[Don't look back. Don't look back. Don't look back.]
I ran. I ran through a pitch black forest that was so dark I couldn't see the forest floor. It was a darkness that stopped me from seeing where my feet landed on the dirt and where the trail of my chilled breath started and ended. It was the kind of darkness that enveloped everything. It was the kind of darkness that pulled shadows from the deepest corners of the forest and twisted them into shapes that tricked your eyes into believing they were real. Were they real?
[Don't stop running. Don't stop running. Don't stop running.]
I ran harder than I had ever run, slicing myself on claw-like branches that seemed to reach out from the dead trees to pull at my hands and my hair. I tripped over hooked roots that, in the darkness, seemed to slither around my ankles when I got near. The shadows seemed to move with me, getting closer with each ragged breath I took, taking on more sinister shapes as my steps got slower and slower.
[It's not real. It's not real. It's not real.]
I should have listened. Why didn't I listen?? They had warned me of this place- of the darkness. I should have listened. I had heard the stories of those who came into this forest- how all that was left of them was the echos of their screams in the middle of the night. I should have listened. Instead, filled with hubris, I had challenged the darkness, not believing in its ferocity. It had answered me.
[Don't look back. Keep running, It's not real.]
As I stumbled through the blinding darkness, I screamed at the thing that I could not see but was somehow still there.
"WHAT DO YOU WANT??!" I asked it, shaking as I ran over the hard, cold earth. "I'M SORRY!" I yelled, tripping over the roots of the dead trees surrounding me. All I heard back was a sinister laugh that drifted towards me and away again on a freezing breeze.
"Jennnaaaaa... Jennaaa... Help me! Jenna please, help me!" My mom's voice yelled into the darkness. Just out of sight, I could see a shadow ahead of me. I stopped.
"Mom?? Mom where are you? Is that you?" I took an unsure step forward, reaching out a hand, trying desperately to see what was hidden in the twisted shadows.
"I heard it too hunny, don't go over there. It is over there. Come to me, you'll be safe." The voice of my mother called behind me. Again, just out of sight, a shadow crept towards me. I froze, not knowing what to do. That was my final mistake. It took me, and it still has me—toying with me, using me as bait to catch others who were as unfortunate as me to wander into the darkness, torturing me with the screams of my loved ones until I scream along with them. I'm so sorry. I didn't want to do this. I didn't want it to come to this. But if you are reading this, it is about to catch you too. And it's my fault.