Started: December 4, 2012

Chapter One: The Monsters in the Dark

She was running.

From what, she wasn't sure. She'd been awoken in the middle of the night, shaken roughly by her mother. No time for questions, just one word: run.

So she did.

Her long brown hair was whipping around her face, but she didn't dare risk trying to move it. It was pitch black outside anyways, so it wouldn't have been much help. Luckily, she knew the woods as well as she knew her own face. She had a natural love for the outdoors. Plus, her mother had made her learn everything she possibly could about these woods in case something like this had ever happened.

Then she heard the screaming. She knew without a single doubt from whom that scream came from; she had known from the beginning that her mother wasn't following her. Whatever was following behind her, it wasn't her mother. The screaming came to an abrupt halt. There was a brief moment where that thing behind her stopped, and the only sound she could hear was her feet on the dry leaves that littered the forest floor. Then a chilling howl started. It sounded distant, but nonetheless it made her skin crawl. Then more howls joined in with the first. When they finally quieted, she was terrified to hear another single howl.

This one was almost right behind her.

Startled, she lost her balance and fell hard on her hands. There was a sharp pain in her ankle, and she had to bite down on her cheek to keep from letting out a noise. She instantly picked up the sound of her pursuer once again, and struggled to her feet. Fear was making her shaky, so she had to grab onto one of the nearby trees in order to get up. To her relief, she also heard the sound she had been straining to hear. She picked up her pace, rushing to what she hoped would be her safe haven.

She spotted the moonlight on the highway, and then glimpsed the dark shape of a car darting past. Just a few more feet, she thought to herself. She was short of breath, and her body was begging for the torture to stop. If not for the fear pumping her with adrenaline, she probably would have collapsed a few minutes ago. She shot out of the trees and clambered up the short slope to the highway. She started to slow, so she could look before darting onto the highway, but there was an almost victorious growl from the creature that quickly dispelled all thoughts of stopping for even an instant. She darted onto the highway, then let out a scream as headlights illuminated her form, followed by the sound of screeching tired as the driver hit the brakes and veered off of the highway.

"Jesus Christ!" The shout came from the man who had been driving the car. The moonlight was behind the man as he walked towards her, casting him in a shadow so she couldn't see much about him. He was bigger than her though, and he instinct started telling her to get away from him. As she started to back away, however, she heard another growl, this one of a lower pitch. The man stopped for a moment, and so did she. Then she came to the conclusion that the man, whoever he was, was a safer risk than the risk of going back to those wolves.

She held her ground as he continued forward and the animal behind her stayed quiet. The silence of the creature appeared to give the man courage, as his pace quickened until he reached her. "What are you doing on the highway in the middle of the night? Didn't your parents ever teach you not to run out onto the street, let alone a highway? You don't even have enough clothes for this weather!" He paused for a moment, as though waiting for an answer. She had no answer to give. He sighed, then continued, "Come on, you should come with me. We'll take you to the police once we get into town, okay?"

She managed to nod, then followed the man to his car and slid into the backseat. She was surprised to see that there was another child already in the car, a little girl judging from the long, silvery strands of hair. The little girl looked as though she were only 7 or 8 years old. She's only about 4 or 5 years younger than me, she thought. The little girl was staring wide-eyed at her as she got into the car. "Hi," she said, trying to force a smile on her face.

It must have been a good enough smile, because the little girl gave a shy one back, along with a shy, muffled, "Hello," from behind her hands. The little girl was biting her nails, an act that immediately made her want to scold the little girl. Her mother had caught her biting her nails once, and quickly made sure that that would not become a habit.

The man got into the front seat of the car and asked, "What's your name?"

She thought for a moment before answering. Her mom had a lot of different names for her. She couldn't think of one that had really been very consistent. She remembered her mom once telling her that she would know what her name should be on her own. Her mother had said that that was how things were done. Her mind kept traveling to the name Alice... It didn't feel quite right, but she figured until she knew what her actual name was, it would do. "Alice," she answered.

"That's a pretty name," the man started. "I see you've met my daughter, little Katrina."

The man continued to talk, but she tuned him out and turned towards the window as the car started to move. She couldn't help but see shadows moving along the tree line. Whether it was only her imagination, or it was actually the monstrous wolves still lurking, she felt the fear. Once they had been in the car for a while, long after they had passed the end of the forest where she'd grown up, she felt the fear start to slip away. It was replaced with a curiosity made mild by her fatigue. As she started to wonder about the strange situation, her eyes became harder and harder to keep open. Soon, she was drifting off into a dreamless slumber.