What was that? Lacey stopped and began to panic.
She thought she had seen a pair of glowing red eyes – coming out from behind that tree nearby, at the Ulu Sembawang Park Connector. And they didn’t look human at all. Could it be from a ghost?
Or had it been her imagination? Ghosts didn’t exist, right?
She adjusted her head lamp again and frowned. Maybe it had been making her see these things.
And she herself was completely tired and fatigued, as she had been running since 7am that morning. She was taking part in the 101km category at the Craze Ultra event. And she just wanted to finish the race and get home to sleep. So she may have been imagining things.
But what was this? Lacey may have been half-asleep earlier, but she was wide awake now.
She saw the glowing red eyes again. This time they were a lot nearer. Too near for comfort, in fact. Lacey felt a shiver run through her spine. After all, Craze Ultra was taking place during the Hungry Ghost Festival.
Then the red eyes were right in front of her.
Lacey pinched herself. She definitely had to be dreaming.
It hurt. Badly.
No, definitely not her imagination playing riot. It was real.
Lacey started to panic. She cursed herself for signing up for this.
Now, it wasn’t just one pair of glowing red eyes in front of her.
There were two. No, three. No, four.
The four figures edged closer and closer to her.
Now she could see what they were. They had glowing blood-red eyes, and eerily pale skin. They were definitely not human.
Two of them had long, black hair down to their waist complete with a long fringe each. The other two had a crew cut, but with a long fringe covering everything else on their face… except for their red eyes.
She guessed that they had originally been two couples on a double date that had gone tragic.
At the same time, she also noticed that all four of them were dressed in running singlets and shorts and wearing compression socks… just like her. They also still had a hydration pack strapped around them. Just like her.
And furthermore, on each and every single one of their chests, there was a gaping black hole where the heart should be.
Lacey was completely stunned for several seconds. She froze and could not think.
They could have been runners or hikers, just like her.
What had befallen them? And how long ago had it been?
Then she came to her senses. She realised that they were about to form a circle around her.
What did they want from her? Lacey didn’t want to know.
Her adrenaline took over. She took off and ran as fast as she could. She didn’t have any idea which direction she was going. And she didn’t look back.
Her whole body was exhausted, but there was only one thing on her mind – To escape from those creatures, whatever they were.
But she eventually had to stop for breath. Lacey stopped, hoping that she had somehow managed to escape the creatures.
Alas, when she looked up… she saw that she hadn’t moved an inch. She was in exactly the same place where she had initially seen those creatures.
What had happened? She had moved… hadn’t she? Or had those creatures made her merely think that she had tried to escape?
Lacey began to panic. The creatures had now formed a semi-circle around her and they were closing in.
“Who are you? What do you want from me?” Lacey said, when she finally realised that she had a voice.
But she only got howls from the creatures in response.
Then the ground opened up underneath her.
Lacey fell. Deeper, deeper, deeper. The further down she went, the hotter it got.
The fall seemed to be never-ending.
Unconsciously, she touched the chain that she always wore around her neck – it had a pendant in the shape of a cross. And she closed her eyes and began to pray.
She didn’t dare to open her eyes, but she then felt her surroundings change.
It grew less hot. It began to get slightly cooler around her. She could feel a slight breeze and humid air.
Then there was solid ground beneath Lacey’s feet.
Did she dare to open her eyes now?
And found that she was standing in front of CheckPoint 1 of Craze Ultra. Four of her friends were chilling out and relaxing there.
Lacey gasped with sheer relief and she ran straight into them.
“What happened Lacey?” they all asked her.
Then they seized her… with an iron grip…
Lacey looked up at them.
And she saw, to her sheer horror, that every single one of them had glowing red eyes…
She panicked and she froze again.
Then she heard laughter and cackling. Her four friends transformed, right in front of her eyes, to become the four pale-skinned figures she had seen earlier…
Lacey really fainted this time… and the only thing she was aware of, before passing out, was that her surroundings were becoming hotter… and hotter…