Sunday, October 5, 2014
First Five Pages October Workshop - Clement
Name: Benjamin Clement
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy Adventure
Title: The Fearsome Lumberwoods
Like a man shot, the sun fell through a spray of red, pouring through the trees in which Douglas wandered. When he figured there was enough forest between him and his parents’ picnic to grant him some privacy, he undid his britches to relieve himself into a dry creek-bed. The last breaths of the murdered sun sat as hot and heavy as a sack of boiled potatoes on the back of Douglas’s neck. Still, he was thankful it wasn't as bad as the summer past, when it was so hot every hen in the county laid hard boiled eggs.
The forest unsettled Douglas by its solitude. He hurried his business so he could get back to the company of his parents, who hopefully had finished eating. He wasn’t enjoying being out-of-doors, and probably would not have come along on the picnic if his mother hadn’t promised him a birch beer. Buttoning up his britches, he felt the creep of someone watching him. Douglas raised his head to see two black and beady eyes starring back. The crow’s feathers rustled with a dull sheen as she sidestepped along the branch looking down on him.
"What are you looking at, you old crow?" Douglas shouted under his breath.
The crow cawed loudly, like axe chops in the silent forest. Douglas flinched, and then sighed in dismay for his weak nerves. Turning to walk back to the meadow, he found a man leaning against a tree, his mouth cracked in a wolfish grin. Douglas would've screamed but his heart had jumped up into the back of his throat. Instead he leapt back, slipped, and fell into the dry creek-bed and the mud he had just made.
The man chuckled and said to Douglas, "Sorry to sneak up on you. Would've announced myself but didn't want you dribbling on your slacks."
Douglas pushed himself back up and took another step away from the man. The man’s smile widened, the teeth in it were sharp and wet. Yellow eyes glared at Douglas, underneath a derby wore low on the man’s head. He looked like a dog set to bite.
Unbuttoning the coat of his brown wool suit, he stepped down into the creek-bed. “It’s a scorcher,” he commented pulling back a collar lined with brown fur, that matched the stubble on his cheeks and chin.
As he continued to back away, Douglas’s heel struck the opposite embankment, sending him once more on his backside.
"I just came to apologize," the man told Douglas as he picked long, dirty fingernails, sharp as cat’s claws. "You see, I really have nothing against you personally, but Crow, she saw some things she didn't like.” The man sighed and rolled his eyes. “I for one don't believe you can change fate, but Crow asked me to take of you, so here I am."
"T-take care of me?" Douglas stammered, as he got back to his feet. "I'm f-fine, thank you."
The man tilted his head back and laughed in little yips like a coyote barking. Returning his eyes to Douglas, and with a little bit of drool dripping off his lip, he said, "Indeed."
Something shuffled among the bushes behind Douglas. Instinctually, he whipped his head around and immediately felt the fool for taking his eyes of the man.
"Besides, I can never refuse getting up to a bit a mischief." He could have sworn he felt the man’s breath in against his ear, but when Douglas looked back, he was gone.
Twigs snapped underneath heavy feet and Douglas turned again. A thin tree leaned to the side with a groan, as something bumped against it. By the grunts and snorting that came from jostling bushes, Douglas's blood froze in his veins, even though his heart threatened to pound through his chest. Vision blurred by tears of terror, he could make out something roughly similar to a bear, but rounder. Its fur seemed to be missing. Only brown-black, rubbery skin stretched tight over its rotund frame. The only hair it had were two bushy eyebrows and a tuft hanging from its chin, dripping with spit below a mouth full of teeth that would surely tear Douglas into thirty-two pieces with one and a half bites.
Dashing through the grass, fear dragged through Douglas’s throat on every ragged breath. The beast crashed through the woods behind him. Its rubbery skin gleamed slightly in the feeble light of the early evening, and was so tight that it scarcely quivered as it galloped nearer. Douglas's parents sat on their red blanket, in the green meadow that seemed to stretch out forever before Douglas. He knew he'd never reach them.
The rumble of the chase came over the cracks and pops of Mr. Webb's fire. He glanced up to see his son running. Knowing simply a large squirrel or a particularly bold rabbit could have frightened the boy; he shook his head and laughed to himself. When he saw what was quickly catching up to his son, terror washed away his smile. Mr. Webb jumped up from his shocked wife’s side and bolted to his horse to procure the rifle from his mount. Ichabod, Douglas’s horse, spooked by all the sudden action, took off at a gallop.
"Douglas, to the side!" Mr. Webb shouted, not wanting to shoot his son and save the beast the burden of the chase.
When Douglas turned from his aim, Mr. Webb didn’t hesitate to pull the trigger. Twelve yards away, the bullet ricocheted off the rubbery skin of the beast and slammed back into the stomach of Mr. Webb.
The screams of Mrs. Webb flooded the grassy meadow then flowed between the dark trees shaking their branches and twisting their leaves. She took a burning stick from the fire and ran at the beast to frighten it off. Watching her run past him towards the beast, Douglas tripped over his own feet, skidding hard on his knees and stomach, his face plowing into the grass. He whipped around onto his back in time to see his mother hurl the flaming stick at the beast. When the flame touched the beast, its skin burned as if it were drenched in kerosene and erupted into a fireball. Douglas's mother turned back to look at her son before she was consumed by the rush of flame.
A powerful gust of air lifted Douglas from the ground. The world roared and tumbled around him. He could see the ground, the sky and then the trees, but upside down and hanging from the grass. The confusion of it all faded away into blackness.
Ichabod snorting in his ear had awoke Douglas, that much he remembered. He recalled looking for his mother but only found a small crater of dark brown dirt. He did find his father — his stomach was bleeding so much, and somehow got him mounted up on Ichabod. How he got back home, Douglas had no idea, he wasn’t even sure he knew the way. Helen, the housemaid, had wailed for a while before she ran to fetch Dr. Lyle. An eternity passed as he held his father’s hand crying, until Helen pushed him from the room as the doctor got to work. Sitting on the ground, burying his head in crossed arms, he caught up with the world around him. When the intermittent screams behind the door stopped, Douglas sobbed at the damning silence.