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#11 Meet Me in the Emerald Forest

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Chapter 1


“Stop, Clem, come on.” Bennett whined as I ran away from him with tears streaming down my face.

Nothing like watching your high school boyfriend making out with your nemesis to ruin the mood of a perfectly good bonfire party. I ran as fast and as far away from the music and the laughter as I could get. It wasn’t until I stumbled over a tree root and crashed to the ground that I realized how far I had gone. I cried out as my knee scraped the root roughly and broke open.

I pulled my leg to my chest and inspected the wound before turning around to search my surroundings. I couldn’t see a flicker of light from the bonfire and, if it weren’t for the moonlight above, I wouldn’t have been able to see anything. I looked back at my knee again before slowly stretching out my leg, wincing at the pain. I was working up the nerve to stand up when a chorus of howls ripped through the trees. I froze, my breath catching in my throat.

The howls grew louder and louder, and then came the sound of thunder. At least, I thought it was thunder. That was, until I recognized it as the sound of paws pounding the earth. At least a dozen wolves came racing through the trees around me. The first few wolves ran past me in a blur, like they hadn’t seen me laying on the ground, but then one of them caught my scent and the back of the pack began to slow. Six of the wolves made an arch around me, baring their teeth and snarling dangerously.

I sunk back, scurrying away from them until my back slammed into the trunk of a tree. I let out a gasp and that seemed to excite the wolves. They began drooling at the mouth, snapping and barking in my direction. I whimpered and closed my eyes against what I knew was coming next. I waited for the heavy weight of the wolf’s body on top of mine, the cold sting of its teeth, and the foul breath coming from its strong jaw.

But, it never came.

Instead, there were more viscous snarls and the sound of those strong jaws snapping at something else. I dared a peek only to see that instead of six wolves, I was now surrounded by twenty or more. I couldn’t help the terrified sob that escaped me as I watched two wolves wrestle in front of me.

Suddenly, the biggest wolf of them all was standing in front of me. I froze and clamped my jaw shut. I stopped breathing. My eyes locked with the wolf’s eyes. Was it even possible for a wolf to have such green eyes? They were staring into my soul, or at least, it felt that way. He was stark white, like freshly fallen snow, and I felt the sudden urge to run my fingers through his fur. Unlike the other wolves, he wasn’t snarling or growling at me, instead, he was watching me.

From the side, one of the smaller wolves lunged towards the white wolf. I gasped as they began snapping at each other, rolling back and forth on the ground. The sound of heavy breathing set me on edge as I slowly looked to my left. Slobber from another snarling wolf dropped on my leg and I shrieked as his teeth chomped towards my face.

The white wolf slammed into the snarling wolf’s side, his powerful jaw snapping shut around the scrawny wolf’s throat. It dropped lifeless on the ground and the white wolf looked back towards me again. But, I was already running, faster than I’d ever run before.

I was breathless by the time I burst from the treeline and nearly got run over by an oncoming car. The car horn blared as its headlights blinded me. I dove out of the way and it sped off, not so much as tapping the breaks. I grumbled angrily at the car and tucked my sweater around me for warmth. I started sulking back home.

It was the middle of October in Virginia and the air was chilly with the smell of rain nipping at my nose. I shivered and cursed myself for not dressing for the weather. I was wearing a pair of dark skinny jeans and a long sleeved shirt that clung to me. I had chosen it because it was Bennett’s favorite. A simple cardigan was the only thing offering me any sort of warmth. It was only a ten minute walk to my house, but I was numb and blue by the time I got there.

It was past midnight and I had most definitely broken curfew. I figured my father wouldn’t be home, he never was, and my mother would be thrilled that I was out at a party. My mom always wanted a cheerleader captain for a daughter, instead she got the captain of the debate team. The fact that I went to a senior bonfire party was sure to make her smile. My dad, on the other hand, was always at work, day and night. He was a fancy lawyer in the city, D.C. that is, which was over an hour train ride from Stafford.

I walked towards the winding sidewalk in front of my house and glanced up at the dark pole light. It was strange for the light not to be on. It was a dawn to dusk lamp so it automatically turned on when it was dark out. The bulb must be out, I thought to myself, shrugging. I continued up the walk until I noticed that the front door was hanging open.

I stumbled as an uneasy feeling sank into the pit of my stomach. My parents were hyper vigilant with a security doorbell, sensors on the windows, and a fingerprint scanner instead of a normal key lock, so there was no way they’d leave the door open. The house was pitch black, darker than the forest, and silent. I crept towards the open door and called out,

“Mom?” No one answered.

Against my better judgment, I stepped through the door. I felt around on the wall until my fingers found the light switch. My blood ran cold at what I saw. The house was completely trashed. The wooden table that stood against the wall was knocked over, its contents broken and shattered on the floor. The runner covering the wooden floor was skewed and covered in a red stain.

I carefully stepped over the crumpled carpet and into the common room. It was open to both the kitchen and the living room, so I had a clear view of both. But, boy, do I wish I hadn’t. The TV, which previously hung on the wall, was broken and laying on the ground. The glass that once covered the coffee table was shattered all over the carpet and the couch was sitting crooked.

Laying haphazardly on the gray sofa, with an arm and a leg dangling off the edge, was a body. It was covered in blood and torn apart to the point of almost being unrecognizable. Almost. If it weren’t for the wide, dark blue eyes staring up at me. They echoed my own, just like they always had. They were the eyes of my father.

I stumbled backwards and away from his body, nearly crashing into the kitchen island. I looked down to see what I tripped over and saw a ruby red slipper. My shaking hand went up to cover my mouth, keeping a scream from coming out. On trembling legs, I walked around the island and examined the person who the slipper belonged to. She had my fair skin but her curls were dirty blonde instead of chestnut colored like mine. My mother’s body was sprawled out on the kitchen floor, just as bloody and torn apart as my father.

I tried to flee but slipped on something wet and fell, my hand landing in a puddle of water. Only, it wasn’t a puddle of water. It was a pool of blood. My mother’s blood. I was lying in my mother’s blood and now my clothes, my dark jeans and Bennett’s favorite shirt, were covered in it as well. An unrecognizable sound escaped my throat as I crawled away from the blood, stumbling to my feet and running towards the door.

As if the nightmare wouldn’t end, a giant white wolf was standing on the sidewalk outside my open door. It was the same wolf from the woods, of that I was sure. The wolf’s green eyes seemed to look over my appearance with worry. I must be losing my mind if I thought a wolf was checking me out.

I couldn’t hold it in anymore. I opened my mouth and screamed, causing dogs to bark and porch lights to switch on all around me. I screamed until neighbors came to inspect the source of the noise and the white wolf ran off. I screamed until my legs went numb and I collapsed on the ground. I screamed until I lost consciousness.

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