The moment Stacey screamed, Antonia heard the crunch of shifting snow behind her. Her heart instantly started to hammer inside her chest, flooding her body with fresh adrenaline.
A scream perched under her chin, but refused to come out, as her feet began to move, almost by themselves.
Stacey and Joe were both already moving, scrambling ahead – now both on their feet.
Antonia's legs screamed from the sudden rush of activity and her numb feet, lost inside the too-big shoes, threatened to fall out from under her.
She saw Stacey's face as she turned back to look at her. The other woman's hand reached out to grab Antonia's own.
Her fingers closed around Stacey's in a cold grip.
Antonia dared a glance back.
Holy shit! Is that Oskar?
He barely looked human anymore.
More terrifying, however, was how fast he was coming at them. If they didn't do something soon, he was going to catch them.
In a fraction of a second, Antonia had made her decision.
The more people that made it through the night alive, the better.
She dropped Stacey's hand and pivoted on one foot, swinging the hammer that Stacey had given her for protection.
The blunt end hit Oskar in the arm, and he screamed like a wounded animal.
"Go!" Antonia shouted, waving her other hand in an effort to direct Joe and Stacey away from the scene. "Go now!"
She didn't even realise that she never stuttered.
Antonia ran back towards the front of the lodge, in the opposite direction to Stacey and Joe.
Snarling in rage, Oskar recovered from the blow and chased after her.
Reaching the front of the building, Antonia momentarily stopped, whipping her head around as she tried to figure out where to run to.
She was disoriented; the snowy landscape playing tricks with her mind as she attempted to pick out a safe route.
Antonia turned to face him, just as Oskar rounded the side of the building.
The blood rushing through her head sounded like a flock of birds, wings thrashing as they descended on carrion. Her head burned hot, and a sudden harsh breath tore at her throat.
He reared up, stumbling in a drunken sprint. Like a deer on its hind legs.
She saw him running at her, his naked body sunken and starved with famished angles. His limbs were brown with dried blood, and his mouth wet and red. Deep and dark, his pupils were huge and swallowed light like black holes. He seemed taller than before; much taller, and with longer limbs.
Antonia's feet caught on themselves in the mad panic to retreat and she fell back hard on the snow. As she landed, she dropped the hammer.
And just like that he was on her. His fingers clamped tightly on her arms so hard that she could feel her skin and muscles bruise. With a great strength, he shook the hammer from her grip, where it disappeared beneath the blanket of snow.
He stank. The stench of cattle sweat and ammonia suffocated Antonia. It flooded her sinuses and formed tears in her eyes.
Before her eyes completely flinched shut, she saw his teeth snapping. The muscles in his neck bulged and tensed, and suddenly looked huge and powerful.
Instinctively, she kicked her legs and caught him in the side of the knee. His leg buckled and his arms momentarily lost power.
Antonia felt the shift and quickly shook her body with every ounce of strength that she had. She managed to break his grip and scrambled backwards through the snow.
As he reared up again to give chase, she pulled her knee up towards her chest and kicked him in the face. There was a horrible crunch as his nose was broken and blood began to pool in the snow.
Oskar reeled and fell back, grabbing at his face and screaming in pain. His voice sounded distorted, like a creature from a nightmare.
The bite of ice gripped Antonia's fingers as she grasped at the snow and squeezed, trying to prop herself up and escape. Her feet slipped once, twice-
His fingers snatched at her hair from behind and tore out several strands.
Antonia lurched away, flinging herself with every ounce of strength in her legs.
She came down hard and felt something firm bruise against her ribs. It felt rough, like brick. Like the low wall around the decorative garden. The garden where Stacey had gotten the rock she had used to smash the window.
Desperately, her hands wormed down through the snow. There had to be one. There needed to be one.
Her digits closed around a smooth object, just as Oskar gripped her shoulders and ripped her around to face him.
Her pants felt hot as her bladder released in fear and she wet herself.
Antonia swung her hand up.
She smashed his face in with the rock, breaking bone and tearing flesh with a wet sound.
Oskar whimpered and garbled in pain but didn't let go.
His hands still held her, so tight she thought he was going to tear her to pieces.
She carried on hitting him through his curbed cries until he stopped making noise and until she couldn't see his face, because he didn't have one left.
Still, he didn't let go.
Oskar had stopped moving, but his hands were still clamped around Antonia, like a tightened vice.
Antonia tried to look away from the bloody mess that stared down at her, but he was so close that it was impossible. She was glad when the tears that were filling her eyes finally blinded her.
Her head felt hot, and her entire body was wracked with tremors.
The rock, now slick and soaked with blood, slipped from her fingers and she reached down to pry his fingers from her shoulders.
Pulling them off her was like snapping sticks – his fingers were so tight and taut that she had to break them just to get free.
As she touched his hands, Antonia felt his nails. Long and hooked, they were like the claws of an animal.
Hyperventilating, she threw him aside with every ounce of might she had left in her thin arms.
Bile burned her throat. She felt sick.
The sobs of her crying were so forceful that her entire body was lurching. Snot dripped from her nose and phlegm poured from her open mouth as she wailed into the night.
She didn't want to hurt him. She didn't want to kill him.
But she was so sure that he was going to kill her.
Like he'd killed the others.
She had to do it.
She had to.
Antonia tried to stand, fell once, then got back up again.
Stacey and Joe were gone – long gone into the night. They'd managed to escape. She had saved them.
She held onto that thought. The knowledge that she had saved them.
The boots that were too big for her rubbed against her feet as Antonia started walking.
If she could find them, then she would be okay. They would be able to tell her that it was all going to be okay; that she had done the right thing.
Her ragged breaths sawed in her throat, and she looked through her tear-filled eyes into the night, trying to find the path; trying to find her way to the staff cabin.
cUNt HiT mE
bRoKe MY jAW
Oskar Lindqvist felt his bones move.
Beneath his skin, they swelled and grew and contorted. They felt longer. Stronger.
He clenched his fists, the broken fingers realigning and snapping into place as they too grew.
His body twitched violently, before thrashing into motion like he was having a seizure.
The taste of iron in his mouth, from where he swallowed his own blood, was like ecstasy. He felt himself orgasm into the snow.
A long tongue that felt too big for his mouth lapped at the stumps of his jagged teeth and felt them growing from his gums.
The pain was unbearable.
He felt like he was being stretched. Like his body wasn't meant to inhabit the size it now did.
But, more than anything, he just felt