“Yeah. I just need some air. I can handle it, Harrison. Thank you, though.” 5 more of those monsters were crawling towards her, two of them on either wall of the hallway. Maxine turned around, she was close to the exit. They’re not real, they’re not real, they’re not real, she thought to herself.
The door burst open and Maxine rushed out, slamming the door behind her and sinking to sit against the bottom of the door. Breath in, breath out. Breath in, breath out.
They were next to her. They started crawling up her arms, her legs, her body. She could feel them. Shutting her eyes tight, Maxine waited for the pain. It never comes, but that doesn’t stop her from believing it could. She waited.
No pain. She slowly opened her eyes. One of them crawled across her face. Maxine let out a little sigh of relief. Calming down, she sat there, outside where passengers in cars could see her in the nearby road, monsters crawling all over her, her clothes soaked with crusted blood.
Eventually, when the monsters crawled out of sight, they stopped crawling back into sight. Maxine couldn’t tell when, but the feelings of prickly legs and dripping blood disappeared for each monster. Soon she wasn’t even covered in blood stains.
* * *
“Bye Harrison, see you tomorrow,” Maxine called.
He responded, “See ya!”
Maxine walked out of the building and headed to the forest. It sure is nice living so close to work, she thought to herself, maybe I should just head home on bad days like this. It’s been a long time since Maxine had this much trouble determining what is real and what isn’t, she started beating herself up internally for loosing control of her coping skills, especially at work. She felt so ashamed and afraid for her job security.
Maxine though she saw someone moving behind a tree in the corner of her eye. She quickly glanced and focused on that tree. It was very thin. Not again, she was already confused today.
She started creeping to the tree, “Hello? Is anybody there?”
She head a twig snap in the other direction, and she spun around so fast the she almost lost her footing. She saw it again, a dark silhouette disappear behind another thin tree. Logically she knew it wasn’t real, a tree like that couldn’t conceal anybody.
“Hello?” She said, her voice more shaky and stressed than before. She didn’t know what direction it would come from next, she stood still.
Hearing leaves crunch behind her, she froze. It took another step towards her, then another. A feeling rippled through her. I’m going to die. She burst into a run, slipping on the leaves from the first leap. Her steps were loud, echoing rhythmically throughout the forest, but they were not the only steps. Behind her, steps turned into strides, getting faster and faster. Maxine tried to remember her coping skills, but it was so hard through the heavy breathing and exhaustion.
It gained on her and then pounced. After what seemed like an eternity of silence in that short moment, another new thing happened. It landed on her back and tackled her to the ground. Its claw was digging into her arm, resting at the end of a big gash. It hurt like hell and Maxine was bleeding a lot. Right behind her head was something puffing warm, foul breath, and then a snarly, ear-piercing growl was emitted from this beast.