by Emma

The sky begins to darken and my own footprints create an echoing sound, vacant, yet soft crunching, on the hardened ground. I can feel the moist air dampening my skin, the freshness almost choking me as I walk further into the night. Direction seems futile now as every turn I make appears identical and remains vast.

I can vaguely hear sounds from around me, unnatural sounds, which evoke an unwelcome chill to travel down my spine. I can feel the tiny hairs on my body rising like soldiers and reacting in frozen response. The trees appear to thicken and their branches move slow but deliberate, my path becoming narrow and overgrown.

I quicken my pace, aware my breathing is becoming heavier with each step. I can see my breath spiralling in front of me, small clouds of nothingness. I feel alone. I feel afraid.

From my right I can hear a strange panting, I can feel a sensation of being watched. The little hairs stand taller as I realise that the noise is coming closer. With fear and momentum rising, I try to remain calm and take longer strides, putting more distance between them and me. My purposeful steps are matching the thuds within my heart, rythmic and strong. My ears explode almost with the sound, the blood cursing through my every vein.

I now feel like the hunted as I feel my every sense coming alive. My vision is becoming stronger, accustoming to the dark and now fuelled by the overwhelming fear that has almost paralysed my body. I continue. To stop is not an option. I now know my body is responding in pure survival mode. My legs feel stronger and I can feel the blood pooling near my muscles, alert, ready for the unknown.

The noises are surrounding me now. There are others. No longer a lone threat, I can feel eyes feeding on me, stalking me. Watching my every move.

I begin to feel faint, slightly disorientated and nauseas. I feel my body shivering. I pull up my hood, my coat no longer providing heat. I am drenched but there is no rain. My own persperation is collecting in small pools on my body, although my hands remain cold and icy.

My head begins to throb and I reach up to soothe my temple. The cold of my hand shocks me and I become alert once more.

My senses tell me they are close now. My own footsteps are casting continous echoes all around me. I realise too late that these secondary noises were not me. It was them. But I cannot escape now.

They reach me before I can react. I feel the impact and lose my footing before falling, my hairband fluttering loose and landing on the uneven earth. I can hear screaming. I realise that it is coming from me.

I awake to a continous tone. I recognise the music from my phone. I had specifically chosen an amazon theme, the cool sounds of nature, to softly shake the sleep from my eyes.

Realisation hits me and I sit up to survey my surroundings. My heart begins to pound once more in isolated apprehension. As my eyes take in the scenery of my bedroom wall, I can feel a smile spreading from my lips. My bedspread tucked under me, my dog by my side. A dream. Only a simple dream.

The mind of a deep thinker…or complete rubbish…it is all down to interpretation and perception…