Doug tucked Scarlett under his arm and they again raced up the stairs. As they ascended she could hear her father mumbling a prayer. She never knew her father to be religious, he would rather spend more time on a dig than walk into a chapel. His praying and the cold sweat dotting his face and arms were a bad omen. Martin hurried to blockade the door with heavy furniture. There was only one door to the cottage meaning they were trapped until the helicopter arrived.
Scarlett was brought back to the far dusty room, only this time her father stayed holding her close to him. They waited for Martin to join them, but he never did. They heard him downstairs, “I…I think it’s leaving. Jeff…no, no, no…” The despondency in his voice drained almost all of Scarlett’s hope of survival. However, as long as her dad was near she still had a glimmer of hope.
“What the—? Oh hell!” Martin exclaimed as the cottage suddenly rocked hard as if a large car struck it. The sound of splintering wood caused a chill to run through Scarlett’s body; the hair on the back of her neck stood up. CRACK! The cottage rocked again and more wood splintered. The heavy furniture could be heard toppling over and Martin’s cry as he was pinned under one of the furniture.
The sound of giant claws digging through the old walls in rapid succession filled the air. Coupled with Martin’s grunts as he tried to free himself caused a more painful strain on the ears than nails on a chalkboard. Unexpectedly a roar of victory shrieked from the beast and they could hear it enter the cottage, stepping on the toppled furniture, and crushing Martin underneath. His scream of pain froze Scarlett’s blood, and she forgot to breathe as she felt the whole cottage would collapse under his scream.
Martin’s scream was abruptly silenced and the sound of tearing flesh filled the air. Scarlett began to fill dizzy as the sound of crunching bones resounded up the floorboards. In the wane of moonlight she could see her father’s face had gone pale. They could only hope the monster did not venture up the stairs.
In the distance they could now hear the faint chop, chop, chop of an approaching helicopter. We’re saved! thought Scarlett. Doug withdrew a flare from his pocket and was going to wait until the helicopter was visible before igniting it. Scarlett crept toward the window perusing the sky for signs of the helicopter’s blinking lights. Then she saw it silhouetted against the moonlight.
She gave a yelp of relief and suddenly caught herself, but the damage was done. The beast stopped its morbid feast on Martin, and they could hear it approaching the stairs cautiously like a predator stalking an unfamiliar, possible threat. The sound of the monster putting its weight on the stairwell as the wood creaked under the strain was subtle, but it struck Scarlett’s ears like a gunshot.
Panic overtook her once more and her body began to shake uncontrollably. She lost all control of her bowels and was on the verge of fainting.
“The helicopter’s almost here, Sweetie,” her father whispered. “Just hang on. I’m gonna get you outta here.” His voice was calm and strong, contradicting the intense tremors coursing through his arms and legs. He reached up and opened the window while simultaneously igniting the flare. The shadows cast by the sudden flash of red light caused Scarlett to jump. The helicopter made its way over to the cottage and began to descend slowly until it was just above the window; the pilot was not willing to chance hovering lower in fear of striking the rotor on the roof.
The door slid open on the helicopter and two more men inside were visible. They threw down a rolled ladder at the window. Doug picked up Scarlett and told her to climb the ladder. “I’m right behind you!” he yelled over the whine of the helicopter.
All of a sudden a roar from the stairs drowned out the sound of the engines. The creature seemed to have lost all cautiousness and bounded up the stairs intent on not losing its prey. There was no way for them to escape if Scarlett’s father attempted to squeeze through the window. One look into her father’s eyes and Scarlett knew that was what he was thinking.
“Get her out of here!” he yelled to the men. Then he looked at her and shouted, “I love you, Scarlett!” The sound of the room’s door shattering was not as fast as the monster that grabbed her father’s legs and tore him away from the window.
“No, Daddy! Noooooo!” Her scream combined with his, and the helicopter pulled away from the cottage, ascending as the two men pulled Scarlett up. She became incoherent as the helicopter raced away. The two men and pilot were terrified by what transpired, and even more so when, even at the distance they had put between them and the cottage, a horrendous roar filled the air.
Scarlett woke up screaming, her sheets and pajamas were soaked with cold sweat. It had been 15 years since the incident in France that summer of 1998. She had been so traumatized by the event that the memory was suppressed in her subconsciousness. When the doctors, investigators, and family questioned her on the events she could not recall what had occurred; she always began shaking and would become discombobulated. Now the memory came racing back, haunting her. Why? she wondered. She shook the memory off as a nightmare.
Her friends were planning a road trip through France, and on the itinerary they had plans to go camping and hiking. Where were we going to go camping? She tried to recall the name of the mountain range. It was Vossomething.
Oh yeah! The Vosges Jura Alps!