The Follower

As she walked through the forest, the girl heard branches snapping behind her. They broke in a steady rhythm in time with her footsteps, but she wasn't the source of the noise. In an attempt to avoid whatever was behind her, she broke into a fast jog. However the clamor was escalating and, almost immediately, the distinct sound of leaves being torn joined the ruckus. The girl began to run in the hopes to escape the chaos, but the noise only increased. As trees were ripped from the ground mere yards behind her, she felt as if the torrent of noise was attacking her ears. Each crash seemed to engulf her. No matter how fast she ran, sprinting through trees and leaping over roots, she could not escape it. It seemed as if the entire world was falling apart; by running she was just prolonging the inevitable.

Strength drained from her muscles as she continued to move forward. She was a sprinter: not very good at long distance. It was not long before fatigue seeped into her bones. Unfortunately for her, the noise behind her was intensifying in volume with every passing second. Her body ached, yet she knew that resting was not an option. Whatever was following her was a danger to her, and if she stopped, it would reach her.

With one last desperate stagger, she broke through the last line of trees and escaped the forest. Immediately, the overpowering noises of tearing, crushing, and breaking were replaced by the serene murmurs of a meadow. The sudden transition disorientated her, and she quickly tapped her ears to ensure that she hadn't gone deaf.

Once the realization sunk in, she finally allowed herself a glimmer of hope. Maybe she could actually get away from the noise. Perhaps she had escaped the terrible thing in the forest and would live to tell the tale.

Glancing back at the lush woods which had appeared so sinister only moments before, her eyes lingered on a darker portion of trees. It was the one area that still scared her. Turning fully around to further examine the section, she noticed that the trees in this spot were especially scraggly with fewer leaves. The lack of greenery caused the region to appear lifeless and the barren trees emanated an aura of death and misery. Shortly after the girl had turned towards the sinister trees, the shadows within began to stir. They trembled as the division between trees and blackness became less defined. Her eyes could not look away as the few colors in that region faded, and the blackness of the shadows morphed into the silhouette of a man. Even when every fiber of her being screamed to run, her body stood frozen in fear. She could tell immediately that this creature had been the one following her. He had been the source of the destruction of a forest and noise so loud that her head still rung from it. No human could cause that level of destruction by themselves or sap color from the world, so what was he?

The moment that the silhouette stepped towards her, the spell was broken. The moment that her limbs were freed from the invisible force, the girl quickly turned and sprinted away from the creature. Her mind was so mystified by the prior events that she barely registered the escarpment up ahead. Luckily, she managed to skid to a standstill before the cliff became her demise.

Now she was trapped as the creature calmly strode towards her. The girl had no other place to run and they both knew it. Every step that he took was synched with her heartbeat. Thump, thump, thump and when he stopped, her life was over.

As he placed his hands on her shoulders, despair surged into her heart. During that instant, the girl and the creature became one. She saw all of his dark thoughts and understood that this had not been a chance encounter. She realized that he had been toying with her the entire time. From the very moment that he had decided she would be his next target, it was over. He could easily have caught her or, if he was feeling lazy, killed her with the flick of a finger. He chose not to only because this was more fun. He found it amusingwhen his prey dared think that they could escape. This was his favorite part: watching the color drain from their face once they realized that there was no hope. To him, the onslaught of fear and depression in human beings was ecstasy.

He pushed his hands forward and let go, causing her to stumble backwards. Her left foot reached back automatically to stabilize herself but felt only air. Her lips shaped into an 'O' as the creature casually leaned over the edge of the cliff to watch the girl fall down the rock face and into the black abyss.