Wednesday, 9 January 2013

A Story...part 5

Frustration brewed in his stomach and flooded his system as he realised that his cowardice and over-active mind had ruined his chances of reaching the party.  It was a helpless frustration, and he sought for something to blame other than himself for his failure.  He swore at the river, he railed against the vagaries of the weather and the unnecessary darkness of the night sky; he stormed at the insidious stories of his youth.  The river below him insolently soaked up his insults, and continued to flow slowly.  It seeped ever closer to the party that was being held at its banks downstream, mocking the efforts of the lonely man at its side.  The sky was extremely clear now, as the last clouds vanished, and the cold that came with this was like the sudden chill of entering a long-disused room.  Cold stars were glimmering vacantly above, viewing the newly revealed scene beneath them with indifference.  Far off, deep in the flat vastness beyond the river, the jagged teeth of trees still held the darkness fast, and a lonely oak, planted by optimistic souls long ago, reached its heavy fist at the sky.  The furious man gradually shed his anger, exhausted by the evening spent in such a spot.  He thought for a time, half ashamed by his outburst, and resolved that he should continue walking.

Unfortunately, no-one is able to blithely stroll through a landscape that has already terrified them; the terrible silence and grim blackness had taken a firm hold of the man’s heart, and the two mismatched footsteps still reverberated in his ears.  Every step he took, he felt sure was being mirrored by the same mocking, unfriendly presence.  As panic germinated again in the recesses of his mind, and his heart began to pump more blood than was necessary to his face and chest, he began to imagine, for the first time, what this being was like.  He saw darting, mischievous eyes; he could see the pointed, smooth face, tapered at both top and bottom in an unnatural parody of a human’s; the flat nose and the thin mouth, laughing at his discomfort, were as real to him as the darkness that filled his senses.   His breath was catching in his throat as he continued to walk, unsteady and panicked, along the river path.  He would run, but he felt that this would be like running from a wary dog – it would encourage the being into quicker action.  So he carried on walking, never looking back, despite the pressure his neck felt to twist around and cure the intense stressed curiosity he felt.  His ears were alert to more footsteps, but heard none.  In his mind, this simply indicated that the creature had learned to synchronise its steps with his.  He continued to walk, his chest tight and strained from his rising panic.

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