Prologue, Echoes of Moonlight

She had to save him.

She stood outside the door to the old, long abandoned home. A decade or more past, it would have housed a lovely family. The decayed remains of a white picket fence could be seen strewn about the perimeter of the dusty, barren yard. The only foliage the lot held were broken beer bottles, runaway shopping bags, and all manner of refuse typically reserved for an orderly disposal. All but one window had been molested. Most sat broken, while others bore the markings of graffiti that suffused the outside of the building.

It was not a desirable place to be. It was the last place she wanted to be. Even aside from the musty stench of refuse and decay, her heart pounded in her chest, screaming to be released as it felt as though it was pressed against her ribcage. She tried to take a deep breath to calm herself. Focus was what she needed right now, not the unrelenting panic she felt with each wild beat of her heart.

There was an inexplicable pressure she could feel pressing against her as she reached for the door knob. This was wrong. She had made a terrible mistake. Her hands trembled, even her joints begged her to turn back and run.

She had barely touched the door knob with her fingertip when the door violently swung open. The weight she had felt before from outside grew much greater now. Her knees nearly gave out from under her. Tears welled up in her eyes, either from pain, or fear. She took another deep breath in a quickly failing attempt to steady herself.

 She stepped inside, and immediately retched. The floor was littered with debris off all kinds, including the contorted, half-devoured remains of human bodies. A severed head sat just before her, staring her down with mangled disapproval from a singular remaining eye.

The shadows clung to the walls with an unnatural malice, obscuring what the full moon’s light should have laid bare. The girl slowly walked through the entryway, and made it to what she supposed would be the living room. Each step felt as tough she plunged ever deeper into freezing-cold water. Her heart beat ever more erratic.

There! She fell to her knees when she saw his green hat he had worn earlier. She clutched it desperately as she looked it over. There was no damage, no blood. Perhaps he was still alright. Maybe he had even made it out. She called out his name.

Two white hot flames, like eyes, sparked into life in the shadows of the corner in front of her. A gaunt face uncoiled from its unnatural place on the wall. A torso with a dangling head dropped from its jaws, crashing upon a pile of other refuse. The head hung upside down, the shock of its final moments frozen in time on is blood-splattered face. His face.

She screamed his name. Tears streamed down her face. Her body frantically clawed forward, trying to reach is body to… what? Save him? She had failed. There was nothing she could do, nothing she could ever do, nothing she could do her entire life, nothing she had ever done that had mattered. She couldn’t make a difference. She couldn’t save him, or anyone. It was all meaningless.

 A thick black tendril swept towards her. A splitting pain shot through her, and she slammed into the wall, then the floor. Her body convulsed. She had an overwhelming sensation that she was no longer whole. She tried to get up, but her legs were numb… no, she… she couldn't feel them at all. She looked down to a pool of blood that hungrily grew from where her legs used to be.

Another tendril whipped across the room, and jerked her up, smashing her against the wall next to the creature. She looked behind her and saw that a large tendril had been shoved through her back, out through her chest, and into the wall, pinning her in place. She felt so wrong. Her body struggled to function. There had to be something she could do! This couldn’t be how she died. Her heart slammed against her ribcage, beating so violently, it may as well had been a hammer whacking at her chest.

That cold, unfeeling face churned in the shadows behind her. It’s lips dripped with saliva and blood. It whispered in a child’s voice, “Don’t worry, little girl. It will all be over soon.”

She screamed. The face smiled.

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