16th of October
Summer had long since departed, and now the chilly darkness of autumn was beginning to worm its way into the air. It was barely five o'clock, and yet the sun was already dying in the west, the brilliant orb changing slowly from glittering gold into a soft pastel red. The leaves were turning red too, all different shades of it, from blazing crimson to rich mahogany as the trees slowly stripped themselves of their foliage. A cool breeze nibbled the tip of my nose and tugged playfully at my hair as I made my way down the narrow forest path, stumbling occasionally over a tree root that lay hidden beneath the piles of dead leaves. It was getting dark, but I had come this way so many times before that I wasn't worried.
I swung the shopping bag in my hand lazily, listening to the gentle sloshing sound of the milk cartons and the clink of the spare change in my left pocket. It was the third time this week my mum had sent me out for milk - she drank so much in her tea that she finished almost half a carton per day - but I wasn't complaining. I was happy for any excuse to get out of the house and away from the enormous pile of holiday homework that lay in wait for me on the kitchen table.
Something rustled in the undergrowth nearby. I paused and watched as a young roe deer shot out of the bushes and raced across the path, its hooves a blur of movement, and vanished into the trees again. Strange, I thought, the deer around here weren't usually so confident around people. The only other time I'd seen one had been a doe and fawn out in an open meadow. I'd kept as still as I could, but they must have smelt me because, in the blink of an eye, both mother and fawn were bounding away at top speed, white tails flashing occasionally over the high grass.
I looked back the way the deer had come. The undergrowth was very disturbed - no deer could have done that much damage. Young saplings had been snapped clean in half and there were several deep ruts gouged into the soft ground. There was something else there too, something wet and gleaming in the last feeble rays of sunlight that wandered aimlessly between the trees. I shivered involuntarily; there was something oddly ghoulish about the situation. I didn't like this at all. I gripped the handle of the shopping bag tighter, taking some comfort in the weight of the milk bottles.
Suddenly it dawned on me just how dark it was getting. I tore my gaze away from the wetness on the floor and turned back to the path. I scarcely made it three steps before something hot and heavy cannoned into my back. I shrieked and dropped the shopping bag and kicked out backwards. I felt my foot connect with something, but to my horror the thing did not let go. In fact, it only wrapped its arms around my neck and dragged me to the floor with it. The smell of decayed flesh and wet earth filled my nostrils, assaulting my brain with it's foul stench. I opened my mouth to scream, but all that came out was a moan of agony as a pair of sharp teeth sank into my throat. My vision swirled and a thousand colours danced before my eyes. I dropped to the ground, the creature still on top of me, my head ablaze with agony. It was unbearable, in all my life I had never felt a pain so bad. Then .... nothing.
I woke up hours later. It was now pitch dark, and it took my eyes a few seconds to adapt to the darkness. I sat up and groaned, rubbing my forehead in an attempt to clear my vision. My throat was raw and burning - but not from lack of moisture. I wasn't hoarse from screaming. I was hungry.
I lurched unsteadily to my feet and stumbled off down the path, moaning to myself occasionally. So hungry, so very, very hungry. I carried on walking until I made my way to the groundsman's cabin in the edge of the woods. I could smell something inside, something warm and meaty. I licked my lips and smiled to myself, then, slowly, I began to make my way towards the door....