Branches whipped passed Ira as he ran through the dark forest. There was no light in the sky, not even from the moon which hadn’t been seen for days now. Ira had underestimated the darkness of the woods. After the experiment began, the city was drowned in darkness, but he never expected it to be so devoid of light that he could not even see his hand when it was touching the tip of his sturdy nose. It was a wonder that he had not run into any tree trunks, even though he kept his arms outstretch in front of his body to attempt to feel his way through the maze of wood.
The darkness of the forest suffocated him as the limbs of the trees seemed to reach out and grab him, threatening to pull him into their darkness and never let him escape. His mind reeled from the lack of sensation around him, his body slowly filling with cold terror that screamed for him to keep running, no matter what. His lungs burned with the effort, his skinny frame heaving, putting one foot in front of the other. The chill of the air stung against his seizing lungs.
He was in too far to turn back.
A small hiss escaped his lips as the skin on his lanky forearm caught a sharp branch, the cold wood slicing deep into his flesh. He had no choice but to continue running, lifting his feet as high as he could to try and avoid jutting roots in the ground. It would mean sudden death if he lost his footing.
The body does weird things when it completely loses one of its fundamental senses, the survival instincts embedded deep within all of us sparking to life. Although Ira was completely blind in this darkness, his ears were on high alert, the distant sound of shouts and barking dogs reaching him through the dense forest.
As Ira ran, the shouting became louder as his followers gained on him with every step. They had one major item that he did not; light. The hot beams of his attackers flashlights darted through the forest, weaving in and out of the trunks a few hundred feet behind him, gaining on him with every few steps.
Putting on an extra burst of speed, Ira’s legs quivered with the effort. He might be able to escape the soldiers following him, but he was no match for the search dogs they let loose, and he knew it. The dogs had an advantage; they could smell where Ira was, using their highly sensitive noses to weave their way through the thick forest after him. They gained on him with every step.
A loud snap sounded from Ira’s left, startling him.
Sliding to a stop as if he were a Major League Baseball payer sliding to home, Ira crawled along the ground and blindly made his way to the nearest tree trunk, moving around its side so that he was positioned furthest from the source of the noise. He tried to still his breathing, his lungs heaving loudly at the effort of his sprint.
A low growl emanated from behind him, and he quickly threw his hands over his mouth to stop his breathing. His lungs burned like hot lava, his body so desperate for sweet oxygen. The growl slowly grew louder as it approached him from behind the tree, slowly coming around to the front where Ira was huddled low on the ground.
Ira’s eyes opened widely, his pupils fully dilating, straining so desperately to see around him, to make sense of even the slightest thing in his surroundings. A small, silver orb slowly emerged from Ira’s right, the glowing eye of the Nightwalker flashing up and down as it searched for him. It’s large foot crashed into the earth beside him, its slimy skin seemingly just inches away from Ira’s leg.
Ira watched as the Nightwalker’s eye slowly came closer to him, the misty orb locking onto his body, its silver fangs emerging into view in the night. Just as Ira was about to jump up and try to run, the soldiers after him slowly came into view, their lights bouncing through the trunks of the forest. The Nightwalker snapped its jaw shut, its eyes quickly moving, locking onto the soldiers advancing in the woods. Its huge frame flew past Ira, causing a brisk breeze to stir in its wake.
Ira watched as the giant Nightwalker came into view of the soldiers flashlights. Its enormous grey body lunged towards the soldiers. Standing on six legs like a mutant wolf, the hairless creature let out a horrible screech, the sound like nothing he had ever heard before. Inhuman, monstrous. Ira threw his hands over his ears, shutting his eyes at the high-pitched scream so that they did not pop from his skull.
The soldiers began to scream, aiming their AR-15’s at the creature and firing, the sprays of bullets causing the Nightwalker to begin its rampage. Opening its enormous jaw, Ira watched as the flat faced creature took half of one of the soldiers into its mouth, it’s razor sharp teeth cutting him clean in half. The bottom half of his body squirted blood as it fell from the Nightwalker’s jaws. It did not wait for the other soldiers to snap out of their trance before it began tearing into them too, their screams and shouts filling the empty forest.
Standing up, Ira turned on his heel and continued running into the forest. He did not want to wait around for what was about to happen next. Either the soldiers would kill the Nightwalker and come for him, or the Nightwalker would claim victory and come for him. Both options were almost certain death,
Although the soldiers were now preoccupied, their gunfire still sounding loudly from behind Ira, the dogs were still on his tail. He could feel the dogs just moments behind him, could hear them growl and snarl.
The trees suddenly broke into open air, the snagging branches no longer cutting into Ira’s skin. As he rushed into the clearing, the Nightwalker letting out a loud scream from behind him, his feet came out from underneath him as he crashed into the asphalt. The edge of a cliff stood just inches from his nose. Even though he couldn’t see it, he could hear the surging water racing by below.
Ira stood shakily on his feet, peering into the darkness below.
Slowly kneeling down, Ira began to feel around his feet on all fours, his fingers easily finding the edge of the cliff. Moving from left to right, he tried to find a spot to disappear into, but there was nothing.
Just a straight drop to the waters below.
Behind him, the trees rustled as the search dogs burst through the dead bushes. He could barely see them, but the white foam that dripped from their mouths, pooling at their large paws, was noticeable in the dark. It glowed almost like the Nightwalker’s special eyes. Deep, low growls escaped from their throats, and they slowly stalked towards Ira. Shouts sounded from behind them.
The soldiers had won the fight.
Standing, Ira took a step away from the slowly approaching dogs. The dogs took a step forward, matching Ira’s movements, their bodies low to the ground, ready to pounce. He went to take another step back, but the cliff was right at the edge of his feet. His heels hung off the edge, his life balancing on the balls of his feet.
The soldiers were gaining on him. Ira could now see their flashlight beams bouncing through the trees as they ran toward him. There are less of them now, but still enough to take him down.
Ira peered over his shoulder, looking into the darkness below, the sound of the surging river deafening in his ears.
He turned his head and looked back to the dogs and the soldiers now almost on him.
Both options, almost certain death.
Or stay and be taken.