Wednesday, 23 June 2010
Short Story - 'Through the Mist'
I belong to a writer's group, based in my local library. We meet once a week, and attempt to hone our craft or simply keep our enthusiasm going and our skills ticking over. Every Monday somebody takes charge of the group with a writing task, ranging from poetry to prose.
The week I wrote this story, we were aiming to create something with a twist at the end, that turns the tables.
One day I hope to be published, including my selection of short stories. Most of those I wouldn't be willing to post online. After all, there's no point throwing them around if I'm going to try and get them in print one day. However, I'm not so reticent about the quick and fun pieces written in the way described above. After all, they're essentially exercises. They're not particularly original or inspired, but they're fun and great practice. So here is another short story, written in about 25 mins. I've improved the odd bit of grammar (I hope!) and formatting, but the whole point of this, is the curious results of writing with speed and without time for embellishment or refinement. As such, I have kept everything else the same as it was written by hand. No word changes, rewrites or deletions, so please forgive the imperfections. I hope you enjoy!
Short Story – "Through the Mist" (© Copyright W.D.Lee, 2010)
The mist crept forward through the moonlit trees. Slow yet inexorable, what little illumination there was causing it to glisten almost magically. Its fingers crept between the trunks like the probing tentacles of a giant beast from the stygian depths of the ocean.
I felt like a child, wanting nothing more than to be safe at home in bed, huddled beneath the covers. Then I shook my head. There was nothing to be gained from wishing. I needed to focus myself on the task at hand.
Then I saw the beast, deep in the shadows, the mist wrapping it in a protective coat of mystery and grey lifelessness. Gently, gently, I told myself as I moved behind a wide tree, my eyes moving from side to side in an attempt to discern any movement. I clenched my fists. I had to get a hold of myself.
I slid down the trunk, into the winding roots, to lie flat between them, moving to a position where I could watch the beast approach. My breath quickened with fear. There were two. Two of the hideous things, hunting as a pack. I hoped there were not a third or fourth.
As they neared, I tried to study them. Dark eyes that swallowed the night, pale flesh merged with the mist, a stench that went before them, warning of their evil. Determination took hold of me. A resoluteness of purpose. If I was to stand a chance, I would have to act first. To attack and hope for survival, or die trying.
I began to unfold my talons from their resting places within my fingers, and as quietly as possible I scaled the tree beneath which I hid, as the monsters approached. Breathing a sigh of relief as they passed unwittingly below me, I dripped thick saliva from my fangs.
No! My mistake. I have warned the beast of my presence, as it feels the drip on its shoulder and looks up at me with terrifying wide eyes.
I drop to its back, digging my hind claws into its supple flesh, pulling its head from its shoulders with a sickening squelch of tearing. The other turns. Oh God, this is it. One chance. I dive forward, my tail slashing round from behind me to skewer wetly through its torso. The monster drops to the ground, the last breath exiting its disgusting lips in a dreadful moan that echoes the night.
I sigh with relief. Safe once again, for a while...
It is probably guessed with ease from the outset, but the conceit was for the reader to perhaps think this is initially a conventional horror story, of monsters chasing/hunting a terrified human in the woods, only to have the tables turned and discover that the monster is in fact the terrified individual trying to survive. Stylistically there are obviously a few Lovecraftian nods, which is always fun.
It could have been anything, from a traditional monster to a natural beast, but I added the touch of the tail at the end, in order to ensure the implication that this creature isn't natural. Somehow, the thought that it could have been been a leopard or something similar, would have taken the wind out of it for me. I wanted to maintain the horror atmosphere despite the change, with the implication that it was still an unnatural beast.
As for the humans, are they real monster hunters or simply backpackers in the woods? Who knows, I'll leave that up to your imagination...
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