The door creaked open, orange sunlight, from the setting sun, revealed the silhouette of a young woman. The room beyond was dark and dusty, but otherwise exactly as she remembered it.
In dying light, the silhouetted figure rummaged through a backpack, removing a battered electric lantern and a number of old books.
With the lantern set up, the room and the figure are revealed. The girl was in her late teens, dressed for the summer; a light grey t-shirt, denim shorts and shoulder length hair held back by a baseball cap.
The backpack was dumped on an old brown sofa throwing up dust. This was the first time she had been her since she was a child, enjoying the summer with her parents. She had slept on the two seater sofa, back then she could stretch out across it and not touch either armrest.
The staircase along the side wall lead to a small loft, where she would have to sleep this time. It wouldn’t be the same.
The drive out had been long; she had expected to have a few hours of light to study by. But the lantern would be good for a while so she decided to spend an hour reading before calling it a night.
Seated at the wooden table, where she had played cards with her parents almost ten years before, she thumbed through the books and scribbled notes.
Night drew in; the full moon shone through the back door window.
There was a noise outside. Repetitive, quiet, she could hardly hear it, but it sounded out of place.
Books closed she listened; the noise was coming from the front of the cabin. She needed to know what it was; grabbing the lamp she made her way to the front door.
With the moon behind the cabin, the front was in shadow, peering through the window revealed nothing, only more darkness. The noise was clearer now, a regular scraping noise on the front wall. Maybe it was a tree limb in the wind, brushing against the wall. But she had to find know for certain.
Shifting the lantern to her left hand she opened the door. Light spilled out into the night, gleaming off something on the veranda.
A crouched form dragged an awkward looking limb against the wall. What must have been a head turned and two red eyes glared at her.
She dropped the lantern, before breaking on the floor it splashed light over the creature; it was large, covered in scales and spikes, silver skin rippled as it moved.
The dark form grew bigger, unfolding itself into a standing position, red eyes glowed with demonic light. She screamed, then the creature screamed too, louder longer and blood curdling.
She ran, through the darkened cabin to the backdoor, struggling with the old rusted bolt. The creature, still screaming, was moving again, the noise drawing closer, the dim red glow from its eyes brightening as it closed in on her.
The backdoor swung open and she fell out into the night. The thing was still coming. She ran. There was open ground behind the cabin, she had played here as a child. The ground was more uneven than she remembered, slowing her pace as she stumbled in the darkness.
She made it to the other side of the clearing. The thing had stopped screaming. She looking back; the red eyes were twenty yards away. The creature was not in a hurry, it was toying with her. Her eyes scanned to her car, next to the cabin, the moonlight reflecting off the chrome, she would have to get past the creature to reach it. But she had left the keys in her backpack.
There were other cabins; she had driven past them on her way here. She could head for them; they were the only place left to run.
The woods were not too thick, moonlight made it through the branches, lighting the way. But she was running wildly, brambles and low branches clawed at her, stinging her arms and legs, knocking away her hat. More than once she stumbled to the ground, each time she looked back, the creature was right behind her.
Each time the glowing red eyes seemed brighter than before.
And each time she set off with renewed speed.
There was no noise in the woods, not animals or birds, just the pounding of her heart and the heavy thud of the thing chasing her.
Her foot caught a tree root, her shoe fell away and the next step brought the bare foot into thick barbed brambles. She stumbled sideways, shocked by the sudden pain, knocking her head on a tree.
She felt dizzy, even though her head hurt less than the foot. She must have turned around because the red eyes were in front of her now, getting closer.
Running was too painful, she could still feel thorns digging into her bare foot, she took a couple of awkward steps, but the creature was already too close. An arm, solid as a tree, struck her. Pain shot across her left shoulder as she was thrown into the air.
Her vision blurred as she hit the ground. Blinking away tears, she looked back. There was a small clearing, with running water. She lay beside the river. The soft mud bank had broken her fall.
The creature stepped out from the shadow of a tree. A tree she must have missed by inches whey she had been hit. The thing trudged towards her, slowly; it could see she had nowhere to run. Then it screamed.
From the woods she heard more screams, distant but just as sinister. There were more creatures out there, five or six she imagined. They had her surrounded. It was just as she had suspected.
The thick mud sucked at her legs and right arm. She raised herself onto her elbows and stopped.
The creature lumbered closer, until its grotesque mass was above her. This close she could make out its features in the moonlight. It walked on two legs, but it was far from human. A single horn curved up from its forehead. There were odd angles in its legs. Its arms nothing more than thick clubs with a gnarled mess of a claw at the end. Spikes and spines stuck out randomly from silver scaled skin.
It leaned down, its body twisting and clicking as it moved, until its face was inches from hers, tendrils of saliva oozed from its open mouth.
In an instant her left arm darted out, grabbing the creature by the throat.
Red, glowing, eyes widened; confused. Pale green light ran through the girls veins as her grip tightened. It brightened, concentrating in her right arm, her good arm.
Her eyes never left the creatures red spheres, she reached up with her right arm, her palm glowed brightly, and took hold of the creatures horn.
A single swift movement snapped the protrusion off.
The creature, without its power, faded to nothing.
After carefully securing the horn to one of the special loops on her denim shorts she allowed herself to relax.
The green light passed through her veins again, healing the cuts on her foot and fixing her left shoulder. She left the cut on her forehead open; it wasn’t too serious and would give the other creatures something to track her by.
With a little luck she would be able to get them all tonight, before they realise they had been tricked. They were so much easier to take down when they thought they were the ones doing the hunting.
She would have to tell her parents that they must have missed some last time they were here.