Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Chapter Five

When it rains it pours, or in this case snows, creeps and whispers. This was my attempt at filling the scenes with quiet terror, did I succeed?

In Dreams The Solitary Road A Serial Novella By S.I. Hayes

Copyright 2013 Shannon I Hayes

CHAPTER FIVE

  
      There it was again, that sound, a low and ominous... Was it...Breathing?’ All around her in the closing dusk, in the tightness of the passage through the cliff there seemed to be something with Amara. She could not see it, but was sure something followed her. There was nothing more in front of her that she would not be able to see, but the twisting of the passage left overhangs and crevices that surely a most indigenous creature could use for its home. She tried not to think on it; rather she did make moves of more than the smallest of increments. Keeping herself flush with the flattest parts of the cliffs walls, she dared not look over its edge. Heights and Amara did not get along so well, she preferred to know that the ground was closely under her. It was not the fall, but the fear of surviving the splat that frightened her the most.
      Now she thought she saw a shadow looming beyond her. Were her eyes catching up to the sprint her mind was taking, making her heart race as her senses over shot every little terror in her memory?
Rocks dislodged in the distance behind her, she let out a muffled shriek, the echo causing even more fresh powder to fall around her. She almost lost her footing in a panic, and snow pummeled her pushing her down onto all fours in fear. Regret filled her being, and she was beginning to doubt whether she was going to ever make it out of the passage, let alone last an entire year. ‘Year and a day actually... I can start to head home, on my birthday... I hope.’ When she had left in her younger years, she was dropped off in Kenrik, and after meeting Lexan, never left, except when with him, and even then it was to go places he knew. This, this was not the adventure she had in mind, she wanted to atone and at the same time find out what there was of the world. Perhaps find something of her self that was so long lost. Now all she was finding was more fear and torment. All of this ran through her mind as she lay in the icy passage, with a fine layer of snow all over her, there was no one to help her now, no one who would come if she cried out. If anyone was going to get her out of this predicament, it was going to have to be her. She needed to be her own white knight, there was nothing stopping her except her own unfounded fears.

     She rolled on to her back, the weight of her pack not helping matters, she slipped her arms out of it as she sat up, seeing above her a flash of yellow reflected eyes. As they disappeared into the darkness. She scrambled up pulling her sword, as in her ears she could hear low whisperings.
      ‘Where are you? Who are you? Do you really think you are going to make it alone?’ The words echoed in her ears, now as though screamed, but the world around her seemed to ignore it, the voices mingled, like that of a hundred.
       Amara swallowed hard, her stomach turned, as the walls seemed to pulsate around her.
      ‘Do you feel it? Can you feel it? Little girl lost, never to be found.’
      “Wh-Who goes there?” Amara managed, mustering her voice. It had been days since she had spoken and her throat found it strange.
     ‘Dreams of sorrow, dreams of pain, shall not linger in the light of day. Should darkness unfold in memories untold, nothing shall haunt a child bold. Ha! Ha! Ha!’ The voices taunted her, snickering as they repeated the rhyme that helped her sleep.
       “How?”
       ‘She didn’t know? They thought she did, didn’t know a true sleep charm? But we know, we knew, she needed to come.’
           The voices were coming closer; they were right on top of her as she tried to pick up her things, hoping to put space between them.
           Her preservation instincts told her to move. She left her things. Pulling up the side of her cloak running. Not caring if she lost everything. As she ran. Something caught on to the end of her cloak. No sooner than it began to pull her back. She pulled out her dagger, and cut the ties. Leaving it behind as well. She could feel a burn in her legs, and thighs, as she picked up her feet. Then a terrible shrill scream filled her ears. At first, she did not realize it was her own. As she was pulled back. Something tore at her. Into the flesh of her now exposed back. The laughter continued through her screams as she turned back, seeing a figure, her arms flailed and suddenly from her right hand sprang forth a heavy thick blob of fire that sent the laughs into screaming.
                Amara hit the ground, as the thing went up in flames, it looked to be a man burning, then it seemed to be something else, something not quite man, but yet the same shape. It was charring and the smell filled the air with an awful stench. Amara stopped, watching the cooking thing and stared ahead, she was out of the passage and on flat land once more.
               Her body ached, she tried to reach behind her, and a shooting pain made her rethink it. She tried to get up, and the pain was worse, she lay on the ground, watching as the snow turned red. That creature had torn her up terribly, there was not much she could do, and what was worse, it was again beginning to snow.

****


              It took time, but Amara managed to lift herself up out of the snow and venture back into the cavern, every step was agony, but she was not about to stay out in the storm if she could hide in the passage. She only hoped that whatever it was that had been after her was alone, or if it had not been that its companions saw what had become of it and would let her be. She found her cloak first, it was shredded, which considering her situation, came in handy, as she wrapped it around her body, tightly, hoping it in combination with the cold would help stop her bleeding. She cried out as she secured the makeshift bandage, holding on to the rest of the cloak so she could change it, if or when it needed it. She knew the blood was going to be a problem if any other predators were around, so she had to get back to her pack, where ever it was, at least she had water, and other clothes, if she could clean up, if even just a small amount, it would help.
             Eventually she began to come across the contents of her bag, the thing that perused her had grabbed it up and chased her letting its contents fall out along the way. All she was able to find was her canteens, a few bars of soap, a bowl, and her bow, both of which were broken. In the bag were a single dress and some scrap fabric. The contents of the pockets were fortunately still secure; she had a mirror, needle, thread, and flint to make a fire. She put the canteens and the remnants in her pack with the leftover scraps of the cloak, and was thankful to find her sword, lodged in the ground nearby. She then made her way back toward the opening of the passage, here it was wide enough that she could start a fire and be out of the snow without choking on smoke. Once the fire was lit, which took considerable time with a few pieces of flint in the pockets, she made use of some of her hair and her bag as fuel. She fashioned the longest part of the bow and some scraps of fabric into a scrub brush, then stripped down. Pouring some of a canteen into the useful half-bowl. She got as close to the fire as she could manage, trying to keep the heat. She drenched and soaped the rag. Biting down on a piece of twisted fabric, she tried her hardest to clean her self up. The pain was terrible, but it was that or she was going to be a beacon for every hungry thing that was between her and civilization. It was pain now, or death later. She opted for the pain.
           Pouring the remainder of the first canteen down her back, she patted dry best she could using the heat of the fire to help her along, and wrapped herself back up before putting the white dress on. She put her back squarely to the wall; with the fire burning furiously, she was sure she would be okay. At least until it burned out, but it seemed to have a life of its own, burning high and hot, she wondered if she was doing it, if it was her fear, and her yearning, that kept it going.
           She stared at the fire and it seemed to dance, more often in the direction she thought than not. Picking up the broken part of her bow she snapped it into smaller pieces, holding one in her hand, she put all of her thoughts into it, imagining it engulfed by the flames, it took time, but eventually it lit up. She held it in her hand, and it did not burn her, as her hand was too in flames. She threw it into the fire, and tried again this time it took less work. After a while, she stopped, although mostly because she ran out of things to burn. Staring at the fire, became her past time, she could not sleep, the pain seemed to grow worse as she got closer to the fire, but she knew that she needed to stay warm, and fire would keep any lurking beasties away. She would begin her travel again at daybreak; hopefully she would reach civilization soon. There really couldn’t just be she and the travelers, out in this tundra. Someone had to be out there, some one who could help her.

****


            The flame had died sometime in the night, Amara awoke finding that her limbs were stiff and she could do little more than sit up, she tried to start another fire, but without something to keep it going, she could do little more than cause her self to take a spark. She cursed herself for playing around with the few things she had to burn, her few moments of entertainment very well could spell her demise. She was not cold, just the opposite, she was covered in a fine hot sweat, a fever was setting in, she knew that it meant she was more than likely suffering from an infection. Who knows what that creature had actually done to her, she scrapped her self up off the hard ground, using her sword as support, if she could not get a fire going then it was time to keep moving, maybe with any stroke of fortune, she would find a place for help. Staying put was no longer an option, but she was so tired, she slid back down the length of the wall, the pain was excruciating.

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