The Choosing

17 year old Caitlin Kennedy wakes up in the middle of a deserted street in the dead of night with no recollection of how she got there. All she can remember is the nightmare, and the monster that had been chasing her. What she doesn't realize is that the reality has always known is about to change in an instant....

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1. The Awakening

In the dream, I had been running from a monster, or not rather a monster, but a shape-shifting haze, a translucent ghost, a mystery wrapped in an enigma. It had taken the form of a man, but instead of a face where humanly features should have been lied simply two luminous scarlet eyes, piercing through my soul. A shudder went down my spine as I scurried through the woods, illuminated by the distant moon. My feet were catching onto stray branches, scattered across the forest floor like toys in a child's bedroom. With a last catch of breath, I stumbled forward, my hands - now bared with open cuts - shielding my face from the fall. I landed with a thump, aching in pain and turning to find that the monster was already on my tail, its arms reaching out for my legs. Before I could stand, it caught onto them, dragging me across the floor with such a force that I could not find anything to hold onto quickly enough. After a minute or so, it let go almost abruptly, kicking at my stomach as I tried to pull myself up. A sharp pain shot through me, throwing me back down to the floor. Beside me, the hazy figure picked up a branch from a pile of twigs, and raised its arm into the air, clutching onto it. With a force, the monster brought its arm down, about to strike me across the face-

I awoke from the nightmare with a startled gasp of air. As my eyes adjusted to my surroundings, I saw that I was not in a forest, but rather lying in the middle of an empty street. The pulse in my veins began to slow down, as I realized I had been dreaming. I instantly recognized the road, it was one of many in my hometown of London. Streetlamps blazed overhead, lighting the desolate street with a radiant glow. Looking around me I could see houses, some windows bordered up, and no cars on the driveway. It was as if they had been abandoned in a moments notice. But weren't the houses in this street inhabited a couple of days ago? And how did I get here? What had happened? All these questions circled around in my mind, like the hands of a frantically ticking clock. I had no recollection of the past 24 hours. Something was wrong. Steadily I got to my feet, the beat of my heart starting to quicken. Panic coursed through me as I shouted out, asking if anyone was there. No reply. What was I expecting? No one was obviously here. Maybe I was still dreaming, I thought, and I pinched my arm sharply, my eyelids clenched shut firmly. With a sudden blink I opened them, light flooding my vision - I was still here. But surely this was not real, was it? My name is Caitlin Kennedy, I reminded myself, I am 17 years old and this is just another dream. I will wake up soon. But somehow I didn't think I could believe that.

I looked down at my hands. Thick, crimson red liquid oozed out of fresh wounds, dripping down my thin frail fingers, covering the dirt that scraped them. It was the same as my nightmare, where I had cut my hands as I fell. But where had these came from? My plain white shirt was a torn rag, and my trousers were covered in filth. My usual neat fair hair was now tangled into a dozen knots. A gust of icy wind slashed across my face, sending me into sudden shock. Fallen leaves danced around the street in the breeze. I had to get out of here. Briskly I started advancing towards the end of the street, the familiar path eerily quiet. As I round the corner of the street, I stopped dead in my tracks. There, in front of me, stood a cloaked figure, its hood drawn up above its head. My heart jumping out of my chest, I staggered back, tripping over my own feet. The figure drew back its hood, revealing what was underneath.

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