| they weren’t supposed to be this far from the beach. they weren’t really supposed to be at the beach at all, yet with people glued to their phones and their televisions with everything going on, allison had thought it easy to plan to go out with her friends. they’d partied longer than she thought they would be able to, swimming, eating the shitty food they’d scrounged up, dancing until the light had started to dwindle down. it was insane the amount of trouble, of fun they’d gotten into with each other the past few hours.
she thought about going home. except the beer kept coming, the flames on the bonfires got higher. her sobriety was slipping piece by piece of out of her fingers, utterly unaware that something in the air was changing.
then she passed out.
the next time allison woke up, the stars were out. her head was pounding, stomach feeling almost battery acid sick and with surprise she registered that somehow, the party was still going.
she didn’t want to go back to it. she wanted to go home.
half sober, she stood up, and started to venture away from the noise, the awful smells, and tried to keep herself conscious -- right until she was in the sight of trees. unfamiliar with it, and without a phone, she could only guess that there was a trail out of here, that would go back to a parking lot or some place that might have someone with a phone.
so she walked into it, utterly unaware of what she was going to stumble on. wandered towards something that seemed to be like a ring of light, perhaps someone who would help her, or maybe a campsite.
she found neither waiting for her.
| the sight was perhaps one best found in movies - in magic movies that were often tied with horror movies that didn’t turn out well for the lone girl who had decided to step away from the mediocre thrills of a party for parts unknown. away from the fire and the drinking and the sound of jollification most often found in a party, the lone girl was one of the first to be made an example of when it came to serial killers and strangers out in the woods --
-- but then this still didn’t scream “bloody ax murder” or “psycho beach party” as much as it did “witchery”.
crouched down -- in part not to be seen and in part not to see the contents of her stomach, still roiling with a few drinks too many that her body wanted nothing more to reject -- allison watched the two figures, stand over a third, one far more sentry than the other as if their eyes were focused more on what the smaller was doing rather than actively participating, and it wasn’t until there was a bleat sounded from the third that she realized it a goat rather than any other animal it could have likely been.
it was the squelch that came next that made the feeling in allison’s stomach jump up into her throat, her hands clasping over her mouth as if that would stop it from getting any worse.
“you hear something?”
the male -- his attention had shifted from the spill, eyes peering through the darkness as if able to see through the shadows though allison kept put, making herself a smaller ball. maybe she should have headed back, but then again, she didn’t know if that would make matters worse.
| sweat slipped down her face as the second figure stood up. with her standing, allison realized with more nausea than before, that she was looking at a what appeared to be a circle, inlaid with other more intricate circles and figures inside of it. there were candles placed at four points of what she thought was probably a star, and in the center, where the squelch had come from was indeed a goat, it’s black legs still twitching.
and the second figure, turned its head to allison. the light from the candles seemed to jump when it turned to her, flames climbing higher. the figure had legs much like the goat still twitching in the center of the clearing, which would have been the worst thing if her eyes hadn’t travelled upward to the face greeting her: eyes glowing a molten gold, with horns that seemed crowned on the top of her head rather than simply placed there, a picture of menace.
this person was a woman and wasn’t. it took allison all of her might to put her hands over her mouth in terror as the woman spoke, voice oddly distorted, scratchy with something allison couldn’t pinpoint. “think so. a heartbeat, maybe?”
the goat gave another leg twitch.
|“i’ll check it out.” the long strides of the other - decidedly human for the moment - crossed over the lines drawn in the ground with some care not to disrupt them, each one bringing full height into view and then some as he only seemed to grow taller in an inhuman fashion. it wasn’t the approach making it so, no figuring looming over her quite yet, but something else - something that wasn’t so human.
had there been doubts before, there certainly weren’t now that a story posted online and turned into an equally spoopy horror movie seemed to be approaching. everything seemed to darken from the ambient light to the candles and from it, an indecipherable stretch of limbs languidly stretched and twirled in the air, an equally horrific counterpart to the demon -- woman? goat? Devil?
allison wasn’t so sure what she had stepped into as he hand clamped tighter over her face, body shrinking back into what felt like immeasurable darkness despite knowing that, somewhere, there was a beach behind her. there was a beach with a fire with her friends and then some, and not demonic satyrs or slenderman.
“it's no use to hide in the shadows,” he seemed to echo from the void the forest had become, allison’s eyes bouncing one direction and another in search of escape.
| no use? the thought was wild, almost hysterical in her own head as she searched wildly for an escape. there has to be a way out
no sooner had the thought occurred then the feeling of ice cold dripped down her spine as someone else replied in her head, voice laced with amusement and malevolence. the same voice from the goat woman. no. not at all, allison. even for a drunk kid, you think pretty loudly, you know.
the goat woman hadn’t talked, hadn’t moved. yet it had been her voice for sure, and allison had to fight to make her body stand up and not retch in terror, “d-don’t do anything, i have-- i have a phone!”
the goat woman looked at the long limbed, terrifying sentry. even if her lips didn’t move, allison could swear that the woman was telegraphing something to him and she hoped it wasn’t that she had just lied.
| “for what? a blurry picture of big foot?”
then there had been that moment - that transmission of something allison couldn’t place that provided on a second of distraction, allowing her the opportunity to get up to her feet for a quick burst in any direction as long as it was away. as fast as she could through whatever thicket of woods might have been in her way and the shadows they made --
-- until she all but ran into something.
no -- someone.
“what did i tell you?” she couldn’t fathom how quick he had moved through the woods, no rustle of bushes or swaying of tree branches or snaps of twigs that provided an inkling that he had been on her tail at all - and yet, here he was, now far too close for comfort as the shadows twisted around them. maybe it was the outgrowth of limbs she had spied before or maybe it was literally the shadows, but she didn’t want to stick around to figure it out - not that she was sure there was a choice.
“pl-please,” she all but cried, “i won’t say anything!”
there was an air of indifference that seemed paralyzing in that moment until there was the sound of legs, dozens of them, scurrying across the forest floor - the sound of bugs or worse as one such creature came into view even in such a dark place, the eight legs of the arachnid crawling over the side of her hand.
a moment of paralyzed fear and then she screamed.
| the scream would only play out for a few terrifying moments; because then she found that no sound was coming from her throat. try as she might to push out the sound, to force her lungs, her throat to do so, to let anyone know that she was about to be killed, it wouldn’t happen.
tears welled up in her eyes, swam down her cheeks. there was no going back now, she was going to killed in some freaky ritual just like that goat, limbs twitching uselessly as she bled out.
a hand gripped her hair, a mouth pressed itself against her ear. her terror grew worse, limbs now completely immobile from something she couldn’t see. “you are so very lucky allison. if you had come just a few minutes before, you would have taken the place of that very delightful little goat.” the smell of blood hit her, the feeling of a slimy wet finger against her cheek being drawn in a ringed pattern. “seeing, though, as you’re late, what we’re going to do is spare you. and make sure that dumb little girls don’t go intruding where they’re not wanted.”
allison wanted to kick. she wanted to scream to flail, to give one more fight in her, to prove she wasn’t useless bait as the mouth grinned against her, deliberately making the fact that she had fangs unmistakable.
she couldn’t though. a darkness descended on her sight, all thought left her. inky blackness took over.
the morning sun blazed brightly above her, completely unimpeded. the feeling of sand was beneath her, and…
what. happened last night?
it seemed to cling to the edges of her mind, an occurrence that wasn’t quite there, but seemed to poke and prod for some thorough formation of something that might have been a dream - something weird that was fueled by the events of the night that had simmered down to a number of bottles and a few bodies littering the shore, many swathed in blankets as if they had found it the most ideal place to sleep.
other than that, the coast seemed clear.
no monsters. no shadows. no sound of bleating goats or the squelch of blood though she was sure something made that sound ring in her mind as if heard not very long ago.
but that could have been anything - someone playing a cruel joke, hiding out in the woods to scare her just because they thought it was funny and very well could. out here, at a party that shouldn’t have happened in the first place, who was going to stop them?
curiosity abounded, allison pushed herself up to stand, wobbling, the feeling of acid in her stomach still there and contributing to the sour taste in her mouth even as she pushed through the forest again. the path she was taking was a questionable one. she didn’t know where it would lead or if it would be a fruitful hunt for the unknown that pressed at her temples and scratched at her skin like tiny nettles.
but then she had come upon it.
an empty clearing - no goat twitching out its last dying breaths; no goat woman, devilish horns, fangs and all, that may have very well walked out of hell itself; no looming sentry that seemed to walk right out of the shadows the night provided.
just circles and a splatter of blood.