As she ran through the woods, her feet hit the moss with a thud each time. It was getting dark, and she was already late. Glancing down at the watch on her wrist, a gift from her grandmother, Lucy, didn’t see the branch fall. A crack echoed through the forest walls, the small animals running for cover. They sensed the danger before she had. Usually careful, the tall brunette was taking chances. She didn’t see the shadow that had been watching her from the edge of the water. As she fell face-first into the deeply cushioned ground cover, her body stiffened. The sound of footsteps broke her groans. She hadn’t planned on being out this late, and given her track record with strangers, this was a big mistake.
“Hello? Who’s there?” She called.
Calling out, her hands now brushing the dark locks away from her face. A fine mist and perspiration had pushed her hair forward to shield her view of her surroundings. Lucy didn’t realize what was happening until a hand rested on her shoulder with a firm grip. The tips of his fingers digging into her soft flesh, forcing her to wince in pain. Whoever he was, he was not making a good first impression.
“Oh shit! Who the hell..” she uttered.
Gasping out, it shocked her to see the face. A male, he had to be in his late 60s and in need of a shower. The stench alone burned her nostrils. She could compare that odor to New York during the garbage strike. He might have smelled a little worse. As a person who often retched from certain scents, the vomit was on the verge of coming up. A quick gulp took it right back down.
“Sorry, I shouldn’t be out here. I was out for a run when I fell. My mother is in the car, right over there,” she lied.
Pointing to where she assumed the parking lot would be. Of course, she was lying. Her mother died a few years ago, and she was running alone. If the male had been watching her, he would know the adolescent female was lying to him. All she could do was inch her body back, never taking her mossy green hues from his. If eyes are indeed the windows to the soul, was she in the presence of Satan? He looked at her as though he would sooner gut her than speak to her. Chills rushed over her body. She knew this would be a night that she would never forget.
“Please, I have a little money in my pocket,” she whispered.
Fumbling, she pushed a twenty towards him. He met her hand with a swift strike, forcing her to drop the cash. Instead of accepting the money, he latched onto her wrist, pulling her off the path. She could scream for help, beg for mercy, but who would hear her. She was alone in those woods. Something every mother tells her child never to do. As she dug the soles of her running shoes into the moss, the indentation of her shoes would leave a clear path to their destination. Before the night is over, the rain will wash away all the remnants of her life. Her memory will fill the woods with those who hunt the beast.
Who is this man? The one lost in the woods, waiting for the next soul to steal. Every child told about the man who lives under the bed. The one that will steal the peace while you sleep. Parents use tactics to scare their children and force them to sleep, but sometimes there is truth to those imaginary threats. Feet tucked under the blankets on the hottest day of the year. Or a blanket around your neck to ward off the bite. What about the nightmares that walk in the day? Those lying dormant for the right time and place to steal what’s left of your peace? Do parents warn their children about those? Or does mentioning their names summon them back to life? Fear is the greatest weapon a parent can own.
Welcome to the latest urban legend. Hold on tight. The ride is just about to start.