When I heard a shot ring out, I realised that Grant had picked up his gun again and shot at the beast, who let out a loud roar and bared his fangs at us. McAdams quickly let go of Pearson’s hands and scrabbled back towards me. The beast eyes were glowing redder, and I noticed his fangs had grown even longer.
McAdams went to grab his gun while the beast rose up to his full height. He moved around Pearson and came to stand in front of him. He was fully out of the shadows now, and we could see him clearly.
I took a step back. He was big. Really big. Almost seven foot tall, if I wasn’t mistaken. His shoulders were wide. His chest, arms, and legs were muscled. He was also completely naked. I looked up at his face and shuddered with disgust but mostly with fear.
His hair was dark and long, past his shoulders. His face looked human, except for his glowing red eyes, and the long fangs that were now bared viciously at us. He had a deep scar that ran from his left eye to the left side of his chin.
McAdams started to move backwards towards me while pointing the gun at the monster standing in front of us. I kept my eyes trained on the beast while slowly bending down and picking up my flashlight.
“You can try but you won’t ever be able to kill me.” The voice was deep and guttural. I let out a high squeak when I heard it for the first time.
He was staring right back at me without blinking. I was so confused. Should I call him a man or a beast? I was gaping at him in shock and when my gaze didn’t waver, he made another feral sound and took a step closer to us, hissing his next words. “I will not stop until I kill everyone else who is in my path.” He spoke the words slowly.
I was shaking by the time he was done speaking. His rough voice still rang in my ears. He put his head back and sniffed the air, then looked back at us. “I can smell your fear,” he said with a sneer.
It looked like he was talking to me. He barely acknowledged Grant and McAdams, but kept his gaze on me and finally pointed his finger directly at me.
I balled my fists and lowered my gaze. The way he looked at me was too intimidating. It scared the hell out of me and made me realize that we were all so helpless. We wouldn’t be able to stop him if he attacked us.
“I like your submission,” I heard him say in his rough, hard voice. At these words, I quickly looked back up at him. He didn’t like that. He took another step towards us and let out a growl.
Behind me, Grant cocked his gun at him again but before he could shoot, the beast swivelled around fast, grabbed Pearson by his legs and pulled him away so quickly that I barely had time to blink. One moment they were both there, and the next, they were both gone without a trace.
“Oh NO!” I heard Officer Grant yell behind me. He pushed me aside and ran a few steps after the monster and his prey. “He took Officer Pearson!” he said through gritted teeth.
I was still hyperventilating from what had happened. I sank to the ground and felt the tears starting to build. McAdams started pacing around and when he saw me on the ground, he quickly walked over to me.
“Hey! Are you OK?” he said when he knelt down beside me. I shook my head and closed my eyes. I was breathing hard and fast, and my pulse was erratic. “Shit. I think you’re having a panic attack. Pull your knees close to your stomach, lay your head on them and wrap your hands behind your head. It will help.” I did as I was told. “Try controlling your breathing.”
After some minutes, I found that I could breathe normally again, and my shaking had stopped. I looked up and saw McAdams looking at me worriedly. “I think I’m fine now,” I croaked out. My throat was dry and I found it hard to speak.
“We need to go,” I heard Grant say. His tone was hard, but I could sense the fear in his voice. He was trying to be brave and hold us together. McAdams nodded and got up. He helped me to my feet, and I thanked him quietly.
“Do you know the way?” McAdams asked. Officer Grant pointed behind us. “We came from there, and Pearson said we have been keeping a straight path. So we just walk back that way again, and we should find the road.”
McAdams nodded and said quietly while still holding on to my hand. “Lead the way then.”
Grant picked up Pearson’s gun and the fallen water bottle. “Let’s go.” He walked ahead of us, and we quickly followed.
We walked for a long time but didn’t find the road. We grew more tired and our pace slowed. “We need to stop. I can’t walk any longer,” I said tiredly as I stopped walking.
McAdams stopped too and leaned against a tree while Grant turned around and glared at me. “I’m tired too, but I’m not complaining. We need to get out of this forest right now because it’s too dangerous. If you want to take a rest then go ahead, but I’m not stopping.” He was practically growling at me.
I took a step back at his aggressive tone.
“Whoa, man. Calm down. Let’s just rest for a little while. We’ve been walking for a long time,” McAdams said. He went over to Grant and put his hand on his shoulder, but Grant shrugged it off.
“Are you crazy? You want to take a rest now. What if that thing comes back? You saw it. It’s impossible for us to stop him. Did you see how big he is and how fast he is? He practically disappeared in front of us.” His tone was harsh, and in the middle of the forest where everything was quiet and calm, his voice sounded loud.
I looked around and tried to think of something to say that would make him calm down but something interesting caught my eye. Not so far from where we were standing, I saw the cottage, the same one where Aric, Xavier and I had stayed that night. But what made it more interesting was that I could see light from the inside. I looked closely and saw the windows were open too.
I gaped at the cottage for a second. “Look!” I pointed in the direction of the cottage. McAdams and Grant quickly turned their heads, and they too stared at the cottage in shock.
“There’s light coming from the inside,” Grant said in astonishment.
“Who would be staying here? It’s too dangerous!” McAdams added. His eyebrows were furrowed and he looked deep in thought.
“Let’s go see,” I said quietly and started walking towards the cottage, but Grant grabbed my arm. “Wait! What if he lives there?”
That stopped me in my tracks. He was right because the last time I had been there, it had been a closed-up, deserted cottage. It looked like nobody had lived there for a long time.
“What do we do? We don’t know for sure,” I said.
Grant pulled his gun out and McAdams did the same. “Be quiet. Let’s look through the window.”
We moved quietly towards the cottage, and as we got nearer, I heard someone singing. It was a female voice, but I couldn’t make out the lyrics. I looked at the men. Grant motioned at McAdams to go closer, and I followed behind him. When we got near the window, we ducked under it and settled ourselves against the wall.
McAdams and I made eye contact and I whispered to him, “Can you peek through the window?” He nodded and moved to his knees, keeping his head down at first and then slowly raising it to peek through the side of the window. I watched his expression closely. First, it was surprise, then amazement. I pulled at his shirt gently and he looked down at me. He sat down beside me again and gave me a small smile.
“So? What did you see?” Grant asked softly.
McAdams chuckled and replied, “There’s a woman inside. She’s dancing around to the song, and there isn’t anyone else.”
I tipped my head back, so it was resting against the wall. “Are you sure?”
He nodded then frowned. “Well, I wasn’t looking for long. So I don’t know if there was someone else in the other room.”
“But if there’s a woman inside, I’m sure that thing is not inside. He would have killed her already, right?” Grant said.
“Let’s go inside then.” I crawled until I was clear of the window, and then stood and walked over to the door. I knocked gently, and we heard rustling and then footsteps approaching. The door opened and standing there was a woman. She looked young, maybe about twenty years old. She had red hair and startling green eyes.
Her mouth fell open at the sight of me, but her gaze didn’t waver.
“Excuse me, ma’am?” I said slowly.
She blinked and appeared to come out of her trace. “Oh my god. No!” She grabbed me roughly by the arms and pulled me inside but closed the door before Grant and McAdams could come in.