Rain fell around me, the sky a musky, ugly shade of grey. It didn't even look like there were any clouds. The sun wasn't out, either. Nothing in the sky but grey, grey, and more grey. Lovely. The dreary atmosphere matched my mood. I had my usual black hoodie on, the one that was so ratted and worn that it may as well not be a hoodie at all. But it was, and there was no way I was getting rid of it. It was huge on me, the sleeves hanging a good three or four inches past my fingers, the bottom of it loose and ill-fitted. I liked it that way. It made me feel safe, hidden away from prying eyes of people around me.

I sighed and tugged up the hood, hiding my dark hair beneath the fabric. My hands went into my pockets as I tromped down the steps of the porch into the rain, the cold water sending goose bumps down my arms almost immediately. I was beyond caring that it was cold, though; it didn't matter. Not much would be able to knock me out of the funk I'd seemed to have fallen into. I couldn't even remember what started it. I just…wasn't happy. Then again, happy was never really a word I would use to describe myself.

My shoulders were hunched over, my gaze directed downward as I made my way across the yard toward the wooded area behind the house. I was cold, sure…but I wasn't going to let the rain stop me from getting out, away from all the pain I felt. Not that putting distance between my body and the house would do much for me.

I slipped into the trees, the drops becoming less frequent but larger in size. I tried not to let it bother me. I let my feet go where they wanted, watching only a few steps ahead of my beat-up, mud-covered Converse. My mind wandered, drifting here and there. Not sure how far I walked. It was far enough that when I turned around, I couldn't see the house. I had walking through these trees more times than I could count, so I wasn't worried about getting lost. I was kind of worried about the noises I'd heard the other night, though.

Or maybe it was the lack of noise that had really scared me. The crickets hadn't chirped, the dog hadn't barked…everything had gone silent. It wasn't that way right now, though. At least, not completely. A bird chirped every once in a while, more than likely protesting the damp that was settling over the nest it occupied. I kept walking, feeling at home in the secluded area. It was peaceful without all the city's pollution around. Just nature. Peaceful, brightly colored, wet nature. I could do without the rain, but I wasn't going to let it stop me from enjoying being in the solitude.

Pausing to rest for a moment, I leaned against a nearby tree, figuring that I would be soaked by the time I got back home so it didn't matter if I was dirty, too. It didn't seem to dawn on me at first, but…everything had gone quiet. The occasional bird call had faded and even the leaves seemed to be holding still. My brow furrowed as I glanced around nervously, half expecting some sort of monster to leap out at me. I didn't see anything, but that didn't mean something wasn't there. Maybe I watched too many horror movies as a kid. Maybe I was just paranoid.

A low, rumbling growl told me I wasn't. I froze against the tree for a moment, my eyes widening in terror as my heart skipped a beat before picking up double time. I shoved my body off the tree, running back the way I'd come. If I could get back to the house I'd be safe. Get inside, where whatever it was couldn't get me. My feet slid on the wet foliage, my laces coming undone after being snagged on bushes.

I ran, stumbling, nearly smashing into the close-packed trees, my hands bloody from hitting the rough bark as I went by to avoid crashing into them. My heart was still slamming, each breath feeling like fire as I inhaled, only to wheeze out worse than before as I exhaled. I was a lot farther into the woods than I thought. How long had I been walking? I never had been good about keeping track of time.

I felt my shoelace catch and stick on something as my body pitched forward. I automatically threw out my hands, crying out as I came face-to-face with the ground. The wet leaves clung to me, the dirt they'd left on my hands mixing with the small beads of blood. The cuts ached. If I got out of this alive, the next few days were going to suck. Picking anything up would hurt; how would I get through school?

The distracting thoughts were washed from my head as another growl rumbling nearby. So it had followed me. Though, why wouldn't it have? Clearly it had chosen to hunt me. It was just playing with me, waiting for me to die.

I dragged myself to my feet again, ignoring the pain in my hands and chest. I could see the clearing maybe ten, fifteen yards away. It was right there. I was running again before I was even aware I was upright, shoving aside stray branches and stomping through bushes. A branch lashed across my face, splitting my cheek. I felt the blood mix with the falling rain, felt it stream down my neck.

I didn't run the last few feet to the clearing. I slid. The animal crashed into my back, knocking me forward, adding more cuts to the ones I already had. It was heavy, too heavy to be a dog. The claws that dug into my back were too sharp to belong to a dog, too. I fought to roll over, thrashing as hard as I could. I was so close to home…

The animal was off me and I rolled, finally catching sight of it. A mountain lion. Why had it come here? Then again, I'd heard of animals in stranger places. There were a lot of little dogs in my neighborhood. Maybe it was hungry.

A massive paw shot out, raking against my face, throwing my head to the side like I'd been slapped. There was more blood on my face than rain now, the sticky red liquid flowing down my face in heavy streams. I saw—barely—as the creature stalked away from me, turning to circle back, its eyes never leaving me. I knew I wasn't going to make it back to the house. I could try to scream for help, but it wouldn't do any good. No one was home, and our closet neighbor wasn't within hearing range.

The mountain lion crouched, muscles tensing as it readied to spring. I threw my arms up as it leaped into the air, though I'm not sure what good it did me. Nothing, considering I was knocked flat against the ground, the air leaving my lungs in one big, painful whoosh. I gasped, trying to draw air into my lungs with the heavy animal on my chest, the feeble attempt making me wheeze.

I closed my eyes as the creature's head descended, no air left in me to scream or cry out in pain. I felt its sharp teeth dig into my neck, tears streaming down my face to mix with the blood and rain. I was pinned beneath a feral wildcat, unable to get away. I was going to die here, in my backyard.

I felt my heart slow as a searing pain gushed through my neck, barely able to whimper before warm blood began to pool around me, turning the green grass red. What would my mom think when she found me?

I couldn't breathe, my body shaking and twitching painfully as my heart slowed. I could feel each beat, the ever-weakening thump that kept my body in all this pain. I closed my eyes, tears still streaming down my cheeks as the blood-covered muzzle of the mountain lion descended again. I never felt the sting of its teeth that second time; the last thing I felt was the last feeble beat of my heart, like a butterfly's wings against my chest as everything went from red-hot pain to a peaceful, silent black.