Stories

Story – River Child

Fun little deja vu piece I did in year 11… pretty happy with this one 🙂

River Child

The child was cold and wet.  His sun-streaked hair stuck up in tufts, plastered to his face by the rain.  Lightning streaked across the dark sky, illuminating his bone-thin face.  As he waded ankle-deep in the stream, the stench growing unbearable, his foot hit a familiar outcrop.  He turned, clambering up the bank until the rain over his head stopped suddenly.  He had reached his cave.  The dark mouth was inviting and warm, lit by a handful of candles in the corner.  In the corner, stacked neatly and out of reach of the rain, were his few possessions.  A worn woollen blanket.  A change of clothes.  A Swiss Army Knife that had saved his life twice.  A meagre store of food, to which he now added a stale loaf of bread and a fresh hunk of cheese.  He was home.  He grinned to himself as he lay down, glad for the dry and the warmth of his blanket…

He woke several hours later, so suddenly that it was as if he had been jerked awake by an unseen hand.  There was laughter and screaming, the clink of glass and the sound of music.  He groaned and covered his ears.  He didn’t want to hear the high school students graduating.  It reminded him of what he couldn’t have, would never have.  He was almost older than them now.

A handful of voices grew very close, and in a burst of fear he doused his candles.  He listened to their conversation, all the while growing more afraid.

“…scared of a little river water, James?”

“No you idiot!  They say a monster lives in here.  It wades the waters at night and sleeps in its cave by day.”

“Oh come on, you don’t seriously believe that shit?  It’s just an old polluted stream.”

The pair continued to argue as the child slowly leaned forward.  His hand hit the ground with a clink and to his surprise he looked down.  Subconsciously he had grabbed the Swiss Army knife and the blade was out, ready to be used.

“James!  Look!”  A young girl came into view.  She was around 17, with curious, searching eyes.  Pretty, but dangerous.  “I swear I saw light over here!”

“Katie, can we leave now?  Please?”  The boy was still too far back to see the child, and if the girl got too close, well, the boy might think it was an accident.  It was a slippery river bank, after all.

“Don’t be such a wuss!”  The girl had spun around to face the boy’s voice, leaving her back exposed.  The child’s eyes narrowed, and as he stepped forward a low growl issued from his throat.  The girl spun, her smug expression changing to fear.  Her hands fumbled at her pocket, possible trying to free her phone.  Too late.  He was rabid.  Feral.  His muscles coiled, and he lunged.

~~~~~~

James was cold and wet.  His dark hair stuck up in tufts, plastered to his face by the rain.  Once he found Katie, they could go back to the party, and he might be able to gather enough courage to ask her out.  As he waded ankle-deep in the stream, the stench growing unbearable, he heard a long, high-pitched scream.  A scream of surprise.  A scream of pure agony.  From the corner of his eye as he scrambled up the slope, he saw two dark figures.  One was on the ground writhing in pain and the other was standing over the top of them, holding what appeared to be a bloody knife.  The figure holding the knife heard him, saw him, stepped towards him.  He ran, trying to get back to the party, back to civilisation.  He tripped, tried to rise but the figure was upon him, holding him, tears streaming.

Katie.  He laughed, a sound of relief, and held her close.

“What happened, Katie?”  He asked.

“Th-there was a boy, and h-he had a k-knife, and he tried t-to… but I had a-a Swiss Army knife, and I g-got it out, and h-he just jumped s-straight at…”

James’ hand was there, and he prised the knife from her icy cold fingers.  He threw it into the ground with much more force than necessary but he didn’t want her to have to see that again.  She sneezed, no doubt sick from the rain and river water.  He would have to take care of her.

~~~~~~

Smiling, the boy picked the girl up and carried her back to the party, while the child watched silently.  Jealousy at their spark, their good fortune, their lives bubbled up inside of him, hurting his slowing heart.  As he took his final breath and the sky went dark, he wept.

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