Never taking your eyes off the Butcher, you reach down and grab a long, flaming branch from the fire, you hand it to Meredith.
The Butcher creeps around the fire, body lower and lower to the ground. Waiting for it’s moment to pounce.
You grab a branch of your own and you think, just for a moment, that it pauses. It’s worried. You can hear it’s breathing, low and labored. It’s around the fire now, blocking the exit.
For a moment, neither of you move.
Then it pounces.
You both thrust your branches in front of you and it crashes through them. It rips you to the ground and sends Meredith sprawling, her gut sliced open by the Butcher’s razor-sharp fingers. she stumbles to her feet, branch still in hand.
But The Butcher stumbles, too. You impaled it, your branch jutting out from its torso as blood drips to the snow. But still it is right on top of you, head arching back, teeth gleaming. It’s long, malleable claws lower slowly towards your arm, preparing to carve you up. This is it, you think…
Meredith cracks her branch over it’s head! The Butcher goes limp.
Quickly, you shove it off, grab Meredith’s hand, and sprint into the woods.
By the time find your way out of The Glen, it’s almost morning. The two of you slump, exhausted, into an empty field. Everything is cold and white, new snow coating the landscape. A thick trail of blood back into the forest, a perfect roadmap for anything that wants to find you.
But nothing comes.
You’ve used what’s left of Meredith’s coat to stop the bleeding from her stomach, but you both know that you can’t run any further. It’s cold. So, so cold.
So you and Meredith do your best to huddle into your warm winter coat, sharing your heat as the chill wind whips around you. You can’t feel your fingers. Your eyes are freezing shut.
And then you hear the helicopters.
As if brought back to life, the two of you leap up, hands waving as the rescue crew descends upon you with doctors, blankets, and water. The load Meredith into the copter first, then come back for you. And though your vision is woozy, your senses fried, you take one last look in the dark forest. And you swear, as the helicopter carries you to safety, a disembodied mouth of perfectly white teeth smiles at you through the trees.