Thick, stark grey fog rolls through the cloudy morning.
Shadows of trees sink back in the distance as it settles, sitting right in my line of vision.
There's a heavy crispness that hangs in the air, seemingly clutching to each breath that I exhale.
My fingers tap mindlessly on the picnic table as morning passes me by, stuck in my thoughts, the day wastes away until a little splinter catches my fingertip.
The pain jolts me from my endless spirals of thoughts and although the clock as changed, time hardly seems to have passed at all.
Regardless, my legs are stiff and my bones crack as I stand to stretch.
There's an ache in my back and little tears in my eyes from staring into space.
It seems my body pains to tell me "a walk might sound nice."
Damp leaves and fallen branches crunch underneath my padded boots as my feet carry me from my camp.
A paved trail welcomes me not far down the road but a muddy path calls with the promise of adventure and I can't help but follow to explore.
That morning fog is thicker now, it stares me in the face.
Low trees and branches slap my nose since I can't see two feet ahead and yet, despite the pain, I grin.
If the forest tries to hold me back, there are surely treasures ahead.
Deeper, I forage into the depths of the fog.
Sheltered by trees from the suns new coming rays, shadows drape themselves across whatever's in sight, stretching with light and arching like a black cats back.
But, as I walk, there's something strange about this place in which I have delved.
Pulling out my phone when I pause to capture a perfect, lasting flower, as I'm crouched on the soft muddy earth, my ears are attuned to a missing sound.
There isn't a wind to rustle what leaves have yet to fall from their branches.
The scampering paws of a fleet-footed friend to snap twigs on the ground or let bushes move on their 'own'.
Not a single bird chirps, nothing living moves at all.
And when I move to stand, my lonely breath is the only one to fall.
Unease begins to rest, blankets my world like this endless fog.
But even as I turn my head, there's nothing to see that might be wrong.
Just a forest of shadows all dressed in white and yet this silence doesn't seem quite right.
Anxiety builds like a brick in my chest and I desperately want to turn away and run back.
But behind me there's no path to see, it's disappeared as if to say, there's no way now that you can flee.
That silence grows like the fear that won't stop pounding in my head.
Until it's broken by the low rumbling of an inhuman growl that vibrates the very air with advancing dread.
It bounces off the trees, growing steady and getting louder.
And something large is creeping towards me, brutally snapping branches beneath it's paws.
It doesn't care to lightly tread, but the sound sends me spinning circles around for I can't tell where it could be coming from.
My body shakes so hard even my breath is quick to tremble.
The entire world seems to buckle as the ground falls from my feet.
I don't remember collapsing and yet I'm down on my knees.
Fear sways my head from side to side until that growl fills every corner, every inch of my mind.
But it's slow approach remains a steady patter, nearing closer and closer as I try to stand, try to run but my feet simply stagger.
The air that holds me chills.
I wrap my sweatshirt closer around my arms.
Frozen fingers struggle to hold the fabric as I continue to stumble forward towards a thickened nothing.
And my ragged breathing is filled with blood, the struggle of trying to run.
It's upon me now, I can feel its presence.
It's grinning behind my back.
A deep breath in, a deep breath out and I spin as I hear the last branch crack.
First from the fog, I see it's glowing red eyes.
Bleeding crimson embraced by black that hover above a rotting smile.
There's bits of bone, raw flesh and red meat.
Stains of blood all sunken in between the grinning sharpened teeth.
I long to scream or cry at least but I've no luck for my voice has failed me.
This hound from hell hungers for its coming meal.
Feeding off my fear as I close my eyes and hope and pray that it's not real.
Streaks of dirty tears roll down my face.
My heart keeps stopping when I crack open my eyes and it's still standing in its place.
The fog crawls over us as it readies itself to pounce.
And swallows us whole as teeth and claws come tearing to drag me down.
A scream tears past my lips as claws lacerate my shirt and I’m jolted awake just as they dig into my chest.
I can’t stop the heavy ragged breaths that heave my chest up and down.
My throat’s painfully scratched all the way down to my lungs.
And still that heavy fog calmly rolls across my camp and down the hill.
With too many thoughts clouding my head, I think I might just take a quick stroll.