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The Girl In Green - Prologue
Prologue
In the dark woods of Middlebrook, Ohio a young man walked along a soggy, gravel walkway with his eyes trained to the night sky. He could just barely make it out from among the canopy, the stars sparkling like tiny eyes peering down at him. Even in the woods he felt watched. Was that how they had felt these past ten years? Every step, every word, and every thought carefully processed and catalogued? Every room wired with cameras, and every relationship meticulously planned and manipulated for the sole purpose of morbid curiosity?

After Mitchell and Ren died they'd debated calling the whole thing off. But Sarah, that pompous bitch dyke, refused.

"Ten people have already died," she'd reasoned in a half smirk. He hated when she smiled. Her wire thin lips always creased half her face, distorting her into something that resembled out of a Hellraiser movie. "Every omelet needs to break a few eggs. This is something we all agreed to, yes? All of us?"

That bitch. If only she were still alive...

A twig snapped and his heart flipped. He whirled around, expecting to see one of its minions clamboring from out of the underbrush, but the woods remained quiet and undisturbed. He started walking again, only to stop every few feet to take a glance of his surroundings.
You're out here, aren't you? he thought to himself. You're close by, too. I can feel it. I can feel you.

He quickened his pace. The edge of town couldn't be far now. He'd made sure to triple check the map for the right escape route before leaving the house. It'd been built as part of contingency plan if things got too hot and they needed to pull out. In the beginning they hadn't been entirely sure what they were dealing with, which struck him as a terribly cliché moment out of some horror movie. They didn't understand enough until too late. Far, far too late.

A rustling noise came from the brush fifty feet ahead of him to the right off the path. Next came the snapping and splintering of bush limbs as a figure emerged from the woods. It stood nearly eye level with him, its face shrouded in black as its shoulder length hair slightly reflected the single beam of moonlight cresting through the canopy. The figure had a slender build, and when it started toward him it moved with a slight sway to its step.

His breath caught in his throat, and in his chest his heart was doing the running his mind screeched for his feet to do. But he was frozen in place, his cold, worn feet no longer willing to budge. And as the realization of what was happening finally set in, he felt the terror intensify.

"No...Sarah?"

She gazed at him emotionlessly. Her face no longer held the warmth of her perverse little smirks. Instead there were the stains of blood tears encrusted on her cheeks from where the veins in her eyes had ruptured. That had been how he'd found her weeks ago, dead on her floor. She probably had been getting up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom and dropped from severe hemorrhaging, bleeding to death before he found her in the morning. He and the others remaining buried her in the graveyard they'd created in the woods in back of the house. The graves were unmarked so as not to tip off any unsuspecting townsfolk who happened by on a leisurely walk through the woods. In his job, questions were bad. Very, very bad.

Of course fear of discovery paled in comparison to his current situation. He was hallucinating, which meant things for him had progressed much further than he'd anticipated. He closed his eyes and shook his head, fighting back the tears of knowing just how close he was to his own dirt nap beneath the pines of this godforsaken town. First the headaches, which he'd had for a month now. Next hallucinations. Then the bleeding. And lastly...

"No! No, godammit, no!" he shouted at her. "I don't want to die!"

Sarah was unimpressed by his defiance.

"None of this is real!"

"But it is," Sarah spoke. "It's all very real."

"Leave me alone!"

"Henry, it's alright," she said, sounding sympathetic.

"Oh, Sarah, suddenly you care?" he spat. "We all died because of you, bitch! All of us! This had been your idea, all your idea! You and that fucking husband of yours! We could've left!"

"I know." Her reply came, barely a whisper. "But that's over now. It's all over."

"Fuck you!" he screamed, and to his surprise he started to run.

"Henry!"

He ignored her and ran full speed down the path. As he rounded the bend he gasped and closed his eyes at the sight of more figures standing in the brush ahead. They all whispered his name as he ran past, their voices carrying a soul wrenching sorrow.

Then, breaking through the frantic whispers of his name, came the call of it.

"Stop now, Henry."

His body convulsed as if he'd just run into an invisible wall. He fell back onto the path, his head landing hard on a rock jutting out of the bushes. The world then exploded in color and dampness and swirled around him as if he'd fallen into a giant washing machine. He clutched his head and groaned as he slowly rolled into a fetal position. For a long time he lied there listening to his own raspy breathing, afraid to move or open his eyes and see the faces of the others standing over him.

I'm close though. I'm so close. C'mon, Henry, just a little farther. Get up. Get. Up.

Before he could muster the strength to move he heard footsteps moving toward him. They didn't appear to be in any hurry or make any attempt to conceal themselves. His mind panicked, telling him to hurry and run, but his body refused. By the time it reached him the will to fight was gone.

"Hello Henry," it said in a mockingly soothing tone. "It's over now. Are you ready?"

And with that the blood tears of defeat let go.

******
The Girl in Green is a horror novel by Scott McCafferty, serialized for web publication through RivalCast Media. Scott welcomes comments and feedback below or through email at scott.mccafferty@rivalcastmedia.com


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