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Rated: 18+ · Short Story · Contest Entry · #2212575
Written for Screams!!! 2/10/2020.

We were tired; it had been a long day and all we wanted to do was get back home, get something to eat and crash out. The last thing we were looking for was trouble of any kind but it seemed like it had found us anyway.

Four guys had our car surrounded. Mark watched as one of them took a knife from his pocket and cut a long line into the paint-work. Not satisfied with that he plunged the blade into one of the tires. Another guy grabbed up a piece of concrete and smashed it into the headlights, first the left then the right.

It was too much for Mark. "Hey! What the hell do you think you are doing? That's my car!"

I grabbed hold of his arm, tried to pull him away, for my own eyes had been transfixed by the guy with the concrete. The glass from the headlights had shattered over his hand, and he was calmly sucking up the blood that was welling up on it. "Leave it, Mark. It's only a car..."

"Hell, no, Caro! It's about time someone stood up to these punks!"

All four of them were looking at us now. I didn't know if Mark had realized, but they were just urging him to carry on. The excitement of imminent conflict was mixing with whatever they were already high on, and they were relishing it. I could feel the sizzle of pent up energy coming off them.

"Mark," I said, with more urgency this time. "Let's just walk away."

"Go on, Mark," jeered on of the men. "Listen to the little lady."

Mark pulled away from me and I watched in horror as he stalked towards them. "Mark, what are you doing?"

The four men had him surrounded by the time he threw a punch. Why did he do that? The one he hit laughed, threw a much harder punch back that impacted with Mark's face with a sickening crunch. I was going to have to get away, find some help. I took one step backwards then another, sickened by the way they were now using Mark as a punch-bag, each taking it in turns to pummel him. When I saw the glint of the blade, I turned and ran across the parking lot.

Which way to go? I didn't know, hesitated. I could try the streets but at this time of night there were few cars around. As soon as they'd finished with Mark they'd be after me, and the road was pretty straight. They would easily spot me, and I had not doubts that all four of them could outrun me with ease.

The forest was my best chance. At least the trees would give me some cover. Kicking off my shoes and leaving them where they fell, I ran towards the treeline. Whooping from behind me could only mean one thing; they were already in pursuit and I'd yet to reach the forest's edge.

My lungs already burning, I forced my legs to move faster, lengthened my stride as much as I could. Even so, they were getting way to close. I dived into the trees and let myself take a zigzag path rather than run in a straight line.

Brambles tore at my face, my legs, and my feet were already slick with blood. I reached forward, grabbing tree after tree, trying to propel myself forward, increase my momentum. Was there any point? Perhaps it would be better to stand still, get it over with, for there was no way I was going to be able to escape them.

Maybe it was a survival instinct, but my mind would not let my body stop moving. My breathing was labored as I struggled on, tears falling from my eyes. Why was I crying? I couldn't afford to waste the energy on it; I needed every bit of energy that I could summon up, needed my brain to work for me, not against me.

It was so dark inside the forest. I occasionally caught a glimpse of the moon, but its light was not strong enough to light up a path. I was running blind and totally panicked, especially when a loud

shout sounded so near to my left. Come on, come on, I urged myself, only just managing to launch myself over a fallen tree.

If it had not been for the stench, I'm sure that I would have plunged headlong into the chasm that just appeared in front of me. One foot hovered over the abyss but I gripped, clawed, frantically pulled myself back and clung to the tree trunk willing myself to become invisible.

The whooping was coming from everywhere, both sides and behind me. There was nowhere for me to go. I closed my eyes, held my breath as one of the men broke out through the trees. He'd seen me, was calling out to the others when a deep roar came from the chasm.

What the hell was making that noise?

The man that was stalking towards me, paused and I watched in horror as some kind of tentacle reached up and wound around him, dragging him kicking and screaming over the edge. The silence that followed was worse.

Slowly, carefully, I edged my way around the tree, putting the trunk between me and the split in the ground. Had the others heard the cries of their friend? Whooping and footsteps thundering forward made me think not.

One plunged straight into the hole, no doubt without even seeing it. His cry was quickly silenced by whatever it was that was lurking in that hole. Two down, two to go. They were being more cautious in their approach, clearly having been alerted by the sounds. I could see the two of them and they could see me.

They were leering and jeering, one of them was beginning to unfasten the waistband of his jeans. I didn't need to see any more to know what my fate would be if they caught me.

"Hey, Caro, wouldn't you like to have a good time?"

I reached for a branch, hoped it would be strong enough to take my weight. I pulled myself up from the ground, and at the same time, kicked a branch into the chasm, shouted out, trying to attract the monster, or whatever it was. Please, I begged in my mind, but it was too late for me. One of the men had grabbed at my ankle, was starting to pull me down.

The roar was ear-splitting and the stench made me gag. It was too dark for me to see much, but something huge heaved itself up, stretched out tentacles and pulled my attackers down. I heard a crunch of bone, a squelch of flesh and I just knew they were gone for good.

All that was left was for me to stay where I was until I'd recovered enough strength to make it back to the road and find help.

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