Horror and Thriller Fiction posted February 6, 2019 Chapters: 1 -2- 3... 


Exceptional
This work has reached the exceptional level
Our survivor continues to flee the monster

A chapter in the book Breach

Hidden

by Candace Nola

The author has placed a warning on this post for language.


Background
The lone survivor of a brutal attack is hiding from the horrific monster stalking her.
Head pounding, exhaustion setting in and my body aching from running, I closed my eyes, and prepared to wait for morning and an end to this nightmare. After a long while, fatigue won over and I slept.

Sometime later, I jolted awake, immediately alert in spite of my exhaustion. The noise had been close by, the sudden sharp crack of a branch being snapped in half. Frozen in place, I did not move a muscle, did not exhale. I became acutely aware of something crawling on my skin, big and bristly, it scuttled across my hand and down my leg. Revulsion filled my brain, but I did not make a sound. I prayed that it would continue into the trees without biting or stinging me. Several more times, my skin crawled with various bugs and insects as they navigated around me to the trees beyond. The hairs were raised on the back of my neck, goosebumps covered my body but I remained silent and still.

The forest was silent all around me, except for the skittering sounds made by the creature hunting me. I could hear it scurrying to my left, ripping branches from tree trunks as it went. I could hear snorting and huffing as it sniffed the air, trying to track my scent. The low moaning of the trapped faces provided an eerie background noise to the hunt.

Frozen in place, my legs began to cramp and pins and needles jabbed me as my limbs fell asleep but I did not move. The slightest noise would bring the monster closer to the thicket where I was hiding. Right then the scuttling came closer, right outside of where I sat. Tears ran down my face, dripped from my jawline onto my coat, and ran down my neck. Sweat ran in rivers down my spine. I had never known fear like this, it paralyzed me to my core. My only coherent thought was "Don't move! Don't move! Don't move!" Over and over, on a loop in my brain, it was all I could think.

I could smell the monster outside; the stench emanating off of it was unbearable, a putrid mix of rot and decay. The odor filled my nostrils and I desperately swallowed back the sudden bile that had risen in my throat. Skittering sounds became louder as the legs of the thing began hunting around the thicket, scraping over roots and bark as it searched for me, trying to find an opening. I hunched over, trying to escape deeper into the tree trunk that I huddled against, impossibly trying to disappear.

An eternity passed, and the monster continued its frenzied scraping and skittering around the circle of trees. The snorting and huffing became louder, turning into deep guttural roars, as its legs tried to find a way to reach me, but the body was too large to slip between the closely woven trees.

Huddling miserably inside the safety of the trees, I cursed myself for having chosen to stop here. It could not reach me, but I also could not leave. I could not hope to leave the enclosure without alerting the monster to my attempts to flee. Weeping silently, I covered my mouth with the sleeve of my jacket. There was nothing more I could do, but wait. Wait and hope that it would grow tired and move on.

Relentlessly the creature hunted around the tree, growling it's displeasure while the moaning faces continued their cries. The sound was burrowing deep into my brain. The spindly legs were poking and prodding into any opening. It's black claws were tapping along the branches and trunks with hideous scraping sounds. An hour must have passed by before the noise lessened and the skittering slowed and became still. Only the soft wailing could be heard, although slightly further away. I had no idea if it had left the area or had settled down to wait me out.

I decided to focus on the voices, wailing in agony, soft but still very clear. I figured the monster had settled in to wait. Slowly, inch by inch, I straightened one leg out, then the other, letting the blood flow resume. The pins and needles were like needle pricks to my brain, each one stabbing deep into my leg muscles. I did not make a sound but exhaled very slowly, trying to focus on moving and regaining my circulation. My ass was numb and damp from the leaves and earth under me and I shifted side to side, to ease the pressure. I arched my back slowly, trying to ease the muscle pain and cramping, stretching my fear strained muscles the best I could in the tight space.

The incessant wailing was a steady drone of anguished cries that never wavered in volume, trying to be heard outside of the decaying body of the monster that had savagely torn them to pieces. If I had to describe what I thought Hell sounded like, this was it, at a dull roar.

I shifted into a crouch and slowly stood up, placing my hands on my knees, I took a couple breaths to steady myself. It had been hours since I had any food or water, and my head was pounding against my skull, overloaded from stress, fear and fatigue. The wailing was slowly driving me insane but as long as I could hear it, I could try to gauge what side of the trees the monster was on.

I was standing in the innermost part of the trees and had two more layers that I would need to squeeze thru before reaching the outside. I decided to try moving directly behind me, as the wailing seemed to be loudest in front of me. I slowly slid one leg out into the next ring of trees, finding my footing on a thick root. Grasping the branch closest to me, I angled my body through the opening and brought my other leg out.

Clinging tightly to the tree, I steadied myself and exhaled quietly; listening for the wailing sounds coming from the creature. It seemed a bit softer from this direction and I dared to hope that I was going to sneak away unnoticed.
Standing silently for several long minutes, I listened for any sound from the monster to indicate it had moved. I edged closer to the outer ring of trees, trying to see beyond the thicket that encircled me, the only thing between me and the nightmare. I could still hear the wailing, coming from the opposite side.

Fighting back the fear that threatened to force me back inside the safety of the niche I had been hiding in, I lifted one foot up and out, placing it silently on the ground outside. Clutching the tree, I slowly edged my way around it, and brought my body out through the opening, followed by my right leg. I was shaking badly with fear, unable to see more than a few feet in front of me. I thought it would be dawn soon, but the forest had not yet begun to lighten. I had to move, I was vulnerable and exposed, in the dark, with no idea of where to go.

Steeling myself and prepared to run at any second, I took a step forward. Quiet as a mouse, I inched forward, stepping only on the balls of my feet, finding solid purchase with one foot before silently moving the next. My hands were outstretched, reaching out for the next tree, trying to feel my way through the dark forest. Step by step, I continued forward, barely breathing at all, every step silent, leg muscles tight from fear and from adrenaline, ready to bolt at the slightest sound.

I could not run, not yet; I had not put enough distance between myself and the monster. I could still hear the tortured faces, wailing out their distress. I inched along, steadily, silently, every sense on high alert. Suddenly something brushed my arms and I nearly screamed in terror, but my brain stopped the noise from erupting from my mouth just in time, recognizing that it was a tree branch. I moved my arms slowly, grasping the branch and feeling my way along it to the trunk. Stealthily, I eased around to the other side. My body was shaking from the forced slowness of my escape, fear still running rampant through my veins.

Sweat was pouring from my brow and I felt like I had gone a mile from my hiding spot, but the endless song of the wailing reminded me how close I still was to danger. I took a minute to lean against a tree, to breathe slowly and deeply, before I continued. Stepping away from the tree, I lifted my arms in my dance of the dark and stepped forward. "One more step, one more step, one more step" became a mantra in my brain. I focused only on my breathing and my silent footsteps. Left, pause, right, pause, listen, left, pause, right, pause, listen, I continued my trek.

Victory at last! I safely reached another tree. I felt around the width of the trunk, silently stepping along its roots as I navigated around to the other side. "Stop, listen, breathe, inhale and exhale, inhale and exhale," my brain was on autopilot. I merely carried out its commands. Five more times I carried out this process, find a tree, get around it (stop, listen, breathe), find a tree, get around it (stop, listen, breathe) and repeat.
I stopped to listen for a long minute after the fifth tree and heard nothing. I could no longer hear the incessant wailing, nor could I hear the normal forest sounds, so I knew that the predator lingered nearby. Still, relief flooded my brain and I allowed myself a moment to enjoy it. I was not out of the woods yet, literally, but I was gaining distance and soon could run.


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© Copyright 2019. Candace Nola All rights reserved.
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