Sarah Sanders is so stressed-out at college that she’s having fainting spells. She’s behind on the rent and facing eviction. Dropping out of school feels inevitable. Needing a break, she accepts her boyfriend’s invitation to visit his parents’ ranch out west. But she finds much more in Montana than fresh air and mountain trails.
Ranch hand Jim Anderson has suffered from night terrors for over a year. But despite this secret struggle, his life at the ranch had been a welcomed escape from his past. Until those terrifying dark shadows started coming for him in the middle of the afternoon.
Brought together by an unseen hand, Sarah and Jim must travel across the country to unravel a web of deceit and uncover Jim’s long history of lies before the evidence is sealed away forever.
The eerie silence of a moonless, starless night engulfed him.
Jim shivered. It had been high noon only a few minutes ago. Had he fallen asleep? He didn't remember being tired. He shook his head and tried to focus his groggy mind. He peered around cautiously. Where was his horse?
A rustling sound in the bushes startled him. His eyes darted to investigate.
No, wait. There it was again. Off to the left. His eyes strained, searching for the slightest movement or shape. Something. Anything.
He felt like a kid afraid of the dark.
Fingers of fear teased along the back of his neck. The hairs stood on end. He shivered. Where was that horse?
"Ciervo!" His voice sounded weak even to his own ears. He tried again. Now he was completely hoarse.
Swallowing the panic rising from the pit of his stomach, he took a cautious step forward. He heard stirring in the woods behind him. Squirrels? He listened intently.
The noise came again. No. Definitely not a squirrel. Something was pacing in the woods. Deliberate. Stalking. Jim's mouth went dry.
His cell! He could use it as a light source. Jim's hand brushed at his hip. It wasn't there. He frowned. It always stayed on his belt. He never left the ranch without it.
Jim's eyes strained, but he could barely make out his surroundings. The farther he walked, the darker it got. His breathing came in quick, rapid intakes.
A shrill sound broke the silence. His heart leaped.
Where was he? Was the mountain lion after him?
They were pounding quicker than his rapidly drumming heart. A shadow appeared about thirty feet in front of him.
It wasn't his beloved horse. It looked like something galloping up from Hell.
The horrid creature ran wildly toward him. The cold air caused the hot breath to billow from its nostrils like a smoking dragon.
The horse-shaped beast lowered his head. The creature was preparing to slam into him. Jim threw himself out of its path and landed sharply on his hip. His right thigh slammed into a large, extruded boulder. Fire shot down his leg. Ignoring the pain, he jumped to his feet, eyes probing the darkness for the crazed brute. The ghostly version of Ciervo had vanished.
Despite the cold, he began to sweat. Jim felt eyes boring into him. Someone or something watched him. He was exposed. Unprepared. His heart hammered in his chest. His body refused to move.
Another sound. Different. It wasn't rustling limbs or bushes, and it certainly wasn't the horse's wild hoof beats. It was quiet, like a soft whisper. Crying? No, calling out for something.
He strained to catch the garbled words. The voice grew louder. More urgent. Still he couldn't make out the woeful tone. Then, as if his brain finished translating some cryptic code, the word became clear.
Again. Louder this time. "James... James..." The voice rose and fell in the darkness. Its eerie sound slithered into his ears.
"Hello?" His voice echoed hoarsely. He held onto a feeble hope the voice came from someone nearby lost in the dark along with him. No one here knew him by that name. He stood holding his breath, listening.
Suddenly, a freight train of frigid air knocked him backward. Terrified, he dared not to move. The voice came again.
"You must help. Soon it will be too late--"
An insidious roar erupted around him. Hot, musty breath bathed Jim's face. He struggled backward. He couldn't quite make out the figure standing over him. The silhouette was enormous. Its shoulders spanned at least four feet. An odd-shaped head swayed from side-to-side.
Paralyzed with fear, Jim lay helpless. The creature rose to stand upright. Seven. Eight feet tall. Jim gasped for air. His feet tore into the soft ground, trying to gain footing. Desperately trying to get away. The creature came crashing toward him.