Chapter One

"Come out, come out, wherever you are." The voice cooed much like gravel inside a tired, old wood chipper left to grate away until it eventually became dust. There was a weighty silence that filled the space; not even cars from the distant road pierced through. They were just too far away. It grunted at the lack of response it received back.

The figure skulked past her narrow field of vision in slow, heavy movements. Shallow breathing, loud hissing that was less human and more serpent-like, came from a wide gaping mouth. It swung it's large block of a head around, scanning the small area of the dank alleyway.

She stayed curled up tight, ignoring the stickiness dribbling down her arm and the stench of warm, rotting food slowly suffocating her. She breathed gently through her mouth and prayed to every god out there that it couldn't hear her.

The thunder of steps stopped. Her own breath caught in her throat. The silence was deafening. The drumming of pumping blood rose in her ears to fill the void. Her eyes stung, water beaded in the furthest corners, as the pain dug deeper inside her head with every thump-thump-thump.

"I hate playing, girl…" it grumbled under its breath. The same way a child may grouse after losing a game, only in a low and throaty tone that had no home in the body of a child. Or the majority of men, for that matter.

From deep inside its large chest, there came a rumble before a lightning fast fist lashed out, impacting the wall beside it. Bits of brick and dust littered the floor. It wasn't satisfied. It took a step, crushing chunks beneath its foot with ease. They crunched like dried bones. It wasn't satisfied yet. Eyes set upon its next victim of mindless destruction.

She couldn't hear it anymore but she wasn't going to move. She couldn't. The fear it was still out there, stalking her every move, getting closer, paralysed her. So she kept listening for anything, a body moving over broken bits of wall, a disgruntled huff of air or even the scream of another unfortunate victim it would be eager to play chase with. Her eyes closed. It was cruel to wish for something like that but with little hope left, it was enough to keep that picture of her safely going home in her mind.

Creak. Every sense jumped at the unexpected sound. She was surprised she didn't jolt upright in alarm. She stayed put, mind racing, trying to place the source. It didn't matter soon enough. From above, cold steel buckled inwards. With her safe place suddenly betraying her, a fearful squeak escaped. She clasped her hands over her mouth far too late. A sharp hack - Ha! - confirmed the worst.

It had found her.

Again, the metal crumbled like paper beneath its relentless hammering. Space closed in. Walls and bags got tighter. Between them, they threatened to strangle every inch of air left within her body. One knock felt so close, the bones in her arm rattled within the skin. She cried out in pain.

It stopped its assault. Something large got dragged over debris. With a howl, the lid to the skip was torn straight off, exposing the mess inside. She couldn't hide anymore. She couldn't escape anymore.

She was trapped.

Slowly, she looked up at the thing looming above. It stared back into her fearful eyes. That wide gaping mouth twisted into something resembling a smile. Not a welcoming one though, the same type a predator might give its dinner...

… Or possibly even the executioner moments before the ropes dropped.