Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Entry #73

Four
by Ally


Snakes and bears and birds and things—it was a part of some old rhyme. He attempted to focus his memory. Snakes and bears…"and birds and things."

He waded through the brush, treaded unevenly on the tawny needle-covered ground—the whole, a mass of desiccated tree leavings, matted ferns, and regurgitated vole skeletons. He took a tentative step. Shhhrrk! It left a shallow impression on the surface that rebounded only slightly as he lifted his boot. It was the stuff of bird nests and rat dens. Of children's nightmares.

To calm himself, he imagined he was walking on a bed of those compacted wheat cubes that were supposed to be high in fiber and good for someone of his advancing years. Only these harbored dangerous animals, ticks with Lyme disease, rot, death….

He wasn't yet 60—still rather young, he reasoned—so this little hike shouldn't be too dangerous for his hips or his nerves or even his skin, which was nearly all covered, save for his face. But he remembered the mantra, and it now it seemed to issue from his own footfalls like sylvan heartbeats: snakes and bears and birds and things. He felt a cold sensation coursing around limbs, journeying to and fro like waves of ice, until it made his arms quiver and his head arch backward. Turning around, his dark-grey eyes scanned the distance behind him for all four dangers, but mostly for the last.

He thought he saw something, but he didn't. He never…Shhhrrk.

14 comments:

Hoodie said...

Very nicely paced with great language. I really like it a lot.

Absolute Vanilla (and Atyllah) said...

Good story, well paced and written. All I want to know is which of the creatures went "Shhhrrk"?
Well done.

JLB said...

Very textural - I feel that I'm right there on the muddy forest floor.

Victor J. Banis said...

I liked this a lot - very atmospheric

Ann Ostrander said...

Terrific descriptive elements. Great pacing.

Katherine Napier said...

But mostly for things, love it.

Ally said...

Thanks for the reviews, guys! I'm glad I found this little contest. It was good fun. :)

Bernita said...

Enjoyed this.
Especially the vole skeletons.
Nice childish nuances.

SzélsőFa said...

I love the ending. Nice work with texture and senses!

Anonymous said...

I loved the atmosphere you created. The last line was great!!

Amanda said...

i love the word shrrrk. and the ending...yes.

Thérèse said...

I like that you're not sure what animal is stalking our main character.

I also like the tone and imagery. Good work!

chanpheng said...

Really builds the atmosphere. Creepy.

jason evans said...

Great view of the forest from a fear standpoint. I'm at home in the forest, so it makes me smile.