After you have had one or two brushes with the unknown you get this gut feeling when it is about to happen again. Somehow, I was quite thankful I still had a gut to get a feeling, because the soldiers sent to catch me were not amused when that old tree somehow fell on their way or when that old rope bridge mysteriously disappeared when I was done crossing it. A bit of taunting was necessary to keep them motivated to follow me, not like I needed the unkind treatment they would provide if they caught me, but because as I said, I had this feeling that told me I would be seeing an old friend quite soon.
We had crossed a couple light pine forests north from the old chapel. They did not think I would keep running that many hours while cursing them atop of my lungs, but they did underestimate how fast you can get away from anyone at the slightest promise of months of torture and a gruesome death. Also, their bulky armors did not help them to keep up with me and even the captain -who rode a well trained stallion- found himself cursing me back without any restrain after his horse got fed up of the chase and decided to ditch him, quite appropriately, in a ditch. He did call it a day after the incident and just sent a few men to bring me back and judging by their tenacity, the orders should have been something along the lines of “bring him as dead as possible”.
I had a couple moments of mischief fueled by the idea that if I were to be returned to the captain bearing a striking resemblance to a jigsaw puzzle, I would rather do my best to really deserve it. They did not share my enthusiasm, but after my sense of self-preservation screamed at me like a rather mad banshee, I saw it less as an act of foolish bellicosity and more like a very cunning plot to keep myself alive and running. I had read this somewhere before, about a plot to lure the lesser evil before the greater one and they would naturally settle their differences in the best way fangs, claws and steel could afford.
I wondered if I really had read such idea or if it was just an absurd justification for my makeshift plan, yet I really did not have much time to rummage my thoughts and find an answer. While I was literally not watching, my feet found a way to introduce my face to the overgrown trail I followed and while trying to recover myself, the last lights of the day were no more. Any good hero knows the powers of the abyss are freed from their chains during the night; foul beasts soil the ground beneath their claws and lust after the blood of the living. Horrid shadows scour villages feasting on the horror their formless mass causes to the innocent, and screaming nightmares tear apart the land searching to cause the same pain and madness they are doomed to suffer for eternity.
Whatever it was I had met, it had a bit of each one and I certainly heard its roar far beyond the forest, right where it banished during the dawn. But more importantly, the light of a number of torches was getting closer and while I felt my doom was at hand into the maw of the unspeakable creature, I still had enough fear in me to run until I could see another day. My plan had a fatal flaw, however. I had nothing here that could serve me as a light source, the cloud cover was thick and without any way to see where I was running to, I was sure I would end up being mauled by the trees.
I cursed in silence trying to hide behind, beneath or before the nearest solid object I could find. I assumed it was a tree, but truth be told, the bark of the trees I know was nowhere near this… scaly. My survival depended largely on a tree that seemed to have lizard ancestry and I was still not moving fast enough away from it all. Yes, you might have noticed that my displays of romantic bravery last night had been replaced with rather violent bouts of passion with my cowardice. But I am sure you would not try to be a hero when the best weapon you have are your legs and they feel like putting as much distance as possible between you and anything that has more ways to hurt you than you currently have.
I was still trying to find in my head any story that could explain how a tree could grow scales and when finally I gave up on that idea, I realized the soldiers had set their camp a few meters from me. I moved around a bit in my hiding place so I could see them and much to my dismay, my body reminded me that I had not eaten anything during the whole ordeal. I was ravenous, to say the least, but promptly forgot about it when a sickening cry made the forest tremble. The soldiers tried their best to prepare themselves but finally did little but stare as the abomination of the chapel made its way into the light of the campfire. It was even more disgusting than what I remembered, perhaps bigger and somewhat less formless, resembling more a huge spider than a pair of jaws atop six legs.
I was sure the creature had followed me, such relentless evil had to find and devour the one that set it free. Pleasant as all other evil legends I had read and been read by my father. I was saddened that it had no monologue to say before having the soldiers as dinner and regretted never taking the axe back home to chop some trees, because in my current state I was sure I would be quite a measly dessert. The beast grew again before my eyes, a foul ichor burst out of what would seem to be the body performing an unholy metamorphosis into a huge arachnid demon. It wasn’t hairy like the spiders that used to roam around my old home and I knew quite well, just a jet-black armored horror with six massive red eyes and a serpent-like jaw that revealed a spiraled pit of curved black blades. My sanity would have been scarred after witnessing such blasphemy, but it had ran away ages ago leaving me to face the result of my foolish misadventures without as much as a clean pair of pants.
The creature approached me making an unpleasant hissing sound, as if the air itself screamed in pain while it was absorbed into the nightmarish mouth that opened right above me, but I was not the only one annoyed by the sound. My scaly hiding place quickly left ground with a deafening roar, blasting apart the trees under a brutal wind current that forced the demonic being into submission, leaving me to be gently carried away to distant lands in what could only be the claws of a dragon. Knights and Paladins alike prepare all their lives to face a dragon. The determination, might and faith required to stand in front of the most infamous creature on this side of the Black Ocean was enough to warrant the valiant warrior songs to his name wherever he went and the best mead from the bosom of the fairest maidens.
I am fairly sure that if anyone would believe my words, I would get at least a poem and some root beer from the bosom of an average-looking bar maid. Not bad at all. I will try to embellish this idea a bit more as I quickly return to the ground neatly packed in the earth I had been hiding just a while ago. Not one to lose hope, I cursed my luck a bit more and…
I had been working on the idea of creating an actual story with recurrent characters and so on. I usually write flash fiction and these are my first attempts at making something longer and better. I hope you like them!
As always, remember to comment and share!
Feel free to follow me on Twitter here.