The black handle turned one way, and then the other way. Relief washed over Tess as it dawned on her that the door was locked. Thoughts raced through her mind. Were the other door and windows locked as well? She hoped so as she pressed her back firmly against the cold wooden door.
The shadowy figure slunk from sight, but Tess heard its hands and feet pounding the ground as it gravitated towards the front of the house.
She picked up the black backpack and inched her way through the dining room, and to the edge of the entry way. Thank goodness there wasn't a window here, but that thing was outside the front door as it tentatively clawed at the fiberglass structure. Given what she had seen at the church, it wouldn't take much for it to break through.
What to do? What to do?
Tess backed up against the wall and bumped into a table. The small lamp that sat there wavered, and then in a slow motion, teetered off the corner of the narrow table.
Tess lunged sideway to try and catch it. No success as it crashed on the hardwood floor. Instantly, the door shuddered as the creature slammed against it.
In her next breath, Tess shot up the stairs and into her bedroom, slammed and locked the door behind her. Now she had no choice. She had to leave the house.
Fighting to hold back the tears, her hands shook as she pulled out a heavy wool sweatshirt, gloves, hat, and a scarf from the small closet, and put them on. She quickly laced up her insulated boots.
The front door now gone as the creature let out a bone-chilling howl from below.
Tess dashed to the lone window, unlatched, and slid it up. She stuck her head out and surveyed her way out. The ledge that ran around the house was narrow, but she was pretty sure it would support her weight. With her left leg straddling the edge of the window, she toed the slick wooden ledge, and then swung the other leg out. The wood creaked, but held. She slid the window shut, and proceeded to shuffle along the side of the house.
As she made her way around to the other side, she could feel the shuddering of the house as the creature smashed through it, searching for her. Her chest ached from her heart pounding so hard and fast. She knew she needed to get far from here as quickly as possible.
Once on the other side, she jumped on to the roof of the next building which was her parents' shop. Tess jogged across the asphalt top, and hopped down on to the next smaller building. From there, she climbed down the side by using the emergency exit ladder from its second floor window. She skipped the last few steps and dropped straight to the ground with a loud crunch in the snow.
Tess glanced around frantically. No sign of it.
With the back pack secured on her back, she darted for the edge of town.
The road was covered with several inches of hard snow which made it challenging for Tess as she huffed along, her knees raised high with each step. She didn't dare to look back in fear of something chasing her down.
Darn it! She left her bat back at the house!
It was still lying on the floor in the kitchen. Forget going back for it.
Suddenly, a howl echoed through the valley.
Oh no ... it was out of the house! Her pace quickened as her eyes searched along the tree-line ahead. She needed to get off the road and out of sight.
Tess hopped over a high pile of dirtied snow and slid down the steep hill towards the meadow below. Once on level ground, she took off running. The meadow spread wide and far ahead of her. The dark trees loomed in the distance. It seemed that the faster she ran, those same trees never grew any closer.
The only thing she heard now was her panicked breathing. The sun sat halfway in the sky with gray clouds billowing around it. Moments later, she broke through the threshold of the trees; but, she slipped on mud and fell to her knees. Tess turned and looked back, and let out a whimper.
Multiple animal-like figures bounded across the meadow. Headed directly at her.
She jumped to her feet, and ran. She didn't know where she was going, only that she must put as much distance from them as she could. Tree branches and dead twigs snapped and whipped at her. Bloody scratches appeared all across her face and hands. The further she ran into the woods, the darker it grew. She hoped she was still headed towards the mountains.
Suddenly she burst out into an opening and nearly fell straight into a large, half-frozen pond below. Her eyes moved upwards. The granite-tree lined mountains loomed before her. The sun now hidden behind the darkening clouds. The winds whipped strands of hair across her face. Howls filled the forest behind her.
She was trapped.