Lying there, against the cold hard ground in a lethal forest, 2 months pregnant did I finally question myself aloud…”Why am I doing all this?” It was then, that I felt the growls and barks of the hounds fade ad my broken arm go numb. It was like time had frozen.
How did things turn out like this?
2 months ago
“You have to live Olivia, for our child,” my husband had said cupping my cheek with his ice cold hands, fear vibrating from them. “It doesn’t have to be like this Marcus. We- we can find another way.” I said with teary eyes, trembling under the heavy survival kit he had packed for me. “There is no other way Olivia, you know it too.” I did know. It was either me or him.
The refugee camp was going to be raided at dawn. “You’re not going to be alone Olivia…” a sour smile on his face as he looked at Melissa, our horse, gratefully. Sirens blared behind him. I tilted my head to get a sight of what was to come, but Marcus wouldn’t let me. He held my shoulders tight, bringing me back to the present. “You’re the strongest woman I’ve ever met,” His blue eyes filled with tears, “And I love you. But we don’t have much time.”
My heart racing against my chest. “Y-you can’t make me leave!” I yelled in denial. “This isn’t goodbye Oli,” he lied, mounting me onto Melissa’s black body. Raging horses at the entrance. Melissa roared back. I gripped Marcus’s hand, without the slightest intention of letting go, but I did. I let go of everything. The pain, our friends, roasted fish by the fire…everything. Miserably, I looked away from the blood shed. He was dead.
Cringing in pain, I reached for my stomach- feeling for my purpose. Melissa sat beside me, pulling me towards herself. I hugged her, burying my wet face against her warm fur. A soft smile on my face as i fell asleep gratefully.
The Next Morning
I stared at the turkey, grinning from ear to ear. Shades of red, blue and yellow lining the meat seemed to pop out of the narrow dish. The gravy melting from the top. Drip, drip. Without a second thought I tore off a leg. My eyes sparkling with joy. My mouth wide open for a bite. But, instead of juicy flesh, I felt myself choking on something very hard. Tearing my eyes open I spat it out. An enormous apple.
I jumped to my feet, my eyes searching for the idiot who had woken me up, yet, all I found was a horse hammering a tree. With narrowed eyes, I let out a sigh. It was impossible to stay angry at this horse. “Melissa!” I yelled, trying to keep up the act of “Angry Mom”. She was anything but an obedient, ride. Sometimes a dog, sometimes a diva and sometimes a bull racing towards red apple trees. Melissa was perfect. She looked at me with puppy eyes, her hoove raised, ready to hit the tree once again under my consent. I raised an eyebrow, daring her to do it. Tense silence followed as we communicated silently. Melissa neighed disappointedly, giving the squirrel in the apple tree a nasty look. Shaking my head, I plucked a red apple off one of the branches, providing her a bite. “Breakfast.”
Soon after, we started travelling again. Melissa’s hooves clattering against the cobblestone satisfyingly. I smiled, looking at the rice fields on each side. Birds high in their trees as a river flowed just beside the path. Melissa seemed happy too, snorting at the butterflies at her nose. Everything was so…perfect, too perfect.
All of that changed as we neared the village. I peered through the metal gates, but it was hard to catch sight of anything with the thick fog in the way. Suddenly, the air turned cold, freezing cold. I shivered getting off Melissa. “H-hello! Anybody there?” I yelled. The only response I got was from a tumbleweed crossing the road- who also ignored me. My hands shaking nervously, “You wait here Melissa, keep your guard up. If you don’t hear from me within 30 mins, you know what to do.” My eyes scanned the area, searching for life from the safety of the outlines, but with no luck. I had to go in.
Taking a deep breath in, I started walking towards the first house. A metal board on a brick structure, without a door. Looking inside, I spotted a kettle. It was heated on a stove, buzzing, yet nobody around. The other houses were no different. “Did they isolate this village?” I asked myself. “There’s no sign of blood. But if they did run, why would they leave their belongings behind?”
My thoughts were interrupted by groaning, from one of the houses. What was going on? Gathering all the power I had, i broke down the door. Covering myself with my hands for protection. Slowly looking through the crack between my fingers. The groaning turned into gurgling, as red spilt on the floor. An old man lay on his death bed. His eyes glassy and restless and his clothes were a dark red, a knife buried deep in his chest. He slowly raised a finger with great effort.
I rushed towards him, sitting at his bed. “I-It’s ok sir, I’ve got a first aid kit.” My hands stealthily hunting for meds. This wasn’t the first time I had seen a dead body. The old man grabbed my hand…and threw it away. Moaning as I reached towards my fanny pack. It was too late, meds wouldn’t work. I knew it, but, I didn’t want to leave him. I didn’t know what to do. “What? What is it?” I asked, giving up on bringing him to life. His eyes slowed, as he tried to gain sanity- they were pointing to something behind me. Reaching for my knife, I braced myself.
A mirror. As confused as I was, i kept looking. That’s when I noticed, at the very corner of my reflection: the killer. A masked figure peering through the window, staring at me. I turned around looking at the window, but it had left. “Who is that?” I questioned a dead man.
My pace fastening every minute as I hurried to Melissa. “We’re getting out of here girl.” Mounting myself again. I slapped her reigns, expecting her to move. But she didn’t. “Giddy up girl!” I yelled. She turned around, sniffing the air. “What’s wrong?” I asked her. She started moving…deeper into the village. I yanked the reigns but its like she couldn’t feel a thing. “Mellissa! Stop it!” But she wouldn’t. That’s when I felt it too. The smell of bread. Warm, freshly baked, right out of the oven.
My feet started moving themselves, my brain screamed but it was like I had lost sense to hunger. The door opened, with the ring of a bell and the oven timer. I smiled, looking at the bread inside. Saliva forming in my mouth. Before I knew it, I was pigging out on cakes, bread and everything around. Marcus used to love baking, i thought i would never get to taste cake again- but there i was. Completely having forgotten about mellisa. I would have carried on with my stupidity had i not heard those muffled footsteps on the stairs.
Turning around my eyes fell on the figure standing on the stair case, masked. It wore a large black coat concealing its whole body- the same man from the window. A knife held high in his hands. I got up, trying to leave the wild creature in peace. Even if I couldn’t see it, I could feel it- a vile grin under that hide. When I took a step back, they took a step front. It wasnt long before i was backed by the window with nowhere to run. But, to jump! I bounced out, making a run for it. Heavy foot steps behind me. “Help! Help!” I screamed. “Please!” The figure caught onto me. I was on the ground now, writhing for mercy. “Please! Please! For my child!” I closed my eyes, awaiting death fearfully. My heavy breathing echoed in my ears. This was it. This was the end.
A few minutes in, and i realised- I hadn’t felt the deep stab of death yet. My body was wound less. No knife, no blood, nothing. Brushing the dust off my clothes I ran towards the gate. This time finding a terrified Mellissa awaiting me tensely. “Mellissa! Where were you!?“ Now was not the time to ask questions. This time she didn’t need the reigns. Mellissa was just as scared as I was. We rode off, into the evening. Without turning back- without looking at the man behind the mask, Marcus.