Not safe, not safe!
Like a kid caught with her hand in the cookie jar, I thought of doing the one thing we all do.
Only my bestfriend was much smarter than I gave her credit for and well, she'd never drop the subject after this. So in lieu of denying everything, I did the next best thing. Took her along. I mean, if I'm embarking on a probably one way trip to the grim reapers personal backyard, why not have company. No one wants to die alone.
"Why are we going through the forest again?" Asked Moi for what was the millionth time since we left the house.
Leaves crunched beneath my feet, at every step, through I wondered where they came from since most of the trees this low barely had leaves. Each an even more horrid version of a scarecrow. Going further the forest took on another form. Everything that wasn't tall and luscious was broad and bulky. As if the bare trees lining the outskirts were there to dissuade people from ever entering.
"I can't believe I'm actually out here right now! This is crazy and on top of that you're ignoring me"
A branch slapped me across the face as if in retribution for ignoring my best friend. Maybe I should have come alone. But I couldn't just go back to bed like she'd insisted we do when I told her about coming out. There was something mysterious about this forest. Albeit I almost died once, but that was a fluke. Myths aren't real, if it was then I'd definitely have to start being nice to Moi. No wonder Santa doesn't leave presents for me at Christmas.
"I already told you, it's an adventure"
"We aren't supposed to be out here" She responded cursing as a branch hitched in her hair. "I've never even been out here. Come to think of it, I don't think anyone's ever been out here Halie!"
I groaned. Count on Moi to ruin everything with rationality. Who cares that it was after two in the morning/night with shadows lurking about and the crunch of leaves were all around us? Or the fact that the wind seriously decided now to whistle through the trees and owls started hooting. That's not scary at all! The canopy of the full moon disappeared as we moved further into the forest. Trees becoming giants around us, each with hands interwoven into each other. The more we walked, the less light that filtered onto the ground.
Moi's hand tightened around mine was we took cautioned steps still going further. Two girls on their own with no way to defend themselves was probably reckless, but I was determined to show myself and Moi that the thing-whatever it was the other night wasn't real. I mean it couldn't be. Unless it was mutated, maybe a lot like some of the trees that lingered near by. Most have creepy face like appearances on their trunks.
"I don't think this is a good idea" Said Moi as we stopped, glancing around.
"Will you stop?" I asked shining the flashlight in her direction. "I thought you said none of the creatures in the story was real"
"They aren't" She snapped back.
"Could've fooled me" I taunted
"Fine, I'll show you" She said stomping off.
"You don't even know where were headed"
We walked towards the only area that the trees started to thin out, leading to a large area that was completely illuminated by silver light from the moon. Moi gasped as we moved around almost unceremoniously in the cleared area taking in the darkened area of forest around us. As if this area was covered in some divine light that held the hounds of hell at bay.
There was a large rock that laid in the center of which I quickly called dibs on finding a comfortable place to sit. Yep this was definitely where I was the last time. Crickets sang in the night air and owls perched on branches basking in the luminary of moonlight.
"Well dammit" cursed Moi making her way back to me. "I'm speechless honestly. How did you find this place?"
I shrugged staring at the moon.
"Mindless wandering" I say. "You know me"
It's not like I can say, well hey I felt a magnetic pull to this place, honestly it sounds crazy even to me.
My bestfriend stared at me weighing my words before rubbing her shoulders shivering.
"Moi what's wrong? Why are you shivering?"
She gazed at me incredulously. "What do you mean, Don't you feel it? The wind Halie! God it's freezing"
I blinked. Sure the wind was crispy but freezing?
Suddenly clouds covered the moon dropping us in darkness so thick I hardly made out Moi beside me. Everything went completely silent, as a sense of dread settled into the pit of my stomach. A harsh wind gushed around us, spinning in waves, the earth trembling beneath our feet, twigs, leaves and probably everything lashing against our skin. Moi screamed and panicking I tried to move towards her both of us tumbling over each other in the darkness.
"Halie, turn on the flashlight!"
" I can't find it" I replied a pitch higher hoping she'd hear me about the boisterous noise of the wind.
"What's going on!" She screamed
" Just stay where you are" I replied clambering about on the ground in searching of the tool.
My back stiffened as light returned, only now what was once silver was now the color of red. Another blood moon? That, that wasn't possible! It was an anomaly, something that happened every ten thousand or hundred years or so. My eyes connected with the sky seeing every bit of red that now colored the forest floor.
Moi's screams ripped me from my reverie as her body collided with mine, knocking us both over. Her body trembled in fear, her breathing erratic, heavy and fast as she gripped my leg.
"Hali....halie" she stuttered her feet kicking back at the dirt at her feet as she desperately attempted to get away.
And then I saw it. The same tall beast that almost devoured me the first time we met.
Every time the animal took a step forward, my best friend screamed. The more she screamed the more the slobbering beast got irritated, snapping at us and growled. I wanted to tell Moi to shut up, to stop screaming. I wanted to tell her to run away, to probably get help. I wanted to do so many things but I was stuck. My limbs wouldn't move and I wasn't even sure if within the past ten or fifteen minutes, that we've been with the beast before us, that I even blinked. Blood moons weren't supposed to be real, now that they were they weren't supposed to occur every other night. And whatever this thing was before us, it wasn't supposed to be real either, but it was.
It charged forward and Moi screamed again throwing rocks in its direction attempting to keep it at bay.
"Shut up Moi!" I snapped.
"Oh don't you dare tell me what to do right now!" She hollered at me. "This all your fault"
"No one forced you to come Moi"
"No, but what did you expect me to do? Let you run off into the forest with these, what ever this thing is lurking around?"
"You didn't even know it was real! "
"It's not supposed to be real Halie! It's a story, it was supposed to be a story"
I snorted. "Well it's definitely not a story okay Sherlock"
"This is so not the time for sarcasm! Fyi there's a flesh eating beast inches away from us that wants to eat us alive"
I gave her a pointed stare then grabbed her hand as she threw another stone in the beast's direction.
"Are you crazy! it already wants to kill us"
"Well what do you suppose we do then? Huh, roll over and play dead? I don't see you coming up with any ideas to get us out of this. And I'm definitely not becoming it's food"
I rolled my eyes. Okay, maybe this was the worst time to be mean but she was right-though I'll never tell her that. Taking a deep breath, I inched away from Moi, hoping maybe I could find a much better weapon than pebbles and twigs. The flashlight was well-the damn thing was at the wolf/dogs foot-paw whatever. It was just there, how damn inconvenient.
"Hey Moi" Her head turned towards me though her eyes were still on the growling beast, stick in hand as if it was a stake and the thing was a vampire. "I'll distract the gross looking thing while you get the flashlight"
" What! No, are you crazy or you seriously want to get eaten? "
"We need the flashlight" I whisper yelled.
"No, I distract, you get the flashlight"
Seriously? She was willing to risk my life? Some bestfriend she is!
The moment I shifted again it's eyes snapped in my direction letting out a loud howl darting after me. Minutes later all hell broke loose. Shots pierced the air all around us followed by screams and howls, mixed in with our own trepidation. The beast growled at us ferociously, stomping and snapping its teeth, drool dripping between its sharp canines before it charged at us.
"I love you!" Moi shouted and she hugged me close huddling against me our lives flashing before our eyes. The ever encroaching sounds of voices, gunshots grew nearer and just as the I felt a glob of drool against my feet, and the stench of the beasts breath against our sweat slicker skins; it let out a horrible whine then there was nothing.
My eyes opened one by one only catching the retreating wolf disappearing in the darkness of the trees. Quickly I pulled Moi to her feet scrambling up. I've watched enough nature documentaries to know when one predator flees another much bigger was somewhere close.
"It got hurt" said Moi
"What?" I asked not paying attention as we ran through the forest.
" There was blood on the ground. Something hit it"
"Yeah and we're next if we don't worry"
"We're going the wrong way Halie!"
"This isn't the time Moi! " I snapped irritated. It wasn't her, it was this dread I couldn't shake, like something was following us, watching us. Why were there gun shots? Why were other people out at this time of night? Did Lorenzo check in and found us missing?
I came to a halt at another clearing, my muscles paralyzed from the sight before me.
"Why did we stop?"
" Shush! "
A lump collected at my throat watching as men with guns kicked at bodies of men that were covered in blood while another two stood to the side immersed in some conversation. Another two held down what looked exactly like the thing that attacked us back in the depths of the forest. My heart stopped at the realization that this wasn't some form of nightmare of my overreacting imagination. Those things were real and there were more of them. But those people, who were they? And why were they hurting them? We weren't safe, no one was searching for us.
"I heard screams back in the forest" said one of the men to his companion. "Someone's out there"
"Let them to bury the bodies. We can't afford to have anyone knowing of what we did. Then we'll go take a look"
I stepped back instinctively, a twig snapping under my feet and I grimaced. All the men glanced in our direction, while I pushed Moi back before turning on my heels pulling her along with me.
"Hey! Who's out there, we don't want to hurt you!"
" I think they're talking to us! "
"You think?" I shot back. "Just keep running"
"But we haven't done anything and they probably would protect us"
Shots rang through the night air once again and we quickly changed our path moving through uneven ground with ragged rocks that had more intention of claiming our lives than the shots around us.
" Halie! " Moi shouted as she stumbled, her hand slipping from mine.
"Come on, we have to hurry" I said helping her up before catching the deep nash near her ankle. My best friend stared up at me the realization of our situation dawning on us like heavy bricks. We were going to die here tonight.
No, I told myself, we had to escape, some way. There had to be a place we could hide until morning. Throwing her her hand around my shoulder and grabbing her waist, I hoisted her up. Tears streamed down her face that was covered in scratches from branches and whatever else we slammed into tonight.
"Come on Moi" I said as we did our best. "We still have your idiotic brother to annoy. We can't die before that. Especially before him"
She let out a strangled laugh, that was miserable than anything I've ever heard. All of this was my fault. And just when things couldn't get any worse, a group of animals rushed at us as one of the men emerged with his shot gun releasing a shot.
The next thing I knew, our feet had slipped and we were tumbling. I hadn't even realize we were standing at the edge of a cliff.