It was twilight. The blood-red sky expressed its sympathy towards the lone traveler as he walked along the deserted road in the haunted ghost town. The dirty, vacant homes and deserted cars stared as Charlie progressed through the narrow paths that led to the beginning of it all.
He had heard the stories directly from the middle-aged woman herself, who later became known as the Survivor, when she had gone through Lone Pine, California. She practically belted out what she had seen for everyone to hear. Everyone thought she was just trying to be funny, or was just crazy for that matter, even if her testimony was effective in scaring anyone from investigating. Soon however the story got out and traveled like wildfire. His chance to become more than a small time reporter was at hand. He knew his boss would send someone else to investigate even though he was only a half an hour away. Charlie also knew that every news agency would be on it like a moth to the flame. If he left now he would be an hour at least ahead of everyone else. "The worst that could happen is getting fired, right?" he thought.
As he drove up, Charlie could see the truth to a certain extent. He could believe that something horrible happened here, but he still couldn't believe this supernatural business. This paranormal being tormenting a little, insignificant village situated just outside of Death Valley.
The Survivor had said that her small town was attacked by something that nobody could see. She said that the deaths had started two days ago, but that the odd behavior had happened before that. A couple of weeks ago, there was a huge spectacle as everyone's pets started whining, clawing, or hissing to get free from their cages and once they were free, they took off without a trace. Charlie remembered hearing about the random influx of animals to Lone Pine when he had first arrived a week ago, but didn't think anything of it at the time. Then a few days after the animal's sudden exodus, people's eyes started glowing. It was only a couple of people at first, but then the amount began to double, triple even.
"Nobody really paid any attention to it until people started acting weird. Best friends, siblings, even spouses became detached. It became a small town full of strangers! Then the bleeding began. Nobody lasted much longer after that," she said.
"That's not all either. There was something odd about the order in which people became afflicted. It was too random. The elderly, babies, toddlers, adults. Everybody was open to it. Babies would show symptoms before their parents yet their parents would die first and vise versa," she paused to breathe, her words bursting out of her rapidly.
"It was complete chaos. It wasn't like they died in their beds too weak to continue. No. Their movements would become spastic and then they… they just ceased to be. Their bodies turned to dust and mixed with the dirt already there until it overflowed onto the streets."
Charlie remembered the Survivor had tried to describe what had happened that allowed her to escape, but her tremulous voice made it incomprehensible and he could only pick out words like "son," "smart," "fighter," and "afflicted." She only stayed in Lone Pine for a few hours before she insisted on getting as far away as possible.
He continued driving through the streets slowly, keeping his eyes open. When he passed a narrow alleyway between two broken down shops, he thought he glimpsed a pair of glowing eyes staring out at him. Charlie quickly braked to get a closer look, but it was already gone. He got out of the car slowly. The hairs on the back of his neck stood erect and Charlie knew he was being watched. He walked slowly towards the alleyway. His heart throbbed in his ears. He blinked and then there was a man. A very young man skulking towards him. There was something about him that made Charlie remember the woman who had survived, but he didn't have time to contemplate it before he was overpowered by the man's eyes. They glowed with an intensity that was so foreign to Charlie that he didn't know how to react.
The man's movements were chaotic. It was like he was fighting with himself to execute the simplest of actions. As he drew closer, Charlie saw tracks of blood running down the man's face and the look of feral hunger that crossed his features made Charlie's heart race.
The brave side of Charlie wanted to stand where he was but his instincts was telling him to run. Fast. In the end, his instincts won out. He spun on the spot and sprinted back towards his car. His adrenaline started pumping and his heart rate increased as he turned the key and heard the roar of the engine coming to life. Charlie slammed his foot on the gas pedal and the car lurched forward. He made a quick U-turn and just before he passed the alleyway, the young man limped in front of his car. Panic. The next few moments passed in slow motion. The setting sun silhouetted the young man in front of him, he swerved sharply, and then the car became unbalanced and Charlie's window shattered as it hit the ground. Then nothing.
Charlie blinked. As his brain began to clear, he slowly began to remember. The man. He had hit him, but he hadn't. He hadn't felt the contact, but it might have been the adrenaline rush. He looked around, but he wasn't in his car. He was lying down on a lumpy sofa in what seemed a vacant business area. He surveyed the room and noticed there were piles of dirt everywhere but that's not what caught his eye. A few piles had jewelry, others had keys, and some had both buried partly in the sand. But all had clothing intermingled with it all. Am I dead? He thought.
No you're not, Charlie.
His head jerked. "Who's there?" he yelled frantically.
I'm right here. It replied saucily.
"Show yourself!" Charlie said jumping off the couch, but immediately regretting it as his vision swam.
Charlie slowly turned and faced his predator. It was a mirror. He looked into it and his reflection smiled back at him. His eyes. They were glowing.
"No!" he said but his lips didn't move.
He was surprised when his lips parted and his voice was emitted though with a silky edge to it that he couldn't place. "Yes, Charlie, you can't escape this."
It smirked as Charlie fainted.
"The pathetic fool," the Being thought as it felt Charlie leave consciousness.
"However, this will make a nice change to the last one," Its thoughts continued, "the other was too smart and too resilient for his own good! I mean, she was so close, but he continually told his mother to stay away from him and leave town. A very idiotic move really. Practically suicide."
It smiled at itself in the mirror.
"He's lucky that this fool showed up right before he crumbled. Finally that possession had a purpose. It was a close one though and not a mistake I'll make again. If his shadow hadn't passed over Charlie as the car hit him well…"
Its smile grew into a smirk.
"There's no more need to worry about that anymore. Soon other reporters will be coming. It shouldn't take long."
It faintly heard the sound of other cars and a chopper in the distance.
"Nope. Not long at all."