Ri didn't have time to think about her choices as she came to the fork in the path. All she could hear behind her were the horrifying screams of some horrendous creature. That was all the motivation she needed to keep running. A part of her wanted to look back but she knew the image of whatever it was would haunt her for the rest of her life if she did.

Ri's sides felt like they were being stabbed. Her lungs were going to explode from working so hard. She couldn't see where she was running. The darkness plus the tears made an awful combination. She had become so focused in running away that the sudden pull of her arm completely threw her off balance.

She fell into a cave, similar to the one the old thing had come out of except smaller. Something was covering her mouth and whispering into her ear.

"Just stay still. Stay as quiet as you possibly can," it spoke. Ri wanted to fight but it's grip on her was too strong. It's hand on her face had an odd texture, hard and uneven but warm at the same time. In the total darkness of the cave, she couldn't even begin to guess what it was.

The dull footsteps that had been behind Ri were closer than she ever wanted to hear them. The creature that had pulled her in curled itself around her in a protective way. And when the footsteps sounded outside, Ri curled herself into - from what she could assume - it's chest. Another horrific howl pierced the air as whatever had been chasing her continued to walk away. The two beings stayed in contact with one another for a long time after it left. There was an odd creaking noise, like kind that old floor boards make when stepped on, that came from the creature as it moved away from Ri. It spoke first in a low urgent voice.

"You must be quick. It'll be back this way soon."

"What do you mean? Where am I supposed to go? I'm lost!" Ri's tear began to free flow as the adrenaline stepped aside to the absolute fear that coursed through her. "Please help me," she begged.

The odd creaking sounded again as it petted her hair before speaking again.

"Be thankful it is dark and you cannot see us," it said in a comforting tone. "Your fear would be tenfold if you could. Wait, wait, calm down," it reassured Ri for she had started to struggle away from whatever it was. It placed its hands on her shoulders. "All you need to do is one thing. Just one thing but, it can be quite difficult. Can you do it?" Ri hesitated before answering.

"Y-yes," she whispered.

"Good, I know you can do it, Reanna."


"I've seen you before; I know you. I never wanted this to happen to you."

"I don't understand. I don't-" Ri's voice cracked as tears began to flow again.

"I know, I know," it patted her hair again. "Let this be the first and last time we meet." Ri dropped her head into her hands as sobs shook her shoulders.

"Listen to me. This place is always shifting, constantly changing. But it'll listen to what you want. All you have to do is think of where you want to go. That's it. But you can only think that one thought. Any deviation and you'll end up in the same situation. Do you understand?"

"Yes," she said. There was the odd creaking sound again. Ri thought it must've been nodding.

"You have until sun up to get out. You'll be stuck here if you don't," the sound of regret and longing were obviously evident in its voice.

"I'll make it," Ri said more to reassure the creature than herself.

"Good. Now run," it said as it pushed Ri out of the cave.

The moment she could stand she was sprinting. I want to get to my car. I want to get to my car. Just take me to my car, were the only thoughts in her mind. Her focus was singular. The mountains opened paths and closed paths according to her will. It was a while before the sky started to lighten ever so slightly.

And in that moment, her concentration broke. Just the single image of her house flashed into her mind. The path split in two, she took left, and she focused on her car again. She couldn't even tell herself that she would be fine, that her mistake wouldn't cost her. Her concentration had to be absolute. The sky was getting lighter and her heart was beating faster. She just had to make it before sun up. She was so close!

The first rays of sunlight broke through the lingering rain clouds just before Ri made it out of the mountains on the other side of the barricade that blocked her car. The relief was instantaneous. She walked around the barricade and reached into her pocket and took out her keys. She clicked the little key remote and smile when she heard the door unlock. It was the best thing she had heard all night. She almost ran to the door in excitement to get home but her legs could only manage to walk. Ri got to the driver's side and reached for the handle.

Her hand went right through the door.

Ri tried again and again but, each time, her hand passed through the door like it wasn't there. Even though the sun was breaking through the clouds and landing on her skin, she felt no warmth. Her body went cold and numb. Ri looked down at her feet only to see that she didn't even have a shadow. Almost as if to confirm her realization, Ri heard the faint and distant sound of that wretched howl.