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Monsters in the Trees

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After all the screaming was done, Jenny Camacho seemed to relax a little, but not completely.

If I stay here, will he just kill me or continue to torment me? She thought as she looked toward the ranger shack. She knew exactly what he would do and the thought of it sent shivers down her spine. That was enough for her to continue avoiding the sick son of a bitch. She knew she just had to move on.

Fighting to keep her thoughts centered she started following the trail again. This time she had a more determined goal. She wanted freedom. However, death seemed more and more likely than a rescue. The forest gave the maniac his much needed coverage. He could kill her once and take a day doing it before anyone would know. That’s when she realized that the beauty and greenery surrounding her had begun to take on a more ominous nature. The tall trees humped over like attacking creatures and the vines looked like serpents and snakes. All the larger leaves dangling started to look like monsters in the trees. The wind was circling her as if it wanted to make her dizzy and knock her down.

Jenny Camacho remained silent for a moment, lost in terror. The beauty of the forest had totally changed. She had a new concern. The socio-path and the dangers hidden in the forest, disguised as beauty.

After a few more dark thoughts invaded her mind she just snapped out of her melancholy.

“I got to keep moving.” She half whispered.

She was very thirsty and her throat kept reminding her of that fact. She wanted to drink down the entire river, but she didn’t want to stop. It was then when she came across a small pond. It could have been a duck pond, but it didn’t matter. She had to drink.

Jenny was drinking from the pond and describing the unpleasant taste at the same time. Because of the water splashing in and out of her mouth, she made little noises, but was unable to put together a coherent word. She was just trying to tell herself that the water tasted like dirt, but it cured her thirst.

Then, there it was. Staring, the reason she was being chased down by a crazed lunatic. It was her reflection that stared right back at her from the water. She looked at her reflection with confusion and frustration practically leaping out of her eyes.

She hated it. Her nose was too small, and there was too much forehead. Her hair hung there like lifeless string, and she was thin, perhaps too thin. At least that’s how the water described her. It was also the reason she was being hunted. The socio-path thought he was doing her parents justice. He had it in his mind that youth and beauty could be maintained. Time steals away beauty and there is nothing anyone could do about it. The lunatic decided that he could do something about it. If he could kill you while you are at your best, the photos will serve as permanent proof that beauty could be imprisoned. There would never be a photo or an image of an uglier you. The memories of all the dead women will be at their most attractive state.

Jenny Camacho pulled herself back away from her image. She grabbed a flat, smooth stone and hurled it at where her image once appeared.

She heard some noises coming from the brush behind her. It was so minor the noises that under ordinary circumstances, there wasn’t cause for the slightest concern. But this was no ordinary circumstance, and she had to run without doubt. She jumped over a small grouping of vines and landed directly in front of a wild dog. It was a smaller dog, but it was barely inches away from her face.

She gasped in surprise and skidded back as far as should could. The wild dog crooked his head and started panting. There was no violent movement coming from the dog. In fact, it was staring at Jenny just like a puppy would.

“Good boy,” she softened. “I’ll leave you alone.”

The dog whined a little.

“It’s okay,” she continued. “I won’t hurt you.”

Footfalls filled the area as Jenny tried to remain still. The wild dog thought that she wanted to play so it jumped right into her lap.

“Please, please be quiet,” she whispered.

The dog barked.

“Please.”

The dog’s ears stood at alert. It heard the noises coming from the duck pond, and decided it had to take a look.

“Come back,” Jenny half whispered.

The dog dove right over her, leaving the concerned Jenny behind. Ducks and other wild birds were scattering everywhere, squawking in confusion. It was then when she heard the wild dog become vicious by nature. The dog was challenging the lanky man, bellowing his defiance.

“God help the dog, please,” said Jenny as she took that time to put some space between her and the socio-path.

The maniac was wielding a long weapon. Jenny caught it from the corner of her eye as she slipped into the dense part of the forest. She had this urge to go back and help the wild dog, but she couldn’t do it. She staggered down a small path overgrown with poison ivy, her mind and body reeling.

There it was. The yelp that came from the wild dog was a clear indication that it lost the battle. Jenny stood there briefly, waiting for him. She had her fists clenched in a new found rage.

What am I doing? She thought.

Her body suddenly began to stiffen. She seemed to lose control over her feet as she tried to run. She tried everything she could to move, but there was nothing she could do. It was as if her legs took root and she was turning into one of the forest trees. She looked down in horror, but didn’t see any reason why she couldn’t move.

She was frozen in place and she couldn’t comprehend any of it. She then heard a whistling sound coming from the left side of her. Her neck, although feeling like a tree bark, was moving slowly toward the sound. Her arms started swaying like tree branches in the wind. Her legs started feeling the blood flowing and suddenly she was able to move.

RUN! Her mind shouted in rapid successions.

So she did.

that-scene-played

Can You?

© 2014 Frank Atanacio

Comments

Frank Atanacio (author) from Shelton on April 01, 2018:

thank you...:)

Li-Jen Hew on April 01, 2018:

@Frank lol...hope i can run fast...thanks! :)

Frank Atanacio (author) from Shelton on April 01, 2018:

Then run... run fast!!!! LOL thanks for reading my monsters Li-Jen

Li-Jen Hew on April 01, 2018:

The scariest story I've seen so far, by you. Good one. Jenny is like my name. :O

Frank Atanacio (author) from Shelton on January 16, 2018:

thanks sweetiePie for digging up this older flash.. bless you

SweetiePie from Southern California, USA on January 15, 2018:

As someone who has walked in the forest, I am now scared and intrigued to know what happens next.

Frank Atanacio (author) from Shelton on March 30, 2016:

winged thanks you're the best :)

William Thomas from That Great Primordial Smash UP of This and That Which Gave Rise To All Beings and All Things! on March 30, 2016:

Frank, this is a good, old fashioned, rugged adventure-chase. I like the enigmatic, ambiguous ending. I wouldn't change a thing, to be honest with you.

W.T.

Frank Atanacio (author) from Shelton on March 29, 2016:

Thank you Shyron for relighting this fire.. LOL and Dana, Flourish and Always bless you guys for stopping by again...:) Frank

Dana Tate from LOS ANGELES on March 29, 2016:

I'm sure you are getting many more views after Shyron did such an amazing job continuing your story with her "Flight for Freedom. Both of them are simply amazing.

FlourishAnyway from USA on March 28, 2016:

Glad to see this making the rounds again, Frank!

Shyron E Shenko from Texas on March 28, 2016:

P.S. Cindy James sends her regards'.

Shyron E Shenko from Texas on March 27, 2016:

Ruby, Ruby, our gem of a friend

You can continue this I know you can

I thought I was following but missed somehow

That is why I didn't read it till now

So Frank my friend this is where my following you begins

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on March 27, 2016:

Wow, I was not following you when you issued this challenge. Great story! I just read Shyron's and it was top-notch. I am so far behind, doubt if I can read them all....Another challenge would be fun..Hint!

Frank Atanacio (author) from Shelton on March 22, 2016:

Hi Shyron it's never too late to see different endings... :) Frank

Shyron E Shenko from Texas on March 19, 2016:

I guess I am late to this party, but after the voting this May I just may take you up on writing an ending/continuing of this story, unless it is a closed one.

Let me know if the challenge is still on going.

Blessings and hugs.

Frank Atanacio (author) from Shelton on October 12, 2015:

thank you again Pegcole :) bless you

Peg Cole from North Dallas, Texas on October 11, 2015:

It's funny that when I was scrolling through your stories that I picked this one to read for a second time. Your use of suspense is truly masterful. Reading it again was just as intriguing as it was the first time. Great tale!

Frank Atanacio (author) from Shelton on June 17, 2015:

thank you for reading my monsters avian :) and welcome to my pages

Deb Hirt from Stillwater, OK on June 17, 2015:

Very, very nice descriptions. Literally, fear can make us freeze. You successfully captured that moment and parlayed it into a scene of utter terror. Excellent work.

Frank Atanacio (author) from Shelton on May 19, 2015:

thank you akriti

Akriti Mattu from Shimla, India on May 19, 2015:

Your story amazed me:)

Frank Atanacio (author) from Shelton on November 10, 2014:

:) anytime

ubrish ali from Pakistan(Asia) on November 10, 2014:

Welcome Frank

Frank Atanacio (author) from Shelton on November 10, 2014:

thank you ubrish

ubrish ali from Pakistan(Asia) on November 10, 2014:

Awesome style.keep it Up

Frank Atanacio (author) from Shelton on October 05, 2014:

thank you rasta

Marvin Parke from Jamaica on October 05, 2014:

Very detailed storytelling. Strong imagination and expressions.

Frank Atanacio (author) from Shelton on September 30, 2014:

thank you shegetscreative

Angela F from Seattle, WA on September 30, 2014:

great story - don't have it in me to even begin to suggest an ending right now, but enjoyed it and looking forward to reading others' alternate endings.

Frank Atanacio (author) from Shelton on September 02, 2014:

thank you clive :)

Clive Williams from Jamaica on September 02, 2014:

never seizes to amaze, good writing frank dear boy.

Frank Atanacio (author) from Shelton on August 07, 2014:

thank you imtii :)

Imtiaz Ahmed from Dhaka, Bangladesh on August 07, 2014:

This will be the best story I have read in months. The ending was very interesting Frank! I am giving a thumbs up! I will visit you often! :)

Frank Atanacio (author) from Shelton on February 14, 2014:

give it a try :)

onetouchnewlife on February 14, 2014:

I'm wondering if I could do this even though I'm late to the party. I've been on a one year haitus and this specific blog challenge compelled me to come back.

Frank Atanacio (author) from Shelton on January 26, 2014:

Betty, they are all so well done.... different but so well done :)

Betty Niall on January 26, 2014:

Frankie some of the endings to monsters are so good just so you know

Frank Atanacio (author) from Shelton on January 23, 2014:

Ill check it out now :)

pochinuk on January 22, 2014:

Frank,

Caboose here...hitched on the train for sure now.

Here it is:

https://pochinuk.hubpages.com/hub/A-Branch-in-The-...

-pochinuk

Frank Atanacio (author) from Shelton on January 22, 2014:

thanks pegcole17

Peg Cole from North Dallas, Texas on January 20, 2014:

Great beginning to a suspense filled story. I'm eager to read the submissions for alternate endings.

Frank Atanacio (author) from Shelton on January 19, 2014:

lol give it a try I say to the caboose :) thanks for reading my monsters Frank

pochinuk on January 19, 2014:

Frank,

"...alternative endings.."

I want to join your well-trained crew here to companion your fine writing. For now, I must hitch on as a caboose, traveling behind...keep making this offer, I am enjoying the tails.

Choo, choo,

-pochinuk

Frank Atanacio (author) from Shelton on January 16, 2014:

you go girl..:)

Joanna Chandler from On Planet Earth on January 16, 2014:

Frank oh please! Of course i can bake a cake I am a TOP CHEF and by the way I CAN DO ALL THINGS THROUGH CHRIST WHO GIVE ME STRENGTH. Boooooo boooo.

Frank Atanacio (author) from Shelton on January 15, 2014:

thank DDE for stopping by.. and Cat what a wonderful comment bless you, Ill be visiting your page tonight and checking out your work bless you.. Annart, yes give it a try so many wonderful and creative endings, my mind is still blown :)

Ann Carr from SW England on January 15, 2014:

Great story! Also a great idea to challenge people to alternative endings. I'm off to try to do just that!

Looking forward to reading more of your hubs as well as others' alternative endings.

Ann

Catherine Tally from Los Angeles on January 14, 2014:

Frank,

Not only have you written 2 very dark and suspenseful stories to enjoy, your challenge has brought out a half-day's worth of writing treasures from other wonderfully talented hubbers. Thank you so much for that pleasure! You've made my day.

All the best,

Cat :)

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on January 14, 2014:

Great writing and you had my eye reading on a well thought of hub.

Frank Atanacio (author) from Shelton on January 13, 2014:

You to dear Faith... and ladyfiddler dont be a chicken... it's like baking a cake.. you can bake a cake..right?

Joanna Chandler from On Planet Earth on January 13, 2014:

Nice Frank, hmmm poor Jenny got to keep running from this psychopath .I see that you have brought out other people's short story skills. I love writing short stories wrote a few on my hubs but i am too weary to even join maybe next time.

Have a wonderful day i am sleep typing now.

Faith Reaper from southern USA on January 13, 2014:

Have a great week, dear Frank!

Frank Atanacio (author) from Shelton on January 12, 2014:

Thank you so much Faith..I do agree and thank you for making Jenny come to life via your and everyone who took part in the alternate endings.. and thank you to tobusiness..I had fun watching my creation grow wings so to speak..bless you guys :)

Jo Alexis-Hagues from Lincolnshire, U.K on January 12, 2014:

Frank, I totally agree with Faith and Cam, now I can publish my version of what happened when Jenny took her revenge. I hope you make this into a series, it was a very enjoyable exercise, thank you for the inspiration.

Faith Reaper from southern USA on January 12, 2014:

Hi Dear Frank, that is a great idea to leave this just as a challenge and not a competition, then by us publishing our alternate endings as our own hubs, we get credit for our time spent writing on HP and plus it keeps it fun. In addition, as a bonus to us, you are sending your readers and fans to our HP pages, which may get us more readers in the long run! Thank you for giving us an opportunity to stretch our imaginations and at the same time have fun, especially if it is a genre in which one normally does not write in, like me. By keeping it a challenge and not a competition, it also allows you to, as Cam indicated, keep Jenny alive in your writings or come to the specific ending you so choose, if ever. Blessings and have a great Sunday, Faith Reaper

Frank Atanacio (author) from Shelton on January 11, 2014:

Sand, I dont delete comments.. you're the third person who told me that this week..hmm.. Im sorry if something happened :(

SandCastles on January 11, 2014:

Hello Frank,

Well I submitted the story and even edited the story on this page. And since you rejected my comment from one of your other stories (when I wasn't trying to be rude at all), I just assumed that you did it again. It was a good ending (I thought so anyway); a bit funy really.

Sc.

Frank Atanacio (author) from Shelton on January 11, 2014:

go ahead give it a try Kids.. I bet you'll do just fine :)

kidscrafts from Ottawa, Canada on January 11, 2014:

I can see that I have to visit other hubs to read other endings :-) What a great way to stimulate the mind and connect with other hubbers!

I felt very bad for the dog! The dog was a small ray of hope that was snatched from her!

It's a very nice initiative that you started here! As much as I would like to write my own ending, I know that my English is not good enough for this high caliber challenge. I am way better with paper, paint and brushes :-) But I can totally appreciate the work of others!

Joelle

Frank Atanacio (author) from Shelton on January 10, 2014:

Cam, the endings are so good I couldn't dare change or add anything else.. you guys just know how to write period...:)

Chris Mills from Traverse City, MI on January 10, 2014:

Frank, I fully agree with your approach on the poll. We are enjoying reading all the alternative endings and that is enough. No need to make it a competition. As for making Jenny into a series, this is first and foremost your story. Write your own ending that doesn't involve Jenny's demise. That way you can carry on with more stories. Just a thought. No one will mind if you resurrect Jenny from the dead, or from her hawkish incarnation. Thanks again.

Frank Atanacio (author) from Shelton on January 10, 2014:

Jodah, Genna and Phyllis thanks for agreeing on the poll..I'm just doing it because I get a lot of folks going from one to the other...Jodah, faith Tobusiness..that made me curious!!! as for a series.. there is her demise remember? LOL you guys have been great bless you

Frank Atanacio (author) from Shelton on January 10, 2014:

Sands, you'd think I would delete a comment..? wow, thought we had a better understanding. If you think I deleted your comment I'll apologize, but I didn't see your comment or I would have replied to it... Frank :(

Phyllis Doyle Burns from High desert of Nevada. on January 10, 2014:

Cheers to Jodah and Genna -- I also agree the way you will take the poll for best ending, Frank. We are having so much fun that it would be sad to make it competitive.

I also agree with Jodah on a series for Jenny Camacho. I have a friend who wrote one story on a character that turned into six books (so far) and the series is very successful.

Genna East from Massachusetts, USA on January 10, 2014:

Thanks, Frank. I took a different tact and approach to my ending. It’s been fascinating to see the different ideas.

I wrote the idea and outline of the ending but will not have time to write the entire story until next week. Thank you for the extension. :-) I also agree with you and Jodah in that this shouldn’t be a competitive endeavor amongst hubbers. I think your decision is very thoughtful.

Just so I understand, we are to continue the story as a continuation of what happens after “Monsters In the Trees,” and, “So she did.” Yes?

SandCastles on January 10, 2014:

So you just deleted my story; thanks. You didn't say in the rules that we had to make the ending into a hub. I don't do story hubs. I took the time to write an ending and wrote it as a response in the comment section and for you to just delete it, wow, thanks.

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on January 10, 2014:

Jenny has certainly developed into a popular and well known character Frank. Maybe you will have to start a series of stories based around her adventures. The girl who always finds herself in difficult situations. I think a poll outside of hub pages is a great idea, because then it's not biased by who may have the most followers etc, but please don't tell us the result either, you need to keep this fun rather than a competition.

Frank Atanacio (author) from Shelton on January 10, 2014:

Genna Ill be in R.I next week as well..HMMMM.. No I really want to see whats up ur sleeve, I plan to run a favorite alternate ending poll, in about two weeks.. only seeking votes from a couple of fan pages.. and creative writing sources I use so that they can select the best ending.. I will not publish the results.. I am just so curious everyone seems to run with it all on there own.. created their own short story and made Jenny Camacho their own.. believe me.. I didn't expect them to be well more energerized than either one of my Jenny pieces... :)

Genna East from Massachusetts, USA on January 10, 2014:

Hi Frank;

I came up with a twist ending for your story. If no one else comes up with the same idea, I will submit the alternate sometime next week because we’re going to RI for the weekend. Is this too late?

Blessings, and have a wonderful weekend. :-)

Frank Atanacio (author) from Shelton on January 10, 2014:

I enjoyed ur ending Phyllis Doyle!!!!!

Phyllis Doyle Burns from High desert of Nevada. on January 09, 2014:

Frank, enjoyed reading about Jenny's plight, so took you up on your challenge. I just published Dense Part of the Forest - fate of Jenny Camacho. Hope you enjoy it.

Thanks for the challenge and take care,

Punk

Frank Atanacio (author) from Shelton on January 09, 2014:

Uban thanks for visiting my trees..@ Faith no problem my dear @ Marcoujor, thank you for sharing your thoughts and comments on all the endings too :) bless you @ Anna, always good to see you have a fantastic day

Frank Atanacio (author) from Shelton on January 09, 2014:

Hey Sandcastle you have to publish it and Ill link it to my fan page :)

SandCastles on January 09, 2014:

I took up the challenge and posted my ending and you didn't publish it or even let me know you got it. Yet you commented to others. I'm done.

Anna Haven from Scotland on January 09, 2014:

You notched the tension right up with this one. The preceding hub left us feeling for the poor girl, in this one I was really routing for her to get away. It was although you could almost feel her fear. Really gripping and tense.

Maria Jordan from Jeffersonville PA on January 09, 2014:

Dear Frank,

This continuation beautifully delves into motives and dynamics while keeping the tension high. The killing of the wild dog would make any gal see red...and then, who knows?

I will return to Faith's and check out the other endings as schedule permits. Now when I think of sweet Faith and Genna, I will see their 'punk' sides...plenty able to keep up with you, young man. I know Genna will not let us down either and look forward to her stylings.

Faith Reaper from southern USA on January 09, 2014:

Morning Frank,

Just came back to say thanks for sharing on your fan page whenever you have the chance.

Have a great day.

Blessings, Faith Reaper

Alexander Thandi Ubani from Lagos on January 09, 2014:

OMG! THAT WAS NOT JUST THRILLING BUT ALMOST Stiffened MY NERVES to brink of collapse and death lol. THE FEAR, PANIC AND ANXIETY CAPTURED IN YOUR WORDS IS OUTSTANDING. KUDOS. GREAT JOB SIRE.

Frank Atanacio (author) from Shelton on January 09, 2014:

got it Cam thanks

Chris Mills from Traverse City, MI on January 08, 2014:

Frank, here is my submission. Thanks for the fun opportunity. https://cam8510.hubpages.com/hub/Death-Chamber

Frank Atanacio (author) from Shelton on January 08, 2014:

Yeah.. Jodah, she said she just started reading the story and not the intro part she called it the blah blah part.. LOL an idiot LOL and Genna I got the teasing :) bless you

Genna East from Massachusetts, USA on January 08, 2014:

Lol. Frank, the spit thing was perfect Clint Eastwood. I was teasing because it always grosses me out to see spittin' tobacco. Yuck.

I look forward to new alternate endings! Have fun, everyone! :-)

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on January 08, 2014:

Hey Frank, did you clear things up with that friend of yours who thought my alternate ending was you writing in a different style under a new pseudonym? That gave me a laugh.

Frank Atanacio (author) from Shelton on January 08, 2014:

Cam the alternate ending should be a story too that's why I said Min of not max.. I dont want a quick ending so lets put what you got out on the box :)

Frank Atanacio (author) from Shelton on January 08, 2014:

Genna East we were doing that Clint Eastwood thing right? He spits everytime he pulls from his cigar.. LOL sorry about grossing you out.. hey did I wish you a happy New Year? If not there it is..and bless you :)

Chris Mills from Traverse City, MI on January 08, 2014:

First draft completed and it's far too long, haha. 914 words. I have a bit of editing to do.

Genna East from Massachusetts, USA on January 08, 2014:

“…so light up that cigar and put your spit into the ring…”

Okay…that grossed me out. Lol.

I’m working on another project until next week, and will then give this a try. This is fun, and it’s fascinating to read the alternate endings. Thank you, Frank.

Frank Atanacio (author) from Shelton on January 08, 2014:

You should I am simply taken back with the endings so far.. Jodah with his Fantasy twist which I didn't think would have worked.. but yeah he did it so well, and Faith with her ranger rescue.. LOL she went down a dramatic avenue and Tobusiness just came out of left field and bang.. hit a home run.. I am so surprised on the twists my little short story developed into. It was only a 500 page short piece which took off.. throw your short in too please :)

Chris Mills from Traverse City, MI on January 08, 2014:

Frank, I just caught up with this challenge. I hope I understand it correctly because I'm going to throw my alternate ending into the mix. Stay tuned.

Frank Atanacio (author) from Shelton on January 08, 2014:

Glad you got ur chair back under you... I would like to see an ending from you.. yes Jodah.. and Whats her face.. did a bang up job.. but everyone has a little something different.. so light up that cigar and put your spit into the ring..:) bless you Genna East or West..Huh? LOL

Genna East from Massachusetts, USA on January 08, 2014:

Phew. Back again. (Seems Little Bill done stole it away, but he’s forgiven.)

Like I was sayin’, I’m late to this here party, but I jus read Jodah’s and Faith’s endin’ and was blown away by your challenge and their writin’. Dunno if I could do any better that what they already done. I’d love to partake in this, but I’m afraid I don’t have enough time. If you’d care to extend it, that might jus be a “go.” All I need is my serape and a good cigar, and I’m there, my friend.

Seriously, though, Frank...I think this is a great challenge and look forward to reading more alternate endings. Jodah and Faith both did a wonderful job! :-)

Genna East from Massachusetts, USA on January 08, 2014:

Hey Clint! It’s good to see you.

Oops – wait a sec. I’ll be right back. I can’t seem to find my chair. :-)

Frank Atanacio (author) from Shelton on January 08, 2014:

Bless you Eddy...:)

Eiddwen from Wales on January 08, 2014:

Brilliant Frank but at the moment my time is also limited. Looking forward to so many more my friend and Happy new year from Wales.

Eddy,

Frank Atanacio (author) from Shelton on January 08, 2014:

I too Jodah am sitting in waiting.. got good feed back so far on your via email.. I haven't linked Faith's yet but I will :)

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on January 08, 2014:

I can't wait to read them all.

Frank Atanacio (author) from Shelton on January 08, 2014:

Jackie, Flourish lets see what you guys have in your creative bag of tricks lets see the alternate ending you can produce for Jenny :) Tobusiness cant wait to see your take :)

Jo Alexis-Hagues from Lincolnshire, U.K on January 08, 2014:

Frank, I missed this earlier, but just read Faith's brilliant story and though I'd better take a look. I had written a short alternative ending to your original story which I will probably post, if time allows before heading off to work. If I do publish please remember, my story was written before I saw your criteria and there's no time to change it.

FlourishAnyway from USA on January 08, 2014:

AWESOME! I like the power this story conveys. The last paragraph was sheer terror. Wouldn't this make a great book idea? You might provide one core story then let various writers provide alternate beginnings (about who the man is and Jenny's relationship with him -- stranger, boyfriend, teacher, father, etc.) and also alternate endings (does she escape, is she killed, does she kill and skin him, is she rescued in the nick of time, something else?). I can't wait to read the alternates.

I had a psych professor in grad school who was very colorful. She told stories about living in a very dangerous urban area and encountering all kinds of scoundrels. One of the best tips she offered for getting people to leave her alone was skipping and singing to give the appearance that she was mentally ill. She also used to give tips about if you're ever confronted by a bad guy, things to try (e.g., call him by name -- any name -- and start acting like you know him from somewhere). She was a weird lady, but very entertaining. Of course, a psychologist. You've started something great here, Frank!

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