Running through the forest, you gasp for more of the cold, damp March air with every step. You can hear them. No matter how fast or far you run, you hear them following. The sounds of tree limbs snapping, their incomprehensibly guttural shouts.
You mustn’t stop running. You can’t see them, but you know they are all around you in the dark. You don’t want to think about what will happen if… no… When, they catch you. You recall the stories you heard in passing of others, disappearing without a trace, families receiving pieces of their lost loved one’s body. No matter the reason, everyone’s fate was the same.
You can hear them even clearer now, it’s almost time to meet your end. Your body screams at you to stop running but your mind is telling you to push harder. But it’s no use, you can feel yourself slowing little by little. Then it happens. In a flash you feel the sharp smack of cold metal against your skull and you fall forward. You instinctively try to push on, crawling and reaching forward, but it’s no use. You begin to feel the warmth leave your body as your crimson blood escapes from the brutal wound on the side of your head. They’re here now.
With your vision beginning to blur, you see the silhouette of the person that struck you. The feeling of panic sets in now. You can see more figures approaching slowly, surrounding your soon to be lifeless body. One of the figures gets on the ground and moves closer and closer in an almost insect-like manner. They stop just a foot away from your face, but you still cannot see who, or what, they are.
Time feels like it doesn’t exist anymore. The figures continue to stand and watch. After what feels like an eternity, the figure in front of you begins to speak some guttural mutterings. You don’t understand at first, but it sounds like they’re repeating themselves. You try your hardest to focus, then you finally make sense of it. Your stomach drops as you hear it, “Welcome home. Welcome home. Welcome home.”
There is a sudden spark of light toward your feet. A fire starting. As the flames grow, the muttering figure’s face slowly becomes illuminated. “Welcome home.” You struggle to see it clearly, and when you do you wish you never had. “Welcome home.” The face was wide-eyed, its mouth stuck in a large, sickly grin. “Welcome home.” The face had no flesh. A mess of sinew, pulsing veins, and twitching muscles. You open your mouth to scream but no sound comes out. Your vision finally fails. You can feel them pulling at your limbs and ripping into your flesh as you slip away.