When the car broke down, I was fifty miles past nowhere with another hundred to nothing. The sliver of the moon that remained struggled to peek past the clouds, as I hunched over the engine, hoping to get a glimpse of the problem and keep moving. No one traveled this road after dark.

When the battery died and the lights went out, I settled in for a long walk, careful to keep my feet on the black river of cold pitch. I checked my phone for reception every few minutes until it too turned lifeless in my hands, just another hunk of technology that betrayed me.

The rustling of the brush caused me to nearly leap out of my skin as a bobcat bounded up onto the shoulder and dashed away into the dark, more frightened of me than I of it. I counted to thirty before taking another step, afraid of drawing it back. Ten steps later, I stumbled and fell to my hands and knees. My hands rested in something sticky, but the moon had retreated once again. I stood and wiped my hands on my jeans as the light poked through the shroud above. The lifeless carcass at my feet grinned up at me. It was likely the bobcat, though what was left of it fostered some doubt. My skin began to crawl and I struggled to remain calm. I rubbed the back of my neck, which had grown much warmer.

By the time I felt the hot breath on my neck and hand, it was too late even to scream.

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