Hi all! I haven’t posted a short story in a while, mainly because I’ve been feeling quite drained inspirationally. But now I’m on a course for developing my creative skills, I’m planning to post another part of an ongoing story every Sunday as a challenge to myself. It’ll involve some characters from my short stories, and other characters I’ve developed but never mentioned before. I’d like everyone to feel involved in this journey into mystery, and as I’ve no real plan and no idea where I’m going with it all, please feel free to say anything or add anything to the tale. Suggestions and criticisms are most welcome.
The constant prickling inside his veins was making him irritable and edgy, the sensation keeping sense and good reason far away. His throat ached with a painful desperation that robbed him of his mind. He felt more like a beast than a man, trying to run through the undergrowth, stumbling along on his belly, following the coach as it worked its way through the night. The travellers must be insane, or just anxious for the sanctuary of home. They had no idea he was waiting for them, belly in the dirt, hidden in the scrub of bushes for the right moment…
He could hear the frantic heartbeats of the horses as they sped closer and the panicked screams of the animals as they were forced onwards. They could smell him lying in wait, he could swear. They could sense predators. The roar of the wheels flying over the uneven road was growing louder and louder, filling his head with the prospect of fresh meat, an end to his hunger. He forced himself up the scrubby mess of a drooping tree, the branches overhanging above the road. He crouched there, watching the dim, swinging light of the lantern as the pinprick of light came ever closer. He could taste their fear already, feel the hot warmth of it burst upon the tip of his tongue, the taste exploding across his tongue with a warmth that was never quite the same. It would drip down his chin, splattering across his chest and body, taking the cold and the pain and the numbness for a short while, a short while that grew less and less each time he fed. He needed it now. It wasn’t about life or staying alive. It kept the nightmares away.
As the coach inched closer, he tried to sharpen his mind. If he was sloppy or careless, they’d get away and he’d be left with the cold agony in his stomach and another night sucking the life out of wood pigeons. That did nothing except fill his mouth with feathers and make him vomit old blood. He bit down on his thumb, the pain making him focus, as the coach drew beneath his branch.
He leapt down, dropping himself from the branch and on top of the coach. It was a trick his maker had taught him. If people went missing in the night, who was going to notice? Or care? Anything might have happened to them. Coach drivers don’t often expect monsters to drop out the night sky. How can you protect yourself against that? It was simple. A simple feast.
Then why did the driver not react to his sudden attack? The man simply watched him drop on top of the coach, and pulled against the reins. The horses screamed again, as they came to an unexpected stop, and as he lunged for the driver, he found himself hurtling through the air and landing on the hard road. He was stunned, defenceless, unable to protect himself against the actions of the driver, who simply removed his hat and flung himself on top of the attemptive attacker. An elbow was buried in his stomach, so hard and so forcefully, he felt the bile begin to rise up this throat. He felt his nose shatter under a blow, the blood flowing into the back of his throat and making him choke. His body was forced upwards, the driver holding an arm about his neck to force him to walk. He couldn’t see, he couldn’t talk. He wanted to crawl away shamefacedly and vomit somewhere.
“Funar, what has been going on? Ah. I see. We have gained ourselves a stowaway.” The voice floated from the inside of the coach, an unseeable figure illuminated from behind. He could see nothing, but the glint of something golden.
“What would you like me to do with him, Your Eminence?” The driver, Funar, had a thick accent he could not recognise. It felt thick to hear, almost soupy, a thick verbal slush that blurred the vowels and dulled the consonants.
“I think…” The figure paused, clicking his tongue against his teeth. He had the same accent, but it had been thinned over time, taking on a more refined pronunciation and enunciation. This voice was tinged with wealth. “Oh, why don’t we take this young man with us? There is not much longer to go until we are home, and I should like to talk to him, I think.”
The conversation was apparently over. He was dragged to the back of the coach. His extended hands, useless to him now, were lashed to the back axel of the wheels. He was going to be dragged behind the coach, whether he liked it or not. He was going to have to keep up, or have his skin ripped off by the surface of the road.
Whoever was inside the coach rapped upon the roof. They were going to move on, to wherever home might lie.