This is the first of my weekly free fiction series. Sometimes it will be a short story and sometimes it’ll be an excerpt. This weeks offering is an excerpt from Prunella Smith:Worlds Within Worlds, but like quite a few of the scenes in that book, it’s also a short story. Normally, the Friday Fiction will be available for one week only, but I’m going on holiday next week for a couple of weeks, so you’ll have longer to read it before I delete it and replace it with something else.
My feet pounded the hard earth, jarring my bones, but I couldn’t stop. The monster closed in behind me, his breath coming in hard, loud pants. I tripped and stumbled over a fallen branch, only just saving myself from a fall. An evil chuckle reverberated through the darkening forest.
‘I’m going to get you, bitch.’ The chill in the beast’s voice sent shivers down my spine.
I ran faster, my legs burning with the effort, and looked desperately for somewhere to hide, somewhere to escape this monster set on destroying the very fabric of my life. But I knew this forest, and knew there was nowhere here that could keep me safe from this thing bent on revenge.
At least I was making him work for his meal! The thought flashed through my mind, and I smiled—a ray of light in the gloom. My heart lifted. Surely, this couldn’t be real. What had I done to turn a man into a monster? Tell him a truth he wasn’t willing to hear? Why then had he asked me to tell him?
My breath came in gasps and a stitch formed at my side. I clutched the pain, kept running, and chanced a glance behind. A dark, human-shaped blob wearing a hoodie raced after me, but perhaps he was slowing. I hoped.
The rock! It might be enough. I ran down the track that led to the largest rock in the forest. A tree nestled close behind it. Perhaps I could battle the lantana surrounding it and squeeze between the two. The sticky plant scratched my face and hands and grabbed at my hair as I dived beneath it and crawled to the tree in the middle of the tangle of weeds. Yes! I squeezed myself behind the trunk and, with my back slammed hard against the rock, tried to still my gasping breath. Something crawled over my bare arms. A bite. Ants! I brushed them off and tried not to wriggle, or wonder what else lived in the bark.
The beast crashed through the undergrowth and stopped. I peeked through the scraggly bushes and held my breath. The thing cocked its head and sniffed. God! Could it smell my sweat? The head swivelled and red eyes glowing from beneath the hood fixed on me. An arm pushed back the hood and an evil smile spread slowly over the pale, pockmarked face. Dita?
The monster pulled out a machete—I don’t know from where. One minute he had nothing in his hand and the next moment he was attacking the lantana with a machete, cutting a swathe through it towards me. I swallowed in a suddenly dry throat and, sure that something crawled on it, yanked a twig from my long hair.
Wait a minute! I don’t have long hair.
My eyes fly open, and I mentally kick myself. I lie warm and safe in my bed, but I’ve allowed that bullying author to get into my dreamworld. He doesn’t belong there. He doesn’t belong in any of my worlds! But he’s shoved his way in. Despite my determination not to let him get to me, his words have registered somewhere in my psyche, and now, like some virus emerging into its virulent phase, Dita has appeared in my dreams.
Next time, I’ll have a sword and I’ll be able to use it. REALLY WELL.Please don’t share this photo. I have copyright, but you don’t.