Scott runs like he did when he was young.
He springs, he bounds over a rustling green sea. Wildflowers cluster amongst the foliage; the pollen tickles his nose. Ahead: a ringlet of dark brown hair drifts through the forest like smoke—a trail for him to follow.
He calls out, but he doesn’t know her name.
Now: he can see her.
She’s climbing over a boulder and pushing through a dense wall of vines. She does not look back, but he can tell she knows he is there.
Sunlight diffuses the forest; glittering motes dance in the air. But as Scott draws closer to her, each one is snuffed out. With every step the forest grows darker.
The darkness closes in around the edges of Scott’s vision. At first he does not pay attention. His focus narrows: he studies the girl and the dancing undulations of her hair. He watches her trip on a twisted tree root and go sprawling, face-first into the dirt.
Around them: the forest has descended into full darkness. A delicate glowing ember drifts past, caught in a breeze that carries the hint of distant fire.
Scott pounces. He grabs the girl by the shoulders and turns her over. And then, as he finally looks upon her face: he starts to scream.
The girl is pale as death. Her features are contorted into disturbing, inhuman proportions. She stares up at him, dark red lips peeling back to reveal a pair of fangs.
The sky thunders.
This above is a deleted scene from the full text of “The Interloper”, available in 2020.