Crawling. Right hand digging into the dirt. He pulls, shoulders straining. Then his left hand, fingernails tearing on a rock. He pulls himself forward again. A sharp branch sears his ruined foot like a branding iron. He bites his lip against a scream. He is crawling away from the dark. Crawling.
Panting. His lungs fill. But not enough. Never enough. The exhale whistles and bubbles like an old teapot. Breath smells of blood.
Sprawling. Face laying in the soil. One eye pressed closed against the ground. One eye open, tear-filled and wide. He sees decayed leaves and a horse’s skull. He lays there too long. Too long.
Listening. The air presses itself around him. The beginning ends. His ears pull in the sounds of the terror-filled darkness approaching.
Is that it?
Can he hear it?
No. A beautiful silence. A sweet silence. A silence he can live in.
Remembering. A fool to come out here alone. The brochure had advised against it. The locals had shuddered and shuttered themselves in before full dark. His new bride laughed at him as he carried her into their room. Dared him to be a man for her.
Moving. Has to keep moving.
* * *
Crawling. Left hand digging into the dirt. He pulls, shoulders straining. Then his right hand, digging like an undertaker’s shovel. He pulls himself forward again. Another desperate handspan closer to nowhere. He bites his lip against a sob. He crawls through the dark. Crawling.
Panting. His chest rises just a little less than last time. Never enough. A bubble fills his mouth like a sail. Pops, and smells of blood.
Sprawling. Face laying in the soil. He twists, there on the ground. Something primitive urges him to look up into the night. One eye closed, blood-crusted and dead. He sees the starry sky and a mourning moon. He lays there too long. Too long.
Burning. His foot is burning. The frantic mind-voice urges him to look. The logical mind-voice warns him to not. Stomach roils at the sight of twisted white bone. Red life-blood. Pink muscle. Green pus. Black rot. Clear venom.
Scratching. His nails leave a bloody track on stone. A big stone. A huge stone. A standing stone. A stone standing with its fellows in a circle of lintels and the living night. A darkness is approaching.
Is this it?
Can he see it?
No. Beautiful stones. Deadly stones. A sight he can live with.
Remembering. A fool to come out here alone. His gut had cautioned against it. The locals had locked their eyes on their doors and locked their doors behind them. His new bride laughed at him as he stepped into the night. Dared him to be a man for her.
Moving. Something else is moving on the Forever Moor.
* * *
Crawling. Talons digging into the dirt. It crawls, straining toward him. His shoulders ache with his petrified stillness. It pulls itself forward again. The cold standing stone holds him like a dead lover. The dark crawls closer. Crawling.
Panting. His lungs pulling in their last sweet air. Not nearly enough. Not nearly enough again. The inhale gurgles and crackles like an empty percolator. Breath smells of blood.
Sprawling. Face laying in the soil. Mouth pressed open against the ground. He tastes sweet sticky moss. A line of spit tangles back in his hair. He lays there too long. Too long.
Listening. The fog rolls in and slams shut above his head. The end begins. His ears pull in the sound of the hate-filled darkness approaching.
Is that it?
Can he believe it?
No. A long quiet. A quivering quiet. A quiet he can’t live in.
Remembering. A fool to come out here alone. The moor itself had warned against it. The locals had made the sign against evil and he’d signed away his soul. His demonic bride laughed at him as she stepped out of the night. Dared him to die like a man for her.
Moving. Finally stops moving.
Damon Garn lives in Colorado Springs, CO with his wife and two children. He enjoys hiking, writing, and annoying his neighbors with mediocre guitar playing. He writes in the fantasy/sci-fi/steampunk realms, experimenting in flash fiction, short stories, and a novel. Follow Damon on Twitter: dmgwrites or at https://dmgwrites.wordpress.com/find-my-stuff/
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