The girl in the gown

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It’s only a few paces behind me, whatever it was, I didn’t stop to check, I was to petrified at the eerie sound to see what had made it. Not like I want to know though, all I want to do now is escape. I never thought my sprinting prowess would come in handy like this. Only an Olympic gold medalist would be fast enough to outrun whatever is dashing through the forest behind me anyway. What convinced me to stay out this late in this thick dark forest, picking snails, I don’t know. I should have left when my mum dialed my phone, I would not be running for my life now.

Too late now, I have to focus, I dash through the trees skillfully, my headlamp illuminating the path in front of me and I overcome the obstacles blocking it, I can visualize myself escaping, I can feel it, I only feel this way when I am seconds away from winning a race, but this was no race. A stray thorned vine lashes my face, reminding me of spurting blood in all directions. It’s agonizing, but I can’t stop, else i’ll be faced with even worse pain.

Whatever is behind me is unrelenting and seems to have been encouraged by the scent of blood in the air, It moves faster, I can sense its legs pounding the earth with shorter intervals, I also increase my speed, though I am almost at my limit. Even professionally, I only run a maximum of 200 meters. If I don’t find a way to escape, it will become a battle of attrition and I will certainly lose.

Out of nowhere I notice two headlights at the far right. I turn off my headlamp to confirm and smile to my self, thanking my stars that I won’t be dinner for this beast tonight. I turn in the direction of the light, I’m sure they are stationed forest rangers. I’m almost on a straight path to it when the ground gives way and as I fall down the steep mountain slope, I recall being warned of the sloped hill the forest was on.

I fall for another 3 minutes before I crash into a tree. I stand weakly, my headlamp doesn’t survive the fall and I accustom my eyes to the darkness. All hope of escaping goes out the window as I see about a dozen pairs of glinting eyes surrounding me in the darkness.

I see that it wasn’t just one that was chasing me, and they’ve caught me. One of them inches closer and I ready my pocket knife, I am not going down without a fight. I notice that it’s not as big I thought it was, in fact, it isn’t big at all. My headlamp blinks back to life after I smack it and baths the squirrels in front of me with a bright yellow light.

One of the squirrels starts to fill its mouth with the acorns in my snail bag. I explode in laughter, realizing that what was chasing me were a group of squirrels that wanted their nuts back. I must have picked some of their acorns thinking they were snails. They filled their mouth with the nuts and scurried away, allowing what was really chasing me to present itself.

I sit there paralyzed with fear as a headless young girl in a plaid red gown crouches down to sit beside me. She turns her neck as if to face me. The girl had no head but I could feel her looking at me.

In utter disbelief, I stare her palms as they glow yellow and then I realize that what I thought were a car’s headlights were actually her hands. I choke back a scream as she runs her hand through my face healing my wound from earlier, all while giggling softly.

She then picks me up effortlessly and in the blink of an eye, we are in front of my car where I parked it at the entrance to the forest reserve. She drops me and says in a gruff manly voice, “speak nothing of what you saw”, and disappears into thin air.

I climb into my car and peel into the highway, my radio sputters to life as I put on some music and shove the entire experience into my mental vault, never to be remembered again.

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