Lost #7

Lost #7

 

Every sense becomes heightened and my nerves begin to twang with
adrenaline. Very slowly, I make myself sit up, legs coiled under me
to spring forward if I need to. I open my eyes as wide as I can but
there’s little but uniform velvety darkness, and no more than the
occasional gleam of starlight when the wind moves the branches.

I wait.

My legs begin to cramp under me, and I silently extend first one and
then the other to stretch and relieve the tense muscles.

That’s when the attack comes, when I am off balance.

The force of the impact knocks the breath from my lungs but there’s not a second to spare for recovery. The creature is upon me, clawing, ripping, punching and grabbing for me, and with that far away instinct of the animal desperate to survive, I know something.

I know that my attacker is not a bear or a wolf or a big cat. It has
arms and legs and though the claws that are rending my skin are
sharp, they are not lethally so. It may be some vicious great ape, or
monkey grown to huge size. I grab back, my hands closing round sinewy wrists, hairy and rough, and with a massive effort, I drag those hands away from my neck and somehow turn the tables. I am on top now, and it is me who is punching and gouging and kicking, head-butting and scratching. There is no sound, but the crunch of leaves and twigs as we roll, locked in combat, around the forest floor. The creature doesn’t growl or howl at me, but I can hear harsh breathing, and smell its foetid breath when the head lurches towards me.

I fight for my life, for I know this thing will kill me and probably
eat me as I lie dying.

We are evenly matched, perhaps, though after some minutes of this
wrestling, I can sense my opponent is tiring and know that I must do
something soon. My own energy is waning, drained not just by this
fight but by the long miles of walking and little food.

With a final desperate burst of aggression, I redouble my efforts and I land a lucky kick into the softer middle of the creature. I fling it
away and am on it, pinning it down, and with an arm pressed hard
across the throat, I begin to press the life out of it.

The wind in the trees shifts the dense canopy of leaves and a beam of light from the bright stars above seems to pierce the blackness and for a second or two I can see as it shines in the eyes of my opponent and I recoil in horror. I release my hold and I stagger back, appalled.

For the eyes that shone desperately in the filthy face of the creature
were human eyes pleading for a mercy they would not have shown me.

Lost #3

For part 1 see Lost #1

For part 2 see Lost #2

Lost #3

I sit until my bones become weary and the grass becomes cold and damp beneath me; the glow-worms slowly flicker and fade and I am alone. Around me the trees softly sough in the night wind and I shiver. I am not dressed for this; my clothes seem unfamiliar and I get to my feet again.

The darkness has become less intense and I realise that the light is
starting to return and I scan the sky for signs of dawn. As the black
becomes navy blue and then a grey tinged with pink I can see I am
surrounded by trees which have grown up somewhat twisted and gnarled, their lower branches accessible even to me.

I walk round, my feet leaving a silvery trail in the dew laden grass
and select a tree I think I may be able to climb and find a massive
oak, its bark green with lichen and moss and scramble up into the
lower branches without much problem. Up and up I climb, awkward and inept and trembling at times when I look down.

It’s one of the tallest trees and when I reach the canopy, and have to
stop to catch my breath, I make the mistake of looking down. A tangle of branches weave in and out like a mandala below me and my mind becomes confused by the pattern. I shut my eyes and try to focus.

I open them and steady myself, gripping the wood tightly and shift a
little so I can turn left and right without risking slipping. Over
the sea of greens, the sun is rising, a great red ball that becomes
golden as I watch the mists spiralling up out of the forest. For as
far as my eyes can see, there is only trees, mile upon mile of
forest. I can see no roads or significant clearings beyond some that
seem to be where the more ancient of trees have fallen to their
deaths. I see no buildings or signs of people. In the extreme
distance, I can see the faintest glimmer of a mountain range, a thin
blue line of hummocks at the furthest horizon.

The forest is waking as I stand gazing over the canopy and I can hear birds and other creatures greeting the new day and I can also hear my stomach rumbling.

Slowly I realise that having got up this high, I have now to get down again and after fixing the direction of those mountains in my mind, I begin my shaky descent.

As I climb nervously down, all I can think about is that sea of green
and the miles of endless forest ahead of me. 

Lost and Found

Last week, I lost my wedding ring. It’s not my real wedding ring which is too small to wear when my joints swell up with the occasional bout of arthritis, but one my husband bought me on our 20th wedding anniversary. It was made of fairtrade silver from Bali and had a central band of Celtic knots that spins independently of the rest of the ring. I’ve had a lot of entertainment from that ring (I’m a simple soul, really)

I searched high and low and even ended up cleaning into corners that had been untouched for months. Not a sign. But I found: the dog’s tennis ball, a couple of errant tubs of lipbalm belonging to various members of the household, a pendant I had bought as a birthday present for someone and then lost (it was under my printer!) an assortment of other small things and a lot of dust bunnies. I even emptied bins and the hoover, and the recycling bin.

I came to the conclusion that the faeries had nicked it. I know how silly this sounds to people who don’t believe in faeries, but my experience is that there are beings who are very playful and sometimes very naughty who move items in some houses. I’m not actually disorganised as such and I’m not untidy, but there have been times when things of vital use have vanished utterly from where all can confirm they were put and despite frantic searching, of every possible corner, pocket, bag, box and shelf, the item is not there. I once had my car keys vanish when I needed them urgently and having turned out my pockets repeatedly and tear the house apart, I found them an hour later…IN THE POCKET I HAD TURNED INSIDE OUT, in front of witnesses. The same happened with the candlestick from Cluedo; it turned up in the murder envelope, which had previously been empty of all but the 3 cards.

The house we had in Darkest Norfolk was especially prone to this sort of episode; it affected guests and inhabitants alike. That house had darker secrets I may write about another time, but it’s not for today.

I can’t express my relief to find the ring again nor my amusement at the means of recovery.

I was getting dressed after my usual shower, and I went into my undies drawer for clean underpinnings, and as I pulled out a pair of knickers, the ring seemingly materialised from inside them.

Well, where else do you return a wedding ring? It seems the faeries have a naughty sense of humour !