(An experiment I’ve adopted, posting a quick-paced and hopefully engaging short story in 5 different posts, to keep them shorter, more honest and sweet to read. No one really wants to sit and read over 5000 words of stories while browsing. So hopefully this format can keep the readers more occupied and have them enjoy the story in comfortable fashion)
PART 1 OF 5
Running, fast and far. I don’t have a destination in mind yet. Just run, its after me. Lightning. I see some distance ahead as the light breaks through the thick storm, but not enough. More trees, more mud, lightning. I look back but I don’t see it behind me, its there I know its there. No stopping, just run, fueled by adrenaline to overcome how tired I am. Thunder. No, gun shot? The ground shook under the weight of the sound, the entire forest seemed to have been rattled. I couldn’t fall, I wouldn’t, I have to keep running, around trees and over shrubs, tugging myself across the soaked mud. Again, thunder, closer this time, I felt it to my chest. Thunder? Something whistled past my arm, I felt it through the air. Insect? No, bullet. It nearly grazed my body. A few inches to the left and I would have been injured. A few feet to the left and I could have died.
No denying it now, gunshot! Bark of the tree in front of me broke off into splinters.
BANG! BANG! BANG!
Found me? How? Bullets are being fired closer to me now, narrowly missing. I can’t stay on this track. I jumped off towards the right and fell into a sort of ditch, covered by bushes. I crawl off under this cover, drenched up to my skin with muck. Wasn’t paying attention, too scared looking over my shoulder and I slid off an incline a few meters down and into another ditch, splashing into a slurry of mud and foliage. It’s absolutely sailing down now and I struggled to gain decent footing. Winds howling against me aggressively, turning the rain into mist, obscuring my vision, making me indecisive. Scared, tired, cold and desperate, I have to hide, I have to run out of here. Gunshots in the distance, masked by whirling winds and thunder. Thunder. Everything seems to stop as the thunder booms across the woods.
Its my cue to run, sip a breath, utter a prayer and run, again, to no end. The storm did me one good, it kept the animals at bay. I knew nothing would pounce at me as I run through the shrubs. Then I see it, rising above the canopy not too far off but maybe just a bit lower- smoke. A home? Cottage? No, my refuge. There could be people inside, they could help me. Prayers work fast, I speed off towards the smoke. It’s easier to see the dense black cloud rising amongst the background of white mist. The cloud gets thicker as I descend down a slope towards it, the storm picking up its pace now, rain drops pelting me like pebbles. So, I cover my face with my hands and continue running towards the smoke, towards the house. No, its too big to be a house, but its wooden and stretched out, maybe a private cabin. As I run in closer it looks even bigger, probably just ground leveled, but sufficiently long and quite wide. The chimney was thick, heavy looking and long, looming over the rest of the cabin, receiving the full force of the storm. The front door was small, just a single door of thick wood and it was jammed.
Dammit, no no no!!
It can’t be sealed, I have to get inside. I started banging the door hard with both my hands and feet but it didn’t budge. “LET ME IN!! LET ME IN!!” I holler repeatedly.
“PLEASE!! OPEN THIS DOOR!! LET ME IN!! PLEASE!! LET ME IN!!!”
Thunder. It has to be the thunder, pacifying my screams so that no one could hear me. Is this a joke? A cruel fickle joke. I prayed, I prayed and for this? A joke?
The door moved, as if someone had removed a weight from the other side. It opens up a bit and I see an eye below me, a child’s eye staring at me worriedly. The child didn’t ask me anything, it just looked at me and then closed the door again. I punch the door, yelling as I do.
“PLEASE LET ME IN!!!”
Another budge and the door half opens, the child standing by it, keeping it from opening further. But its dark inside, I see a candle light far off in a corner and a voice from the inside directed at me, “Get in for God’s sake!!”
The storm offered me no choice and I stumbled into the cabin as the child slammed the door behind me and barricaded it with planks and chairs. I sigh in relief, nothing can come in now. Who’s already in? I stand up and look around. It takes me a while to see properly in the dim light and I see an old man, sitting in a corner at a table. There are lines of rounded tables and a few chairs to my right and a long wooden counter lined with straw stools to my left. A few bottles everywhere, and a lady mopping up a place near the old man where water was dripping in through the roof. The walls are lined with animal trophies. Fox skins, antlers, rabbit feet, even stuffed squirrels.
The child had run off somewhere now, I couldn’t find it. I could still hear the storm striking against the roof and the side of the cabin. I look at the old man, realizing what a terrible wreck I probably look like right now. I mean to talk to him to introduce myself but am cut short by a strong, persistent knocking on the door.
”GOD DAMMIT OPEN THIS DOOR, NOW!!”
A deep, authoritative order a man yelled from outside. I turned from the old man to the door which the child was now beginning to open.
No, no, no!!
”Don’t open it!!” I scream at the child and it stops, scared and peeks at me over its shoulder.
“Nonsense” the old man declares from behind, “Let the other guy in!”
I turn back to the old man, “No, you don’t know…”
The door behind me flies open and the child begins collecting the fallen chairs and planks.
I look up at the door and see a big, muscular, dark haired, thickly bearded man standing there, soaked to the fiber, holding something in his hands. Its too dark to tell what. Its long, solid and the man walks in towards me.
“Its about time” he says as if amused.
Its too dim for me to figure out what he’s holding.
“Took me a while to find this place”
I try to focus on what’s in his hands, but I can’t. He’s a few feet away from me now. Then lightning strikes and glistens the entire backdrop, illuminating even the inside. I immediately look at the big man’s hands and gasp.
In his hands, I see a rifle, with his finger on the trigger…
He walks straight up to my face, looks down at me and smiles,“What have we here?”