Thump, thump, thump. My heart was beating rapidly. I reached my trembling hand to test the temperature of my forehead, only to find that it was burning on fire. I wiped above my dry, peeling lips to break the sweat pods forming. All I could think about was my precious Lilly. How could I live without her?

I gradually sat up. My bones were rusty and they creaked and ached with each movement. As I looked around me, I could make out the colossal trees standing up tall, surrounding my weak, bony body. They stared down on me like soldiers. The crickets screamed in my ears almost every second, but other than that, complete silence. There was a thick layer of Autumn leaves concealing the moist grass beneath my feet. I could smell the damp wood from the trees here, in the middle of the woods. My legs attempted to raise me but I stumbled as they were as skinny and as weak as twigs.

Unexpectedly, I heard an ear-piercing scream fill the air. It sounded like a child’s voice! The only thought that came to mind was my Lilly. I couldn’t bear to hear her suffer. I had to save her from whatever pain she was facing. I ran as fast as I could (considering me legs were weak and felt like they were going to snap with each step) like there was a time bomb about to explode if I didn’t reach Lilly in time. My hand were empty. No weapon to defend myself. Nothing.

After what was forever, I arrived at an opening. I could see the tiny dots in the sky that appear every night. The crow sky was so black that it looked like it was going to swallow the world whole. In the centre of the small opening, an orange creature lay on top of the fern coloured leaves. It had a thick coat of fire fur. It also had a small, pointy nose of leather and its mouth was closed tightly. On its abdomen, there was a large patch of snow fur. It was a fox.

Then I noticed it. The thing on its back. It sent a shiver up my spine and I froze still as if every inch of my body was trapped in an underground coffin, unable to escape. There was one massive wound on its back, exposing milk white bone beneath. The animal’s hind leg had long, thick claw marks and blood was running down its leg fast. There was thick, maroon liquid rapidly gushing out of its back wound, creating a small pool.

All this made vomit erupt from my mouth and onto the ground below me. Although all this was too much for me, I couldn’t just leave this poor creature to die in misery. My hands shook as I reached for a large rock my feet. As soon as I felt its sharp, rugged edges, I knew it would be perfect for the job. As I slowly stepped closer like the fox was about to pounce at me like a cat, our eyes met.

Its eyes told me how scared it was and I lowered the stone. It continued to cry in agony so I decided that I would try again. I raised the stone above my head and counted down from ten. 10, 9, 8. The fox’s blood pool reached my feet. 7, 6, 5. I thought of what Lilly could be doing now and didn’t know whether she’d be proud of me. 4, 3, 2. The innocent fox lay before me and I felt guilty. 1! My hand quivered slightly before I hit the fox with force on its head with the stone. I saw its eyes widen in shock and pain, before they closed and its head dropped.

What could have caused the wound? How large were the predator’s teeth? Suddenly, I caught a glimpse of new, beady eyes watching me from behind a nearby tree. Its shadow was large and frightening and it looked hungry. Ready to strike.

The creature lunged at me and my only instinct was to run. Run away. Run home to Lilly. I was trying to save a life I’d already lost when I made the stupid decision to go on holidays to a place that was currently fighting in war. I’ve lost everything. My daughter, home, friends. I have no life. All the people who were on the plane with me are probably dead. In this moment of probable death, I forgot all prayers of joining Lilly. But I was almost certain that I was going to join my dearest wife in heaven.

I desperately clutched onto my life but the beast chased me into a charcoal black cave, making it impossible to run. I couldn’t see much but I could only just make out icicle-shaped rocks hanging from the ceiling of the cave. As the beast followed me into the cave, I could hear bats’ wings fluttering, desperate to evacuate the cave. I could smell a terrific stench coming from the monsters mouth.

As I walked backwards slowly, trying to get as far away from the creature as I could, my back hit the end of the cave and I could feel the sharp rock dig into my flesh. The creature’s claw instantly made an enormous gash across my chest. It was too deep to live. It took my life away from me. Now I will watch over the woods for years to come, praying that my Lilly will stay safe and happy without me in her life.