As I walked through the deep, wooded valley, I heard it again. The sound of quiet footsteps. They had been padding after me for hours. I had become lost in the Valley of Shadow. I had accepted a bet, a worthless bet, and had been forced to enter the valley. It had seemed alright at first, but after night had fallen, strange things had started happening. I emerged in a misty glade and cried out. I had walked straight into a skeleton. This wasn’t the clean, white skeleton from movies. No, it was a bleached yellow pile of bones, with the flesh stripped off and hanging in tatters.

Screaming, I ran to the edge of the trees. I had stepped on an eyeball, and it had exploded all over my legs. Hurriedly, I tried to wipe it off, but the thick, gooey sludge wouldn’t budge. That’s when I heard it. The footsteps. I turned towards the sound, but all was quiet. Not even a cricket was chirping.

Then, something fell from the trees. I instinctively twisted my body, but the creature rolled and came up standing. I could see down its bloodstained throat. Its lips were dripping with saliva, and its teeth were barred. I went to take a step back, and that’s when it sprung at me. The beast’s jagged claws slashed at the air inches from my face, and then I realised.

This beast was the reason that the skeleton had been mutilated. It had looked as though someone had murdered it with a blunt knife, but no person could survive in here, with or without weapons. This was why people never returned from this valley, and it was why eerie sounds emanated from it during the icy night.

Time accelerated as it dived over my head and slid over the mossy rocks. It had fallen into the enormous ravine. I hadn’t realised I was near the steep walls of the valley, or near the gorge. I thought the monster was dead, but then I heard a strangled, animal cry of pain. It had survived.