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Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Contest Entry · #2158264
A man wandering in a forest runs for his life
"Yes sir, I understand you're upset but I don't know why." Yuki replied, speaking into his phone. "No, I don't believe I've done anything wrong." A pause. "Sir, I haven't failed you once, and I don't understand what I've done now to deserve this. I have a wife and a little girl and I need to support them. Please, don't do this." Another pause. "Yes sir, I understand. Goodbye."

Yuki Ito, age 27, was fired. Today had been a stressful day, but he knew he'd done everything right. He'd been working for Nago Industries and under Mr. Haruko for nine years, and not once had the old man ever grown upset with Yuki. As he always did after work, Yuki was walking through a forest on a designated path when he received the call from Mr. Haruko. The tranquility of the forest provided him relief, and this path in particular had not been used in a long time. The stairs and steps had moss all over them, turning them into a brilliant green. Yuki decided to continue on the path and chose to be alone. This forest trail was truly abandoned. He thought deeply as he walked about what he should do next.

His wife, Haruhi, stayed home to take care of their four-year-old daughter, Aiko. Yuki provided for the both of them. They lived in a relatively decent enough apartment complex on the fourth floor and couldn't really afford to move anywhere; the job market in their city was limited at best and Yuki didn't know if he could find another opening here.

As he walked he came across a bridge where he could hear a waterfall in the distance. Below this bridge was a river, though it was anything but deep. The bank was primarily composed of small stones, and the river itself could not have gone on much longer before dispensing itself into a pond. The trail he walked on would eventually lead down onto the stony bank. He stopped on the bridge and looked down into the river. The bridge was high above it, but Yuki could still easily see the ground through the water.

He stared down into the water for a long time, thinking about his family. He loved them dearly, and didn't want to be a disappointment to them. How could he go home and face Haruhi? Would Aiko be proud of a father who failed? He was snapped out of his trance after he heard the stones shifting violently to his right. He looked towards the bank of the river and saw a dark figure dragging a mangled, bloody body. Yuki stared in shock and fear, unable to speak or move at the sight. The body was beyond recognition, but Yuki could make out that it was wearing a suit and was likely a man. The figure was dragging it by the arm, and was faced away from Yuki. The figure was hunched over, wore black, tattered clothes and had long, matted black hair. The stones clattered under the body with every pull.

His body was locked as he watched the unfortunate soul's corpse being dragged. When the figure turned his head and looked left at the river, Yuki gasped at what he saw of its face. The figure heard him from the bank and quickly turned to face him. The creature's skin was pure white, as though it had no blood. Its face was long and sharp and its eyes were pure black, almost as if they were hollow. Yuki and the creature stared at each other for a moment before the creature dropped the body, opened its black mouth and screamed. Its black fingernails became long claws as the inhuman screech traveled through the air. The creature turned and began to run up the trail that led to him. Yuki turned to run back where he came from. He didn't live far away and he hoped to make it back home before that thing caught him.

The forest trail kicked up under his feet as he ran. The creature was fast, but Yuki had a good head start. It wasn't long before Yuki burst out of the woods, but kept running. He could feel it coming closer and he knew it would not stop hunting him. The central part of the city was not far, only a quarter mile away. He kept going feeling the dread and cold at his back. Nothing would stop him from seeing his family again. He made it to the city quickly and he tore through the blocks. No one was outside and no cars were in the streets. Yuki knew the streets well as he had lived here his entire life, and he was hoping to gain ground on the creature because of this.

He eventually made it to his apartment building. He didn't know if he had time to wait for the elevator, so he immediately took the thin, metal stairs. He sprinted up them as quickly as he could, not caring about the noise he was making. He knew the creature heard the loud clangs of the stairs and would pinpoint him, but he would be home before it got to him. He made it to the fourth floor and ran down the aisle until he made it to his door, 4-42. He turned the knob and tried to enter, but the door was locked. He pulled out his key ring and began to fumble with the nearly countless keys on it. Thanks to his job, he carried at least a hundred keys on him in order to access any room he needed in the office. Maybe this was why he was fired, he thought as adrenaline flooded his veins. After trying two keys, he knew it'd take too long to find he right one. He dropped them in one, loud clatter and frantically pounded on the door as he screamed for Haruhi.

He looked backed towards the staircase for just a moment, knowing the creature was growing closer. When he turned back he saw, through the window next to the door, Aiko looking through at him. He moved to get in right in front of her and tapped on the window. "Aiko, go open the door for Daddy." Yuki said hastily, panicked. Aiko didn't move and didn't react. "Aiko, please go open the door!" Yuki was frantically tapping on the glass now. He could hear the creature ascending the stairs. He didn't have much time. "Aiko! Open the door! Aiko! Aiko! Aiko!" He screamed now, begging as he pounded on the glass. The creature had made it to the fourth and final floor, and Yuki turned and ran away from it. He knew there would be no escape, and he didn't want his daughter to see what happened next. He was happy he got see her one last time at least. He rounded a corner as the creature bounded to him, running past his home. Aiko looked out the window the entire time, as though she saw nothing at all.

"Aiko," Haruhi called from behind her, "Come on, you've been standing there forever. He's later than normal, but Daddy should be home soon." Aiko walked over to her mother, wondering when her father would come home.
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