FIRST THING'S FIRST I would just like to give a big thank you to Ultimate Survivor for giving me permission to adopt this story!

The original idea, the OC James Steele, and many original concepts of this story are his brain children first and foremost so give him the credit he deserves! I just helped co-write it. Me and Ultimate Survivor basically worked out the whole plot of this fic and had everything planned out...except we never could complete it. Ain't that a bitch?

Well, it's back!

The original story is on his account (although it's unfinished) along with his ARK Survival Evolved/High school Of The Dead Crossover story. Check it out, seriously! It's a great story; wickedly cool and original! He also has a NEW story in the works; a HOTD RWBY Crossover that is frankly awesome so follow him if you like awesome. I know I do!

Now, for those who have read the previous story and are here for it's revival, this is basically the same with for some additions and minor changes; grammar, dialogue, setting, ect.

Once more THANK YOU ULTIMATE SURVIVOR!

Disclaimer: I do not own Until Dawn, nor the OC and concept of this fanfiction.

Onto the story!

XXXXX

Chapter 1: Prologue

The fog was cold and damp and an icy gale blew through the dark forest, but James barely noticed the chill. Bare, autumn trees clawed at him with skeletal branches as he ran through the woods with his heart pounding so loud that he thought it might burst from his chest. Dark brown hair blew wildly in the cool air and his grey-green eyes were wide with panic. A white t-shirt and thin jeans barely provided protection from the temperature and was streaked with red blood that glistening in the moonlight. The red sticky fluid had soaked through the fabric and made it to cling to his skin. James' worn sneakers raced over the carpet of fallen leaves as gut wrenching screams tore through the night air behind him. Jolts of fear and anguish went through the young man's heart at the sound. A small voice in the back of his head urged him to turn back, to go back and help his friends. His instincts, on the other hand, commanded him to flee.

And flee he did; abandoning the few people he truly cared for in life.

Another scream penetrated the darkness. The blood chilling cry made him cringe. He could only fight back the tears and keep running. "I'm sorry! I'm so sorry!" He whimpered inside. It sounded like Gabe was being ripped to pieces. A choking gasp echoed through the dark, then a loud squash, and then silence. And then the sound of rapid footfalls and heavy panting replaced the quiet. Glancing over his shoulder, he glimpsed a vague but large shape moving through the mist behind him.

That thing was chasing him…whatever it was.

The blood on his shirt wasn't his. It belonged to that of his friends when it gushed from their mutilated corpses. Kelsey, Max, Gabe, Brock, Jonathan…they were gone. He'd left the butchered bodies of Kelsey and Max behind back at the campsite as that thing tore through the wall and then into them like wet paper. They didn't even have time to scream. Brock tried to fight back with the revolver his father gave him for their trip to the woods, but he didn't live long enough to fire a single shot. It was Jonathan who pulled James out of the blood-soaked cabin and out of his fear-stricken stupor. He was the one who shoved him out of the path of death's jaws. He also was the one who took his place in those jaws. It was his blood that stained James clothes the most.

James could not get the image of Jonathan's death out of his mind. The look of utter fear and ungodly pain on his face as the monster ripped into his abdomen would haunt him forever. A fountain of blood had sprayed from the wound and onto James while he stood rooted to the spot; paralyzed with fear. "Run" Was all Jonathan managed to rasp before the beast's fangs closed around his throat and parted his head from his shoulders.

Gabe had been in his tent when it all happened. He had crawled out just in time to see Jonathan's gruesome demise. James urged him to run by shoving him towards the woods and sprinting into the darkness, only to find out moments later that Gabe hadn't been behind him when he turned around.

Thunder groaned overhead. A jagged bolt of lightning streaked through the dark sky. Rain poured down in sheets, drenching him in seconds. The forest floor soon turned muddy and made it harder to keep his footing on the slippery leaves. Bursting from the tree line, James found himself in the middle of a dirt road. Exhaustion was quickly taking over his body. The adrenaline rush was beginning to fade and his muscles were heavy with fatigue and screamed to rest.

"Damn it! Goddamn it!" James sobbed. He fell to his knees, the panic and the shock having finally gotten to him.

WHY! Why them? What did he and his friends do to deserve this? Being killed by some...some monster!? He watched his friends die right in front of him and he had done nothing! He soon found himself awash in self-loathing. He hated himself! He hated his cowardice! He should have done something! He shouldn't have let them die! A violent sob rocked his body. Tears mixed with the rainfall upon the muddy road.

He shouldn't have let them die!

A deafening crash jolted him from his grief. James spun around just as something exploded from the trees and slammed into him like a freight train. His body flew from the force of the collision and he landed hard on his back. A mass of dark fur fell down on top of him, and James didn't have enough time for fear to register before white hot pain in his left shoulder brought him back to reality. James screamed in utter agony as long fangs sank deep into his shoulder with teeth scraping against bone. The creature began to shake its head back and forth, snarling and clawing, tearing his shirt to rags and scratching down his chest to try and get at his stomach. Blood spilled in torrents onto the slick, muddy ground.

Just as James felt his consciousness begin to slip, the roar of a shotgun exploded in his ears followed by a pained yelp. The teeth were removed from his shoulder and the heavy padding of the beast's footfalls faded into the dark until he could hear nothing but the rain falling from the sky and the pounding of his own heart.

James just lay there, staring up at the stormy sky as the edges of his vision were laced in an ever-growing blackness. Then the lights of a vehicle fell upon him, blinding him. "Holy shit!" a voice echoed faintly. He tilted his head towards the lights, watching through the glare as the driver side opened and a figure came running. His vision blurred as the person ran to his side. They were saying something, but he couldn't focus on the words. Letting his gaze trail up to the night sky, James watched as the storm clouds slowly began to disperse and reveal the full, autumn moon shining down upon him.

Then, everything went black as a ghostly howl echoed through the night.

XXXXX

The images raced through James's mind again. Each of their barbaric ends flashed before his eyes like a slide-show. Their dying screams echoed in his ears and he still felt their blood clinging to his skin. It was as if he were back at the campsite reliving the horror all over again. He whimpered. The images didn't stop; they just kept coming, each clearer and more powerful than the last.

He was back in the center of the road and had just fallen to his knees, the grief and loss of his friends washing over him like a tidal wave. A loud crash made him turn and he screamed as a giant, shadowy thing lunged at him. It's blazing eyes glared into the depths of his soul as it pinned him to the ground, leaving him stunned and breathless. "No!" James shouted, coming out of his daze. He watched horror as the creature slowly opened it's enormous jaws. Fresh blood and saliva dripped from long fangs onto James's petrified face. The maw opened impossibly wide and descended so that the last thing he saw was the back of the creature's throat-

James gasped awake from the nightmare. He lurched forward, sitting up ramrod straight in. Fear was etched in his tensed muscles as he panted ragged breaths, drenched in cold sweat. Bloodshot eyes darted around the unfamiliar room wildly, 'What...what happened?' He thought furiously, and winced as a sharp pain coursed through his left shoulder and across his chest.

'What the hell? Why do I hurt so...?'

James paused. Looking down, he saw that he was wearing a white hospital gown. Slowly, he peeled the fabric off his shoulder to find a mess of bloody gauze underneath. Biting through the pain he felt as he moved his good arm, he peeled back some of the gauze. From below his collarbone and wrapping around to his shoulder blade were a series of red puncture wounds sealed tight with stitches. More damaged flesh flowed below his collar and across his chest. Understanding crept over him and his eyes widened in sickening realization.

His nightmare-no, the memories of last night…had actually happened...

His of his friends were dead!

James fell back into the mattress, numb to the pain of jostling his injury, and stared up at the creamy white tile ceiling blankly. Then, his face contorted in pain, sorrow, and grief. Tears gushed from his eyes and onto the pillow beneath his head. Last night's terror and loss welled up fresh within his chest and burst through the seams. Raw emotion filled his voice as a violent sob racked his body.

"Fuck!" He hissed, bringing the heels of his palms to his eyes and tried to rub the memories away. It didn't work.

"God damn it!" He spat, "God fucking damn it!"

James didn't stop crying until exhaustion took over and he drifted back into unconsciousness.

XXXXX

The interior of his uncle's old pick-up was a familiar comfort James desperately welcomed at the moment. The musty smell of old leather and tobacco coupled with the sound of gravel rolling under aged tires brought back fond memories that helped kept more daunting ones at bay.

XXXXX

Nurses in blue scrubs mingled around him; checking the IV drip funneling into his arm and fiddled with the dials of his heart monitor while a doctor talked to him from his bedside.

"How are you feeling, James?"

The question ate at him, fighting through the all-encompassing numbness he felt at the moment. "Where am I?" He asked lowly.

"You're in the hospital, James." The doctor replied "You were attacked by an animal of some kind. Can you remember what it was?"

The heart monitor began to beep loudly as his heartbeat spiked…

XXXXX

James had just been released from the hospital with a clean bill of health and an extremely fast recovery after a few weeks of treatment. His uncle Bert picked him up as the sun came up, and now they were headed home.

XXXXX

"It's honestly a miracle you survived." One of the nurses said to him later that day, "You lost a lot of blood when you got here. We weren't sure you were gonna make it. You're recovering pretty fast too." The nurse hummed to herself.

James didn't say anything except stare at the wall as she checked his stitches.

He didn't deserve to be alive right now.

He shouldn't have been the one to survive.

XXXXX

"James?" James turned to look at his uncle whose weathered face was creased in worry "You alright?" Bert asked him.

Uncle Bert had become James's legal guardian after his parents died in a car crash when he was three. There had been no other family that wanted or were able take him, and between Bert and the state, Bert chose to raise James as his own.

XXXXX

The police arrived the next day after James woke up five hours after Uncle Bert was admitted to see him, to be exact. James had counted the time. They asked him a lot of questions about what happened, and James couldn't help but fight tears every time he opened his mouth.

Eventually they left, and for a while, James was allowed to be alone with his grief.

But then his friend's parents came in, and he went right back to crying.

XXX

"I'm fine, Uncle Bert." James responded and internally cringed. The words sounded fake, even to him. He wasn't fine; he was the complete opposite of fine! His friends were dead. Dead! And he didn't try to do a damn thing to stop it! They'd had their whole lives ahead of them! Their future and potential were gone and crushed into the forest floor because of some…some monster!

XXXXX

They'd written it off as a bear attack.

Complete bullshit in James's opinion because bears didn't live in the area in the first place! They told James a hunting party had been sent out to search for the beast, but James had a feeling they wouldn't find it.

Whatever attacked them…James had never seen a bear in real life before, but he knew that whatever was out there was no bear.

Maybe they would find it! They'd shoot it dead, and then maybe James and the families of his friends could find a sense of peace.

He just wished he could believe that.

XXXXX

Bert lived in a small cabin out in the woods of Michigan that was separated from the rest of town and had served as James' home for over fifteen years. The property was all sprawling, thick grass that was encircled by the forest. Small bushes grew under the front porch windows and a gravel road led straight into the garage where Bert parked his pickup.

The sun was halfway across the sky and setting fast. Bert backed the old truck into the garage with practiced ease and turned off the ignition. They sat there in silence before Bert turned and made eye contact with his nephew.

"James?"

"Yeah?"

Bert pursed his lips together into a thin line before saying, "I'm not going to play dumb here and pretend you're okay. You're not. Hell, I sure wouldn't be after something like that. I just want to let you know-" He reached across the seat to lay a weathered hand on James' shoulder "Whatever you need. If you want to talk, if you want to be left alone, even if you want to just get up and go somewhere far away for a while, you let me know, alright? I'll be there for ya. Your parents…" He faltered, eyes crinkling in sadness at the memory of them, "It wasn't easy for me when they died. I'm here to help you, James, in any way you need. Got me?"

James swallowed through the growing lump in his throat and squeezed his uncle's hand, "Yeah." He managed to get out.

Bert nodded. He said, "Good." and searched his nephew's face. "You need a minute?" He asked him. James nodded. Bert nodded right back "Alright. I'll be inside." And he slid out of the truck, closing it softly behind him.

James sat there in the quiet of the empty truck with his mind racing back to the hospital.

XXXXX

The stitches came out sooner than James expected.

"You're recovering very well." The doctor said absently as he removed the threads from his flesh.

"How much longer am I going to stay here?" James had asked.

That brought the doctor up short. He said, "Well, we'd like to keep you ahead of schedule to check for any diseases or viruses that might be in your bloodstream." Seeing James's frown, he gave a reassuring smile, "Not that you have anything to worry about so far. All our tests show a clean bill of health. You're healing very fast."

James's frown grew more pronounced "Everyone keeps saying that like it isn't normal." He stated, "What does mean? Is that uncommon or something?"

The doctor pursed his lips together and his eyes narrowed in thought. After a moment he answered, "When you were first brought in, you were in a very critical state. Your wounds were fatal and we thought you weren't going to survive the night, but your blood began clotting fairly quickly and the bleeding stopped at an extraordinary rate." He paused before looking at James and asking "Are you on any experimental drugs or pills? Any medication of any kind?" James shook his head to every question. The doctor frowned again "Well... there was a lot of blood that wasn't yours...the wounds could have been shallower than we thought..." He shrugged, seemingly at a loss for words, "All in all, you are very lucky to be alive."

XXX

James opened the door and stepped out into the cool interior of the garage as anger flooding his system at the doctor's words.

Lucky to be alive?

Lucky to be alive?!

His friends had been slaughtered, and he was lucky?

The next thing James knew, he was hunched over his uncle's workbench, gripping the edges with all his might in an effort to try to control his rage and not lash out and break something. James had a temper. He had always been a little quicker to set off, but this was something that went beyond that; something that struck him right in the center of his core.

People he cared about had died, and he had been powerless to stop it.

*CREAK*

James lurched away from the workbench at the sudden sound of creaking metal and his eyes widened at what he saw. The corners of the solid metal structure were crumpled. James could see the outlines of his fingers if he looked closely. He looked down at his own hands, which looked completely normal. No bruising or cuts or anything. They looked and felt completely fine.

What the hell?

"James?"

James jumped and looked up at his uncle's worried face in the doorway to the house.

"You alright?" Bert asked.

"I-" James looked back and forth from his uncle to the workbench, "I-I'm fine." He stuttered. At his uncle's frown deepening he added, "I am, really."

There was a pause where James and Bert just stared at each other for a moment before Bert just sighed. "C'mon James." He said, motioning for him to come inside. James nodded "Y-yeah." He agreed. Stealing one last look at the dented workbench, James followed his uncle back into the cabin with thoughts awhirl and naïve hopes of things returning to normal drifting through his heart.

XXXXX

Journal entry #90

It's been 2 days since the attack. Tomorrow I'm going to their funeral. God, I can't believe I'm writing in this thing after who knows how long. I just…I just need an outlet, I guess. Something to get my thoughts out. The phone's been ringing off the hook ever since the attack. Bert even said there was a call from some news station asking to interview me. I told him to tell them never to call here again. Fuck an interview! I don't want to give some news station ratings because of my friend's deaths. No. Just…just no. I feel like I shouldn't be here. I should have done something! I just stood there and watched like an idiot! It's my fault! It should have been me...the worst part is how I feel. Ever since I got out of the hospital I feel great. My chest and shoulder got ripped open; shouldn't I feel at least the slightest bit of discomfort? I mean, the scars are there, but the scar on Uncle Bert's knee still hurts sometimes and that happened years ago! I don't feel a thing! It's like a slap in the face…they got torn to shreds and I'm left feeling great. They still haven't found what attacked us. The hunters covered half of the forest with no sign of anything except from some weird paw prints, but that's about it.

XXX

Journal entry #91

I just got back from the funeral. It was…intense. Sad. I cried a lot. So did everyone else. Thank god it wasn't an open casket. I don't know what I'd do if I could see what that monster did to them. The worst part was the smells. I could smell the embalming fluid they'd used for the bodies. I almost threw up when I got close to the coffins and I could even smell it when I sat in the back of the church. Everyone was so damn loud, too. It's like I could hear all their conversations at once. I could hear everyone talking to each other, to the bodies, to God…I had to leave to go to the bathroom to get away from it all. Some of their parents were glad I'm alive. Others were angry I was. I deserve it. I deserve their anger…now that I think of it, ever since the attack it's like everything is just…louder to me. Smells, sound; I can't explain it. I don't know why, maybe it's just my body still recovering and ramping everything up to max like an adrenaline rush. The doctors said everything on the outside may be healed but there could still be internal damage. I'll call them tomorrow and ask when this will go away.

XXX

Journal entry #92

It's been a week since the funeral. I went to their graves today. I didn't break down crying like I thought I would either. I didn't do anything, really. I just…stood there. I was numb. I didn't say anything, either. There really was nothing to say….I wish I said something now, though. I'll ask Uncle Bert if he can take me there tomorrow. I've been having nightmares about them. Kelsey, Max, Gabe, Brock, Jonathan...it's always their faces over and over again before and after they died. The screams, too. And the monster. I'm calling it a monster because that's what it is. It's always the last few seconds before it gets me. I just see fur and teeth and then I wake up screaming…that's why I'm up tonight. I miss them. I'm going to try going back to sleep.

XXX

Journal entry #93

The nightmares are getting worse. Now it's the same one over and over again. I'm running through the woods, the moon's out, and they're chasing me. One monster is chasing me and one is running towards me, and when they catch me, something bad is going to happen. It's like every time I go to sleep I have the same exact dream. The doctor wanted to see me again. I finally called and asked them about the whole hearing and smell thing. Apparently, something like that "is not normal under any circumstances" but I don't feel like going. I don't want to be poked and prodded again.

XXX

Journal entry #94

I'm getting stronger. I just realized this yesterday. I was helping Uncle Bert move around some furniture and when we went to move the recliner, it felt like it weighed nothing! I almost dropped it from how surprised I was. Later when we were done I went back to see if it just a weird moment of spontaneous strength, which sounds ridiculous now that I think about it, and I picked the whole thing up and almost lifted it over my head without breaking a sweat! That's not the only thing that's happening to me. The...I don't know; abilities, I guess? The hearing, the sense of smell; that's getting stronger, too! I can hear the cars out on the road passing the house from inside my room! Yesterday, I had to ask Uncle Bert to turn down his radio because it was too loud, and it wasn't even that loud in the first place! I can hear Bert talking from downstairs like they were right next to me! As for the smells, they're hard to describe. Everything is just...more. Food, the way people smell in general, animals...it's like it's all been quadrupled or something! It's starting to become a problem. It gets overwhelming at times and I feel dizzy and sick from all the different scents. I threw up a couple times because of some really nasty smells, too. I must be going crazy or something, but I swear I can see in the dark! Last night I woke up, and I thought it was morning because my room seemed brighter, but the clock said it was midnight! This is freaking me the hell out and I haven't told Bert anything about this. The last thing I need is him worrying and scheduling another checkup for me. Fuck those doctors; they've called the house back like eight times now! I can't stand this. I'm going outside for a run. I've wanted to go running for a while now, actually. Maybe super-speed will be my next 'ability'.

...Just to add something; I'm back from my run and….yeah, I can run pretty fucking fast…I'm going to bed...even though I'm not tired from running what was probably a mile without breaking a sweat…

What the fuck is happening to me?

XXX

Journal entry #95

Something happened to me today that scared me more than everything else that's been going on. Me and Bert went into town today to pick up some sleeping pills today. My nightmares are getting worse and I haven't been sleeping at all. My temper isn't improving, either. If anything, it's gotten worse. When we went to the store, there were some people walking their dogs, and the second I get out of the car, the dogs all go crazy barking at me. I don't know why, but I nearly snapped. I nearly attacked the dog closest to me when we walked into the store. Then, when we were at the counter, there was this guy that comes out of nowhere and gets in line behind us. I wasn't even looking at him. I wasn't even look in that round mirror over the counter, but I knew he was looking at me. I felt it. Sure enough, when I turned around he was staring dead at me. Then we made eye contact. What happened next was...the most terrifying thing that's happened to me since the attack.

This guy...I'd never seen him in my life, but I wanted to kill him. Like, really kill him. I wanted to tackle him into the ground, beat his face in, and tear his throat out with my teeth. I wanted to make this man hurt, make him bleed. The weirdest thing was, I felt like I knew this guy. Neither one of us is breaking eye contact. I was angrier than I've ever felt before in my life and I knew it was playing out on my face, and this guy…I knew he was feeling the same way. He wanted to kill me, too. He also had this look on his face; really shocked and confused like I wasn't supposed to be there, or something. Then I smelled him…

I've gotten pretty good at blocking out surrounding smells and scents, but this guy….it's not like he reeked or anything like that, he actually had some cheap cologne on, but I just sniffed the air on instinct for some reason, and underneath the cologne…he smelled like blood. The only reason I know what that smells like, is because I became pretty well-associated with it when I was in the hospital. It's this heavy, coppery tang to it that sticks in the back of your throat. This guy smelled like blood and dirt and this other musty scent that made me want to hurt him even more. This all lasted for about maybe 5 seconds, then the cashier rung up our stuff and Bert snapped me out of it when he asked for a quarter. When we left, I didn't break eye contact for a second, at least until we walked out the door. I have no idea what happened, and I doubt I'll even see that guy again in my life again, but I got this sinking feeling in my stomach like something bad is going to happen. I don't know. Hopefully, I'll be able to get a good night's sleep tonight. I'll write more in the morning.

XXXXX

It was the pain that woke him up; a sharp, agonizing pain in his chest that had him gasping awake and thrashing straight out of his bed and onto the floor. James cried out as it intensified, bringing with it a wave of heat that swept through his whole body.

Shaking fingers grabbed at his nightshirt and tore it open to try to relieve the feeling that his insides were cooking. A strangled cry escaped his throat as a different pain hit him, along with a series of popping and cracking sounds that came from his hands. James managed to get them up in front of his face and watched in absolute terror as thick, black hairs sprouted up the length of his fingers, along his palms, and down his arms. Not only that, but his hands were growing! His palm and fingers began to stretch out and lengthen; becoming wider and bigger before his very eyes. Long claws abruptly stabbed through his fingertips. Through all of this, James was whimpering and crying out in agony. He clawed at his body as more pain wracked him. His legs and ankles felt like they'd been broken, his shoulders and chest felt like they were being crushed into powder, and his entire body itched like a million ants were crawling over him. He cried out and lurched forward onto the floor again. It was like a hand had grabbed his insides and twisted a full 90-degrees. His skin writhed as the muscles under his skin began to grow and swell to enormous proportions. He bit the inside of his mouth and yelped out in both surprise and pain, for his teeth had become much, much sharper. The sound of shredding clothing filled the air as James' frame suddenly exploded outward in an orgy of growth. All of a sudden, everything became numb and James saw more than felt the lower half of his face stretch outwards in front of his very eyes, morphing into a snout. All the while he was screaming, grunting, and moaning in agony. His cries of pain soon turned into deep, huffing growls.

Through the blurriness, James saw a bright light glaring in through his bedroom window, blinding in its intensity. It took James to realize that it was actually the full moon. Something inside him, the same something that had compelled him to nearly attack a barking dog and made him want to kill the man in the pharmacy, forced him to stare straight into the cratered face of the orb hanging in the night sky. James realized with fresh horror, that the something seemed to be drawing strength from the moonlight, like it was being pulled out of him-!

Darkness began to encroach on the edges of his vision. There was something in the back of his mind; another presence, another mind, even! Something primal, bestial, and not human that was slowly crushing him and forcing him out of his own psyche. The last thing James felt before his consciousness went under the blanket of the whatever was taking over his body was the beginning of a feral howl ripping from his own throat.

XXXXX

Everything ached.

That was the first impression James got when he first came to. His head throbbed something fierce, his ears were ringing, his mouth was dry, and his whole body felt like he'd ran a marathon nonstop. When he opened his eyes, he winced from the brightness of the light and grimaced at a sour taste in his mouth. Then, there was the fact that he was lying face down on a hardwood floor.

"What the hell?" James thought to himself as he tried to rise. Keyword tried. Blinking against the harsh glare of the light, James shifted to see what he'd slipped in. All he saw was red; a deep crimson covering half his arm…

Wait…

James yelled as he recoiled away from the red, wet mess that covered the floor and most of his body. The iron tang of it hit his sensitive nostrils and he gagged, reaching to cover the lower half of his face with his shirt. That's when he found out he wasn't wearing a stitch of clothing.

""What the..."

James looked around and discovered that he was in the living room, except everything had been destroyed. Furniture was smashed to splinters, huge gouges were taken out of the walls, and blood was splattered from floor to ceiling. Turning about in every direction, James saw that the rest of the house didn't look any different; like a bloody tornado had come tearing through his house. Almost all of the furniture was crushed and destroyed, the walls and floor were missing huge chunks with deep slashes across the drywall, and blood, so much blood, painted the entirety of the house in patches, streaks, stains, and puddles. The largest puddle seemed was coming from where the kitchen used to be.

James's eyes followed the river of lifeblood up to where a leg poked out from behind half of what had been the kitchen table…a leg with a prominent scar on the knee…

No.

James half-crawled half-ran to the overturned table to avoid smashed bits of furniture and slipped in blood.

No!

His hand shot out to steady himself on the length of the table and his knees hit the floor as he swung around to see what was on the other side. Uncle Bert was covered in blood. His shirt was torn open from great slashes across his pale skin. Red blood slowly oozed out of his throat which looked to have been torn open by sharp teeth. His neck was twisted at an odd angle with an expression frozen in absolute terror. His blank eyes stared up at the ceiling, unseeing and…and-

No…no, no, no, no-

-dead.

"NOOOOO!" The scream ripped itself raw from James's sore throat. A wordless wail of anguish and loss came straight afterwards. After that, he just began screaming; screaming in horror, shock, loss, and grief. His shaking hands hovered above the body of his dead uncle, the only family he knew, the only parent he had, the person he'd loved that had been alive-

"AAUUUGGGHHHH!"

James screamed out and lashed out blindly. His fist caught the remnant of the table and sent it flying across the house where it crashed into the fireplace mantle. He rose to his feet, shaking as a red rage began to take him over. He turned and brought both fists down onto the island counter-top that was covered in blood but miraculously intact. The solid marble split in half under his fists and the pieces hit the floor with a loud thud. He turned again, searching for the next thing to unleash his fury upon. Howling in anguish, he drove his fists into the wall over and over again, punching straight through plaster and hitting the wood underneath until he broke through that, too. The sharp pain of wood slicing into his flesh brought him out of it and he yanked his hand out of the wall to stare at his shredded knuckles and wrist. White plaster powder mixed in with the blood dripping off his shaking hand.

Suddenly, the bleeding stopped, and James stared in shock as fresh skin began to close over the split flesh and the wounds closed, leaving him completely healed in a matter of seconds. James stepped back, cradling his hand.

Slowly, he looked up to survey the damage once more as a horrible thought wriggled into his brain with the memory of falling out of bed as agony had wracked his body, which then began to change before his very eyes. James looked up at four distinct slashes curving down the length of the wall. He reached up and traced them downwards, remembering how his nails sprung into pointed sharp claws.

I did this.

The thought struck him like a sledgehammer. He took another step back and surveyed the horror around him with new eyes. "I did this." His thoughts spilled free from his lips this time. He looked around at the destruction once more and clutched at his chest as an iron fist of fear gripped his heart and squeezed.

I'm a monster!

Panic stabbed him with a wave of horror and he fell to his knees, wrapping his arms around himself, just staring straight into the closed eyes of the corpse in front of him.

This is going to happen again.

That strange Something deep inside of him confirmed that little thought. The same Something that had healed him, gave him incredible strength and speed, and had possessed him last night as moonlight washed over him, changing his body and turning him into a monster…

And it had killed his uncle.

Rage welled up in his throat. He felt that Something even now. It was there, sitting in the back of his mind. He felt it in the strength in his arms, sharing the breath of his lungs, and heightening his senses. It was inside him; the Something, the Monster…

The Animal…

James's hands curled into fists again and he rose to his feet as a sudden realization hit him harder than what he'd done. He had to run. Had to leave! He just killed someone, and he would kill again if he didn't do something!

A calm sort of panic settled over him and his brain went into survival-mode, mulling over possibilities and scenarios. He couldn't stay, that much he understood. He needed to get far away from the scene of the crime. If he wasn't arrested when people came looking, or brought to a hospital again, or whatever would happen when this bloodbath was discovered, he'd be brought back to civilization, and if he was in a populated area when he turned into that thing again…he didn't want to think about it. So, he needed to run. When people found this mess, and him missing, they'd put the word out. That meant Missing Person's reports and police. He needed to avoid getting caught. He had to go somewhere where authorities wouldn't find him or keep running and hiding until they gave up the search. The light outside told him dawn was approaching. He needed to move; now!

He had to gone by then.

The next thing James knew, he was running upstairs and jumping into the shower to wash off the blood. It took longer than expected, but he eventually managed to scrub the red from his skin and hair. After that, he threw on fresh clothes and emptied his wardrobe; shoving all the clothes he needed into trash bags. Then, he was raiding through the pantry for canned goods and other non-perishables. That went into a trash bag, too. Next was money. He grabbed all the cash and coins he could find and shoved it into a jar. He'd drive to an ATM and empty his bank account in cash. After that, he'd ditch his credit and debit card. No point taking his phone, either. He knew that might be traceable along with the cards. Finally, he went into Uncle Bert's room in search of his truck keys and found them sitting on his nightstand next to his glasses and a picture of him and James. James took both.

Just before he left, James spotted something on the floor next to the nightstand. It was his uncle's necklace. The whole thing was pure silver from the chain to the silver rectangle hanging from the center that had his and his father's names engraved on both sides; 'James' and 'Jones'. James reached down to pick it up, but the second his fingers touched the metal he recoiled in shock and pain as the metal stung him. A feeling of weakness overtook him, and the presence in the back of his mind dimmed. Stunned, James tentatively reached back down and touched the necklace again. Again, it burned like it had been left out in the sun for too long, but James held on because the feeling of the Animal was being pushed back! After a couple of seconds, the metal stopped burning him and he picked it up. He felt like that well of strength had been subdued, but he was still standing. James unclasped the necklace and slipped it around his neck and under his shirt where it rested against his heart, tingling his skin and dulling the Monster inside him.

Then he was running out into the garage with his supplies where the truck sat waiting for him. James threw open the garage door and clambered into the truck with his bags of clothes and food. He stuck the key into the ignition and brought the vehicle to life. He had under half a tank, enough to get him out of town. Then he'd gas up at the first gas station he saw, get his money, and drive somewhere far away, but where would he even go?

The hissing static from the radio sounded through the speakers, and for some reason, James felt compelled to listen.

"…The search still continues for the two sisters in Alberta, Canada. Hannah and Beth Washington have been missing for nearly three weeks since they disappeared on Blackwood Mountain. We send our thoughts and hopes out to their family and friends along with the search and rescue teams that are combing the mountain in search of the girls…"

James tuned the rest out, focusing on only two words.

Alberta, Canada…

It was a long shot, but James lived in a few states away from the border. He didn't know if American police jurisdiction would follow him all the way into Alberta, but he was sure he could find a place to hunker down away from people until he got this…whatever it was under control, or got rid of it entirely. Hopefully the latter in that case…

James put the truck in drive and shot out of the driveway, trying to remember the closest route out of town with a destination in mind and fear in his heart.


Next chapter will be out in a few days. REVIEW!