Friday, April 11, 2008

Everyone Faces Beasts

"Everyone Faces Beasts"
by Miranda von Salis

Kay breathed in the moist earth as he lay spread out on the forest floor. He rolled over and squinted at the dim sunlight fighting to get through the trees. A twig snapped somewhere and Kay’s ears perked up. As he pulled his exhausted body up into a sitting position he noticed that his heart was drumming into his ribs and he twisted around. Whatever it was that made the sound, he hoped it was something friendly because he wasn’t ready for another fight quite yet. He had never thought living on his own would be easy. Not seriously. He had always had dreams of being eaten by wolves and not having any food. It was true that he did a lot of running away from things but it was better than actually getting caught. No one just sits there and lets an animal eat them.

It had been two years since he’d wandered out here. He spent a lot of time in the beginning avoiding being found. The search parties were sweeping the area for weeks until he worked his way deeper into the woods and they gave up on him.

He was thinking about all this so deeply he barely even noticed the squirrel jumping out of the bushes to the left of him and scampering through the clearing. He body relaxed when he saw he was in no danger and he lay back into his previous position. As he watched the green glow shift and change above him he began to think about the last time he had wished there were other people. This also happened to be the last time he had been eaten by wolves, not exactly EATEN by WOLVES but nibbled at by a bear. It was almost the same thing. Kay’s shoulder stung and he touched it lightly as if to make sure it was still there. Reassured that he was still in one piece he settled back down and soon he had dozed off happily.

His dreams raced; the squirrel turned into the bear. It then lumbered over to his body still sleeping stupidly in the middle of the clearing. He silently cursed his lack of common sense as he made desperate attempts to wake his body up. The bear however wasn’t worried about his body but on the “him” that was wide awake and aware of the fate he faced. He jumped up and the bear rushed at him growling and snapping. He tried to dodge the huge jaws but just as before the bear latched on to his shoulder. Kay felt a surge of pain and looked up terrified as the bear melted into the image of his mother. It was only then he shouted in fear and agony.

She shook him and he felt his bones rattle.

“How’d you find me!” he shouted at her. His voice not as cracked by disuse as he had found it when he had tried to talk a few weeks ago. Kay tried in vain to push her away but the icy grip of her hand on his shoulder clenched harder. Her sharp, bony fingers dug in to his flesh like the teeth of the bear she had come from. The bear she was supposed to be to make this dream normal, tolerable.

“What did I do honey? I thought we could be a family. Why won’t you just let me be happy?” said the haunting, slender figure in front of him.

“I came here to escape you!” Kay shrieked, his voice climbing. His mom’s face contorted into the angry grimace from so many of his childhood memories. The roar of a bear tore out of his mother’s petite body.

Kay awoke with a start and looked around. He was in the same clearing as before but now it was dark. Above, the moon was shining in the dark, its outline fuzzy behind the clouds. “She wasn’t here,” thought Kay, relived. Then he said aloud in his broken voice, “She was never here,” and almost began to chuckle.

The bear in the corner looked surprised and confused but then it made up its mind and just looked angry. “Holy crap!” thought Kay, scrambling to get up and run to a tree. He could wait it out as long as he wasn’t on the ground. He was a second late because the bear charged just as he started to move. He cried out as the bear grabbed his ankle and dragged him to the ground. With a thunk he hit the forest floor and rolled over. Trying to kick the bear with his free foot he started to cry. The face of death looked hungry. Why’d he have to be so stupid and sleep in the middle of the clearing? Why didn’t he look around when he first woke up? Had he really learned nothing since he had made his home here? Was this the way he was going to die? The bear put both its paws on Kay’s shoulders and Kay thought, “Damn, he’s heavy,” before giving in.

His mom never found out what happened to her oldest son or why he decided to get himself lost in the woods. At least for her there were some days when she didn’t think of Kay, but if she had known she would have cried. Lucky for him, Kay didn’t know this.

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