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1. The Terror

“Get away!” he hissed in urgency. “Leave this place! Leave, I said. Be gone! If you stay, you die"

She nodded desperately but did not move an inch. She tried to look at him but that was still very difficult.

“Don't you hear me girl?” he asked in a harsh whisper. “If you stay, you die"

He repeated the words again but she said nothing. She could not speak. She was too terrified to utter a single word.

Angry by her silence and lack of motion, he grabbed her arm and pushed her forward yet her legs would not move. She felt as if she had grown roots that kept her stuck on the ground. He pushed her harder. Nothing but a small stumble. It was not like she didn’t want to catch the unexpected opportunity, but how far could she really go in that condition?

“Don't you understand you must go, silly girl?” he snapped at her.

“'t...I can’" she stammered finally.

“Do you want to die?”

“No" she gulped shaking her head. “No"

“Then you must leave"

She knew that as well as she knew that she should have never come to this house, but still she could not bring herself to move no matter how much she wanted it.

She dared again a glance at the man. His face was half buried in the dim light and she had to squint which was painful but she did it anyway. He was not handsome, not really but he was not ugly either. There was something very eerie about him though. Strange... Mysterious even... Or was it that he lived in this house that made him look like that to her eyes at least?

She honestly could not tell. She only knew that she felt weirdly safe when out of sheer exasperation surely, he lifted her in his arms and helped her out of that secret door. For the first time since she met him, his large frame did not seem intimidating and she even found herself leaning her head on his shoulder. He did not protest so she stayed in that position and he carried her half the forest in total silence. Then he stopped abruptly.

“Do you think you can walk now?” he asked gruffly.

“Yes, thank you" she replied in a small voice. It was a lie, but she did not want to be bothersome to him now that he had decided to be helpful.

He put her down more gently than she would expect and she whispered her gratitude to him.

“It's almost dawn” he ignored her thanks as if he had not heard it at all. “I cannot be missed much longer"

A sudden fear gripped her at his words. These woods were a scary place even in broad daylight. Now in such dense darkness they were terrifying. She did not want to be alone out here. Who could really tell what other misfortune would befall on her without someone to protect her?

“It's still too dark!” she protested scared to the bone grabbing his shirt tightly. “I don’t want to walk alone"

“You found your voice and you started complaining already" he snickered removing her hands from him. “I think I liked you better scared and silent"

“Please” she begged ignoring his cruel comments.

“I'll walk you out of this damn forest. But you must be quick and not waste more of my time"

She nodded and off they went. Following his instructions, she walked at her fastest pace -given the circumstances-- with him right beside her. They made it out of the forest as the first light appeared on the sky. Then, he left her quietly find her way home.

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