Her bare feet pound against the frozen earth. The beat matches the tempo of her heart, wild and frantic. Her heavy breathing releases puffs of white fog into the cold air. The haze vanishes. Yet, her feet leave a trail.
Twisting to glance behind her, her green eyes gleam with fear. Wind tugs her red curls across her face, blinding her. Her feet catch. Momentum carries her to the ground, cracking her lithe frame into the dense cover of rotting leaves.
They cushion her fall.
And reveal her pursuer.
She snaps her head up. Her heart stops.
The shadows dance around her, multiplying until they fill every gap in the trees. They cut off her escape. And they advance.
Emerging from the tree line, the moonlight illuminates their bulk, adding shape to the flowing shadows. On all fours they slink forward. Their rotating shoulders rolls their fur like dark waves on the ocean. Each step is slow and calculated and their eyes never leave her. They never lose sight of her.
Mere centimeters from her, they pause. Their jaws gape. Hot breaths kiss her cheeks and ruffle her curls. Long claws dig into the ground, churning the frozen dirt as if it were soft as sand.