I don’t sleep much anymore. Every time I close my eyes, I see blood… We’d gone down to Torrey Creek after school that day, like we always do. Just Heather, Katey and me. Katey’d gotten this cool Nikon camera for her thirteen birthday so she was testing it out on everything. Leaves. Ladybugs. Lilies. Heather kept photobombing every shot, which was super annoying. But kinda hilarious. We heard a noise and out of the woods came a tan and white stray cat. It looked mangy and full of rabies. I hate cats. But Heather loves like every living creature. She got on all fours and crawled up the cat, making stupid Meow sounds. “Leave the dumb thing alone, it’ll probably claw your eyes out,” I yelled. Heather ignored me, put out her hand, “You can trust me, kitty.” The cat sniffed her hand, and its ears did one of those weird things where one turns and the other doesn’t. CLICK! Katey snapped a picture and all of a sudden, the cat bolted back into the woods. Heather took off after it. “Dude! You scared it!” Katey rolled her eyes at me but then we both scrambled after our friend. Through the trees, we could see Heather’s blond ponytail bob and weave through the green. We chased after her but Heather always ran the fastest mile in P.E. and she was getting further and further away from us. We pushed deeper into the woods, the jagged branches scratching at our skin, trying to keep up until the blond hair suddenly vanished. Katey and I stopped, we were totally out of breath. Katey turned to me, for the first time with real panic, “Where’d she go?” “Heather!” I yelled, “Heather, where are you?!” Katey walks forward, slowly, trying to listen for Heather’s voice, any sign of our friend. I feel something behind me, like watching me and I turn – just in time to see a shadow flash across the trees and then disappear. I wait a second, not sure if I imagined it. Another quick flash and I hear the CLICK of Katey’s camera. “Katey, did you see that?” I flip around but there’s no one there. Katey’s gone. Now I’m creeped out and I take a few steps back – I stumble on something. I look down… it’s Katey’s camera. Oh crap. I bend down to pick it up. The lens is cracked. “KATEY?!” I scream out into the wilderness. The wind blows through and I hear a voice, like a whisper. “Help me…help me…” It sounds like Heather? Or maybe it’s Katey? I can’t tell but I don’t want to be alone so I follow the sound. Moving through the brush. My eyes land on something twitching in the air…a furry puff of white. My whole body freezes cause I can’t make sense of what I’m seeing. Two dark orbs staring at me…the dead eyes of the cat. Its bloody carcass caught in the jaws of a huge, spiky monster…like ten feet tall, teeth as sharp as razors, half shark, half Godzilla. GHOULI! Its mouth clamps down and I scream as I hear the sickening sound of a bones crackling. I start running as fast as I can. I can’t see where I’m going, I’m totally turned around but I’m racing into the woods at full speed. I can feel it chasing me. Gaining on me. I look over my shoulder just as the monster pounces and everything goes to black.
When I open my eyes, there’s something blurry next to me. Rocking back and forth. I rub my eyes and my hands are caked in dried blood. Jesus! I sit up quickly and see the figure rocking back and forth is Heather. She’s naked and covered in blood. Her hands raw, her body all scrapes and bruises. And there’s just blood everywhere, on the trees, on me, seeping into the dirt. I crawl over to Heather. “What happened? Where’d you go? Where’s Katey?” I ask. She won’t look at me. “I don’t know…I don’t know…” she mumbles, over and over again. Then she breaks down sobbing, shaking and I just hug her as tight as I can.
It’s been three years now. No one’s seen Katey. We had teams searching the woods for months but it’s like she vanished off the face of the planet. The police were able to get the film off her camera…our last moments together. There’s a selfie of the three of us at the creek, the ladybugs and the lilies, Heather crawling up to the cat. But the last one is a blurry flash of a dark shadow with those razor sharp teeth I can never forget…and I know it can only be Ghouli.