Dawn watched with a lurch in her chest and sick feeling in her gut while Hannah passionately kissed John. From her clandestine position behind the bushes, she watched, covering her mouth so that she would not gasp. Hannah was stabbing Dawn right in the back, piercing her heart in the process. Dawn had been harboring a crush on John for some time now and she had planned to finally reveal her feelings to him that very night at the Ivy Ridge Academy autumn dance.

She went over the words in her mind, how nervous she had been, how eager she had been to seek John's favoring approval, and hopefully be his girlfriend. Dawn did not have it easy at her private school despite her financial means. It almost seemed that as a result of her lofty financial means, mixed with the death of her parents, and the passion she exuded in her budding journalistic quest for justice, that left Dawn feeling sort of like an outcast in her school. But like any other girl her age, she yearned for the comfort of romance and fun, even as it felt so far away from her.

As a result of these mixed and nervous feelings, Dawn had confided in Hannah. If Hannah could not be called Dawn's friend, she could at least be described as someone that Dawn felt a kinship to. Hannah was just as financially secure, just as pretty, and just as talented as Dawn in the dogged studies of journalism. While their moral codes differed, the girls shared an acknowledged kinship at the top of their game. If not friends, they were certainly rivals.

In confiding in Hannah, Dawn had sought to express her feelings to someone who might understand her and offer her advice on what to do. While Dawn felt perfectly comfortable being direct in her journalistic endeavors, and was blessed with nearly unmatched beauty, she could not find the confidence in seeking a boy's favor. Thus were the awkward limitations of her youth that frustrated her so. Hopefully Hannah, who seemed much more comfortable talking to boys, would be able to offer sage advice on the matter. While Dawn had hoped on advice on what to wear to the autumn dance or how to style her hair, even what color to paint her nails, she did not, even for a second, consider that Hannah would betray her confidence, and make her own move.

These thoughts swirled around a mess inside Dawn's hurt and confused mind while she watched her classmates lock lips in a mutually approving manner. Unable to stare at the train wreck that was fast piling up as her love life, Dawn turned from the damage and stormed over the school grounds toward the woods. She needed to be somewhere to clear her head, have a good cry and that place had to be as far away from the conniving Hannah as possible. This much, Dawn cursed aloud to herself as she stalked across the lawn.

While night had fallen, the moon and stars cascaded their light in an offer of dreamy romance to the youngsters at the dance. Dawn felt none of the dreamy romance wash over her, but their light did allow her to see her way in the dark forest. Walking through the woods in her heels proved to be a task too difficult to manage coupled with her distracted mind, so she soon cast them off to trod precariously in just her stocking feet. Dawn had been so excited about her outfit that night. She was dressed in a cute lavender top with spaghetti straps and cute little lace flowers. Matching that, she wore a short and flowing lavender pink skirt with a “to die for” lace flower hem, and a long thin bow tied on the hip. On her long and slender legs, she showed off a pair of lavender pink pantyhose to match her sexy skirt. She had wanted John to melt when he saw her in her super cute outfit, but he never even got to see her. He was too busy “sucking face” with that witch, Hannah!

Dawn's fuming jealous temper flared as she stalked through the forest, wincing more than once as she stepped on a sharp twig. Despite wearing reinforced toe pantyhose, they were not designed for walking barefoot through the woods, and her tender feet were punished so. Dawn could imagine the dirt she was caking on the bottom of her soles. It also occurred to her that students were forbidden from wandering in the forest. While official reasons were never provided by the Academy, the students had passed rumors down the years about students who wandered into the woods never to return. These spook stories were often told around fall campfires during late night school functions, or while huddled up in blankets in the dormitories during the coldest winter storms. Whatever the truth behind the stories really was, Dawn certainly did find the shadowy and wind whispering woods to be rather unsettling.

Before long, Dawn came to a small grove of trees and something that made her rub her eyes to see if she was dreaming. Under the pale glow of the moon, there was a pile of bones, human bones by the looks of it, and most skin crawling of all, there were several skulls among the pile! The ghastly sight was almost too absurd to be real, but Dawn rubbed her eyes and it was still there. Timidly she stepped further into the grove and near the bone pile was a rickety old wooden sign. It was cracked and splintered in areas from years of weathering nature and the gnawing teeth of unknown animals and insects. Like trespassing signs posted by farmers to protect their land, this sign too appeared to be some kind of warning. In weathered lettering it read: “Beware! Deadfalls Can Be Dangerous” What was most disturbing about the warning was the word “Beware!” was written in a reddish brown coloring that gave Dawn the sick feeling that it had been written in blood!

The questions were numerous. Where did the bones come from? Who posted the warning? What was a “deadfall”? Dawn seemed to innately know that she did not belong in the grove with the pile of bones, and did not need a warning sign to tell her of that. Regardless of who the bones had once belonged to, one thing was clear. Bones come from the living that are no longer alive. With this chilling thought, came a chilling wind blowing through the grove that caused Dawn to gasp and hug herself for warmth. The tiny strapless shirt she wore offered no protection for her bare shoulders and arms. Instinctively she rubbed her hands up and down her arms trying to warm herself up. Smoothing out her short flowing skirt, Dawn gently rubbed her legs to encourage a little warmth too. While the pantyhose covered her legs, they offered little more than decoration under the chill wind. As Dawn worked to encourage circulation through her long and slender legs, she noticed something that caused her to gasp.

“Oh No! I've got a run in my stockings!”

The discovery was horrific. Nothing could be more embarrassing to a girl. The thought of John seeing her in such a fashionably foolish state was enough to make her die of embarrassment on the spot! Luckily she had been a smart girl, and packed her clear nail polish with her that night just in case she did run her nylons. A few dabs of that and it would keep the run from getting any worse. Dawn looked around at the silent pile of bones, the empty skull sockets staring at her wordlessly. Turning the other way, she reread the warning sign. All good sense told her to get out of there and fast. She could fix the run in a safer location. But leaving the run for later only meant that it would get worse. The “grabby” branches and bushes of the forest would be of no help either. By then it would probably have opened up and down her entire leg, which no amount of nail polish could hide. Her nylons would be ruined, and it would be so unsightly that she would die of embarrassment if John caught her looking so foolish.

Ignoring the nagging warnings in her head, and the unnerving glare of the sightless skull sockets, Dawn unscrewed the cap on her nail polish and crouched down, concentrating all the good fashion skills that her mother had taught her. Gently she dabbed the clear enamel on the snag in her lavender pink stockings. Despite the fact that when the polish hardened it would keep the run from growing larger, Dawn pouted over the fact that they were brand new stockings and this was the first time she had worn them. In her concentration and girlish fretting, she failed to notice the subtle movements in the pile of bones behind her. Skulls tilted their eyes toward the crouched young girl while skeletal arms, rolled from the pile, pulling themselves along the grass toward the flowery lace hem of her delicate lavender pink skirt.

It was the sound that first alerted Dawn that something was amiss and that she felt strangely not alone. The movement of the bones resembled wood echoing off of itself as one moves lumber, but in the case of human bones, the effect is exponentially more chilling. Knowing in her heart more than her eyes, Dawn bolted upright, casting the bottle of nail polish and the brush cap away in her panic. Hearing the sound of the bones animating caused her heart to pound at her ribcage demanding to know why it was locked and who would open the door to let it out before it burst. Unable to turn her body to face the truth full on, Dawn managed a slight turn of her head, and the rest with her eyes to glance down and see for herself the pile of bones come to life. The skulls stared up at her, mouths gaping at her. The rotted arms with their spindly jointed fingers reached toward her curled stocking clad toes. Dawn smacked her slender hands to her cheeks as her emerald eyes widened to saucers and her ruby lips opened to let out a terrified “Eeek!”

The pile of bones worked feverishly to unsettle itself from the tangled pile it had become in rest. The banging and rattling of bone against bone while it shifted and reached was horrifying. Arms sprang from the top of the pile while others snaked through the grass. All of the bony fingers reached for some soft and silky part of Dawn's person. Seeing this horrific desire in the eyes of the skulls and fearing the clammy touch of the jointed fingers, Dawn smashed down the walls of her paralysis and turned to run away from the groping death. Unable to take her eyes off the animated death, she kept her head turned toward her predator while she ran blindly in the other direction. As a result she did not see what was coming next.

By circumstance Dawn had chosen to wear reinforced toe pantyhose that night, and had chosen to remove her heels and walk barefoot in the forest. While Dawn tried to run away from the shambling death pile, the thicker lavender toe of her reinforced pantyhose snagged on something jagged and sturdy in the grass, catching and holding firmly. In Dawn's panicked state, she fled with all the might her long and slender legs could afford her, but the reinforced toe of her stockings held true to their product word and a very surprised Dawn slammed down with a breath stealing force onto the ground. With the reinforced toe of her stockings stuck tight, and proudly holding strong despite this timely inconvenience, Dawn lay stunned on her stomach, hair a lovely blond mess around her head. She winced from the pain and sudden shock at slamming into the earth. She feebly tugged with her left leg, but despite the stretchy give, she could feel her foot held fast in her nylon created prison. Whimpering, and begging in her mind for the reinforced toe to give out, Dawn tried to pull her wits back about her.

All the while the skeletal arms moved closer to the fallen girl. The bony tips of the fingers were a breaths distance from the silken threads of her stocking clad calves, the dirty soles of her feet, and the tempting lace hem of her flowing skirt. When the first touch of the chill bone fingers wrapped themselves around her trim ankles, grabbed at her trapped toes, and brushed against the back of her knees, the stunned stupor that Dawn had been wading through was cast off in the cold clear soberness of panic. Turning her head back to face the animated skeletons, she let out a terrified scream and fought to get away on her stomach. While the toe seam on her left leg left her stuck, Dawn curled her right leg toward her, desperate to keep away from the chill touch of the bony fingers. The thin wisp that was her lavender pink pantyhose left her feeling vulnerable even as they held her stuck in this peril. With her slender arms, Dawn reached ahead of her and grabbed desperately at the roots of a nearby tree, and tufts of grass to try and pull herself away from the predatory bones.

While Dawn did her best with her two well manicured hands, they were no match for the dozen that groped and seized her body. Instead of getting further from the pile of bones, she felt herself being dragged back to it.

“No! No! NO! Please! Wait! Oh No! No! Nooo!” Dawn screamed and begged as the skeletal hands grabbed fists full of her long blond hair, snatched at the thin spaghetti straps of her cute lavender top. Others wrenched the folds of her lavender pink skirt into their bony grasp, threatening to tear it asunder and obliterate her modesty. Dawn reached back with her right arm in a feeble attempt to fight off her undead attacker, only to have the soft creamy flesh eagerly grabbed by the seemingly endless skeletal hands, and pulled into the pile. The remaining skeletal hands concentrated on Dawn's long stocking clad legs. They pulled teasingly at the tight stretchy nylon, grabbed her feet, ankles, calves, knees, and her thighs, always pulling her closer to the pile. With her one free arm, she grabbed onto a tuft of grass and held as tightly as her little fingers could muster. Dawn's begging and screaming became muffled as she was pulled under the pile of bones, and with an echoing clatter it reassembled itself into the pile it was under the tree before Dawn had made herself so readily available that night.

After Dawn Meadows joined the Deadfall that night, a chill wind passed through the grove and from the pile of bones, the wind caught the delicate light weight of a sheer pair of lavender pink pantyhose. Blowing them like a feather on its breath, the wispy nylons landed on a branch above the Deadfall, billowing lazily there. The package on Dawn's reinforced toe pantyhose said “extra strength”, they did not say anything about THIS though!


-THE END

Illustrations by Felinaedeath

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