Please excuse the poor form; I was a bit rushed when I wrote this.
The wind howled over the rock I huddled under. Mother and Jakey hunched further behind me. My short hair scratched at my face in an attempt to conceal the scene before me. I wished I could let it. Let it hide these horrors from my memory. But I had to see; I had to watch to make sure they weren’t coming back. The murderers. I ran my fingers through my hair and adjusted my feet. My weight shifted forward until I could peer around the edge of the rock. A low rumble flowed over the top of the boulder, growing lower by the second. I retracted my head and brushed my fingers across the wood on Mother’s leg. The wood, she told me, had been replaced every seven years since she was seven years old. She called it her lucky number.
Fourteen feet joined the seven voices in a low chant, surrounding our rock in a bubble of static. The crunching leaves flowed into my ears, causing the hairs on my arms to stand at attention. Jake moaned under his breath, but I didn’t dare look back to correct him. I couldn’t bear to see his pale face or the spider webs of indigo that crawled away from his gash. I shivered, fire racing from my clenching heart to my numb toes. They did this – all of them.
Voices rose behind us; another group of savages had arrived.
“3…” It was barely louder than a breath, so I tapped Mother’s braces three times.
“2…” I shifted again, this time onto my toes. I heaved Mother’s arm onto my shoulders. Jake shuffled closer.
Run. The command wasn’t shouted. The word didn’t even leave my mouth.
Jake was the first on his feet, kicking dirt into the angry wind. Then I followed, dragging Mother’s limping body across the clearing. The howls of fury attack me from all sides. My hair stabbed at my eyes in fury. The enraged cries of our old company came at us from behind, their sporadic torches stretching the shadows of the night. Once again, I felt the pure ice curling over my pounding heart. It was all his fault.
The forest welcomed us with open arms, inviting us further in while preventing the mob from going further. The new sound was isolated, coming from the left. It’s echoes were lost in the deep growth.
The packed leaves muffled the thud. The sound of Jake hitting the ground. I whipped around, dropping Mother in my haste to identify the new, leftward threat. I stepped, one foot at a time, toward Jake’s body and the potential danger.
“Stay back.” It was a man’s voice, deep and low. I stopped. I could barely see the outline of his form; it was a mere lump against the growing light. He lifted Jake in his arms, jerked his head in the direction from which he came, and set off. I picked Mother up and glanced back. The pack was closing in.
The camp was quiet when we entered, not a soul to be seen. Stale campfire smoke was jostled in the wind. It hissed at us from between the squat cabins. We walked along the main path toward a building on the right. The man’s brown cloak swished softly around his ankles; his feet thudded against the tamped dirt. He opened the door with his shoulder, revealing rows of white-sheet beds. There was only one person in the room, sitting at a desk and shuffling papers.
“Tristan!” The first man shouted, catching the doctor’s attention. The chair shrieked against the wood floor as Tristan shoved it back, moving to help our rescuer. As soon as Jake was safe on the bed, the man in the brown cloak turned to me.
“Where is the group responsible?”
“Still in the forest.” I gasped.
“What did this?” He gestured to Jake’s unconscious form. "What monster?"