She sighed and rolled over to face the sky. The green leaves on the treetops were slowly turning orange as autumn approached and they cast a strange light on the forest floor. Charlotte loved the afternoons she spent like this. A long run through the trees then stopping at her favourite spot by a dilapidated and abandoned house. She'd never been in, there were many ghost stories about it and even though she didn't always believe them, she stayed away from it all the same.
The wind suddenly came blasting through the trees, sending a shiver through Charlotte and she realised it was probably time to be heading back. Sitting up she picked up her bag and prepared herself for the walk home.
Then there was a crunching noise as someone stood on a pile of dry leaves. Charlotte ignored it, thinking it was just her imagination playing tricks on her. She had been coming to these woods from years and she had never met anyone else this far in. Turning to walk in the direction of home, she caught sight of a figure standing in the shadows of a group of trees. Looking back a few seconds later, the figure had vanished.
'Stop pretending you're seeing things,' she muttered to herself. 'You're just trying to scare yourself.' Despite her not believing in ghosts, Imogen's pace quickened. She had a strange and unsettling feeling something was behind her but whenever she turned around there was nothing there.
That was until she tripped over a root she hadn't seen and went sprawling across the floor. As she tried to get up she felt something press down against the small of her back, something she couldn't shift.
She turned around awkwardly and screamed in terror as she came face-to-face with a decaying corpse. It leered at her and reached out its rotting hand to grab hold of her arm.
Fear made Charlotte strong and she twisted away from the corpse, knocking it off balance with a kick to its chest. She scrambled to her feet, grasping at leaves to pull her upright, and ran as fast as she could. Her heart was pounding as she heard footsteps following her and she ran as fast as she could, trying not to think about the monster that was chasing her.
After five minutes she stopped for breath, throwing herself against a tree. There was no way he could have caught up with her, he was dead. She looked around the tree trunk to see if he was there. She could see nothing but trees. Breathing a sigh of relief, Charlotte relaxed.
Then a cold, slimy hand gripped her neck, stopping her breathing, making her choke. The man lifted her slowly from the ground so her legs were kicking the air and she was gasping for breath. She would have pleaded with him if she could say anything.
He grabbed her arm with his spare hand, pushing her body against the tree to stabilise himself. Charlotte's feet scraped against the trunk, hoping to find something she could push off from, but she was too panicked and her fear was overwhelming. She was so close to town, she thought, there must be someone who could hear me if I could scream.
Then she felt teeth sink into her forearm and croaked loudly, pain searing through her body. She could feel her body going numb, her legs stopped flailing around and she couldn't feel her hands.
The corpse dropped her and she fell into a heap on the floor. It advanced on her and suddenly there was only one thing she could feel. Hunger.