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The smell hit them before they reached the woods.
"Jesus," Aaron said, "What in ..."
"Bad, right?" Jeff said. "That's why I wanted you to come along." He moved his eyes to include Conner, and then further to include Katie and Amy. "That hit me hard, just like it did you...." He walked to the edge of the woods and peered in. "Come on," he said. "Take a look at this." He stepped into the tree line and disappeared from sight almost entirely. Just another shadow in the shadows that made the tree line their home.
Katie stepped into the shadowed woods and her eyes adjusted almost immediately. Once they did she could see well in the shadowed clearing, and it was clear to her that something had been living here. She stopped, Amy bumped up against her and then pressed her body tightly to her own, burying her face in Katie's neck.
"My God," Amy whispered against her neck. She pulled away a second later and walked quickly back out into the sunshine. Katie looked after her, hesitated, and then went after her. Conner, Aaron and Jeff stood in the shadows looking over the small area that had been hollowed out of the woods.
The carcass of a small calf lay rotting a few feet away. The throat torn open, the stomach bloated, swollen, intestines spilling out of her side where whatever had killed her had been feeding. A few feet away a shriveled corpse, whether man or woman it was hard to tell. But whatever had been feeding on the calf had been feeding on the body also. The head had been dragged several feet away. Most of the chest was gone, one arm, and the stomach lay open. A hollowed cavity.
Conner raised his eyes and took in the gloom. His eyes searching the area.
"Something's been living here," Jeff said quietly...