His hand was wrapped around hers, and their pulses beat against each other, locked in manic rhythm. Wide-eyed, breaths stuttering from a weeping chest, she was the first to whisper, "Why?"

The creature didn't look back; it slurped, dug thin claws into a mangled corpse, and pulled up globs of dripping meat that reminded her of a mango. Yesterday, she ate a mango, and she felt bile rise in her throat. The thing, hulking and strange, seemed to be weaved of many matted pelts, and its eyes were hidden in fur when it finally turned to regard her. Reddish drool leaked from what she guessed was its mouth, and it uttered a low growl.

Erik released her hand when it took a step toward them, but he ran for the door when it ambled even closer. He didn't shout her name, didn't grab for her arm or wrist or waist, even shut the the goddamn door behind him. She was too petrified to budge, and she repeated, "Why." It wasn't a question, not anymore, not with the beast upon her; it exhaled, hot and slick on her face, and she could see its features were very canine. Reminded her of the dog strewn in pieces a few feet away, and she drew in a tight sob. "Why."

It reached out, paw soaked in gore, painting crimson over her pale cheek. She closed her eyes but didn't realize she had until they fluttered open, and it was nearer. It stank of death and moss and groaned in a voice that wasn't human at all, "Beauty slayed the beast."

She couldn't scream before it gripped her tight, pressing its wet mouth against her neck and twisting its thick arms around her, but pain never came. Every muscle tightened, every nerve fired, her entire being ached to push— and it never came. The monstrosity held her for a moment's time, then shuffled away and left through the door, closing it politely.

Two hours later, Erik turned up mutilated, and she couldn't cry.