Forest of the Ghouls

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Sarah looked down into the dead eyes of one of the creatures; now just plain black, no swirl or vortex within them to indicate it was what it once was.

Sarah stared at it, expecting it to grab her but it didn't move at all. It was once a young girl, very similar to the one she had made contact with in the meadow before, it could have been its twin, no more than eleven or twelve years old.

It wore a similar dress as the other one, but this one was ripped near the bottom. Its body was twisted horribly as well, its rear end positioned up towards the sky with its neck twisted almost completely around.

There was no sign of struggle from it, like it had been shaped this way with no effort, nor was there pain or an expression of any kind on its face. It was just... there.

The man stood behind her, breathing heavily.

"I came upon it before," He said hastily; "It turns out they can be killed or stopped."

Sarah turned away from it, she no longer had to relieve herself.

She couldn't bring herself to look at the man though, not knowing what she should be feeling at this moment. She was numb to the world and everything within it she felt.

She walked away towards the direction the man said the highway was. He hesitated but followed behind her cautiously before freezing in place.

Sarah noticed this and turned to see what was wrong. She followed his gaze and stared across the meadow from the hill and froze in turn.

The creatures were there, hundreds of them, moving through the grass without a sound, eyes transfixed upon them at the top of the hill.

At the far end of the meadow stood the robed woman, fire swirling around her as she pointed her children towards them.

Sarah turned and ran along with the man. They rushed down the other side of the hill and raced as fast as they could towards the end of the tree line.

Darting between the trees once more Sarah was greeted once again by the white arms, they reached out for them from behind the trunks, grasping at empty air as they flew past them.

The tree line was within sight now! Sarah felt like her legs were weightless as if they couldn't support her body. It was like every night mare she had ever had where you're running towards something while the terrors of the dark are behind you yet you are never any closer to reaching where you want to go.

She willed herself forward, breathing and gasping in pain heavily with each anguished step she ran.

Suddenly, a crash behind her.

She paused and turned to see the large man face down on the forest floor, a white hand wrapped around his ankle.

"Graahhhh..." He struggled, fighting the hand which held him. Four of the creatures appeared around him from behind the trees as he desperately tried to fight them off.

Sarah looked down upon him, remembering the small creature near the hill, broken and bent. She looked into the man's eyes and felt no pity for him. He glared back in a fury as the creatures worked to drag him away, back towards the meadow and the robed woman.

Sarah turned and continued running, ignoring his snarls and curses behind her that he spat like venom.

She fought against the pain that was now consuming her entire body, there were no more hands reaching for her, nor white arms or eyes beating down upon her.

She was only several steps from the treeline now, she could see pavement beyond the trees and the unmistakable yellow stripes of the freeway.

As she reached the final few feet a being stepped in front of her from behind a tree trunk.

Sarah skidded to a halt to stop herself crashing into the creature.

It was Bradley.

"Bradley..." She whispered looking at him, there appeared to be some color in his cheeks unlike before and his eyes swirled with less intensity than they had previously.

"You remember me?" She asked him.

He remained silent and unmoving, simply staring at her.

Sarah looked behind her, the man and his cries were not there any longer, but behind her stood over two dozen of the creatures, silently gliding towards her as a fog followed them.

Sarah looked back at Bradley and stared into his eyes, they were now blue, like they always had been, no longer dead, but still she knew... he was dead and gone forever.

He was now holding out his hand, palm up with something inside it.

Sarah nervously glanced at it, afraid of everything around her but this thing most of all.

In his hand he held a large locket, one would think it was a pocket watch at first glance.

But it was really a small mirror that she now looked upon, looking down to see her own reflection staring back at her. She tenderly lifted it from Bradley's hand and looked deep into it, not recognizing her own reflection in the glass... she was now much younger...

A hand touched her shoulder from behind and Sarah froze.

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