The sun was setting quickly and I really wanted to get out of the forest before it got dark. The woods were frightening enough in the daylight, I couldn’t imagine being here in complete darkness.
After walking in circles for another half hour, dusk enveloped the forest as I tried to find some sort of shelter for the night. I spotted a large hollow tree about 20 yards away and sprinted for it. Almost as soon as I crouched down inside the spacious trunk and turned to face the woods, a mist seemed to suffocate the air around me, hot and moist, choking me.
I could hear a noise off in the distance – a rhythmic pounding – that was getting closer and closer until I realized that it was the sound of horse’s hooves. My heart began to beat wildly as the pounding got louder and then slowed to a stop near the opening of the tree.
I was terrified as I held my breath and waited for something to happen. The shuffling of hooves on the forest floor was only a few feet away and I was straining my eyes to try to see it – or anything for that matter – through the dark and the mist. I craned my neck closer and closer to the opening of the trunk. With a force that almost knocked my brain from my skull, something struck my throat and pushed so hard that my head slammed against the back of the trunk.
And then there was nothing.
I jolted upright in bed, gasping for breath and caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror across the room. As my hands reached up to my throat to cover the blue-black bruise left by a powerful skeletal fist, a deafening scream filled the room.