I would like to introduce those of you that have not had the pleasure of reading Matt’s work, to Matt Blashil of the blog http://thematticuskingdom.wordpress.com I have been a fan of Matts writing for quite a few months now. I’m honored that he shared this post a short story with me to share on my blog. It is engaging, descriptive and full of suspense. We could all learn a thing or two by reading Matts writing not to mention his awesome poetry…
As an avid backpacker and camper, normally spending about two weeks a year “lost” in the backcountry away from the hustle and bustle of our modern lives, out of cell range, I’ve often pondered how terrifying it would be to encounter something sinister when there was no one to call for help and no shelter to speak of. Tapping into those thoughts, I put together this short story to share here on Writings of a Mrs. It probably isn’t the scariest fiction you will this month, but hopefully some of the intensity I felt while writing it, the pressure, the unrelenting chase, will come through in the words. If at least one of you finds yourself on the edge of your seat by the end I will consider it a job well done. Thanks for reading!
The wet grasses slapped at her hands, cold, stinging pain that she hardly noticed, and the muddy ground sucked at her shoes with each frantic step. It was a struggle to stay upright. Her knees and thighs ached from the exertion. Her lungs burned.
She raced across the meadow, aware of the futility of the action, but unable to give in, unable to surrender. The moon, which had been so prominent at the start of her hike earlier that evening, was hidden behind a tangled mass of clouds. She cursed its cowardice while secretly being hopeful that its absence meant she wouldn’t have to see what happened next.
The grasses gave way to the small stream that snaked through the valley. She had known it was there, had spent an hour walking along it after setting up her camp, but couldn’t see it and hadn’t been able to hear it over the hammering of her heart. For a second she was airborne, her legs and arms scrambling wildly for purchase, for something to grasp, to push off on, and then she was in the water. Splashing madly, she managed to find her feet and carry on. The weight of the water slowed her progress.
The cold numbed her. She couldn’t think straight. She couldn’t move fast enough. She desperately wanted to stop running.
The grasses slashed at her again as her dash across the meadow continued. The muddy ground gave way to hard packed soil and she realized that she had moved out of the meadow into a surrounding grove of trees. Luckily there were no low hanging branches to swipe out at her. With her arms outstretched she painfully bounced and redirected blindly through the massive trunks of the redwoods.
How long had she been running? Why hadn’t she been overtaken yet? Could she risk stopping, trying to get her bearings, trying to see what else was out there?
She was amazed she had made it so far.
A warm puff of air at the nape of her neck made her scream. The sound echoed among the trees and returned to her as laughter. In her terror she dropped her arms to pick up her pace. She didn’t have the luxury of trying to run safely anymore.
Her swinging right arm caught the edge of a trunk, twisting her mid-step. She tried to correct, but before she could regain her balance, she slammed her left side into another hidden tree. She was airborne again, her legs swept behind her, her arms paralyzed from the impact, and then she was tumbling in the soil and pine needles. The scent of the earth filled her nostrils despite everything else.
A shadow detached itself from the darkness and stood over her.
She would have screamed again if she’d had time.
© Matt Blashill 2013
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