Preview of Walking in the Air...
Story may progress into something longer if warranted, let me know what you think.
Sleep clung to my eyes as I stretched in the early morning sun. It shone through my window brightly; finally a sunny day. The summer was starting slow. What a horrid time to move to a new town, a new school. My Dad, Charlie, worked all day and often into the night and while there was a little bit of a town here, it wasn't enough to entertain me for more than the first week.
I had read most of the books I had brought with me and other than a few visits from my childhood friend Jacob I hadn't had any human contact other then Charlie. And he wasn't exactly a big conversationalist. Usually that was the characteristic I loved the most about my father, he knew when to leave me alone and how to sit in comfortable silence. We had an easy relationship for the most part, despite the strain of living so far apart for most of my life.
As a child I had loved coming here to visit, playing on the beach and walking in the woods behind the house… And like that I knew I would be spending my day, exploring the forest behind the house, there wasn't much of it I hadn't been through before, I'm sure I would remember my way around.
I pulled on my most comfortable jeans and a long sleeve shirt. It may be Summer but under the canopy of trees it could still get chilly. It had been years since I'd been back there, hunting for frogs and chipmunks. Once I had even seen a deer roaming. Charlie had always warned me to watch for wolves and bears but in all the times I'd been here I'd never seen so much as a track so it didn't occur to me to worry. Too bad I didn't take the time to think about what other kinds of predators, natural or supernatural, might be lurking in the forest.
I threw a bottle of water in my backpack, along with my over-read copy of Kafka's Metamorphosis, nothing like a little macabre literature on a beautiful day. I slipped on my shoes before grabbing the house keys and running out the back door.
The sun shocked my system into a sudden halt. The warmth of the rays, the heat of the first real summer day making me smile. Maybe I would go down to First Beach later. Jacob had mentioned something about a bon fire tonight. He was a nice kid, but after the first week of spending time with him I had to pull back. I could tell he was starting to think my hanging out with him meant something more to me then it did.
It wasn't that he wasn't nice, he was, he was beyond nice, it was just…he seemed so young despite being only 1 year behind me in school and while I could tell he would be a good looking man, he still appeared to be just a boy to me. I hadn't seen him in almost three weeks though, and his most recent call sounded…different on the answering machine. His voice was harder somehow and without meaning to, I worried.
I resolved to go out to see Jacob after my walk telling myself it was just for something to do. The fact that he was the only person I knew here was the only reason he was on my mind so much, nothing more than that. If I had more friends, maybe even a girl friend or too then I wouldn't be so preoccupied wondering what he was doing. No, there was no reason to think it was more than that.
The path into the woods was grown over but still there. Charlie hadn't been out here for a while I could tell. Next time I would have to bring scissors or hedge trimmers….or a machete with me. I laughed to myself at the image of me fighting through the brush with a machete in one hand and an automatic gun in the other, off to battle the rebels in Nicaragua or something.
Perhaps I was spending too much time alone; my imagination was clearly getting out of control.
The path under my feet curved slightly, pulling me further into the forest then I had remembered but I felt safe here, like time had stood still. I was 8 years old again, playing back here with….someone, I can't remember who now it was so long ago, but we were laughing and climbing trees. I smiled and dropped my bag wondering if I could still get to the top.
Pulling myself up through the scratchy lower branches, my arms strained at the effort, forcing me to admit and at 17 I was too old to climb trees. The sun moved overhead, getting higher in the sky, but back here, in the shade of the forest there was no change. Everything back here was lush and full, untouched by the outside world. I could sit here forever, with my fingers against the moss of the stones pretending that fairy tales were real.
When I was a child I believed without a doubt in the world of fairies and monsters. The beauty of the fantastical world in my mind was always balanced by the horror of the creatures that stalked me in the night. I could never see them, but they were as real to me as the cat we had or the rocking chair in my room. I would pretend sometimes at night that someone was sitting in that rocking chair, watching me sleep; protecting me from the unseen evils outside of my bedroom window.
Growing up and coming to the realization that no, fairy tales were not real and there was no mystical protector here to keep me from pain was difficult. I would get angry when things would go wrong, when I would get hurt, when my parents divorced demanding to know where my angel was and why he had abandoned me. Once there was no more protection I could no longer bear to believe in monsters and incarnations of evil…if I did the fear would paralyze me.
I walked further, drinking my water and day dreaming about what adventures would await me in my new school my Senior year. It was the worst and the best possible time to move. I didn't know anyone but I wasn't really leaving much behind, besides my mother who despite her desperate love for me wasn't much use. She was remarried now and better off in a life where she could be Renee and Phil, not Renee the mom and her new husband. Too many people looked at the three of us and wondered who Phil was with.
I was ready for a great adventure.
My wandering thoughts kept me from noticing the soft sound of feet behind me. Although it's possible that even if I'd been on alert I would not have heart them. My stalker with the red eyes was skilled at keeping hidden until the last moment. I walked oblivious of the dangers that existed in this world, no longer believing in monsters or knights in shining armor. If I had known would I have been more prepared for what happened next?
A tall man was suddenly standing before me, dark-skinned with inhuman red eyes. I stepped back, startled away from him before able to recognize that there was anything unusual about him.
"Well, what do we have here?" he asked. I noticed that he was wearing no shirt and only dirty jeans with bare feet. His hair long and pulled back, stray dreads falling around his face. "Are you out here all alone?"
"Um, no, I'm just meeting my father now; he's at the clearing waiting for me" I stumbled over something as I backed away from the man who stood perfectly still, barely able to breath.
"hmmm, I think not little one, I do not sense that there is anyone else here. You see, I would know" he grinned wickedly "I'm quite thirsty"
"I…I have water" I said, reaching into my bag.
His laughter was vicious, the cruelest sound I'd ever heard, making the hair on my skin stand up. "hmmm no, but I do appreciate the offer, there may be something else you can do for me though… you do smell… simply mouthwatering."
"Ok, well, all I have is water, so I'll just go then, you um, you can find someone else for help I guess" I was chattering, talking without thinking, just keeping the silence from making me think too hard about what was happening. I was afraid he was going to rape or kill me, but in reality I knew that what he had planned was much much worse.
"Oh you've been so kind, I do like you, which is unusual for me. But this is nothing personal, let me assure you. Just thirst." His smile reached out to me, sending licks of fear and horror along my spine. I watched as he bent down, suddenly looking more cat then man, I expected his pounce, like a mountain lion who was done playing with his prey he would rip me to shreds and feed on my bones.
The impossibility of my thoughts was lost on me because in the moment, the monsters outside the window were 100% real.
I closed my eyes and heard instead of felt my destruction. The sound of metal scraping against metal, nails against a chalkboard at an incredible volume could only mean that I was in pieces on the ground. But I felt no pain, no searing ripping as he dismembered me. Opening my eyes I realized that I was not the one being torn apart and finally I screamed.