By J. W. Wright

Robert held the door closed, his muscles straining against the rotting and dilapidated wood. He wasn’t even sure it would hold. He looked around the room, but it was a fruitless endeavor. It was much too dark and he couldn’t see anything in the room he now occupied. His only light a dim glow from the stars overhead shining through the cracks between the wood planks in the door.

Robert listened in the darkness. It was very still outside, save for the light blowing of the wind and the chirping of the nearby crickets. It almost made it seem like it was a normal day. Oh how Robert wished for a normal day right now.

Robert concentrated on the sounds outside, but soon only found himself concentrating on his racing heartbeat and the blood rushing in his ears. He could barely even hear his sister Maddie, who was cowering behind him, as she pulled in her frantic breaths.

“Do you hear anything?” whispered Maddie, the fear causing her voice to quiver. Robert shook his head. “No, I don’t hear it anymore.”

Maddie perked her head up. “Do you think we lost it?” she inquired, her hands clenched as if she had been praying. “No... I don’t think so...” said Robert, his voice trailing off as he pressed his ear up against the door. Robert wished this never would have happened. If only he would have been better behaved, he wouldn’t have to be hiding out like this. And poor Maddie, what was she supposed to do?

Maddie stood up, the wood floor strained under her weight, making shifting and popping sounds as she did so. Robert raised a finger to his mouth, but Maddie asked anyway, “What are we supposed to do now?” Robert shot her a glare, “I don’t know, Maddie.”

“Are we supposed to just sit here and let it kill us?” Maddie was beginning to raise her voice.  She continued, spewing out insults about how it was all Roberts fault they were here. How if Robert would have just done what he was supposed to they would be at home sleeping. Finally, she snapped, “I am tired of being out here, it’s been days now! I just want to go HOME!”

Her voice echoed as she shouted this last word, the word “home” now sounding morbidly hollow as the echo reverberated her voice back through the trees surrounding the tiny cabin they now resided in.

Robert rushed and clapped his hand over her mouth. Maddie did not protest; she recognized her mistake immediately. They both stood deathly still, listening to how quickly a silence had fallen over the woods. Not even the crickets chirped any longer.

“Do you think that—“ Maddie didn’t have time to finish her sentence. As she spoke her question, a loud roar and thunderous footsteps began crashing through the woods outside. Twigs snapped, and the crunching grew ever louder as the creature approached their hideout.

“Get back!” yelled Robert, as he rushed over to the door to brace for the impact, though he knew it would be futile. “You’re gonna have to get ready to fight!” he screamed, and motioned with his hands towards her backpack on the floor, although he knew Maddie couldn’t see his hands in this darkness. 

Maddie began to tremble and cry, to which Robert quickly scolded her. “Grab the damn gun, Maddie!”

Maddie fumbled through the darkness and began to shuffle through her backpack, the zipper sounding like an angry hornet as the metal clacked against itself.  She reached inside, putting her hands on the grip of a .45 revolver. She pulled it out of the backpack, her tiny trembling hands dwarfed by the size of the pistol she now held.

“Take cover!” Robert yelled, as he grabbed for his own shotgun, removing it from the sling on his shoulder. The footsteps neared closer to the cabin, and the roar became louder. Robert stepped back from the door, swinging his shotgun up to the ready position. His finger on the trigger, squeezing ever so slightly.

The sound of footsteps came to a halt directly outside of the cabin door.  Robert pressed his feet firmly into the wooden foundation of the cabin, and swallowed hard. His hands were shaking now.

Suddenly, the door slammed open, breaking and splintering, sending wood and debris all over the room. 

Robert held his breath, and pulled the trigger.