Im not going to tell you how i got here. Frankly, i dont remember. I remember my name, John Cramer. I remember my age, date of birth, but i cant recall how i ended up in this unknown forest filled with underbrush and dead foliage. I can tell you its dark, almost too dark to see. I can hear for miles it seems. i leaned my back against a thick tree. the ground was slightly damp from rain water settling on the foliage, making sure to move silently.
I was being hunted. Im not really sure what 'it' is. Its bigger than me, i stand at six feet tall and this unknown monster of sorts makes me look like a plaything. claws, teeth, dripping saliva and the noise it makes, at first i thought there was a child hurt in the distance. No. through a hole in the thing's chest i could see a diaphragm opening when a shrill high pitched noise escaped, like a scream from a dying child. then the diaphragm closed.
I could see this because that's how i met this awful thing. like a hulking giant lizard, it jumped from the branches overhead, cutting off my path of sprinting confusion through gaps in the trees. I stood there, stunned and terrified beyond the point of moving. my legs wouldn't work, my hands clenching so hard I could feel blood running from my palm. I don't think it saw me, because at this point it seemed to sniff and scream. a snarl from its snout let go a draft of hot breath and snot that fell and soaked my jacket as it strode past me. I stood there, it came toward me, but calm as if it couldn't see me. it walked not 2 feet from my left arm, shaking the ground with every step. I tried my damnedest to keep my whimpers from escaping. It was away and moving through the trees.
I didn't turn, just ran. Not worried about my footfalls now. the monster was screaming off in the tree line. I ran until I couldn't breath and collapsed against this tree, where I started to tell you this story. This was about five hours I've spent in this forest, hungry and thirsty. most of the time running on pure adrenaline. like I said before, I don't know how I got here. Last I recall, I was walking to my car in a morning pressed suit and the grime of a full shift. New York 9 to 5 was hell, but the headache coursing across my forehead was worse. whether I blacked out or was hit, I'm not sure, I just remember seeing black.
Next thing I know I'm hanging upside down from a rope to a tree branch 20 feet up. I freed my foot from the rope and slammed to the ground. Since I woke up, I've never seen day. Only night. I have no weapons, little energy, no time to find food. I am food it seems and I don't want to die.
Only a glimmer is visible in the distance, maybe starlight. I checked my pockets. No wallet, no keys. A cell phone, I turn it around in my palms and press the power button, the screen illuminates and then I remembered the power-up tone.
"shit!" I muttered to myself, covering the speaker with my jacket against a rock. Yet, it still blared. I sat, stock still. tensing my muscles, there was a scream a hundred feet to my rear. I put the phone in my pocket and bolted through an opening in the brush and slid down a hill of bushes and twigs. hurdling and flipping, I landed on the plain at the bottom, arm gashed and bleeding from my hand. I looked up to see the behemoth at the edge of the cliff. Mouth agape and drooling, it screamed a scream so shrill, it made me cover my ears. It grasped the precipice and launched itself off the edge toward me.
I got up, staggering. Gasping, as the thing with its claws erect bounded for me. In front of me, not 50 feet, there was a canyon. I thought just then, if I could make it there, I would have a chance. Onward I sprinted, avoiding underbrush and sticks, I couldn't afford to make a mistake being that the lizard was at my heels, 30 feet, I jumped over a log, 20, 10. I Ducked and slid to a screeching halt at the end of the pass and vaulted over the edge, grabbing onto a root and holding on. The monster, not seeing the cliff, didn't stop, instead flew over the edge, clawing the cliff face, trying to avoid certain death.
Screeching and bellowing like a demonic hound, a claw dug into my calf as I was trying to climb, the monster, shaking from adrenaline went in for the death bite. Luckily, its claw dislodged and the monster plummeted hundreds of feet to its doom, screaming like a vicious child the way down. I grasped the root and pulled myself up, only half believing i had survived this thing that had been hunting me for the past almost six hours. surely it was dead. Nothing could survive a fall from those heights. I reached over the edge and climbed up to the flat ground and collapsed in jubilation and elation from being alive after this terrible ordeal. Now I could figure out where I was and how to get back home.
I walked and walked, eventually making it to the starlight I had previously seen. I walked past the last tree. Sudden shock came over me, a sight I wasn't expecting. The starlight I witnessed was the glimmer of light from two large astral bodies heralding a brilliant glow of white light over the surrounding clearing. I fell to my knees, bleeding and crying. I wasn't home. I wasn't lost, I wasn't going back. I was on another planet. I became catatonic for a time, just processing my recent dread. I was doomed like the creature who stalked me. Suddenly, a bright streaking light over the horizon, a small ship plummeted to the ground and a larger ship streaked to a booming crash, a scream like a child and the sound of a robotic hatch unloading.
"That's when I found you. Now you know my story. You know these things can be killed. It seems every six hours, another human and another one of those things-", I pointed toward the trees. "flies here through space to hunt us. It took a lot for me to accept that I may never make it off this rock, but between you and I, we may have a chance. We'll light a fire that will be like a candle in the window for anyone looking to survive."
I relaxed and listened. Listened for the sound of a child's tormented scream.
The preverbal candle burned brightly as ships streaked through the atmosphere. Maybe we stand a fighting chance.
To be continued.