I hear a clicking noise behind me as I walk through the woods. I stop to find where it’s coming from in the dark expanse of woods. Standing perfectly still I listen closely. Is it a bird or an insect? Both seem unlikely as it is the beginning of winter and snow lightly muffles everything around. Beginning to shiver, I can’t help but notice the chattering of my teeth sounds eerily similar to the noise coming from the woods.
I begin walking, but a few steps in I swear I hear whispering. I stop again, concerned that someone may need help.
“Hello?” I shout. No response.
“….cold” I hear faintly.
Moving closer I hear it more clearly,
“I’m so cold…”
Now I’m very concerned that someone is hurt and push my way through the snowy branches.
I find a small cave and in front is a pile of rags. Based on the size I worry it’s a child and I approach. The chattering gets louder and I notice an odd smell. Starting to have second thoughts I call out. There’s something very wrong here. It begins to stand, and I can now see that it isn’t a pile of rags after all, but a creature covered in what looks like rotted skin. I turn to run, screaming, but in instant hands are grasping my face as it spews a liquid into my mouth. I fall, trying to scramble away, but can’t move. I’ve lost control of my body.
Paralyzed, I’m fully aware as it grasps my feet and drags me into the cave. I feel everything as it cuts deep into my skin from the back of the head to the base of my feet. Excruciating, the pain gets worse as the knife slides under, peeling the skin from muscle. I want to scream, want to cry, want to die, but I cannot move as I watch it remove my skin and crawl into it. My awareness fades and I fall into a deep sleep.
I sleep for a long time, but one day I wake and it’s not moving. It’s dead. Desperate for protection on my battered remains I place my skin back onto my body, too exhausted to do more and fall back to sleep awakening only from hunger. Too weak to leave, I maintain myself for days eating the only thing nearby: the body of the creature.
I wake up to the sound of my teeth chattering. It is very cold and my rotten skin no longer offers the protection it once had. There’s nothing left to eat and I know I must leave if I want to live. I crawl out of the cave, but am too weak and flop to the ground. After a while, I hear something over my whimpers and chattering. Someone calling out. I want to shout for help, but all I manage is “I’m so cold.” As they get closer I can’t help but think that their skin would be very very warm.