Prey

  • Coming Oct 2017!

    Chapter One

    The last thing she remembered, she'd been walking. Hazy summer heat had left vapors rising from the cement on the walking trail. She recalled how she'd paused to share a bit of water from her bottle with a stray dog as it had been so ungodly hot. The pup had been older, but relatively clean. He either had just escaped his yard or had been taking good care of himself. Either way, it didn't hurt her to share a sip or two.

    If she could have found a way to sneak him into the dorm without arousing suspicions, she would have. The student representative that lived in her dorm was a stickler for keeping to the rules, and would have a fit. Instead, she resolved to go out there a few times a week and leave food. Small things, really, but even small things added up.

    She was so used to the path she took, she tended to tune out, her mind going over the events of the day, things she needed to do for tomorrow. It was a bad habit of hers, one she'd been reprimanded for most of her life. It drove nearly everyone around her nuts, but once she was going through the motions and doing things by rote, she tended to get bored and started withdrawing inward.

    Straining her memory far beyond what she'd thought possible, a vague recollection of an echo of footsteps came back to her. How she'd even remembered that, she had no idea. The steps had been quiet, but something must have been just enough out of place to draw her attention for a moment. Someone had been on the path with her after the dog had ran off sated, but who?

    Staring at the dingy ceiling tiles, she shifted to try to find a more cushy spot on the mattress to lay. There wasn't one, not really, but she continued every hour or so to test it. Never know, the foam may decide to pop back every now and again, and she didn't want to miss a little bit of comfort. There was no pillow or blanket, just a lumpy foam mattress set on a bare metal frame with uncomfortable springs underneath.

    She'd been told over and over again that staying late at the lab was dangerous. That she should leave when others did, or at least before the last bus did, that way she'd have a safe ride back home. The way she figured it was... she spent so much time cooped up behind a microscope, the nightly walk 15 minutes to and from the quiet dorm at the far end of campus was good for her. It wasn't that far, and the entire pathway was lighted by old fashioned lantern style lights.

    While it was late enough that she was normally alone, the lights of the dormitories blazed, reminding her that she was never actually by herself out there. She'd never particularly felt nervous or scared, even as the nights got darker and the hours got later. It was her quiet, peaceful time, where she could unwind from the day before she arrived at her door.

    She was in the rural Midwest, where the only exciting thing that happened was the fairs and festivals of summer, ending with the Apple Butter fest in October when the leaves began to turn into fall jewel tones. The old cliche of “It's so safe, everyone still leaves their doors unlocked!” fit the town well. No one worried about things like strangers or girls being kidnapped. It was simply unheard of here.

    If only she had listened, or had left a little earlier tonight. If only the dog had stayed to warn her, so she appeared less of a target. So many different scenarios. So many things she could've, would've done differently if she'd known. How does one sense evil lurking in the dark? How do you know when everything is about to change? Simple answer? You don't.

    The clang of a door slamming shut somewhere above jerked her out of another restless sleep. Blinking blearily, she peered out at the darkness around her, attempting to find something to focus on. Since she was in an unfamiliar and terrifying situation, she wasn't comfortable enough to actually rest, so she ended up taking little cat-naps, where the slightest sound or sense of movement would have her eyes flying open as she curled in on herself for what little amount of protection she could muster.

    She'd been brought a stale sandwich hours ago, possibly even yesterday. It had been unceremoniously shoved through a slot in the metal door that she hadn't noticed until it'd popped open, the seal was that hidden. Yelling and pleading hadn't done her any favors. Heavy thudding footsteps had retreated quickly as soon as she'd tried attempting to bargain for her freedom, but there'd been no sound of movement after that. The relative quiet had enticed her into an uneasy stupor. Aware, yet unfocused. Hunger gnawed at her belly again, but she knew there was likely no chance of getting anything palatable to eat here, wherever here was.

    As dim light began to steal over the small room, she was able to make out more of her surroundings. The window near the ceiling was covered with heavy bars, but let in just enough light to keep her from being in darkness once the sun rose high enough. Concrete floors were cold and slightly damp under her bare feet if she stood too close to the cinder block walls. Everything was gray and drab, the smell of mildew lingering as Some sort of basement or crawlspace, then.

    Pressing her ear to the door, she closed her eyes as she focused all of her attention on attempting to use the ambient noises to figure out where she might be. A low growl, deep with menace, emanated too close for comfort as something thudded against the door hard enough to send her skittering backwards in fear. The door was thick, and whatever that was outside had shaken it to the foundations.

    With a yelp, she scurried to the back of the pitiful mattress, her eyes wide as a terrified female scream echoed around her. Wrapping her arms around herself, she curled into as small of a target as she could make herself in order to hide from whatever was out there. Her back against the cold wall, she drew her knees up to her chest, attempting to protect as much of her body as possible.

    Barely realizing it, she had begun to rock herself back and forth, reminiscent of the way patients in asylums used to do long ago. The repetitive motion gave her some illusion of control over herself as, for the first time since she'd woken here, the prison she was in came alive. High pitched feminine screams rose above the guttural, animalistic noises, the cacophony all around her increasing the sheer terror she felt.

    When she'd woken here, all she'd wanted was to break free. Now? She prayed to a God she didn't believe in that the door stayed firmly closed on this nightmare until she was able to wake up, warm and safe in her own bed.

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