What could she do now? She cried. She yelled and threw things. There was something oddly comforting in hearing things break. But now, after everything was said and done, what was left? Curled on the floor of her room, she felt the last of her emotions draining away. It'll be okay. You'll see. It'll get better, the words that she told herself hollowly echoed in her mind. And she tried the best she could to believe them. Her panic attacks were violent. They drained any energy she had and left her with an emptiness that was impossible to fill.

After a while she looked at the clock beside her bed and realized her mother would be off of work soon. Rubbing her eyes, she stood and began to clean the mess she had made. When her mother finally walked through the door, she greeted her with a freshly washed face, concealer to help with the puffy-ness under her eyes, and a fake smile.

"Come help with the bags," her mother said. While they unloaded the market and chatted, she could feel the distance between her and her mother widening. But only from her end. Her mother probably thought everything was fine. From their small house on the beach in Santa Cruz, she looked out the kitchen window to the dark grey clouds and not so distant waves.

"Ri, you okay?" Her mother's voice broke her stare.

"Mm, just got distracted." Ri tried to laugh it off.

"I need you to come to your senses. You start college in a week, Reanna." Ri nodded and finished putting the last of the market away. "I'm going back out in an hour. I'm meeting Chris again."

Ri mumbled an agreement just loud enough for her mother to hear. "Also, Liz is coming down from Humboldt next weekend."

"What? Why?" Ri asked, shocked at the news. Her older sister, Liz, lived at Humboldt State University during the year and then stayed with their father in Eureka. There was no reason for her to be coming down to Santa Cruz with new semester starting so soon.

"Because I asked her to," was the only answer Ri got.

She locked herself in her room right after and tried to nap for a bit. Sleeping was the only way she could deal with the aftermath of the panic attacks and everything that was going on. Her mother's new boyfriend was starting to creep her out. She didn't like the way he looked at her sometimes. Her mother never listened to her. She was too busy dealing with Liz and her ex husband. Not only that, but Ri hadn't get into a single college she applied to. Community college was her only plan but she wasn't ready for the disappoint that would be coming her way.

When Ri heard the front door open and close, she came out of her room, car keys in hand. She needed to feel something, anything. The sun was only recently set but the clouds gave the sky a black hue instead of its usual dark blues. She drove to her favorite place to walk. It was closed already, being past sundown, but all she had to do was walk around the barricade.

The path led into the redwood forests. The Mystery Spot was a half hour drive to her right. It was dangerous being out here so late but she had a flashlight…. And that was the only precautionary step she took, besides taking a rain coat. She was about twenty minutes into her walk when the first drops of rain began to fall. A light sprinkle wasn't anything to make a big deal out of. But, she had forgotten that it had rained earlier. The path was carved into the side of gentle sloping hills but a slip from this path was a long way down.

The feeling of something grabbing her ankle startled her and next thing she knew, she was falling. Ri didn't realize just how long the side of the mountain actually was until she had time to get bored of rolling down it.

She landed in a small stream created by the rain and runoff at the bottom of the hill, which looked more like a mountain from down there. She stood up, frustrated at herself for being so clumsy, and tried to brush off as much mud as she could from her jeans. Her flashlight was gone forever. She silently said goodbye to it as the rain started to come down a little faster.

All the water flows toward the ocean, right? Ri had no idea why she thought of that, but it was closest thing to a plan she could come up with. She just had to follow the little stream until it broke out from the hills, hit the main street, and walk to her car. No problem.

All the gentle curves of the path were sharp turns at the bottom of this sudden canyon. With next to no light, her walk was slow and cautious. After what felt like a forever of twist and turns, Ri was getting frustrated with the land. How much farther could this go on for? She knew for a fact that she walked a much shorter distance than this before she fell. Very gradually, so much so that Ri didn't even notice it at first, light was beginning to seep from behind the turns. At first she thought it might be a street post and picked up her pace. But after a few seconds she realized that, although she was getting closer to the light, the mountains on either side of her weren't showing any signs of ending.

As she finally turned the last bend she stopped. It wasn't a light post on the main street like she had hoped for. Instead, it was a strung up lamp at the entrance of a cave on the side of the mountain to her left. Ri's heart rate sped up as she thought about the psychopathic killer that was definitely inside waiting to get her. Who else could possibly be there? She had seen enough T.V to know that she was going to die. That's why, when an old woman stepped out of the cave with a bucket, Ri screamed. Scared by Ri's scream, the old woman began to scream. The two of them screamed at each other for a couple of seconds until the old woman broke it off.

"Damn it, child! Why are you screaming like that?!" Although her appearance was old, her voice was as smooth as Ri's. Ri stopped screaming and struck a defensive pose.

"What are you doing out here in the middle of nowhere?" Ri countered. The old woman looked at her with a raised eyebrow. She eyed Ri's fists before throwing her head back and laughing.

"My poor, dear. The question is: what are you doing here?" Ri also took in the old woman's appearance. She had on fur coats and a hunched back. But Ri had the feeling that this old woman could win in a fight. There was a peculiar energy that the old woman was giving off. So Ri decided that it was better to have this woman on her side rather than against her and lowered her hands.

"My name's Reanna." They stared at each other as Ri waited for the old woman's response. The old woman just blinked at her.

"So?" The old woman finally asked.

"What do you mean, 'So?' What's your name?"

"I don't have one."

"Everyone has a name," Ri said. The old woman shrugged her shoulders and faced her cave. But, the movement seemed odd to Ri. When the old woman had moved her shoulders her spine shuddered and she suddenly looked much more animalistic, as though her hunch was going to give way to wings. Ri unconsciously took a step back, instinct kicking in.

"I suppose I had a name, at one point… long time ago…" The old woman trailed off as her eyes clouded over and another shudder down her spine shook her entire body. The shadows created by the lamp suddenly twisted and violently moved away from the old woman. Ri's right shoulder was already slightly turned back towards the way she came from, ready to run.

The light from the lamp stayed steady, disproving Ri's theory that the light was going out as a reason for the shadows moving. The shadows slowed into a steady pace of closer - farther, like the waves on the beach. And like the tide, each time they came in, they came in closer to the lamp than before. Ri swallowed her spit before trying to speak again.

"I- I just need help getting home. You've been kind to me so far. Could you please help me?" Ri tired her best not to show how scared she was becoming. For the first time, the thought of not making it home crossed her mind. And she realized that, as dysfunctional as it was, she wanted to go back.

The shadows suddenly stopped moving. Ri found herself falling backwards, not realizing that the tug had actually been physical and she had been fighting against it.

"Poor Reanna," the old woman said in a low, menacing voice, "I can't help you." Tears began to well up in Ri's eyes. Her throat closed up.

"Please?" She whispered, scared. The old woman looked back. Ri yelped and crawled backwards a few feet.

The old woman's eyes were gone with nothing but stirring darkness taking their place. Her head lolled backwards as another shudder shook the misshapen body. Her fingers curled and a gurgling sound rose from the back of her throat. The shadows began their rhythm again faster than before. This time Ri could consciously feel the tug of the shadows. She was being pulled closer to whatever the old woman was turning into.

Ri turned over onto her hands and knees and began her struggle against the pull. She clawed at the ground for any form of support but it was too muddy. She looked up only to see that the path that she had taken was gone, replaced with multiple paths. Suddenly there was most gruesome howl from behind Ri. The pull stopped, allowing Ri to get to her feet. She stood as still as the shadows as the howl was absolutely petrifying. The howl ended in a vile gurgle as Ri stood unsure of what to do. But she didn't have to think too much about it. As soon as she heard the dull thud of a step in her direction, she was running.