowly began to seep into my brain.
'Wake up, vampire.' I stiffened at the words, recognition dawning.
Oh no. That wasn't death that was coming. That was him. That was him, right in front of me in the darkness, his face twisting as he snarled.
I gasped, my eyes flying wide open as I jerked away from his voice. My pulse was thundering in my ears, panic still holding me in its grasp as I tried to take in my surroundings. They were so black that for a moment, I could make out nothing but his vague shadowy outline in the semi-darkness; the darkness that was the black and grey I had been seeing in flashes. But as I squinted and blinked, my vision quickly cleared, revealing him.
Leon. Leon, whose face was a mask of anger, though he smirked slightly as I flinched and tried to back away; only to discover I couldn't go anywhere.
It was hard to move when you were chained to a wall.
I was surprised I hadn't noticed it immediately, because now that I had, I couldn't ignore the fact that my arms were aching from the position. My wrists were manacled somewhere above me, my arms raised and taking all of my weight. Fresh fear bloomed to life as I took it in; I was trapped. But I bit back a pained and scared moan – I wouldn't give him the satisfaction – and shifted so that my feet were now beneath me; an action made harder by the fact that my ankles were shackled to the floor. I managed it though, pressing my back firmly against the wall behind me; anything to get further away from him. Because he was smiling wider now, the wildness of the grin scary, reminding me of why I hadn't noticed I was locked away.
Because in my nightmare – I know now that's what it was – he had been in the process of tearing my body to shreds. The thought made me shudder, and his face brightened with intrigue, interest lacing his voice as he spoke.
'I'm curious as to what you were just dreaming about. You seem very disturbed by it.' The thought seemed to please him, and I shot him a furious glare, squeezing my lips shut tightly. He stepped forward, his expression darkening slightly.
'No answer? Does that mean it was about me?' He asked, his hopefulness sickening.
'Don't flatter yourself.' I spat, and his eyes flashed dangerously.
'Be nice, or I won't be.' He said darkly, his voice hard and cold. For a second, I stopped breathing with fright; but then he was turning away, and I couldn't stop myself from sagging in relief, releasing a shaky breath. A shaky breath that really wanted to turn into a sob, but I clenched my teeth to keep it in; I couldn't afford to fall apart. I couldn't afford to lose control, even though my breaths were heavy with panic and my body was trembling with fear. Fear that was making my thundering heart beat ever faster, fear that made me sick to my stomach.
Because he was going to hurt me. And this time, it was real.
So I kept my eyes locked on his retreating figure, even as I sagged against the wall behind me; because I couldn't afford to let my guard down. Not with him here. But though watching him was important, something else was too; escape.
I desperately wanted, needed, to escape. And so while I trained one eye on Leon's back, I let the other wander, searching the room for a way out.
Except there didn't seem to be one.
In the semi-darkness, the only thing I could make out clearly was the walls; one to the left, one on the right, and one behind me. Which should have been enough, because walls have windows and doors and any one of those could be my ticket out. But not here. Here, there was nothing.
Nothing but the darkness in front of me. I couldn't even see the fourth and final wall, the one that should have faced me. It had to be there, though; and I was willing to bet that was where the exit was too. I couldn't see it, but there had to be a way in and out of here, and that was the only option left.
An option that I couldn't reach, even if I wasn't chained, because Leon was blocking the way.