I’ve been working on my erotic horror novella, “The Thicket," a werewolf story involving magical geology and Celtic paganism. I love to use the theories I knock around here for my fictional stories and this time it was the one involving geology’s effects on phenomenon and retaining history within, in this case spellbinding.
It dawned on me that the way in which I go about describing a scene is critical to bringing out the most tension and terror. So, I thought, why not let ya’all decide which way of writing a scene works best? #1 or #2? They are both unedited and raw, but let me know which is going in the direction for the most terror.
I won’t give you any back story because I think that scene in a novel will play out better if they can stand alone so that if you hadn’t read the rest of the story, you’d still understand what was happening.
1. A prickling feeling raced through her body, quickly followed by a deep penetrating chill. Following the single lonely howl, the woods went quiet again and the feeling of being watched was so strong that Ivy turned in a cautious circle, studying the underbrush.
“Who’s there?” She pleaded.
The only one with a dog that howled like a wolf and had reason to be in the woods was Ian. Perhaps he still was searching for clues to find his brother’s body for a proper funeral. Still, she never knew Ian as one to hide from a dear friend. In fact, he’d likely lecture her about being in the woods alone if he ran into her.
A darting movement in the bushes to her right brought Ivy back to life. She shot off after it, heading towards the caves through the dense overgrown path.
“Ian?” She called out, her icy breath fogging up the air around her, making it hard to see the next turn in the path.
All at once, the ground opened up and Ivy swayed wildly, grabbing a sapling nearby to keep from falling. A pop-up hole from one of the caves sat unprotected under her toes.
Shakily, she dropped to her knees and peered in, seeing only a tiny section of moss down below where the light reached.
“Hello?” She called out, her voice echoing with a desperate hollow ring.
She had chased the man in this direction. He should have fallen into the hole. Frantic for a sign of life, she tilted her head and peered in as something moved through the halo of light. All she saw was a blur of dark auburn hair.
“Ian?” She leaned further still to try to peer into the corners. ”Ian, are you all right?”
He moved past the light again as if pacing. If he was moving, surely he was all right, but why wasn’t he answering? Then, he stepped into the bit of light and his head turned upward and Ivy’s mind couldn’t fathom what she was seeing. The hideous face ducked again and he rushed away into the darkness of the dripping cave.
She struggled to stay on the ground, but Ivy was falling forward towards the hole. Clutching the bush beside her, her leg fell into the hole and then her other leg followed quickly. The only thing keeping her on solid ground was the brittle dying bush.
“Help!” She screamed just as something brushed her ankle below.
Desperately, she clutched for a better hold to lift herself away from it. Her legs kicked blindly to ward off whatever had brushed up against her. Then the wiry fur tickled her ankle again, bringing back the image of that face. At the brink of hysteria, she clutched for a better handhold while something below clasped her foot and tugged.
2. Breathless and exhausted, Ivy stopped and sucked in the cold chilly air, her breath puffing out before her face and blocking her view of the path. Whoever had taken off through the thicket had a speed and agility that surpassed hers. She rubbed the stitch in her side and willed herself to slow down her breathing, but the urgency remained. Someone was watching her. She knew it because the hairs on her body stood on end, even though beneath her jacket she was perspiring.
Ivy squinted into the brush around her, looking for any signs of movement. She knew he was there, could feel his eyes upon her. Why didn’t he let himself be known?
Only one man had a reason to be in the thicket and that was Ian. She understood his need to find and bury his brother’s body, but the thicket cursed the men who entered it and he was risking much by being in there so long. Ivy checked her watch. It had been an hour. Jack said men couldn’t last more than 45 minutes in the thicket without becoming animal-like and aggressive. Was she tempting fate being in here with this man who might not be of sound mind?
As if reading her very fear, something powerful rushed towards her through the thick undergrowth. As it pounded the ground, the saplings around her dispersed their last bright leaves to the ground.
Ivy plummeted through the raspberry canes. They dug into the arms of her jacket, slowing her down as she fell forward onto her knees on a ridge of rocks. The momentum sent her down the embankment to the wet earth below.
Winded and in pain, she struggled to sit up and get her breath, her head pounding. From the corner of her eye she saw something tall and dark pacing the ground above her, but Ivy’s concentration was on getting back up again. Splintering pain shot through her ankle and blood trickled into her eye as she tried to stand. She reached up to wipe it away and her eyes glanced up to see a dark outline as it came down the hill towards her in only a few long strides. Just as it stopped before her, she quivered as she raised her head, afraid to see the rest of it once she’d seen its hairy feet and legs. Ivy’s bloody hand trembled in front of her and her eyes fluttered close, darkness engulfing her as she slumped to the ground.