The short story, Predator, is based on a true incident that happened during my first overseas trip, which almost wrecked my holiday.
The brochure proudly displayed in crimson red letters that the park was home to a peaceful and idyllic medieval woodland with the ‘pièce de résistance’ – a ruined castle. Tall, virginal green beech trees, partially obscured by six-foot high grass, shrouded the path into the woodland and gave the entrance-way the appearance of a gaping black hole, like a portal to another universe. As I stood gazing into the eerie depths, a prickling sensation crawled over my skin – it did not appear as inviting as the brochure wanted me to believe. Despite the warning that flashed through my heart, I was curious and so I ventured into the darkness.
The path meandered through thick green and brown undergrowth, and gnarled trees stood like silent sentinels barring the way to any brave adventurer that may seek to explore the depths hidden behind them. The castle wall was off to the right and its grey lichen covered stones lay scattered among the decaying plant life that had begun to consume them.
Disappointed, I turned back to the path and my heart wrenched violently as there was a man standing on the other side. He was unclothed, pale and gaunt, and stood silently, watching me. The air around me seemed to thicken and my breath coagulated in my throat. He started to move slowly towards me, his breath pulsating out like white smoke, evaporating into the frigid air. Choosing the ‘flight response’, I ran towards the entrance, my heart resonating urgently in my chest like a bass drum. I could hear the pounding of feet behind me and as I ran towards the entrance, it appeared to be receding further into the distance. I thought I felt knife-like fingers clutch at my jacket, but I was redeemed by the gushing sunlight and collided with a young family, and their laughing blonde-haired children. Their exuberant bright smiles quickly faded when they saw my ashen face and heard my incoherent babbling for help.