We couldn’t run fast enough. There was just no way. Candy slipped, stumbling into the line of lockers on her left. The metal made a great bang of protest and the dark corridor echoed with the sound. I grabbed her arm, my fingernails digging into her flesh as I dragged her on.
Their blood speckled my skin. I still couldn’t believe it had happened but my own eyes couldn’t lie.
He was getting closer. I could practically feel his breath on the back of my neck. I wanted to scream, cry, pray, beg but all I could do was run. Run faster. But it wouldn’t be fast enough.
I knew it, the swirling sickening feeling in the pit of my stomach was screaming it at me. I was going to die. We were going to die.
Candy’s blonde hair was falling loose from its braid. I could feel my own slipping out too, auburn locks tumbling down to obscure my vision.
His footsteps were closing in on us.
The change had happened so quickly, he had seemed practically normal an hour ago, but now…
“Go long!” he bellowed from somewhere behind us. Further back than I’d thought.
I glanced over my shoulder despite myself.
Kenny stood there, his green football shirt emblazoned with a white number six just like always. It was Kenny. Our Kenny, looking just as he’d looked every day since the start of term and yet completely different at the same time. He’d never been soaked in our friends blood before.
He tossed a football between his hands almost lazily.
I stumbled, turning away from him as I tried to run faster. Panic burned like bile in my throat.
We were nearly at the end of the corridor. The huge double doors were just around the corner. They were almost in reach.
The football shot through the space between Candy and me so fast that it was a blur. No one should be able to throw that hard. Even if he was the star quarterback. The ball smashed into the lockers in front of us, punching a hole right through them and bending the metal around it.
Candy screamed. I pulled harder on her arm increasing our speed again. I don’t think I’d ever run so fast before. In fact I was sure I hadn’t. And it wasn’t just the fear and the adrenaline. I was changing too. I could feel it in my veins, something wasn’t right, something was shifting beneath my skin.
Fear crept up my spine with fingers of ice as I ran faster still. It couldn’t be happening to me too. I couldn’t become one of them.
Candy let out a sob of fear and relief as we finally turned the corner and the exit loomed. Moonlight shone weakly beyond the glass doors.
“We can make it,” I panted.
My legs were moving so quickly that it barely seemed like I was touching the ground. I was so glad that I’d still been wearing my cheer uniform because I’d never have managed it in my heels.
We didn’t slow as we approached the doors. Kenny was coming. I could feel him, I could feel his shadow laying over me. Call it instinct or fear or some kind of twisted version of both but I could feel him all the same.
I turned slightly, aiming my shoulder at the glass door just before I collided with it. I hadn’t considered the fact that doors would be locked. The school had been closed for hours. We slammed into the glass but rather than resisting, it shattered.
Shards flew out around us as the force of our impact carried us through.
I fell, the glass slicing into my palms and knees. I could feel the pain like a far off concern, it was mine and it wasn’t.
Candy’s nails bit into my skin as she dragged my to my feet and we started running again.
The cool fall air twisted around us and my hair-tie finally gave up, long strands falling free around my face.
“The trees,” Candy whispered, her voice barely audible incase he heard us. I had no doubt he could. Something had changed in him so much that he seemed more like an animal than a man.
We shot across the parking lot, heading straight for the woods on the far side of the street. The trees were thick and it was dark beneath them. It was our best hope at escape.
The panic in my chest was thundering its way though my body, right down to my fingertips. My heart thumped erratically, spreading the fear through me like wildfire but all we could do was run.
The tarmac was unforgiving beneath the soft soles of my trainers and it was a relief when we leapt onto the grassy bank before the trees.
“H-I-D-E!” Kenny chanted behind us.
I chanced a look back once more. He’d stopped by the ruined doors and was smiling broadly at us. One of our pom-poms was clasped in his hand. I had no idea where he’d gotten it.
“You-can’t-get-away-from-me!” he continued his mocking cheer, shaking the pom-pom tauntingly.
We stumbled into the darkness beneath the trees and were swallowed by it instantly. We paused behind the first big trunk we reached and looked back again.
My heart raced but my breathing was steady. A little faster than usual but not enough for how much running we’d just done. Something was happening to me. Something was happening to all of us.
A part of me was afraid. A part of me was exhilarated.
“The park’s on the far side of these woods,” Candy breathed. “We can make it, get back to town-”
“And then what?” I hissed, a little harsher than I’d meant to.
“The police or the army or someone must be coming to help. There’s no way they’ll just let this happen-”
“Unless it’s happening everywhere,” I muttered.
“Either way, we have to move.”
We slipped further into the trees and ran again. The ground was thick with leaves and we fell more than once on the slippery surface. I could feel his eyes on us. Whether he was really still there or not was impossible to say but it felt like he was. A small part of me hungered to turn and fight him. But that part wasn’t really me. It was new, alien, terrifying.
Finally, we spilled out of the trees and into the park.
Moonlight bathed everything in tones of silver. The grass, the benches, the swings, everything was somehow ghostly.
We stopped in the middle of the green and listened. Everything was silent. There was no sign of Kenny. No sign of anyone at all.
“Do you feel that?” Candy asked.
She’d gone very still, her breathing was deep from the run and the tightness in her posture gave away her fear.
“What?” My own heart was racing, the adrenaline fading slowly.
“It’s like a pull… A need…”
I glanced at her and she closed her eyes, breathing in deeply through her nose.
“I feel…” My stomach was in knots, I felt something building, churning away in my gut but I didn’t know what it meant.
She breathed in again, her nostrils flaring almost as though she were smelling something.
“I want to run, to chase,” she said slowly.
“Chase what?” My heart leapt at the prospect despite myself. It was almost as though my body was was separate to myself. Making its own mind up without me choosing one way or another.
“Them.” Her eyes snapped open and her head turned. I followed her gaze.
Across the park, a woman was running. She dragged a child along behind her and carried another in her arms.
“Yes.” A smile spread across my face though I didn’t tell it to.
Candy took off before I did, her feet hitting the dirt and splattering mud up the front of my bare legs. My cheer uniform was beyond filthy anyway, there would be no saving it.
A snarl escaped my lips as I bounded after her. They were mine. Mine.
I ran, sucking a breath in through my teeth as my trainers slammed into the mud.
The woman saw us and screamed. She fell to her knees, pushing her children behind her and letting out a string of prayer in Spanish.
It was wrong. Something was wrong. The fear in her eyes, the pulse at her throat, the child crying behind her. I wanted to hurt her and I wanted to help her and I wasn’t sure what part of it was truly me anymore-
I slammed into Candy just before she she could pounce.
“No,” I growled as we tumbled through the mud. “Not us.”
Candy lashed out, propelling herself on top of me and pinning me down. Her eyes had gone black, vacant. She bared her teeth at me, her hands closing around my throat.
“Not us too,” I breathed as she started to squeeze.
The woman’s prayers stopped as she scrambled to her feet and started backing away, pulling her children with her.
Candy’s head snapped around as she released me, turning her attention back to them. A part of me longed to join her, to chase them down again but I stamped it out.
“Candy, please, not us too. You can fight it. Fight it with me.” And I was fighting it, tearing myself in two internally as I tried to cling onto my former self.
She turned to me slowly, her head tilting as she regarded me. Something flickered in her eyes. Something deep within them.
She kissed me.
I was so surprised that I barely moved. She kissed me and the darkness receded. I didn’t want to chase the woman anymore. I didn’t want to hurt her. I didn’t want anything at all apart from Candy. And Candy wanted me too.
“I told you you couldn’t hide,” Kenny cried triumphantly.
Before I could even open my eyes, he was on us.
I didn’t think I’d have time to do a Halloween story but when I woke up this morning this was running around my head and wanted to be set free! I hope you enjoyed it and happy Halloween! Xoxo 👻🎃