The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
The Last One
by Naching T. Kassa
They’re coming to kill me. They’re out there, hunting.
Undergrowth swishes against naked, gray skin. Moonlight gleams in soulless, black eyes. I catch glimpses of them as I cling to the tall palm. Hopefully, they’ll move on soon. I can’t hold on much longer.
Last night seems a million years ago. I wasn’t alone then. I had Marco. Even now, I hear his words…
“Wake up, Aleah,” Marco said, shaking me. “It’s your turn to take watch.”
I rubbed my eyes and stared across the water. The crimson sun sank from the sky and, as it fell, the lagoon grew red as blood.
“Night’s coming,” I said. “Shouldn’t we move on? They’ll come out to hunt soon.”
“They won’t come until the moon rises. We have time.”
“I wish the boat was ready.”
“It’ll be ready tomorrow. Then, we’ll leave this place.”
“They sabotaged all the other boats. Are you sure this one is safe?”
“They’ll never find it where we hid it.” Marco settled into the sand and shut his eyes.
“Wake me when you see the moon.”
I huddled beside him and hugged my knees as the sun slipped away.
Night sounds forced me to study my surroundings. Jungle lay behind me and to the right while the beach stretched in the opposite direction. I focused on the sand. Movement attracted my eye.
In the distance, near a grove of palms, a figure appeared. It moved on two legs at a slow and easy pace.
“Marco?” I whispered.
As though he’d heard my words, the figure halted. He stood silhouetted against the sand.
“Can’t be,” Marco said, without opening his eyes. “It’s not moonrise yet. It must be a pig or something.”
“Pigs don’t walk on two legs.”
The figure fell to the ground and crawled forward.
Marco glanced up. “It’s not walking on two legs.”
“It was. I saw it. Please, let’s get off the beach.”
“It’s a pig.”
The figure halted once more. A chill climbed my spine as it rose to its feet. It rushed forward.
“Move!” I cried.
Marco scrambled through the sand after me as we hurried from the beach and into the jungle beyond.
“Climb a tree,” Marco said. “Hurry. I’ll lead him away.”
I scaled the nearest palm, secreting myself among the long fronds while Marco rushed by.
Moments after, something came crashing through the undergrowth. The sound receded into the distance.
Time passed and my arms grew sore. I shifted position as quietly as I could. At last, Marco returned.
“Aleah, come down,” he whispered.
The moon rose and its silver light revealed the world below us.
“He’s gone,” Marco said at last. “Let’s go.”
“What if he’s still down there? What if he’s waiting?”
“We can’t stay here.”
As Marco slid down the trunk, I hesitated. Then, prepared to do the same.
A shout halted my descent. I couldn’t understand Marco’s words.
The agonized shriek which followed chilled me to the marrow. I lost my hold on the tree and fell to the ground.
The monster stood a few feet away from me. His smile gleamed in the moonlight.
Two rows of teeth lined his impossibly large mouth. Each resembled a triangular shark’s tooth coated in blood. Marco hung limp, trapped in the creature’s arms, a chunk of flesh missing from his chest.
The monster’s eyes rolled back in his head as he bit into Marco once more.
I struggled to my feet and sprinted away.
When I stopped, I found another tree to hide in. There I stayed until the sun rose. Then, I returned to the boat.
It took longer to repair without Marco’s aid. I fashioned the sail with palm fronds. The greenery cut my hands and the blood mixed with my tears. When I finished, the sun had already deserted the sky. I covered it and retired to a tree for the night.
That was two hours ago, before the moon rose.
It’s up now. The monster wanders in its glow.
He’s not alone.
Five creatures search the undergrowth below me, thrashing about my tree. Is it my sweat they smell? Or is it the blood from my wounded fingers? If only they would leave!
At last, they wander away.
I descend the tree in silence, pausing before I reach the bottom. No one awaits my arrival. Vegetation and sand muffle my footsteps.
The boat waits on the edge of the lagoon. It appears untouched.
I slip into it as a shadow passes over the moon. I look up for a cloud and see none.
They surround me.
Each bares their teeth to me. Nostrils flare. They approach and withdraw, circling in a strange and intricate dance. Who will strike first?
Pain sears through my arm. I see teeth buried in my bicep and then, the flesh vanishes.
I fall back into the boat and seize the only weapon I can find as the creature charges me. The oar is heavy in my hands and the strike is true. I smash the creature across the head.
The oar splinters apart leaving a deep wound in the thing’s gray skin. Blood oozes and the creature falls into the incoming tide. The waves snatch the boat away from the sand.
The creature tries to rise, tries to pursue me but the others fall upon him. Blood flows. It seems to excite them, whipping them into a frenzy.
Their eyes roll back in their heads as they sink their teeth into him. He screams.
I shut my eyes and float away.
Fiction © Copyright Naching T. Kassa
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
More from Naching T. Kassa:
Crystal Lake Publishing proudly presents Arterial Bloom, an artful juxtaposition of the magnificence and macabre that exist within mankind. Each tale in this collection is resplendent with beauty, teeth, and heart.
Edited by the Bram Stoker Award-winning writer Mercedes M. Yardley, Arterial Bloom is a literary experience featuring sixteen stories from some of the most compelling dark authors writing today.
With a foreword by HWA Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient Linda D. Addison, you are invited to step inside and let the grim flowers wind themselves comfortably around your bones.