Chapter OneMature

           Just because she couldn’t see it didn’t mean she was safe.

           Cora wasn’t sure where she was going, and frankly she didn’t care. In fact, the woods were probably the worst place she could’ve gone to, because in the safety of her house, she at least had her parents to protect her. In the forest, it was just a deadly game of cat and mouse in action. Branches scratched her arms and face, and more than a few times gnarled tree roots twisted her ankles, slowing her progress. The burning in her chest never ceased, and breathing was getting more difficult the harder she pushed herself, along with the agonizing ache that had begun in her legs. Fatigue was warring with fear. She’d either collapse from exhaustion, or die from the hands of this monster.

           This simply doesn’t happen in real life. This is storybook material, something that belongs in the movies.

           Come out; come out, wherever you are. The voice that wasn’t hers carolled in her head again.

            Just when she thought she couldn’t possibly go on any further, she heard the beating of enormous wings above her, and the crunch of feet landing against the detritus on the forest floor.

            I’m toast, Coralie sighed mentally. She made it a few more strides, but her foot got entangled in vines and tree roots, forcing her to collapse in a heap on the earthen floor. Her body was grateful for a break. She hadn’t realized it, but while she panting into the lichen and dead leaves on the ground, silent tears had started to roll down her face.

            It only hurts for a second, I promise.

            So this is what it feels like, before you die? No re-runs of my life, no white light shining in my eyes, or staircase leading up to heaven? Cora thought. Why, God? Why me? Why do you think my entire existence is a huge fucking joke? She choked on her tears, already suffocating in her sorrow. She was dry-heaving, hyperventilating, losing control of herself. At least I won’t be miserable with my life anymore, right?

            The creature hissed again, reaching out towards the crumpled heap that was Cora. It wasn’t supposed to feed on people, but it lusted for the thrill of killing again, just like when it was human. Thanks to the experiments, it was more animal than human now, and could do as it pleased. Its clawed hands touched the fabric on the back of her cotton dress. It could feel the warmth emanating from her human body.

            A stranger stepped out from the shadows. “Luther, it’s not her time, nor is it yours.” An unfamiliar, husky voice called out, a warning to the creature. Luther. How royal. Cora didn’t bother looking up to see who her saviour was; her eyes were blinded with salty tears and crushed leaves.

The End

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