Shade in the Shadows
I remember it as if it were yesterday:
Walking back to my campsite at dusk, I hear a noise behind me. It doesn’t sound like a growl, but rather a hiss from a snake. I choose to ignore it and continue onward down the trail leading to our campsite.
The noise grows louder, and I realize I’m not alone. Afraid to look back I drop my things and run. As I bolt down the path, I trip over a tree root and fall to the ground. Ahead of me through the trees I can see my dad and little brother singing a song around the campfire.
I look over my shoulder to see nothing behind me, except my things scattered across the pathway. “I’m being paranoid,” I say aloud.
I stand, dusting myself off, when I notice a shooting pain spread through my ankle. I twisted it.
I hear Dad yell and wave his arms, “Sweetie are you okay?”
“Yeah, I’m fine. I just tripped,” I shout.
“I’m okay. I got it. I’ll be right there.”
“Perfect… a hole in my jeans, that’s just lovely,” I say under my breath, as I hobble back to pick up my things. A breeze kicks up and I smell the salty air from the ocean. Leaves whisper among the brush, while I hear an owl hoot in the treetops.
I pick up my possessions and murmur, “Probably an animal.” It’s dusk with the minimal light from the sunset. The shaded trees make the woods darker than normal.
Before I have time to react, something grabs me from behind. I try to scream but it’s no use, whatever this thing is, it has my mouth covered. Its fingers are knotty and appear to have an unusual gray tint. I can’t see my kidnapper’s face, but he wears a red cloak about his body.
This thing that’s captured me, runs fast, through the forest, not missing a step all the while holding me tight. I try to wriggle my way free, but its grip is too strong.
After a few minutes we come to an entrance of a dark cave, near the rocks along the shore. My feet touch the pebble floor as it sets me down. Then it hisses, “Don’t try to run, I’ll catch you. Then I might change my mind and eat you, rather than keep you.”
Still not able to see a face, I try to bite the creature’s hand, but his grip is too tight. He stuffs my mouth with a kerchief and bounds my hands. There is no turning back, now. Fear sets in.
It turns to face me, and I can see its glowing red eyes piercing through his hood. The shadows behind the hooded cloak, shows a slight detail of his nose and cheeks. A faint scar sets on the side of his face. He grabs my arm and pulls me to a nearby cave.
What is he going to do with me? As a last-ditch effort, before we get too deep within the cavern, I try to find an advantage for escape. Light is minimal if not at all. I make my move, and he loses his grip of me. Yes, I’m free.
It ends up being a mistake and I trip hitting my head on a rock. My skull throbs with pain and I begin to feel liquid oozing from my left ear. I assume it’s blood, as the wetness trails down the back of my neck.
“I warned you lassie. Bah, humans never listen,” the snake-like creature says.
My vision becomes blurry and out of focus. I don’t have the strength to move. I see a light at the end of the cave and hear faint sounds of the ocean waves crashing against the shore.
“Either I eat you or keep you,” I hear him say, before I drift into blackness.
That was the day my life as a human was gone forever.
©2018 E. R. Bennett/ Shade in the Shadows