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by Cameron L.
Florida, United States
genre: Horror

I breathed heavily as I ran through the forest under the midnight sky. The crisp breeze flowed through my lungs while branches whipped my body. There was no need to turn around, I knew the beast was there, I could feel its eyes boring into my skull. Picking up my pace, I ran deeper into the woods, set on a cabin no more than forty yards ahead of me. The quicker I ran, the closer my assumed safety became. 
Twenty yards now. The ground shook with every one of the beast’s steps. 
Ten yards. 
Five yards.  
The cabin door was finally within reach. I prayed it was unlocked as I hastily turned the handle. Slamming the door behind me, I could hear the beast’s large body bound into the (thankfully) sturdy door with a thud.  
I wasted no time catching my breath. I hurried to push all of the nearest furniture up against the door, grabbed the sharpest steak knife I could find, and cowered in the closet under the stairs. Suddenly, footsteps came from above. I burst out of my hiding spot to see a middle-age man in only his boxers, pointing a hunting rifle straight at my head. 
“Hey!” He roared angrily.  
“Lower the gun,” I firmly commanded him. 
“Tell me what you’re doing in my house, and we’ll see.” His voice was gruff, as if he had been smoking his whole life.  
Another thud came from the front door, drawing the hunter’s eyes to the sight. His leather couch, deep auburn chairs, and birch coffee tables, all shoved in front of the door. 
“What in the world is all this mess about?” As he began moving the furniture back to their proper places, wood splintered from the door. The hunter jumped back. Again, I wasted no time, and, knife in hand, got back to running. I sprinted through the house, out the back door, and further away from the cabin as murderous screams from the man with the rifle filled the air. I heard his shots fired, but it would do no good against that freak of nature. The beast had got to him, and I would not let myself be next. Although I felt far away enough from the cabin, I could never have too much distance between me and this thing.  
Sooner rather than later, the beast caught up to me. I realized that there was no way I could outrun it so, it was time to see if it could climb. I rapidly ascended the thick trunk of the tree nearest to me. My arms and legs burned, but I could not spare a second to relax. I climbed higher and higher until I reached the top. There was nowhere left for me to go. At last, stranded on top of the grand oak, I dared to turn and look down at the predator that had been pursuing me. 
It had the body of a panther, but at least three times one’s normal size. The arms and legs of the beast were muscular with sharp claws on its paws to shred apart prey, like me. Its narrowed, yellow eyes gleamed under the moon.  
All at once, the panther-like animal launched itself into me, sending us both hurtling into the ground beneath. The beast landed on top of me, growling, and most definitely cracking my ribs. There was nothing I could do at this point until, I remembered the steak knife from back at the cabin. I swiftly pulled it out from my pocket, and stabbed the beast in its left eye. Crimson red blood erupted from the animal, staining my clothes. 
I seized the opportunity to escape, stumbling to get back up to my feet, I began to limp away. Grasping my ribs, I could still hear the beast howling in agony behind me. I wondered how long it would last, and if I would make it until daylight. About a minute later, the discordant noise behind me abruptly stopped. I turned around to see how far away the beast was, or more accurately, how far I was from death. What I saw chilled me to the bone.  
The beast was gone, as if it had disappeared into thin air. The only clue that it had ever been there was its left eye. A yellow, bloody, left eye that appeared to be clawed out by the beast itself to remove any possible weakness. I shuddered at the sight, but I needed to keep going.  
Turning back around, I felt the hot breath of my pursuer spreading across my face. The stench alone would have been enough to kill me if it wasn’t for the pure state of fear I was in right now. Inches away from death, I had run out of all options. I made one last attempt to sprint away. Towards the direction of the eye, I ran. It wasn’t long before I collapsed, just due to the sheer pain crawling all over my body.  
In an instant, the beast was, once again, standing over me. Tears leaked from my eyes as I realized these were the concluding moments of life. I decided to take in the scenery that my life would end in. The coolness of the autumn air, the brown leaves beneath my body, the strong, beautiful trees all around me.  
Just as I was gathering my final memory of this world, my vision was splattered with deep red blood coming from my right shoulder. I screeched in agony, but the beast only continued to mangle my body. It shredded my arms and legs with its razor-sharp teeth, dug out my eyes with its knife-like claws, and hollowed my torso of all its intestines. At this point, I no longer had the ability to scream, move, or see. I was trapped in my own body, a prison of blind suffering. I was putting together my final thoughts. I wondered what else I could have done, why did this happen to me? I thought of how much I missed out on before I died. Sixteen years of life is not long enough for a girl to see the world, to get their dream job, to have a family. I imagined what I would have done with just a few more years, the type of person I would have been. Then, I thought nothing. 

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