Monday, July 26, 2010

Land of Shadows: Chapter XIII - Trap

The stench was awful. The fire was still burning in the north wing when they pulled into the parking lot. Dotty compared the aroma to that of an outhouse fire back on her grandparents farm. It was obvious that neither Dee or Allison were still here.

If Allison had still been in the school when the fire started Dee would not have left or rested until she had been rescued or recovered. Had she been rescued and still able they would have continued on their way as soon as possible. Had Allison been injured Dee would have returned albeit reluctantly to the lighthouse and they would have met up by now. In the unthinkable even that she would have been killed, Dee would have buried her before carrying on with her quest. And in their brief search of the school grounds they had not seen evidence of a new grave and Dee would have made no effort to hide it, Quite the contrary, it would have been in plain sight so she could easily find it and direct her mother to it as well if asked. Oliver was not the accomplished tracker that Dee was, but the deeply treaded tires of the Volvo left a trail a blind man could follow. They had an advantage over Dee in that regard. Dee was not making any effort to cover her tracks.

* * *

Dee looked back at the ruts they were leaving in the wet spongy ground. They had left highway 151 behind sometime ago following the faint trail of the mountain bike. It was against her nature to leave such an obvious trail, but they had other priorities.

She banged her head on the edge of the roof when the Volvo jolted to a stop without warning.

"Ow! What the fuck! Ally, when I let you drive I said ... " she turned around to see why the sudden stop and began cussing even more. A wall of trees blocked their path. Just at the edge of the woods a muddy patch clearly showed a set of narrow tire tracks following a game trail into the woods.

Dee got out of the Volvo and checked the load on her shotgun and grabbed a few more shells from a box on the dash. Bo and Duke followed her out of the truck.

"I want you to circle around these woods, try to get to the other side ahead of him. You keep in touch on the walkie talkie and let me know if you see anything. I'll try to catch up to him in there. He won't be able to go much faster than a person on foot and when he can't ride he'll have to push that bike around, and that will slow him down."

"I don't think this is a good idea, separating like this ... " Ally protested.

"And it was a good idea when you and Olly left me back there in that garage? This is our best chance to catch up to that thing and end this, now get going!"

Dee headed into the woods without waiting to see if Ally was obeying her instructions. Both dogs sticking close to her. The bike's trail was easy to follow among the twin crescent of deer tracks, the clawed and padded feet of foxes and the almost hand like prints of the occasional raccoon. A couple hundred feet into the woods the bike tracks sank into the soft mud an inch deeper as if the bike had stopped for a minute and sank into the soft soil. A single shoe print was pressed lightly into the ground and there were crushed dry leaves on the other side. The bike tracks moved forward for about five feet and stopped again. There the shoe prints appeared again and the bike tracks became fainter as the terrain grew rougher. He was on foot now. But no evidence that a wraith was with him.
* * *

Deek leaned against a tree near the stream. He and the old man had been running all day and both were beginning to tire. They had so far remained hidden from their captor. The old man seemed to know a great deal about the creature, he was telling him about it while Deek led the way. Deek stepped through the door into his bedroom. He lay down on the bed and pulled the cover up over his head.

"What are you doing boy? This place is too obvious, he'll find us here for sure."

"I gotta rest. Let me sleep old man."

"You give up now and you'll sleep alright, but not before that things eats you alive. Now get up off your lazy ass and get moving. We need to find a safe place!" Jewels pulled the cover off the boy and yanked him to his feet. The room dissolved around them and they found themselves in a room high room high above the ground. The city below was a busy crowded place with cars racing down the streets and dozens of planes flying overhead. Big jumbo jets and Jewels did not have to see inside them to know that they would all be packed with people. But underlying this image was another. This was a city, long abandoned and decaying. Chicago.

The boy had populated if from his imagination. Jewels could feel the memory. Deek's father had taken him up to the top of the Lake Point Tower overlooking the old navy pier amusement park. He had told him of the city teeming with people and cars. The boy, who thought himself stupid, had built an entire city in his mind and filled it with people and cars and planes and brought them all to life, at least in his mind. But his father had either exaggerated or the boy had built on his father's tales himself, but Detroit had never been this crowded. The monster would not think to look for them here and if he did, there were plenty of places to hide. They could rest here.

The boy went to a window, picked up a chair and threw at the window. It should have just bounced back, but evidently the boy did not know better, for the window shattered and they found themselves looking out, not at the crowded/empty city below, but at a forest as the creature used Deek's body to push a bike through a wooded path. Jewels found himself once again looking over this boy and reassessing him.

Up ahead they could see an old man checking a trap, he straightened and looked back at them. Deek started to yell a warning, but Jewels clamped his hand over the boys mouth.

* * *
Things were going quite well, he felt that he had not seen evidence of his pursuers for some time so he sent the wraiths to scout ahead. One came back to let him know that human had been found in the woods nearby. He got the location from the slave, as always it was a little cumbersome getting any useful information out of it. It was like trying to get navigational directions from a toddler. He then sent it out again to look for food and shelter for the night.

He was surprised to find the man exactly where the slave had told him. It was an older man, but not as frail as his previous host. He was old enough that he would have been taught to read before the humans had sent themselves away and dragged his ancestors to this wonderful place.

"Excuse me sir, can you read?"

* * *
Dee found the bike abandoned at the base of an old oak tree. She quickly picked up his trail again with the help of the dogs, but she found another set of prints too, and these were wearing heavy boots. She hoped the booted stranger would not meet up with her quarry before she did. She quickened her pace, the tracks she had followed in were less than four hours old, but these were just an hour old if that.

She burst into the clearing with her shotgun ready, but it was already too late. The old man had already become the monster's latest victim, his throat was slashed. But before she could fire her first shot, sharp steel jaws bit into her left calf and she dropped the shotgun. The shotgun fired uselessly into the leaves above her only serving to defoliate a portion of the tree. The boy the monster was currently using spun around to see Dee with her leg caught in a steel jawed bear trap. It was anchored to a heavy steel chain attached to a spike driven into the ground. Dee could move no further than five feet without getting the trap off her leg. To do that she would have to give it her full attention and he would surely close for the kill before she could free herself. The weapon was out of her reach having been propelled quite some distance by the powerful kick of the over packed load she was using.

The Beretta was holstered at her left ankle and she could not get it out past the steel jaws of the trap. She pulled out a throwing dart from the leather band on her wrist and threw it, aiming for the boy's eyes, but it passed harmlessly over his head.

She was normally better than this, but she not normally practicing with a steel jawed bear trap on her left leg.

He quickly ducked behind a tree, but not before she threw another. She did not know if it hit or not, but it was not enough to slow him down if it did. Bo and Duke were now after him as well. Bo circled around the tree to attack but a sudden yelp and he was thrown back out into the clearing where he thrashed about for a few minutes before becoming still. He saw him move to another tree and wasted another dart trying to get him. But he made the mistake of trying to cross too much open ground trying to get to something left in the clearing and she pinned his hand to a tree. She thought to finish him with her final dart but found the elastic loop empty. A sudden image came to mind of the dart pinning a bug to the window frame at home.

Realizing that she was now unarmed, the boy yanked the dart out of his hand and attacked. Dee tried her best to fend him off but she was just too hampered by the trap and blood loss. About the fourth, or was it the fourteenth time the little dart jabbed her she blacked out.

© 2010 R. Keith McBride

Sunday, July 25, 2010

New Story post going up tomorrow.

I would like to apologize for not getting a story post up in so long. After all the problems I have been having with my computers and not really having a chance to write in sooo long I had a hard time getting back into it when I finally did have a chance. But by the time I got the first paragraph down I was back in the groove. I hope you will all like this next chapter.