The Scent of Blood
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My three best friends, Spencer, Elliott, Blake and I were camping in the woods about two hundred and fifty miles from the nearest town. This had to be the best weekend we were ever going to have. Little did we know.

“This seems like a good spot,” called Spencer. The four of us struggled to put up the tent, laughing and hitting each other with the poles. We were too distracted to correctly put together the tent, so we decided to just sleep in our sleeping bags by our bonfire. We¬†were gathering wood, when Blake and I heard a crash and a yell. Giving each other a worried glance, we ran in the direction of the sounds. We came upon Elliott lying in a pile of broken twigs, blood trailing paths down his face. He was out cold.¬†Upon further inspection, we found some sort of small knife lying in the brush behind him. There was blood on the knife. Spencer ran up, breathing heavily. He saw Elliott, and without questioning, helped us carry him back to our camp. I washed the wound with cold water until most of the blood was gone and his face was clean. Blake and Spencer were discussing what could have happened, and if we should leave.

“No,” I said. “We’re too far away. We might as well leave in the morning, if we must.”

The two boys sighed. They knew they couldn’t move me if I insisted we don’t go. Elliott stirred. Spencer and Blake ran over, eager to hear what happened. He sat up, groaning. He held his head in his hand, and squinted at the sun.

“Guys,” he managed. “What happened?”

“We don’t know. We were hoping you could tell us.” I said. “We found a knife by your head. Does that ring a bell?”

A look of realization passed across his face, followed by horror.

“We have to leave. NOW.” He scrambled to his feet, and ran to our car. He yanked the door open and shoved the key into the ignition. The car rumbled, and fell still. He tried again- nothing. He got out and¬†opened the hood. Oil was all over the inside. Wires were snapped, pieces were broken off. It was a soup of oil and parts, a spaghetti of cut wires. It was torn apart beyond repair. I turned to Elliott as Blake and Spencer gaped in disbelief at the car.

“Tell me. What the hell happened out there?” I asked him. I grabbed him by the shoulders as he tried to turn away.

He reluctantly looked up. “You’re not going to believe me.”

I gave him a look that read, “Tell me anyway.”

He sighed. “I was looking for wood, and I heard a sort of grunt, or a deep breath. I looked up, and all I could see was dark woods. All of a sudden, a knife sort of flew at me out of the darkness. That’s all I remember. The last thing I saw was a sort of black mass shift in the the woods a ways back. It was darker than the blackness of the woods, almost inky. The last thing I felt was being terrified.”

I looked back at Spencer and Blake. They both looked concerned.

“I think we have a problem.” Blake finally said, breaking the stunned silence.

“No kidding…” Spencer whispered. As if we read each other’s minds, Blake and I pulled out our cell phones.

“Shit. No bars.” I muttered.

“Same. Great.” Blake sighed, and threw his phone on the ground.¬†The cells were useless. I tossed my phone in the car.

“We have nothing to do but wait until tomorrow, and we can try walking…” I felt like crying. We were six hours away from the nearest sign of civilization, by car. It would take closer to 24 hours to walk. I didn’t want to stay, but we had to. We all walked back to the pile of wood we had gathered. The mood had drastically shifted from happy, messing-around carefree to solemn, let’s-get-this-over-with. We gathered around the wood, as Elliott tossed a lit match over it. Slowly, a flame licked up out of the pile, spreading over the dry logs and twigs.

***

My eyelids were leaden with lost sleep. It had been hours since the incident with the mysteriously flung knife. Spencer and Elliott had fallen asleep, and Blake and I were struggling against the pull of fatigue. The fire was dying. I told Blake one of us had to go retrieve more wood.

“I’ll do it.” he promised. “I don’t want you to get hurt. I can defend myself. I’ll stay close by, and if something happens I’ll scream. Okay?”

I didn’t like the idea of him going out alone, but one of us had to stay to watch over the fire and our sleeping friends. “Okay. Be careful. Stay close.”

He nodded, and I watched as he dissapeared into the blackened woods. A shiver ran down my back. I curled up with my knees to my chest, watching the fire and the surrounding woods with a careful eye. At one point, I could have sworn I saw a glint in the woods about 50 yards away. I shook it off, knowing the fire must be playing tricks on my eyes. An hour or so had passed, and I was getting more and more worried by the minute. As sleep tugged on my eyes, I attempted to resist but failed. I fell asleep.

***

I was woken by screaming. Loud and high-pitched, it didn’t sound like Blake at all. It was animal-like, in pain and terrified. I heard crashing all around me. Spencer and Elliott were jarred out of their sleep, and holding onto each other in fear. The screaming got closer, and I began to make out Blake’s face coming toward us at a rapid speed. A wave of relief washed over me, until I realized his face was not attached to a running body. His head flew out of the woods and landed at Spencer’s feet.¬†Spencer paused, frozen to the ground. I couldn’t take my eyes off the grotesquely ripped-off head. The neck was torn into bloody shreds, and was still leaking blood by the pint. The tip of the spine poked out of the stump as Blake’s glassy,¬†lifeless eyes stared up at the three of us. Finally able to move, Spencer and Elliott stumbled over to the other side of the campfire by me and fell to their knees. They couldn’t speak. Neither could I. The shock was just too great. Another scream came from the woods- but this time not in pain, but instead, sounded terrifying, powerful… a scream of victory.

“This is too bad,” stuttered Elliott. “We have to get out of here. We either¬†leave and risk our lives, or stay and get killed by.. something. It’s your choice. But I’m going.” He stood up, and started walking toward our car. I grabbed his shoulder. “It’s too dangerous. What if whatever is out there stalks you out¬†on the road? We have the same chance of living here than if we try to leave. And here we have food, and a fire.” He reluctantly considered my words, and sat back down. “We need to all stay awake, and stick together no matter what.” Spancer finally managed. “There is something out there, and it doesn’t seem to have a liking to other humans. As in it hates them so much, it kills them.” I shuddered at the thought of some insane maniac, or worse, out there thirsty for human blood.¬†I turned my back on the fire to better see the road in case a car happened by. So far there had been no sign of humans all night. But there was that chance. All of a sudden, Spencer gasped sharply.

“I saw something,” he nearly yelled.

“Shh,” I warned him. “What? What did you see?”

He took a deep breath, and swallowed. “It looked like a human. But it ws holding something. Something long, and reflective. Like a knife. Or something. I don’t know, the fire may be tricking my eyes. But I’m so sure…” He trailed off, and moved closer to Elliott and I. The woods seemed to shift around us. I sat down, in case I was losing conciousness. We heard a crash closer than 20 feet away in the woods. We all three jumped and quickly looked in that direction- nothing. We heard the same noise, the same distance away, but directly behind us. I ran to our bags, picked up three, and ran back to¬†the fire. Only Spencer had noticed me, and stared at me.

“What was that for?” In answer, I pulled out my pistol, and grinned. A smile spread across his face, and he grabbed Elliott’s shirt. Elliott whipped around, expecting something bad, but instead he smiled too.

I loaded the gun, and aimed into the darkness, waiting for another sound. As if responding to my thoughts, another crash echoed from my right. I flipped around and fired a shot into the woods. I heard a low, guttural growl, and something ran with cheetah-like speed back into the woods. I laughed. But then it ran with the same speed, this time straight toward us. I could only make out a human-like face, covered in scars and dried blood, before¬†Iwas knocked to the ground. The pistol flew out of my hand, and disappeared into the thing’s hand. It slowly circled our campfire. Elliott screamed, as loud as possible. The thing’s gruesome mouth seemed to upturn into a sneer. A low sound emanated from its mouth, almost like a laugh. It carried a long, serrated butcher knife, rusty and covered in dried blood. I was frozen in fear.¬†It was getting closer and closer, when all of a sudden, Elliott fainted. The thing stopped, looked down at Elliott’s body, and back to Spencer and I. His sneer re-appeared. Then, faster than we could register, he ran to Elliott, grabbed him by the hair and ran off into the woods.

“NO!” I screamed. I tried to run after Elliott’s disappearing body, but Spencer grabbed me and held me steady. “You cant go after him. You’ll just get killed too. Elliott’s gone.” All I could do was sob uncontrollably. Spencer slowly sank to the ground, tears forming in his eyes. I followed. “We’re going to die out here,” he sighed, a single tear tracking down his cheek. We heard the pained scream again, and knew he was gone. I cried harder. I knew he was right. I checked my watch- 3 A.M. We had four hours, at the least, until morning light. Our only defense was gone, in the hands of an insane killer slinking around the woods picking us off one by one. The victorious howl came only minutes later, closer than ever before. The grotesque face appeared again at the edge of the woods. He layed his wet, black, sunken-in eyes on Spencer. I felt¬†Spencer’s body tense under my hands. The killer slowly approached the opposite side of the fire, holding Elliott’s head by the hair. I gasped in horror, not surprised but in shock. This can’t be happening, this can’t be happening, it’s just a dream, I kept telling myself. Although I knew it wasn’t. The long knife glinted, inches away from the fire, while the holder made the same half-mouthed sneer at Spencer. Spencer stood up, and gritted his teeth. His hands clenched into fists, he screamed, “DO IT ALREADY! YOU’VE KILLED TWO OF MY BEST FRIENDS, AND YOU CAN KILL ME TOO. BUT YOU HAVE TO SWEAR YOU WON’T KILL HER. OKAY?! YOU CAN KILL ME AS PAINFULLY AS YOU WANT TO, BUT LEAVE HER ALONE!” He ran, full-speed at the killer. The long knife was out in front of the monster before I could blink, and through Spencer’s body in less than three seconds. He was gasping for air as the thing slowly twisted the blade inside him. With his last few dying breaths, Spencer slowly lifted his arms, and grabbed the thing by the face and shoved his thumbs in it’s eyes. “DON’T. KILL. HER.” The thing howled in pain, and clutched at Spencer’s powerful hands. But the life was fading from him, and his hands got weaker with each thrust into the thing’s eye sockets. Blood spurted out of its face as Spencer ripped his fingers from inside its head. Spencer slowly turned to me and gave me a weak smile before his body went limp over the knife. The monster was still howling in pain, and it dropped to its knees. It couldn’t see, but it slowly raised its nose to the air.¬†Its head whipped around toward me, and the smile returned to its face. It ripped the long knife from Spencer’s lifeless body, and aimed it in my direction. I realized that Spencer’s valiant efforts were to no avail. It was still going to kill me. The last thing I saw before it¬†stood and threw the blade through my head was those black, demon-like eyes, bleeding and torn in the monster’s skull. Even though they were useless, he could smell me… smell my blood. Each second seemed like a million years. The blade came at me in slow-motion. A last tear slid down my cheek, and the blade finally entered my skull.