By Sahil Jain
My eyes were shut, but I could still smell what was around. Moist air and the scent of wet soil filled my lungs. When I opened my eyes, I saw only thick gray clouds. No sun nor moon could be seen. Instead of laying on my comfortable bed, I laid on wet ground covered with a thin blanket of old autumn leaves. I sat up and noticed that I was in my nightdress and my favorite pair of warm purple socks—that was now soaked and covered in soil.
The only things around me were trees. I was confused because I couldn’t remember running or even going anywhere. I tried to remember what happened before I woke up, but I only got a headache. I shivered as the long sleeves of my nightdress proved futile in defending me against the cold autumn wind. As I tried to stand on my feet, I stumbled continuously and fell again. Why am I so weak? I thought to myself. I waited a bit before attempting to stand up again. I had no map or compass, so once I got up I started walking towards what I thought was east with my cold feet. The smell of wood was sweet, and the moist air was even sweeter. Old was the trees before me, and just as old were the stories told to them through their roots and soil.
It had been an hour and still, she continued to walk in that direction. She was tired and confused, but her fear and determination kept her going. Assuming another mile had passed, she felt as though something was different. Old tracks of paws prints were beneath her. Once she noticed, she observed them carefully. They looked like canine prints—but there was a problem, the paw prints only had four toes not five. Her concern only grew when she heard a loud scream of an animal—seemingly in pain or distress. She didn’t follow the sound or tracks. Her response to this unusual cry was flight, and she ran as fast and far as possible in the opposite direction.
She ran until her legs were cold and numb. She leaned on the tree to her right and looked down at the ground, seeing that it had paw prints in every direction. North, south, east, west, the tracks looked like they were just about everywhere. Unable to concentrate anymore, she was only able to think about what made these tracks. She paused for a minute—hearing something like the snapping of a tree behind her. The hairs on the back of her neck began to stand up, as she heard a low growl and saw the tail of a reptilian-like creature vanish into the shadows. The creature was large, and she wasted no time to turn around and sprint and Dodge every tree in front of her. Looking behind her, nothing was following her. She turned full-force behind her, not noticing a large tree in her way, and before she knew it, she slammed into the tree headfirst. THUD! She hit the ground and passed out.
The thought of cuddling one of her soft pillows flooded her mind. Opening her eyes, she saw moist soil and leaves in her hands. The moment of relief turned into a moment of anger and frustration as she chucked the soil at a tree and started to shed tears.
“****!” As tears rolled down her cheeks, a liquid thicker than water rolled down her eyebrow down to her eye. As she touched her finger to her temple, she realized that she had been bleeding. Things only got worse when hunger struck. Running through the forest, she saw another tree in front of her that had fallen—or been pushed down by that creature. She decided to imagine the tree as a hurdle; since she loved doing hurdles during track season. In her head, she became the best hurdler in the world, going through a ‘hurdle’ until her foot hit the tree and hit the ground causing even more mud to get on her nightdress. As she looked up before she was Wapiti. He laid in a puddle of his own blood and entrails—but to her surprise, he still lived. He looked into her eyes as if he was begging for her to end his torturous last few seconds of living. The smell of blood only made tears run down her face again. Although she was hesitating, the request to end him was already in her hands. She picked up a stone and looked him in the eye.
Before she could do anything, the Wapiti turned around and started to scream at her. Looking up she saw the pair of yellowish-brown eyes staring right back at her. The cry of the Wapiti got loud, and as he pointed his antlers in her direction—and rather close and she got his message to flee. As fast as she could, she sprinted away from danger. She turned around and saw the animal still following her. The creature dodged the trees with little to no effort. Canines usually have larger ears, but this creature had bat-wing-like ears, unlike any canine known to man. It knew she was tired, it knew she had slowed down, it knew she was scared, and so it still followed. Her pace was slowing down, her lungs felt like exploding, her legs were about to shatter, and then she noticed the stone still in her tired arm.
This stone was her last hope; maybe if she chucks it at the head of this savage beast, it would either stop, die, or get hurt really bad. She quickly turned around, stopped, and threw the stone directly at the wild beast’s forehead and hit it. The creature whined in pain and fell headfirst to the ground, blood covering the stone and the animals forehead. Its eye was wide open, its body twitched a few times before becoming motionless. The girl grinned in a twisted way. Killing in self-defense was something she thought she would never develop. She took a deep breath and picked up the bloody stone. One last time she looked at the monster that tried to kill her. As she started to walk away, she began to relax.
“I killed a monster.”
“Almost.” She heard her own worries being spoken—but from someone or something else. As she turned around she saw the monster launching itself at her, but it was already too late to move or dodge. Its jagged teeth sank into her wrist. First her skin, then the veins. Never before had she felt such intense pain. The creature had enough strength to force the girl onto the ground and pin her down. The girl’s blood poured out of the mouth of the creature as it gave her a bloody, toothy grin.
“WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME!?” The girl hopelessly shouted in her weak voice, as tears started to roll down her face once more.
“It’s not what I want from you, it’s what you want from me. I am only doing you a favor.”
“I don’t want **** from you and you are doing nothing but wasting your **** time!” She spat, causing the creature to look deep into her eyes and raise her voice.”
“FOOLISH CHILD, I come to grant your wish you have been wishing for the longest time! Ungrateful as you are, your wish shall still be granted.”
“This is not how I want things to end, please give me a chance to survive in this world! But what wish are you even talking about?!” The monster never answered her question and instead exposed her yellow jagged teeth a final time and sank her claws into the child’s rib cage. The girl knew the monster was getting ready to kill her so she started shouting, crying for help, begging for redemption, and kicking trying to get it off her when suddenly the monster used her jagged teeth and all her bite force to crush the child’s windpipe. The girl started to lose blood from her neck and wrist and oxygen from her damaged and useless windpipe. Blood leaked out of her mouth and then the creature ended the sinister performance by decapitating its victim, ripping off the flesh, and tugging at her neck until it was completely separated from the rest of the body.
I opened my eyes and I saw blood. Something is off, something is different. I could smell something bad, something rancid behind me. I looked over to see a headless corpse. I froze in shock. The corpse just so happened to be wearing a very dirty nightdress. The corpse’s arm was also covered in soil with a very bloody wound. I could even see the bone. The features were scarcely familiar, in two feet I saw the head. Her eyes—no my eyes stared back at me! I realized it was my corpse—but I’m alive though?! I look down, only to see paws under me, I lick my teeth, only to taste my own blood, and I then remember what that wish was.
“I HAVE NOW BECOME THE MONSTER.”