• The monster’s deafening bellow fell along with Payton’s scream. Her vision hazed over for a moment in pure terror. When she could see again there was a black bag hurtling through the air at the beast. It struck him in the face, making him falter.
    It stopped mid stride as candy burst out ubiquitously from the bag. He jerked his massive head sideways, his spit flying towards the girls. A bit landed on Payton’s arm and she screeched. The spit sizzled and burned through her costume and charred her skin.
    “Go!” Dylia bellowed, pushing all of her friends sideways. She had obviously been the one who threw the bag of candy and startled the hell hound. The girls scrabbled out of the hound’s path.
    Hearts roaring in their chests, the girls sprinted down the street. Looking for anyone, anything to help them. But the place suddenly seemed deserted. Even the street light was only giving a feint, yellow glow, sometimes flickering off before returning to lighting the sidewalk.
    Their footsteps thudded on the dark pavement. Breath came in ragged, desperate gulps. Payton’s lungs felt like led. As she stumbled Kayla grabbed her sleeve and propelled her along. She gasped a thanks but didn’t dare to look behind her. She didn’t want to see the hound galloping to them. Ravage mouth open ready to bite.
    She also didn’t want to not see it. That thing had disappeared and reappeared instantly before. She didn’t want that to happen again. She wouldn’t lose her friends.
    Fear was still pumping through the veins even faster than the adrenaline. The fear was piercing hot, yet making them shiver, and raising goose bumps along their skin.
    “There’s… A house… Up there.” Taylor gasped, pointing to a dull light in the far distance. They all let out a yell of relief. But it still seemed so far. There were no lights but that one. They had passed the flickering streetlight and it was behind them now. They were running through a thick sheet of black.
    Payton’s mouth and throat was dry, it was getting even harder to breath. The cold night suddenly seemed colder, a black flash whizzed past them.
    “No...” Payton gasped, trying to swallow to wet her throat. “Faster.” Dylia hissed, her voice strained, but no matter how hard they tried, they just couldn’t go fast enough.
    Sudden, loud, pounding footsteps were behind them. Payton could feel the breath of the hound on the back of her neck. The fine hairs on her arms stood on end, her stomach felt like it was in her throat while doing flips.
    The footsteps of the hound were deafening. Thud-thud thud-thud-thud thud-thud. The sound echoed in their minds. The dog snapped at them. His teeth connecting with a loud click. Payton let out a yelp, stumbling. Once again Kayla grabbed her arm and heaved her up and along.
    Payton swallowed hard and threw her bag of candy behind her when she hears the smack of the hound’s lips as his mouth opened again.
    She didn’t know if he was stupid enough to fall for it twice, but it was all she had and she had to try. There was a gagging sound but the hell hound stayed behind them, getting closer and closer.
    Hopelessness washed over Payton like a wave. They wouldn’t make it to the house. It was still many blocks ahead. Her heart beat was loud in her head, bum-bum bum-bum bum-bum.
    The hell hound howled a loud, gut wrenching sound. For the second time Payton’s vision hazed over. “You…Stupid mutt.” Taylor gasped, trying to push herself faster. Their legs were turning to jell-o though. Pain ripping through their sides like hot blades. While they got slower, the beast gained speed.
    The hound snapped another time, actually catching something. Its needle like teeth caught the extra fabric on Dylia’s back. She screeched, horror spreading through her. Taylor and Kayla grabbed her arms since they were closest and jerked. Dylia fumbled forward, but the fabric tore and she was free from the beast’s jaws.
    This attack sent a new burst of speed through the girls and they pressed onwards. The house with the light only a block away. Kayla let out a cry, spit had hit her back. Payton could see the steam of the poison rising into the frigid night air. Payton yelled and started pounding on her back with her wrist, trying to help.
    But suddenly Payton tripped. She fell, skidding across the dark asphalt, scraping up her hands, knees and cheek. Her friends yelled in horror. Payton rolled over on her back, eyes wide. But there was nothing behind them. No hell hound, no silted red eyes glowing like coals in the distant darkness.
    She looked over and saw why. They were lying in the light of the house. The rest of the girls crumpled to the ground next to Payton, sobbing in shock and relief.
    After a long moment of just laying there they all jumped to their feet simultaneously. Despite being tired they sprinted to the doorstep and knocked on the door. A woman answered the door and was surprised to see Payton so tore up. So she brought out a medical kit and treated her wounds while Dylia called her mother to have her come pick her up. The four had agreed not to tell anyone about this, ever.
    They went back to Dylia’s house and finished the birthday party in complete silence. After they all returned home the next morning they saw some startling news on TV. There were four dead bodies of girls found in a field. A field the four friends had passed while they were running from the hound. Scarier yet, cause of death was being mauled by a wild animal….