I counted sixty seconds before I darted across the trail. I stopped at the edge of the woods and sniffed ahead, assuring myself that he was moving away from my position before I went any farther.
And then I began to track him.
He hiked deeper into the woods, away from the haunted trail, using a penlight to light his way. He moved slowly and as carefully as he could, but he still got bound up in the occasional sticker bush and rotten branch. Then, just when I was seriously considering closing the gap and taking him down, he stopped and reached into a pant pocket. He pulled something out. When a small rectangle of light lit up, I realized he was consulting the compass on his phone. He turned, his eyes on the light. I went low to the ground, my chest and belly pressing down on pine needles. He started walking again, toward the Shriek Shack, staying parallel to the trail.
I followed him again. He shoved the phone back into his pocket after a few steps.
Then he headed back to the trail.
He stopped a few feet from the wood line. We were roughly at the midpoint of the trail, between Leatherface and the scarecrow. I heard the burr of Leatherface’s chainsaw as the actor started it up. A few seconds later, there were screams and laughter. A group pelted past our hiding spot. My prey watched them. Everyone stayed together, clutching each other and giggling.
He let two more groups go by. I watched his hands open and close. He cracked his knuckles. Reached into his back pocket and took out a rag. I raised my head, sniffed. Smells of blood and saliva on it. The fluids belonged to a number of women. Hard for me to sort them all out.
He rubbed the rag over his face. I heard him breathe in.
He was getting ready to do it. I could smell his excitement, his growing lust. My heart was racing. My mouth was dry.
I stood. I took a step forward. My foot came down on a branch.
S N A P
He spun around.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Dear Michael Trent.
Now that I know your name.
You’re lucky, you know. I guess it doesn’t seem that way now. It probably never will. But you are.
I thought before that I had only two choices, both bloody. It didn’t occur to me that I had a third choice, not until I stepped on that branch and you turned and saw me. We locked eyes. You dropped that rag.
I leaped, tackled you, picked you up and threw you farther into the woods. I heard you hit, smelled the scents of pine needles and rotten vegetation grow stronger for a few seconds, indicating where you hit earth.
I went after you. Dragged you deeper into the dark.
You clawed at the ground, grabbed twigs and branches and bunches of pine needles, anything that might delay the inevitable for a few seconds.
What was it like, having my clawed hand around your ankle? Being pulled along, your stomach sliding and bumping along the ground, looking over your shoulder and seeing a monster trudging along on lupine legs?
It was pants-wetting fear, for sure. I hate that smell, by the way. Public restrooms drive me nuts.
We went pretty damn far in, didn’t we? I love the Piney Woods.
Sorry about your stomach. It got pretty scraped up by the rough terrain.
I just didn’t want anyone to hear your screams.
That is something I wish I could ask you: Why didn’t you yell for help? All you did was grunt when I threw you. Panted when you tried to scramble for hand holds in the pine needles. Pissed yourself as you watched the purple and white marker lights fade off in the darkness.
You screamed later though.
What did you think, when I finally stopped dragging you, when I paused for a moment and breathed in the swirling blood scent drifting up from your scraped raw belly?
I was trying to maintain control. Trying to stay able to act on my third option.
You flopped over onto your back. Dug your heels into the ground and started pushing away from me. I walked to you, straddled you, dropped on top of your thighs. You stopped moving when my weight landed on you.
Then I unbuttoned your jeans and unzipped your fly.
Didn’t think I’d be able to do that, did you? Not with these claws. To tell you the truth, I had my doubts too.
Should have seen the look on your face when I tugged down your Levis.
You see, Michael, I knew I couldn’t live with myself if I turned you in to the police and you got out and started raping again. I figured that night, when I typed the first letter to you, that killing you slow or fast were my only choices.
I was thinking like a monster. Like an animal. Driven by instinct.
But, as much as I deny it, as much as I play the poor, tortured, cursed victim, I am still human. Even under all that red fur and sharp teeth.
So. Option number three.
I ripped off your testicles with my claws. Got part of your dick, too, sorry about that.
You screamed then, boy oh boy.
I let you crawl back to the trail while I threw away your junk. Then I went back to my clothes and my car. I drove home. Slept great, by the way.
It’s all over the news this morning. CNN even picked it up.
Man Claims “Wolfman” Castrated Him at Haunted House Attraction
Well . . . I don’t have much of a chest when I’m in that form, so I’ll let that go.
So far, you’ve confessed to the rapes. You’re still listed in critical but stable condition at Baptist Hospital. I’ll keep an eye on you.
I actually feel really good this morning. Happy.
All right. Be well.
Your friend, Elizabeth.