It was noon, as Private Investigator Wade Anderson was driving through the Scottish countryside, admiring the calm, rural landscape around him. The weather was sunny with not a cloud in sight, quite a rarity in the autumn.

He was driving to a small coastal town to investigate a murder and a gruesome one at that. Apparently, the local police like to shy away from major cases like this, preferring to just sweep it under the rug for whatever reason. It was a very small town, with a tight-knit community – a murder is not something that happens every day or every year for that matter. The usual crimes that’d take place were minor thefts and aggravated assault and even those were rare, so naturally, the locals felt disturbed enough to hire the PI, seeing as the police wouldn’t do anything about it.
Their tactic was to wait it out, hoping that the commotion would fade sooner, rather than later. This was the only murder in a long, long time, so chances were that there wouldn’t be another one for quite some time, as such they dismissed the occurrence as a suicide, though one of the locals did manage to catch a glimpse of the body. Multiple cuts were seen on the victim’s body, not exactly supporting the image of a clean suicide.

The town a was quite a ways away from the city Anderson was from and the road was long and mostly empty – with only the occasional shipping truck passing by. Even though he found the trip dull, with his only entertainment being to stare at the farms and sea, as well as listening to the odd enjoyable song on the radio, Wade appreciated the break from the city’s busy atmosphere. It reminded him of the pleasant days traveling with his wife, the beautiful sea colored like her eyes.

About an hour and a half after leaving the city he arrived at the town, greeted by a beat-up sign reading – “Welcome to Artur Bay”. The town was nothing special. Old, one and two story brick houses lined the narrow streets with the local businesses scattered throughout. It was also quiet – most of the children were probably in school and the adults were either in their homes or working. Anderson wasn’t a stranger to this setting. He had passed through many towns like this and from his experience, the people were humble and hospitable – probably the last place he’d pick for a cold blooded murder.

The PI was starving, as he hadn’t had a bite to eat since leaving the city, so the first place he went to was a diner near the harbor. He figured that he would be able to ask around while satiating his hunger. After parking his car and getting out, Anderson took a second to breathe in the fresh sea air and admire the view, before entering the rather ugly building, painted in a hideous red colour which was beginning to fall off. It was probably as old as the town itself. After he entered the diner, Wade was surprised by the rather tidy and well-kept interior. All the tables and chairs were in good condition and the place was spotless. There were around a dozen customers eating, probably workers from the harbor on brake, who didn’t bat an eye as Anderson entered. He took a seat on a stool near the front counter and ordered a large cheeseburger, fries and a cup of coffee from the man behind the counter, who was slightly overweight, had an unkempt goatee and wore a green t-shirt covered by a grease stained white apron. He looked like has was in his mid-40s.

After his food arrived, Anderson and the man began to chat:

“So, are you the owner?” – Anderson calmly asked, as he began to eat his fries.

“Yep. Been working here about 25 years now.”

“By the looks of things, you’re not from around here.” – the owner continued

“I’m not, I’m here on business.” – Wade said, taking a bite from his burger.

“Let me guess, you’re here to investigate the murder.” – Anderson didn’t respond and kept eating. “I heard that you were arriving soon – real shame that such a thing had to happen here.” – the owner took a sigh and continued. “I’ve lived in this place all my life and such a thing has never happened, we barely even get any crime, as a matter of fact.”

“Did you know the guy?” – Wade asked as he took a sip from his coffee.

“About as much as everyone else here. Andrew worked at the harbor like the rest of these folks. He’d come in, say ‘hello’, order, eat and then be off with the rest.”

“What was he like? Did he have any known grudges with the other workers or anyone else in the town?”

“He was very quiet and got along with pretty much everyone, as far as I’m aware. Never caused trouble and no one had any problems with him.”

“I’ve heard conflicting stories from the locals and the police. The police concluded the case was a suicide, though the people that hired me disagree. Is the situation with the cops really that bad around here” – he asked as he finished his fries.

“I’m afraid so. The officers are regular people from the town. They’re nice enough and genuinely care about the town, though the chief is a different story. He moved here from a city in England a few months back, doesn’t really care about the happenings here or the murder. Working here is an easy way for him to make a lot of money with little work.”

“Hearing about police corruption is not uncommon where I’m from, but having a guy like that in this place is surprising. If what you’re saying is true, I suppose it makes sense that the locals are so distrustful.” – Anderson responded, finishing his meal.

“Well then, I’ll be off, thanks for your help” – Wade then took out some money from his wallet and paid for his food, leaving in a bit extra for the owner. “Oh, and can you tell where exactly his house is? I have his address, but I kind of have to search the whole town for it ”

“A little bit down from here is the post office – take a right, head two blocks down and you should find it”

After exiting the diner, Anderson lit a cigarette and got in his car. Surely enough after driving down the street, he saw the post office. After turning and driving a bit further down he arrived at a small intersection. His eyes immediately gravitated towards Andrew’s house. Partially because the house’s entrance was blocked by yellow police tape and was guarded by an officer, but also because of the subpar condition of the residence. For one, the bricks the house was built from were extremely old and worn out, the small lawn was filled with weeds and tall grass, and the windows were so dirty that the light from the sun shining on them couldn’t even reflect.

Wade parked his car in front of the house and approached the police officer:

“Hello, I’m Private Investigator Anderson. I want to inspect the body” – Wade said while flashing his identification.

“H-hello, Mr. Anderson, I’m Officer Watson. The body is in the living room – to the right of the staircase” – the officer responded in an unnerving tone. By the looks of it, he was pretty green and looked between 22-25 years old. He was clearly on edge, as he firmly stood with hands behind his back and chin up.

“How long have you been working here?”

“Um, probably about a year, a year and a half now.”

“No wonder he’s so nervous. A year on the job and a murder happens practically next door.” – Anderson thought to himself.

“Are you absolutely sure this was suicide or do some people on the force have different ideas?”

“Uh… I don’t know, sir.” – the young officer quickly murmured, relaxing his stance and placing his hand on his mouth, trying to avoid eye contact with Anderson.

“Have you even seen the body?” – Watson just stood silent after Wade’s question, still trying to avoid eye contact by nervously turning and scratching his head.

The PI thought about prying more information out of him, but decided against it after a quick glance back at the officer who had a confused and nervous expression painted on his face.

“I guess, I’ll go check out the house then…” – Anderson told the officer, after a deep sigh.

After crossing the police tape, and taking a few steps towards the house – the residence’s condition unnerved Anderson, an unknown feeling of dread swept through him seemingly from nowhere.

“Hey! Why is the house in such a bad shape? What did Andrew even do in there?” – Wade asked the officer behind him.

“Well, it’s not exactly the best place in the town, but it’s not in horrible condition. I think you might be needlessly worrying. Andrew was a normal guy, though he wasn’t exactly a neat freak” – Watson responded uncharacteristically quick with a sense of confidence in his voice and a firm look.

Anderson stood in silence for a second or two, taking another look at the house. He was taken rather aback by the response from the officer, who was on the brink of having a breakdown moments ago, but paid it no mind and accepted that he might indeed be worrying for no reason. Wade started to walk towards the small wooden front porch which, needless to say, was in terrible condition, as if it was rotting.

As he approached the front door, Wade could see what appeared to be faint scratch marks on the porch and the middle of the door. He also saw a streak of dry blood from one of the marks. The streak got less wide the further down it went. After following it down, Anderson found two human fingernails lying on the ground near the porch. He took down a mental note, opened the door and entered the house.

He was immediately struck a by a vile, rotten stench. Anderson instinctively coughed and covered his mouth and nose. The smell could only be described as a combination of mold, rotten meat and feces and its source was hard to pinpoint.

The house was small, the lobby only consisting of a small staircase leading to the second floor, where the bedroom presumably was, and a bathroom to the right of the staircase. To the left was a rather spacious kitchen/dining room and to the right was the aforementioned living room with the corpse visible. Anderson decided to investigate the rest of the house before examining the living room, starting with the kitchen.

The room was a mess. There was a large wooden table in the center that wasn’t clean, to say the least. Three of the four dining chairs were knocked over, one on the other side of the room, and there was a single spoiled, nearly untouched, meal on the table consisting of beans, eggs and a sandwich laying on the table’s dirty covering. The sink was full of filthy, unwashed dishes and utensils. The floor was littered with broken bits of ceramics and wooden furniture.

The first thing Anderson did after entering the room was dash to the windows. He opened them one by one, taking long deep breaths of fresh air after opening every window. After examining his surroundings Wade was quite conflicted. The damage around the room would suggest a struggle, however, the plate on the table was untouched and there was absolutely no sign of blood in the room. He started to look through the cupboards – nothing special, just cluttered cooking and cleaning supplies. After that, Anderson opened the fridge and suddenly recoiled back. It was full of rotten meat, moldy vegetables and other spoiled food. The PI nearly vomited from the stench and sight of the food. He immediately closed the appliance’s door and put on the pair of rubber gloves, he had in his pocket for occasions like this.

Anderson decided he had enough of the kitchen and moved on to the bathroom Three sizable rats came rushing out the bathroom, as soon as he opened the door, heading into the kitchen. Wade, naturally startled by this, took a moment to gather his bearings. After that, he examined the small room, which was just a dirty bathroom with what seemed to be vomit in the sink and toilet.

Wade then climbed up the stairs, which led him to the center of a small corridor with a room at both of its ends. The PI to the room on the right first, preparing for the worst, but to his surprise, it was a completely normal guest room with nothing interesting in it. Wade felt a strange sense of relief and continued to the final room – presumably Andrew’s bedroom. Again, the room was normal with one exception – one of the compartments of the bedside cabinet was opened, though empty.

Anderson then finally moved on to the living room. In the center of the room was the body with a black covering over it. The sofa, TV and lamps were all knocked over and broken – there wasn’t a single piece of furniture in the room that was undamaged.

Wade crouched near the body and took a moment to think about the case. Both a murder and a suicide seemed plausible. The broken state of the house on the first floor hint to a struggle and the thing taken from the cabinet could have been some kind of weapon. On the other hand, the lack of blood around the residence could mean that the case was a suicide. The only loose end were the markings near the door. A person must have carved them, but why? The only explanation Wade could come to was that Andrew had gone insane.

The PI lifted up part of the covering to take a look at the legs and lower body. It was a mess – a stab wound on his left thigh, very deep scratch marks around his right leg along with fragments of peeled, bloody skin next to them, as well as cut marks covering nearly the entirety of his legs. There was a pool of blood around the entire body, almost all of it dried, but there were some small patches of fresher blood, not exactly liquid, but they still left stains on Wade’s fingers. Andrew continued bleeding a while after his death.

The PI continued up the body, lifting yet more of the covering, stopping around the chest. It was the same story. Two stab wounds around the chest, cut and scratch marks covered his arms.

“A murderer wouldn’t put this much effort into carving up the body, if he did then he risked somebody noticing. A psychopath who wanted to do such a thing would also stick out like a sore thumb in this place.” – Anderson calmly thought.

All that was left for him to do was inspect the head, depending on the condition he could confirm whether it was a suicide or not. Anderson completely lifted the covering and nearly fainted from what he saw – a gunshot wound on the top of the throat. Wade immediately recoiled, falling on his legs, as if a rabid dog came rushing toward him. His heart rate skyrocketed. He could feel bile rising in his throat, all the while hyperventilating. The minute he spent lying on the ground felt like an entire hour, as his thoughts were occupied by blind panic and a pain coming from his right hand.

Slowly, Anderson’s breathing went back to normal, the pain disappeared and he began to think clearly again. Wade must have spent around five minutes just pacing around the room, thinking about what happened to him, and why. The whole experience was like a fever dream, that left him dumbfounded. The PI didn’t know what had happened to him or why, he didn’t recognize the face and wounds like that were common in his trade. For some reason he felt like something was off about the body, filling the PI with a sense of dread.

After gathering his wits and courage, Anderson started to inspect the head again. This time Wade was completely level-headed and calm, much to his surprise. He discovered that there were, in fact, two wounds on the head. One on the top of his throat, and the other around the back of the head. It was now clear to Wade, that Andrew shot himself, possibly getting a gun from the cabinet in his bedroom. The angle was just too odd for him to have been shot by someone else, so Anderson concluded that the case was almost certainly a suicide. However, there was still something bothering, as if there was a voice screaming at the back of his head that there was still more to search for.. Sure enough, he noticed a small note sticking out of the victim’s mouth. “It happened in the forest”- was written on it, with uneven, ugly handwriting. The placing of the note meant that it was unlikely written by Andrew. Why would he hastily write a cryptic note and shove down his mouth, before shooting himself and what did a forest have to do with him?

The message echoed with confusion in Anderson’s mind. He hadn’t seen a forest on his way here, and even so, what could Andrew have been doing in a forest away from the city. Was the note actually a murderer’s message. So many questions buzzed in Wade’s head. Finally, he decided to show the note to the police. If it was still in his mouth when Anderson inspected the body, then the police might have overlooked it. He placed the covering over the body and exited the house with the note:

“H-hello Mr.Anderson, have you come to a conclusion on the case?” – officer Watson greeted Anderson, as the PI crossed the police tape, in his typical nervous tone.

“I’m almost certain that it was suicide, however, this note bothers me.” – Wade took the note out from his pocket and gave it to the officer, lighting a cigarette afterwards.

“What does this mean?” – Watson asked, confused.

“Beats me. Found it shoved down his mouth, guess you guys might have missed it.”

“Is there a forest near the town? I didn’t see any on my way here.” – Anderson continued.

“Actually, there is one about 15 minutes away, if you follow the road North. People usually go there for fishing or to have a quiet walk.” – the officer responded.

“I see. Then, I guess I’ll head over there, see if I find anything ” – Wade said after finishing his cigarette.

“Are you sure you don’t want me to come with you?” – Watson asked anxiously.

“No, I like to work alone. Besides, your job is to stay here and guard the house, no need to get in trouble. Just tell the police that I’m there if they ask, I’ll report back if I find anything.” – Anderson responded, as he began to walk away from the officer, towards his car.

“Alright, good luck Mr. Anderson” – Watson responded

After getting in his car, Wade began to have second thoughts. Was there really anything in the forest that might change his mind? The officer told him that it was just a quiet place where people go for walks, what could he possibly find? In the end, the PI’s conscience got to him. There was still a chance that something happened there. He could never forgive himself if he came to the wrong verdict, because of a piece of overlooked evidence. Wade lit another cigarette and started the car.

It only took him 5 minutes to leave the town. The road to the forest was virtually empty, even more so than the southern one. It was also horribly paved and bumpy, much to Anderson’s annoyance. Sure enough after about 15 minutes he arrived saw a sign reading: “Artur Forest” next to a dirt pathway extending from the main road, which was so narrow that Anderson couldn’t fit his car through. His only option was to head on foot.

Wade grabbed a knife and flashlight from the glove compartment of his car, just in case, then headed into the forest. Although he was there to investigate, Andersson felt at ease, as he always appreciated these kinds of settings, so he continued walking and walking, finding nothing interesting or anything that might clue him into the case. Eventually, Wade’s calmness turned into boredom and then into frustration. He felt that he’d spent an hour just aimlessly wandering the forest, though it was probably just about 30 minutes. To make sure, he checked his watch – 7:20 PM. The clock on his phone showed the same time. Wade couldn’t believe it. He left town at 4 PM at the latest and it took him at most half an hour to arrive at Artur Forest, or at least that’s what he thought. A quick look at the pinkish autumn sky confirmed the time.

Confusion and anxiety pulsed through Anderson’s mind. After a minute or two, he managed to convince himself that he’d simply just lost track of time, it wasn’t uncommon for him to that while wandering. Wade decided to just head back to town and conclude the case, after all, if he was really walking through the forest for 3 hours without finding anything, then surely there shouldn’t be anything to find. Maybe Andrew’s letter was just a case of him losing his mind before killing himself.

The PI continued to nervously walk through the forest, then walk more, and more, and more until he came to a startling realization – he was completely lost. The dirt in the forest was fairly soft, so Anderson should have been able to see where he came from, but no matter where he went, he came no closer to finding his way back.

Eventually, the minutes wandering turned into hours, and before he knew it, it was night time – 10 PM to be precise. Anderson was cold, his stomach was growling and he was scared out of his mind. Even a rabbit or raccoon rustling through the bushes was enough to put Wade completely on edge and have him reaching for his gun – a standard semi-automatic pistol. Slowly, but surely, his paranoia, grew even more. It was as if the crickets and birds were mocking him and Anderson could swear that he could overhear the occasional snarl and growl, similar to that of a wolf, though never quite catching the sound’s source. Anderson pulled out his phone from the right pocket of his coat, in the hope of calling for help, however, there was no signal.

Wade carried on through the woods, as the sounds of snarls continued to get more and more pronounced the further he went. It sounded like it was coming from somewhere behind him, though at this point he was too scared to even look behind him, preferring to just anxiously walk forward and concentrate on finding his way back.

After a while, the noise completely stopped. Anderson felt a sense of relief, but that feeling was only short lived, as a wolf lunged towards him, from a bush to his right, biting his coat. Wade was too scared to think or process what was happening, he just threw his flashlight on the ground, grabbed onto his coat with both hands, and started pulling away from the wolf. A short struggle followed, lasting no more than few seconds, though they felt like minutes to Anderson. Afterwards, the wolf ripped part of Wade’s coat off. Anderson immediately pulled out his gun and started running for his life, quickly grabbed his flashlight off the ground, occasionally looking behind him, though he was unable to see anything, as he kept the flashlight in front of him at all times.

He then quickly glanced at the right side of his jacket and realized that he had lost his apartment keys, Andrew’s note and a small bottle of pills he hadn’t used in probably over a month which he didn’t even remember were there. At that point, all Wade could do is hope that, sooner or later, he would find his way out.

After about 10 minutes of running, Anderson was on the verge of collapse. He wasn’t in the best shape and probably hadn’t run that much in years, maybe even a decade. Wade’s heart was racing – the only thing keeping him going was adrenaline and plain fear, not just from the wolf that was probably chasing him, but from something else. He could see dozens of pairs of eyes glowing in the dark around him, all staring directly at him. Anderson tried to ignore them as best he could, by only staring directly in front of him, he had a hard time keeping it together, as is, he didn’t need the thought of a pack of predators stalking him rattling around in his perplexed mind.

After a few moments, Wade tripped on a large branch he couldn’t see, landing on his right forearm, dropping his flashlight and then sliding a meter along the soft dirt. Anderson immediately rolled to his right, facing back, all the while pointing his gun forward. He could hear frequent footsteps which were getting louder and more pronounced, as time went on. Wade knew what was coming. He took a deep breath. The wolf from before jumped him, but Anderson managed to react almost instantly and shot it. After the loud ‘bang’ of the gunshot, the entire forest stood completely silent, like all the life in it had been wiped out. The PI then picked up his dropped and now broken, flashlight off the ground, proceeding to quickly throw it away. He took out his phone, which fortunately had a flashlight app and started to examine the wolf’s body. He had shot it between the head and torso. It was still breathing, but couldn’t move by the looks of it and would probably bleed out after half an hour at most. Anderson contemplated shooting it again, just in case, but decided against it, feeling a sense of pity towards the animal and probably would have felt bad for it, if it didn’t try to attack him.

Wade sat on the ground, falling like an anvil, all the while taking long breaths, trying to regain his composure and rest up after the chase, which was the equivalent of a marathon to him. The glowing eyes were still visible wherever he looked, but they were the least of Anderson’s worries, as he just dismissed them, as his imagination running wild from stress. Wade’s main priority was trying to figure out how he got into this mess and how to get out of it. There were so many questions Anderson couldn’t answer. What was Andrew doing here? What happened to him? Was he murdered? Why was Wade stranded here for nearly half a day in a tiny forest? Why were there wolves in Scotland? He took a minute or two to calm down, stood up and then started walking, gripping his handgun tightly. Anderson decided to walk in a straight line until he hit a dead end, trying to not panic or second-guess his decision on the way.

As he was walking, Wade started noticing that more, and more pairs of eyes had started to appear around him by the minute. Anderson was unnerved, but not scared per se, ignorantly thinking that he had been through the worst. The eyes had been staring at him for hours now and nothing attacked him. If anything tried to jump him, he could probably react and shoot it, however, he was surprised that the gunshot earlier, didn’t scare these animals off. After some time, Anderson started to hear distant snarls again, but this time they were all around him. He turned around, but nothing was following him. The noises started to get louder and louder, as more eyes started to appear in his periphery. After some hesitation, Anderson stopped, pointed his gun in the air and took a shot, hoping that the gunshot would scare the animals away. It didn’t.

Before he knew it, Wade was completely surrounded from all sides, with the sources of the snarls getting closer and closer. Anderson’s calm started to give out, as three wolf’s shadows became visible on the spot Wade’s flashlight was illuminating. He thought about taking a few shots in the dark, but decided against it thinking that the other wolves might get agitated and lunge towards him. The earlier shots didn’t scare them, after all. If Anderson screwed up and missed he was as good as dead. His second idea was to turn around and start running again, but that soon revealed itself to be impossible, as he could see wolves in the distance behind him. The PI could see them everywhere he looked and came to the horrifying realization that he had absolutely nowhere to run. Anderson’s heart rate and body temperature jumped, his legs felt weak and he had a horrified look on his face, his eyes filled with terror. It was as if Wade’s composure was just a facade put on to hide his true fear.

The wolves moved closer and closer by the second. Anderson’s body began to act on its own – he raised his right hand and, panicked, fired a shot, which hit one of the wolves in front of him right between the eyes. The others were unfazed and continued inching towards the PI, silent, like they were stalking their prey. While he might not have realized it, that shot gave him enough of a boost in confidence to not give up completely. Wade hastily scanned the area around him – there were about a dozen wolves around him. His pistol’s clip had 10 bullets left, and he had a spare one somewhere on him. If Anderson could take out the majority of the predators around him, then he could escape and reload.

Wade gripped his gun tightly with both hands, pointed towards the wolves, but didn’t fire. Doubt and anxiety set in into his mind. At least 8 of his shots had to land, in order for him to any chance of running. The plan sounded like something from the cheesy, macho action movies Anderson liked and not something he could pull off.

He took a deep breath and fired the first shot, thinking that it would be better than rolling over and dying. The shot hit one wolf in the chest. It collapsed instantly with a faint whimper. The second shot also hit its mark, going through another wolf’s skull, same with the third shot. This gave Anderson a surge in confidence and a glimmer of hope. He fired a fourth shot – it missed, hitting a tree around 50 meters away from him. Wade’s hand shook at the last possible moment before pulling the trigger due to adrenaline, throwing off his aim. Anderson panicked for a tiny moment, but quickly regained his composure, pulling the trigger for a fifth time – nothing. He continued pulling the trigger over and over again, with increasing force each time, but the gun didn’t fire. It had completely jammed.

The remaining wolves continued to move closer, Wade didn’t pay any attention though. He dropped his phone and exclusively started to focus on trying to unjam his handgun, distress written on his face. He was too busy fiddling with it to even notice that one the animals started rushing towards him, only coming to the realization when it had lunged towards him. At the last second, Wade managed to react, putting his left forearm in front of him. The wolf bit into it and pinned Anderson to the ground, dropping his gun. Anderson tightly grabbed the top of the wolf’s head, trying to pull it up in the hopes of freeing his arm, but it was no use, the predator’s grip was too strong. The PI tried to pull out his knife from the coat’s left pocket, but he had no chance of reaching it. Wade then started to frantically punch the animal, but it was like a toddler hitting a bodybuilder, the wolf just didn’t react continuing to tighten its grip, like it was trying to snap Wade’s arm in half. Oddly enough, Anderson felt little to no pain, though he was too busy trying to survive to really process the information.

His terror grew, as quickly scanning the limited area visible to him revealed that he the others had closed in and he had nowhere to run. Another wolf bit Wade’s right arm around the wrist area as he was struggling, though this time Anderson felt a very sharp and very real pain. It was like time stood still as the PI accepted his fate. He closed his eyes and braced himself, expecting the worst – a cruel, painful death, but it never came.

The pain Anderson felt disappeared and he could feel both of his arms. Slowly, he built up the courage to open his eyes. The wolf standing on the top of him had let go of him and began staring to its left at what seemed to be a brilliant, blinding white light, barely visible from Wade’s position. The animals payed no attention to Anderson and shortly after, all of the wolves started to move away, then scatter completely.

Anderson sat up and looked around him, confused and disorientated, but soon saw the source of the light. A pure white wolf with striking blue eyes, akin to the color of the ocean, standing around 10 meters away from the PI. It was unmoving and was just staring at Wade. Normally, this would unnerve him, but it didn’t. He felt an odd sense of comfort and relief from the creature that was emitting a white, shining aura. Wade rubbed his eyes and pinched himself for good measure. He wasn’t dreaming, but it sure felt like it. There was no blood or marks on the places the wolves bit him and the sleeves on his coat were completely intact with absolutely no damages, just dirt and mud from when he fell. The lower right part of his coat, however, was still ripped and even more peculiar, his watch showed 10:15 PM. If that was correct, then only fifteen minutes had elapsed, since Anderson started running from the stray wolf, which was impossible, at least from Wade’s perspective. He then picked up his dropped handgun. He checked the weapon’s clip – it had 5 bullets. The gun itself was still jammed, but even though Wade did, in fact, fire those shots, the bodies of the wolves were nowhere to be found. He then noticed a reflection on the ground. It was his phone, which he must have dropped during the earlier struggle. Wade had only now noticed, that the light emitted from the wolf was enough for him to examine his surroundings, without the flashlight.

After realizing this, Wade glanced at the animal, still staring at him with a blank expression, and it instantaneously ran off into the woods. Wade quickly tried to activate his phone’s light, but the battery had died. He considered running after it, not even entirely knowing why. Maybe it was because the animal saved him in a way or it might have just been pure curiosity. The wolf had left something similar to a mist in a trail as it ran off. It was emitting a bright lift. However, Wade was rather overwhelmed by all that had transpired in a short period of time. He wondered whether, or not, to just stay in one spot and wait until daylight, in the hopes of finding someone from the town who could lead him back. By that point, he had unjammed his gun, so if anything tried to attack him, he could just shoot it, as long as it wasn’t that pack of wolves.

In the end curiosity, impatience, as well as plain fear got the better of Anderson. He decided to follow the trail left by the animal, though this made Anderson’s paranoia even worse. Following a, presumably, supernatural, glowing white wolf, which might not even be real, didn’t fill him with confidence or hope.

As he went along the path marked by the wolf, it became apparent that the light it left was just enough to illuminate Anderson’s path. The once haunting and oppressing atmosphere turned into one of beauty and awe. Eventually, Wade made his way to a fork in the road – a path to the left and one to the right. The trail of light continued to the right and Wade could swear that a tiny white rabbit with blue eyes could faintly be seen further down. Just as he was trying to get a good look at the path, the critter seemingly ran off, so he continued to the right without any hesitation.

As he continued walking, the trail of light became increasingly brighter, and brighter. Anderson could now completely make out his surroundings giving him a sense of relief and comfort. The daunting, dark forest now seemed calm and relaxing, especially to Wade who greatly appreciated these settings ever since he and his wife started traveling, though he still couldn’t shake a certain feeling from the back of his head. One of confusion, or more accurately fear of the unknown. Despite the clarity, Anderson paid little to no attention to his surroundings, as he was completely absorbed in thought. He wasn’t thinking of anything important though. Sports, movies, TV and food were the only things on Wade’s mind while walking through the practically endless forest, fiddling with his car keys. It was like a defense mechanism to distance himself from the reality of his situation and not acknowledge how in deep he really was – his best bet was to simply continue walking and hope for the best.
After walking for minutes, the road came to a stop, along with the trail of light. It was almost completely pitch black. A few feet away from Anderson, stood the same white rabbit from before, staring away, into the distance in front of it. Wade nervously took a step forward, breaking a twig. The noise echoed like a gunshot in the now completely silent woods. The rabbit noticed and swiftly turned its attention towards Anderson, staring directly into his eyes. For a brief, almost unnoticeable moment Wade felt a chill go down his spine, but then immediately felt completely at ease, somehow knowing that no harm was going to come to him. He eagerly took a second step. As soon as Wade took that step, the animal abruptly turned around and ran off further into the woods, still emitting the same trail of light, though it was even brighter than before. Anderson, impulsively, without even thinking, ran after the critter, as if it was his mission. He began running as fast as he could, trying to catch it, not even knowing why.

Wade kept running through the trail for minutes, not slowing down, though also not catching a glimpse of the rabbit. Despite this, he felt like he was closer with every single step, as the light from the trail was becoming more and more intense by the second. Eventually, it got the point where Anderson couldn’t tell what was in front of him – it was just pitch white. The only thing the PI could inexplicably make out was a white swallow in the distance. As Wade approached he began reaching out to it with his right hand. As he was about to reach it, he tripped on something he couldn’t see, his face firmly hitting the ground covered by soft dirt, the swallow flying away towards the light.

After a few seconds spent on the ground, Anderson lifted his head up and wiped off most of the dirt on his face. He saw a deer with the same features as the wolf – white fur, shining aura, brilliant blue eyes. The PI got to his feet and was in awe at what he saw. The dirt began to look like snow, the bushes and trees all adopted beautiful white colorings. Pale birds chirped and flew away, towards the spectacular pearly sky dotted with large ivory-colored clouds. The whole scene stemmed from the deer in front of Wade, as behind it was only a splendorous white void.

Anderson just stood there with his mouth gaping wide open and his mind filled with thoughts of confusion, awe and comfort, all swapping by the second. All he could do was blankly stare at the deer, not knowing what was happening to him. ‘Is all this real?’, ‘Am I hallucinating?’, ‘How did I get here?’ – were the thoughts that repeated through Anderson’s head, as he pinched himself again, making sure that this was, in fact, reality.

Wade turned his attention to the deer, which was familiarly staring at him with a vacant expression. He felt an odd sense of nostalgia and comfort like he was staring at an old friend, though this left even more baffled. What did this animal have to with him?

Seeing as he had no other options, Anderson, overcome by curiosity, anxiously started to walk forward, towards the deer, putting his hand on the gun, just in case. The deer turned around for an instant, then, after a few steps, completely disappeared into the white light. After seeing this, Wade briefly stopped in hesitation, but then braced himself and continued walking forward, expecting the worst. He saw absolutely nothing on the horizon, as the light continued to get brighter and brighter, the further he went on. Anderson thought he was going to go blind for a moment. He briefly turned around. Going back sounded appealing in a weird way, but the beautiful forest had disappeared – it was pure white void wherever he looked. Normally, this would send Wade into a panic, but it didn’t faze him in the slightest. At that point he had accepted his faith, he was either going to make it out alive, or he wasn’t going to make it out at all. Anderson closed his eyes, mentally prepared himself, raised his hand off the gun and continued walking forward. Slowly, Wade’s thoughts began to drift, as if he was about to fall asleep. He was relaxed and calm, like all his cares in the world had disappeared. It was like his body was lighter than air and was drifting through a paradise, while an odd sensation of warmth filled his entire body. At that point, he could sense gentle, female arms gently wrap around his waist. The former feeling of nostalgia returning. Wade was truly happy for the first time, in a long, long time.

If somebody told the PI, that he had to spend an eternity there, he wouldn’t object much. Anderson, overcome with joy, was ready to just rest and fall asleep when suddenly, his comfort disappeared. It was like he fell from the sky back onto Earth. Disorientated, he hastily opened his eyes – Wade could see the exit of the forest, along with his car, as well as the white deer in his periphery. Anderson looked around him – a quick glance at the dirt revealed that it was, indeed, where he came from. His attention quickly turned towards the deer, as it quickly dashed back into the forest.

All Wade wanted was to just get back to town and conclude the case – his watch showed 2 AM – he had somehow been stuck there for almost half a day. He idiotically disregarded his fatigue, hunger and general perplexity towards the events that had transpired, in favor of going after the creature. Anderson didn’t know why, going back there was the last thing he wanted, yet he somehow felt drawn towards it, like there was something that needed to be done. Wade turned to the right and began to anxiously walk towards a bright white light, emitted from within the woods. After about two minutes of walking, Anderson came to a small clearing in the forest. The light had mostly dispersed, only being emitted in the center of the clearing, where the white wolf from before stood, though its attention wasn’t focused on Wade. It was diligently chewing on the guts of a man’s carcass. The man was unrecognizable to Anderson. His throat had been gashed, the head only barely hanging onto the body. He had faint claw and bite marks all around his arms and legs with his left arm almost being completely reduced to a bloody mush. Anderson instantly pulled out his gun and pointed it towards the shining, white predator.

Wade just stood there, frozen in fear, with a look of disbelief as his arms and legs were erratically shaking. Even if the PI wanted to take a shot, he’d miss. After a few unnerving moments, the wolf halted its feast and very slowly turned its head towards Anderson, staring directly into Wade’s eyes and sending a haunting chill down his spine. He couldn’t move a muscle, as the white animal started to walk towards him in deliberately sluggish manner.

The wolf continued to inch more and more towards Anderson. For every three steps the animal took forward, Wade took one back, not daring to turn around even for a second. Eventually, Wade managed to muster enough courage to fire a panicked shot which, of course, missed. The wolf paid no attention, as it started running towards the PI. Wade turned around in the hopes of fleeing, but he almost instantly tripped on a rock he didn’t even realize was there. Terror consumed him. He felt like he had no hope of surviving this, that there was nothing he could do. Slowly, Wade turned around, preparing to meet his fate, desperately clutching his handgun. To his surprise, the wolf was gone. In its place was the similar white deer staring right at the fallen PI, not moving an inch. Much of Anderson’s fear had disappeared at that single moment, though he still didn’t feel safe or comfortable by any stretch of the imagination, as his heart continued racing.

Wade began to stand up in a slow and steady pace, not taking his eyes off the animal even for a second. He stretched out his arms in front of him, trying to keep his distance from the deer as he started to back away. For every step Anderson took, the animal also took one. It was becoming clear that the creature wasn’t going to let Wade escape. The deer continued to stare directly into the PI’s eyes. Its look was like that of a small, confused child, so clearly contrasting with the fresh blood lining its entire snout, the liquid’s bright red color clearly popping out next to its white, shining fur.

While the deer previously calmed Anderson, now all the PI felt from it was pure dread. The way it was standing there, looking at him, like the creature was just pitying him, before it eventually, somehow, tears him apart. Wade’s heart rate and adrenaline continued to rise. His right hand began to hurt, as he began to slowly move his gun towards the deer. Maybe it was his paranoia, but for just a split second, he could swear that he could see sharp fangs sticking out of the animal’s mouth and noises similar to growls, began to quietly echo around him.

As his gun was getting closer and closer to the creature, Wade saw the deer disappear with the vicious wolf taking its place, the predator’s mouth gaping wide open with blood-tainted saliva dripping from its mouth, as a distinct snarl could be heard. He hastily aimed towards the animal and shot, simultaneously feeling a sharp pain in near his right wrist. At the very last second before pulling the trigger, Anderson could once again get a brief glimpse of the deer, staring at him with a disappointed look. The bullet hit it right between the eyes, killing it instantly. The deer flew back like it was hit with a sledgehammer. As the creature laid on the ground it began to disappear, or rather evaporate. Shining particles began to float above from the corpse, the animal’s light beginning to fade. The scene was spectacular and beautiful, almost enough to distract Anderson from the fact that he had murdered the thing that saved his life. He tried to approach it, but as soon as he did, a blinding white light emerged from the corpse forcing the PI to cover his eyes. For a split second, in that moment, Wade could swear that he could see a faceless woman, slumped over with a large wound on the top of her throat.

Anderson slowly opened his eyes to see absolutely nothing. It was pitch black. He panicked and started to reach for his phone, despite it not having charge. To Wade’s surprise, the battery was almost a quarter full. He didn’t question it while turning on the flashlight and nervously starting to search the clearing.

A few minutes of searching revealed nothing. The creature’s body had completely disappeared and the man’s corpse was nowhere to be found. Anderson was still shaking and his breathing was heavy, almost to the point of hyperventilating, as he was now absorbed in fear. He didn’t know what happened to him or even why or how. His paranoia began to grow even more, afraid to take a single step, while erratically scanning his surroundings with the flashlight.

The forest was tranquil, the only sounds coming from the plentiful crickets and owls Eventually, Anderson holstered his gun and began to calm down. The exit was right around the corner, he could see it, in fact.

“People constantly share their ‘paranormal’ stories, right? This night was just going to fade away, as a strange day where my fear got to me while stuck for half a day in a forest in the middle of nowhere, trying to convince myself that a suicide was actually a murder.” – Anderson thought to himself, trying to calm down and make sense of his situation.

He stopped shaking and his breathing went back to normal. Wade’s thoughts were now fully composed, as he began to walk towards the exit. With his car in sight, Wade jokingly began to think of what was going to jump him or block his way. When Anderson arrived at the car, he tried to reach into his coat;s right pocket. The damage to his coat was the one thing that Anderson couldn’t explain to himself. If the wolf was real, then what was it doing in a small Scottish forest? What were the rest of them doing in the woods for that matter? Were they even real? They bit him over and over, but there were no damages.

Though those questions didn’t concern Anderson in the least, after the realization that he might have lost his car keys along with the ones to his apartment. Wade began to lose his cool and started to chaotically search his entire body. Fortune smiled upon him, as he had left his keys in the left pocket of his pants. He unlocked the door and threw himself onto the front seat, spreading his legs and relaxing his head on the seat, like he had just completed a marathon. Wade took a deep sigh, as a wide smirk began to form on his face, Not one of confidence, but rather one of relief. He must have spent around five minutes just sitting there and relaxing, trying to forget about his horrible experience, before starting the car’s engine. Wade tried to light a cigarette before departing, however, he had more difficulty than expected. His right hand was inexplicably shaking as he was trying to use the lighter and he kept missing the cigarette in his mouth about 5 or 6 times.Despite the minor annoyance, Anderson was, all in all, in a good mood, well, as good of a mood as he could have considering the circumstances. The relief of finally getting out of that nightmare made even the hideous, unpaved road look appealing and welcoming.

Wade’s mind began to drift and he started to feel a bit drowsy, as he was driving along the road, though that was to be expected. He decided to stay at an inn that he saw while driving through the town. It had a sign proudly proclaiming – ‘Open 24 hours a day, every day’. Not surprising considering that a lot of truck drivers pass through there at night and need someplace to stay.

The road was even emptier than before. This bored Anderson to the point where he was half asleep. He started to have something like a dream. He saw a young man and a young woman. They were faceless with only their mouths visible. The two were sitting on a bench next to a large building, smiling, giggling and talking, though nothing could be heard.

Anderson continued driving. The second ‘dream’ showed the same man and woman, though older, in what seemed to be a wedding. Smiles and laughter all around. The PI snapped out of it when the couple kissed, dropping his cigarette and almost swerving out of the road. After the brief startle, Wade tried to regain his nerve and stay focused on the empty road. Though the dreams were quite pleasant to him for a reason he couldn’t place his finger on. He didn’t even know who the people were supposed to be, but their smiles made him happy. Maybe it was his mind trying to cheer him up.

Anderson, despite his best efforts, couldn’t stop himself from dozing off again. He was so fatigued that the 15-minute drive felt endless. All he wanted to do was get to town as soon as possible, have a good night’s sleep and carry on with his life. His next dream showed the same couple in various scenarios flashing by the minute. First, they were in what seemed to be an old and rich European city Wade couldn’t recognize. Secondly, they were on a snowy mountain enjoying a ski trip. Then, the couple was seen driving through a quiet road in the countryside. The last dream showed them in a beautiful, tranquil forest, embracing. Just before the couple kissed, the vision was interrupted by the loud sound of a truck’s horn. Wade wasn’t paying attention to the road and was about to crash into the vehicle. At the last second, Anderson frantically turned to the left, as far as he could, almost entirely swerving off the road. He managed to avoid the accident, but was very shaken. Wade rested his head on his palms, then lit a cigarette, attempting to calm his nerves.

As soon as he finished his cigarette, the PI started his car back up and continued on the road, diverting all of his attention on not dozing off and focusing on the road. Shortly after that, the fourth dream started to appear in his mind again and again with Wade stopping it before the end by snapping the fingers on his right hand. Strange, but effective considering his tired state.

Relief overtook him, as he finally reached the town. As expected the drive was only 15 minutes, but it felt like a lot more. The town was dead silent. Almost everybody was asleep, with the only sources of light being the shabby, infrequently placed street lights and Wade’s headlights.

It didn’t take long for him to find the inn, as it was the only building with the lights turned on. He got out of his car, now parked in front of the establishment, stretched and yawned before entering the building.

“Welcome! How may I help you?” – the receptionist, standing behind an old wooden desk, cheerfully greeted Anderson. She was young, about 20, and had green eyes, blonde hair tied in a ponytail.

“Hello, I’d like a-” – Wade was interrupted by that vision again. This time the couple managed to kiss. Anderson felt an odd sense of joy satisfaction from this.

“Um, excuse me, sir.” – The receptionist said, confused, snapping Anderson out from his daydream.

“Ah, sorry.” – Wade responded like he’d just woken up from a deep sleep.”I sorta dozed off there. Spent all day on the road and I’m a bit tired” – he continued.

“I understand.” – she said in the same cheerful tone as before. “Most of the people here usually check in at night. Some of them have even fallen asleep on the spot.” – she continued, giggling. Anderson responded with a smile.

“So, would you like a room?”

“Yes, preferably a smaller one if possible.”

“Your room is on the second floor, the one farthest to the right.” – the receptionist said while handing Wade the keys. “Be sure to have a nice stay!”

“Thank you, I will.” – Wade responded, trying to muster a cheerful tone, despite his fatigue.

The room was indeed small. It had a single window to the far right, as well as a chair, a coffee table and a cupboard next to the bed. He instantly planted himself on the bed face-first and stayed that way for a good minute, finally having some time to rest. Wade then sat on the bed and started to reminisce about the recent events. Surprisingly, he had mostly forgotten the vast majority of the details. Anderson shook his head, preferring to forget about the night altogether and just have a good night’s sleep.

He took off his shoes and coat off, then tucked himself in like a baby. He began to dream of the same faceless couple, how they had fun, laughed and experienced life to the fullest. Eventually, he began to have the same dream of them standing in a forest, embracing, as this time, a white angelic light filled the entire scene. A smile formed on Anderson’s face, as the two were getting ready to kiss, though this time an extremely faint howl could be heard in the distance. So faint that Wade didn’t notice it, as the dream’s perspective changed to that of the man. The man closed his eyes, before the kiss, and then Anderson heard a loud snarl. The man instantly opened his eyes and recoiled, as the same white wolf from before was stalking the man. Before he could react, the animal lunged towards him. Wade woke up in cold sweat, shaken and breathing heavily. The nightmare sending chills down his spine.

After a few moments, Anderson calmed down and tried to dismiss the dream, even though it felt… strange, as if there was something more to it, like it was calling out to him in a way. Despite this, the nightmare quickly faded into the PI’s sub conscience, as he laid on the bed, attempting to sleep. Every time he started to fall back asleep, the same dream would repeat itself, waking him up, shocked, every single time, with the snarls and howls of the wolf getting louder and more pronounced with each repetition.

The vision interrupted Wade’s sleep about a dozen times before he had enough of it. Anderson got out of bed, drowsy. He made his way to the coat to take out his cigarettes, but before that, he noticed something peculiar. There were faint red spots dotted around the sleeves of his shirt and a tiny stream of blood was dripping from his left hand onto the pocket of his coat where he was resting it. Flabbergasted he rolled both sleeves of his shirt to reveal light cuts scattered all around his arms, 11 to be precise.

Wade began to frantically search the room, to get an idea of just what was happening to him. He inspected almost every nook and cranny of the small room, even looked through the window, but found nothing until he looked back at his bed. There he saw his knife, bloodied, lying on the floor. Nobody could have gone into the room, cut him and then gotten away, without Anderson noticing, so was he cutting himself? The thought alone made Wade jump with fear, but if that was the case, then why or even how? Panicking, and having no other ideas, he got back into bed to see what would happen. He fell asleep very easily, almost impossibly so considering his circumstances. Wade had the exact same dream.

When he came to, Anderson immediately examined his arms. There was one additional cut on his right arm. He also noticed that the wounds were going further and further up his arm, by the looks of it. Wade was visibly shaking. He took his coat and attempted to leave, but as soon as he touched the doorknob, he felt an extremely sharp pain in the hand he used to touch the door, and was back near the bed, as if he was instantly transported there. There was one additional wound further up his left arm and this time, the knife was firmly in the grasp of his right hand.

At that point, Anderson started to lose his mind. He was uncontrollably shaking while nervously pacing around the small room, dyeing it in crimson spots of blood. Wade seriously began to fear for his life. He started banging on the door, all the while calling for help to no avail. Minutes passed this way, but nothing was trying to harm Anderson or even attempt it. His fear of danger slowly devolved into a fear of the unknown. This gave him a moment to gather his wits. Anderson decided to stay in one place and wait it out, seeing as the only harm that had come to him was a result of him either trying to leave or fall asleep, so he crouched down near the corner of the room, tightly gripping his coat with both hands.

The time on his watch showed 4:30 AM, which meant that he didn’t have to wait long until morning. Wade took out his phone, which was now almost out of battery, in the hopes of making a call to a close friend, Paul. Anderson’s hope began to grow, as he listened to the phone’s beeping, as it tried to connect. To Wade’s dismay, his hopes were dashed.

“The user is currently not available, please call back at a later time.” – was the robotic response Anderson got.

Wade sighed and lowered his head. He had to call him back later, though it was not like that would make any difference to when or if he’d come. Now all Anderson had to do is bide his time and survive for about two hours until his friend woke up. He rested his head on the wall next to him and unwillingly began to doze off and close his eyes. Just as Wade was about to fall asleep, he snapped himself out of it and woke up, instantly getting to his feet with eyes wide open.

Anderson then started to stretch and pace around the room again, doing anything to not fall asleep. This was working surprisingly well and helped distract him from his predicament… at least until he saw something that shook him to his core. The white deer was standing on the other side of the room, with a large wound between the eyes, dripping blood onto the floor. He almost collapsed from the shock, but, inexplicably, despite his fear, he started to take uneasy steps towards it. It didn’t react in the slightest and just stood there, staring , which made Anderson feel a heavy sense of guilt. He almost started to tear up.

As he approached, Wade extended his hand and timidly started reaching towards the animal, hoping to touch it, expecting to feel relief. When it looked like he was going to reach it, he heard a howl and was blinded by a white light which painted the entire room. In the very next moment Anderson’s head was pointed down, staring into the pool of blood left by the creature, though it was getting bigger as a steady stream of blood was dripping from Wade. It took him a few seconds to process everything, but once he did, the PI screamed in anguish. His knife was firmly lodged into his right eye, with his hand gripping the blade’s handle. Anderson’s terror grew, as he progressively realized that he had stabbed himself.

He started to limp towards his phone, knife still stuck in his eyeball and streaming blood onto the wooden floor. Wade rested next to the bed with his phone in hand and tried to call emergency services. No response, his efforts repaid with another cut on his arm. After a deep sigh, he then opened a messaging app in order to contact Paul. Even if he couldn’t contact him directly, Paul would probably get the memo when he wakes up. If he died, then it would be better if someone knew what happened.

Anderson sluggishly started typing on his phone’s digital keyboard with his left hand as to not get blood on it. To Wade’s surprise, he managed to successfully contact him. His messages were as follows:

“Paul, I need your help.”

“By the time you read this I might already be dead, but there’s still a chance that you might be able to help.”

“Right now I’m lying in a room with dozens of cuts on my arms and a knife jammed in my eye”

“I can’t call for help, or leave. My only hope is that you’ll come to save my ass after you see this.”

“Anyway, I’d feel terrible if I didn’t tell you how I got to this point, though you probably won’t believe it, I still need to get this off my chest.”

“I took a job to investigate a murder in a small town further north. ‘Artur Bay’ is what I think it was called”

“The house the victim lived in was horrendous, I still remember the stench. The murderer took a gun from his house and shot him, then left a note in his mouth, leading me to the nearby forest.”

“That’s when everything went downhill.”

“It felt like I spent half a day just wandering around it, as I was somehow lost and couldn’t find my way out.”

“Then I was attacked by a wolf.”

“Look, I know that sounds ridiculous, but it happened, I swear.”

“It got the jump one me and then ripped part of my coat off.”

“I killed it, but then an even weirder thing happened.”

“A glowing white deer then appeared from somewhere and started guiding me to the exit.”

“We separated and, as I was driving back to town, I started to see strange visions of a faceless couple, nearly crashed because of it.”

“Then I arrived at the inn that I’m currently in.”

“When I tried to sleep the visions kept coming back over and over and again. Every time they woke me up I’d gain a cut around my arms.”

“Every time I attempted to leave, I just get sent back with another wound for my troubles.”

“I actually saw the animal again.”

“It’s trying to kill me.”

“There’s no other explanation.”

“Please Paul, you have to help me.”

“I probably sound like a lunatic, but I beg you to believe me.”

“What’s happening to me is real and I’m scared for my life.”

The phone’s battery completely died after the last message, even though it should have had at least a few minutes worth of charge left. With no other options, Anderson began to rest, his gaze focused on a single point of the wall. He was nearly unmoving, trying to conserve the last bits of strength he had left. Wade started to fall asleep again, as a new dream popped into his head. It was from the man’s perspective again. He was running as fast as he could through a narrow alley. After a minute of running the alley was at its end and the man had to take a turn. An instant before he turned, Anderson snapped out of it and rushed to the door fully knowing the consequences. Unsurprisingly, as soon as he touched the doorknob, another cut appeared on his arm, which meant that there was now nothing stopping the bleeding from his eye.

In a frenzy, Wade broke the window and attempted to throw the knife out, so he couldn’t hurt himself, but right before he threw the blade, he was transported to the bed with the blade jammed in his shoulder. Anderson collapsed and curled up like an infant, the dream continued.

The man saw the faceless woman crying over a corpse, holding a bloody knife. He slowly approached her. The woman turned her head to face him. Wade felt tears streaming down his face. He stood up and started to inch towards the door. His face was that of a defeated man. Wade touched the doorknob and this time he managed to hold onto it, however before he knew it, he had started to uncontrollably stab his right hand with the knife over and over, and over again. Anderson felt an excruciating pain with each stab, as if someone was hammering a heated nail through his arm, but that didn’t faze him. All he had to do was open the door and he’d be free from this nightmare. A subdued smile started to form on his face, as he pushed the doorknob down. When he almost pushed it completely down, the stabbing stopped. He had no strength left in his right hand and couldn’t move his wrist an inch and his left hand wouldn’t let go of the knife.

Anderson, in a moment of realization, started to weep uncontrollably. He sat down on the ground and let the dream continue. The faceless man embraced the woman who looked back at him with a smile of relief. The man, completely calm and composed, pulled out his gun, firmly gripping it with his right hand. He rested it on the woman’s throat. Her face turned into one of distress, as tears began to stream from her now visible, brilliant eyes, as blue as the ocean. The dream faded into a white void, as all that could be heard was a single gunshot. When Anderson came to he was firmly gripping his gun, pressing it to the upper part of his throat. His expression was blank, yet tears streamed like a waterfall down his face. With his mind clear, he pulled the trigger.

The news about Wade’s death came out the next day. Paul received his messages after he woke up and his next few days were spent mourning Anderson’s death and attending his funeral. About the week later the police had cleared everything up and concluded the case as a suicide, and that’s when Paul decided to take a trip to Artur Bay out of concern for his friend and plain guilt for not being a being able to help his friend. He wanted to go there even earlier, but his wife convinced him otherwise. It was not wise to get in the police’s way and was smarter to wait until everything was wrapped up.

When Paul arrived, he first headed to the police station to inquire about both Wade and Andrew’s deaths. What the police said contradicted Anderson’s statements in his messages. Andrew’s house was normal, just unkept. His cause of death was also different, being a large wound in the stomach area, he had no wounds inflicted by a firearm or on his head or throat. There was also no sign of a note near Andrew’s body. Officer Watson had also never seen it, Wade simply asked him about the forest out of the blue.

Paul was confused by this. Anderson always kept it cool and rarely got any detail of a case wrong, especially ones so fatal. He thanked the officers and headed out of the station. The inn was closed due to the incident, so he decided to head out to the forest.

The drive there wasn’t very pleasant, though it was short. Paul headed into the forest, expecting the worst, though his fears were for naught. The scenery was beautiful, as small woodland animals frolicked through lush green trees and bushes. After barely 10 minutes of searching he found the ripped piece of Wade’s coat. In the pocket Paul found his apartment keys and, oddly, an unlabeled, near-empty white bottle of pills. He’d seen Anderson a few days before his death and he wasn’t sick at all or in the near past for that matter, so why would he need them? Paul quickly disregarded the medicine, however, as something else caught his eye. According to Anderson, a wolf bit his coat and ripped this chunk off of it, though it sure didn’t look like that. It seemed as though the fabric was cut with a knife. The only thing supporting Wade’s claim was the uneven pattern of the tear, but that could be imitated easily.

Paul folded the piece of fabric and took its contents, as he continued to walk through the forest. He walked for 20 minutes or so, before circling back to the entrance. He was pretty confused. How could Anderson have been lost in such a tiny forest? To make sure that he didn’t miss anything, Paul made another lap around the area but still found nothing. No wolves, no white deer.

Paul took a deep sigh, as he made his way towards the car. Before leaving, he turned around, pulled out a small flask from his pocket and took a drink of alcohol in memory of his friend, safe driving be damned.

As he got into his car and put on his seatbelt, there was still one thing on Paul’s mind. He knew that he probably wouldn’t find anything new by coming here, though there was one thing that compelled him and one thing that he couldn’t explain. There was a sentence that Wade repeated again and again. After every normal message Anderson typed in:

“I’m so sorry, Anne. Please forgive me.”

CREDIT: Filibu5ter

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