This the edited version of what was up about 1 month ago. It still dedicated to my friend, Kori. Hope you enjoy college and have time to read my other story when it comes out! We love you!

Without further ado, on with the one-shot.

Death.

The word intruded her mind to the rhythm of her fast beating heart as she sprinted through the ominous woods. Hailie had awoken merely fifteen minutes before to blood-chilling screams. She had not dared to go into the living room and see what was happening; the hacking sounds told her the entire bloody story. Not able to think, Hailie had jumped out of her window on the lower floor and was now running for her life.

Someone was following her. She could not see anyone, nor hear anything other than her pants, but she knew it, deep within her heated blood. She could feel a pair of anxious eyes watching her every move, waiting for her to hit a branch or trip. Anything that would cause her to slow down, placing her further in their grasp.

Hailie's chest was burning from running full speed for what seemed to her like forever, but she could not stop. She dreaded even thinking about what would happen if she did, if only for a few moments.

She was prey to an unknown, and dangerous predator.

Within the dark woods, something came into her vision gradually as she continued to flee. She was leery of it at first, until she realized that it was ruins. One word flashed through her mind: refuge. Relief filled her body as she changed directions and ran inside of the ruins. They were not very big, and they were severely dilapidated, but that did not matter to her. All that mattered was that she had a place to rest, momentarily, and rest her feet. She noticed just then that she was bare foot. 'That must be why my feet hurt', she thought as she saw that she had several scratches all over her feet. They were bleeding, but not too badly. She could live with it. She had to live with it.

As Hailie was catching her breath, a thought came to her mind. 'What am I going to do?' It stuck in her mind like glue to paper, and the thought alone was enough to terrify her. She had no place to go. Her entire family was lying dead in her house, so she was not able to go back home. She could run to the police, but she unfortunately lived more than five miles away from town. Her parents had been convinced that living away from town would be the safest for their family of four, but that had obviously been proven wrong. Now she had no way of getting help. She had to keep running.

A twig broke in the distance, sending a loud 'snap!' through the air. She quickly stood up and sped through the forest again. Her natural instinct to keep herself alive had taken over now, and she was not about to try to rationalize her situation. She had no time for that. It did not even occur to her that the 'snap' might have been on purpose.

Hailie's feet screamed at her to stop running when she came across another set of ruins. 'Thank God for the old village that used to be here.' Hailie's throat burned as she tried to swallow. It had dried up in her attempt to escape the murderer that was hot on her trail. As Hailie's mind began to drift from the fatigue that was now coursing through her body, a bird cawed suddenly, causing her to jerk her head up and race out of the ruins. With the adrenaline coursing through her body, every movement and sound was calculated as a threat.

Hailie managed to evade the murderer for a few hours by hiding in the random ruins that were scattered throughout the woods. Near dawn, she slipped behind a wall that had deep green vines snaked around it repeatedly. The air surrounding the wall was eerie, but Hailie paid no attention to that fact. She was only concerned with the fact that she was about to drop on her feet. The adrenaline had worn off some time before, and she was running on will power at this point in time. The will power to stay alive.

It was behind the snake wall that Hailie first noticed that the sun was beginning to rise. A faint pink was painted throughout the sky, along with a pale purple and baby blue. It was beautiful to say the least. Hailie had never before seen a more stunning sunrise. 'This is ironic', she thought to herself as she continued to watch the sun climb higher into the awaiting sky. 'There is a killer following me, and the sky is gorgeous.' Hailie's mind began to drift between consciousness and unconsciousness despite her attempts at staying alert.

Something told Hailie to open her eyes a few minutes later. She did not know what it was, but she trusted it. When she opened them, a man was walking toward her. He was at the far end of the wall and she was near the opposite end, but it was not far enough way for her taste. Hurriedly, she stood up and the man stopped dead in his tracks.

"Who are you?" she demanded hoarsely.

The man's face stayed calm. "My name is Derek. I am your neighbor." His tall six-foot two-inch figure towered over Hailie's five-foot six-inch average frame in the shadow that was cast by the sunrise behind them.

Something about the way that Derek held himself unnerved Hailie. Sure, he had a calm physique, and a warm smile, but something did not feel right. "I don't know any neighbors by the name of Derek, and I've lived here for nearly six years."

"I am new. I just moved into the vacant lot next to your house", he explained smoothly.

"And why are you here?" she questioned. 'Something is wrong with him. I can tell. But what is it?'

"I saw what happened. I tried to catch up to you, but you are so fast. I had no chance."

"You didn't answer my question." Hailie was slowly backing up, trying her best to reach the very end of the wall for her escape before he noticed.

"I called the police. They know what happened. They are trying to find the man that killed your family. I came to find you. The woods are not a safe place for you to be right now." Derek stepped toward her slightly, but paused when her eyes widened. "I'm not going to hurt you."

"How can I know that you aren't lying?" she murmured to herself.

"I'm sorry?"

"Nothing", she quickly answered.

Derek stared at Hailie for a couple of seconds before he began to bend down. Hailie stiffened as soon as he did so. "I need to tie my boot before we head back to your house. It came undone while I was searching for you." His voice was calm, almost soothing in a way. It reminded her of her father's voice when he was trying to lure her back into the house when she had done something that she shouldn't have. While he was bending down, something flickered in his eyes as he glanced at Hailie that set her off.

Blood lust.

The realization struck her like lightning. She had been talking to the murderer. She had to find a way out of there, and fast. But where could she go? She did not know where the next set of ruins was within the vast woods, so she could not rely on that. And the river was too far away. And besides, the water moccasins would storm after her with the fresh blood caked over her feet as a buffet to them.

As Hailie watched Derek closely while searching for an escape route, he kept his eyes on the ground. His shoe was not really untied, but he had to reach his dagger. Professionally, Derek pretended to tie his brown leather boot and pulled the dagger swiftly out of the side of his boot and hid it along the inside of his arm, covered by the baggy sleeves that he was wearing.

He smiled to Hailie once more when he was standing straight and began to walk toward her again, this time a bit faster in pace. "Are you ready?"

Hailie glanced around the area that surrounded her. The back wall seemed like the best place to run from. Derek was in the middle of the ruins, and at best chance she would only gain a few seconds as a head start with her feet and fatigue weighing her down. 'Damn it', she cursed under her breath.

"What is wrong?" Derek asked sweetly.

Hailie instantly thought up a lie. It was her only chance. "I just realized that my shoes fell off back near the climbing tree."

"Why don't we go and get them?" he suggested.

"I would…but I'm scared to go out. Do you think that you could go and get them for me?"

Derek was silent for a moment. Leave her alone? He wanted to be alone with her, not have her alone without him. How else was he supposed to torture her. 'I'll amuse her. She will trust me more after this. Makes it more enjoyable.' "You stay here, well hidden, while I go get your shoes. We don't want the killer to find you, now do we?" he joked in an attempt to make her laugh.

"Thank you!" she yelled as loudly as she could before breaking into a full sprint. She had to get away from him! He was going to kill her!

Hailie sprinted as fast as she could through the thick brush. Her life depended on it now more than before. Hailie reveled in that fact as the adrenaline kicked back in. She swerved between trees and jumped over numerous logs that seemed to be placed at the points where she was most likely to catch them.

Suddenly, the tip of Hailie's right foot caught the top of the log and she fell to the ground. A stick that was protruding from the ground cut into the side of her calf as she landed on her left side, propped up by her arm. The moss-covered log was too big for her to jump over. She had known that, yet she had tried to jump over it. She had to. Slowing down would be her demise. She quickly turned over onto her stomach and went to stand up, ignoring the pain that was running through her leg, but Derek caught her ankle and kept her down.

"Why did you run?"

Hailie did not answer. She was panting too hard to form words that could be understood.

Derek's voice suddenly changed. Instead of calming her like it had before, though it had freaked her out a bit, it was cold and dripping with anger. "I asked you a question!"

Hailie opened her mouth and tried to speak, but the words came out so distorted that it sounded more like a sputtering motor than anything else.

Derek pulled out the dagger that was still hiding in his sleeve and waved it casually through the air, as if it was completely natural for someone to do such a thing. Hailie's eyes widened and she began to pant even harder when the size of the blade registered in her mind.

"Now you see, I like it when people run from me", Derek began as he waved the blade in the air near his head, "but you just made everything so hard and…not fun. I am actually tired of you right now, and that does not happen to often." He stopped and stared at her coldly for a few mere moments before he bent over so that he was merely centimeters away from her pale face. "Now I have to skip ahead of myself."

With that said, he smiled maliciously at Hailie and held her down with his weight on her feet, which had not stopped bleeding during the ordeal with her psychotic killer. Torturously, he slit the gash on the side of her calf, creating a deeper cut, and pulled back when he saw the muscle. Hailie screamed as her calf seared with a pain that was now ten times as worse as it had been before. As Hailie screamed, Derek cut her other calf as deeply as he had cut the other, and relished in the fact that she was now writhing from immense pain.

"You shouldn't have run, you know. I usually grant my victims a merciful death."

"Like what?" she spat as viscously as she could despite the fact that she could feel herself slipping from reality as the pain altered her mental status. "Slicing them to pieces and drawing out their deaths?"

Derek laughed. "No. Normally I have fun, slice them in a few places, but their deaths are rather quick, and mostly painless. Sometimes my victims find that the pain can…linger if they choose to not cooperate." Hailie began to speak, but Derek interrupted her. "Unfortunately, you don't get to choose."

Hailie's eyes watered as the bloody blade came closer to her once again. "Please", she begged, "please let me go. Please." Her voice was nothing more than a whisper.

"Shh. Save your breath." Hailie whimpered as Derek lifted her tank top a few mere inches, just enough to make her stomach visible and touched the cold blade to her bare skin. He allowed a tiny part of the blade to nick an inch of her skin to prepare her for what was to come.

Seeing that his current victim was terrified with an inch of her life, Derek turned the blade and drew it slowly across Hailie's abdomen. Her scream filled the still morning air as sticky blood began to ooze out of her.

Hailie knew, somewhere in the back of her mind, that a deep cut like the one she had just received was enough to kill a person by slowly bleeding to death, and she was cut and losing blood in numerous areas.

Derek watched his victim as she thought about what was happening. He loved the look that some of his victims got when they realized just how much danger they were in. the thoughts were what told him that he had chosen smart victims, and that made them the best kills.

After admiring the first part of his torture and seeing that Hailie was slipping with each breath, Derek waved the blade in front of her eyes before he drew it across her throat gradually.

"I don't like runners like you", Derek whispered in Hailie's ear as she took in her last staggered breath.

Emotionlessly, Derek stood up, wiped the bloody dagger off on a piece of cloth that was tucked into his back pocket, and walked away from the bleeding body left on the floor.

Reviews would really help, as my other story contains scenes much like this one-shot. I need to know what areas I need to improve on and so on.

If I have any regular readers here, I will try to have Chapter 9 up by the time I leave on Monday for vacation.