Shadows in the Glade

by Eddie Loud 3 months ago in fiction

Hunted and Alone

Shadows in the Glade

The sun began to rise and melt away the mist that hung over the pine needle covered ground. The growing light slowly brought life to the forest and illuminated the lone soul laying there, next to a smoldering fire. He slowly woke, rubbing life back into his cold stiff muscles. With fists to his eyes he slowly stood up and began to look around. Nothing looked familiar, he was lost. He cursed his blood lust and his foolish pursuit of his fleeing enemy. When he had led his band of Osage warriors against the Missouri, it was his men that broke the stalemate and chased them back across the Great River and further north into his enemies territory. Now, here he was, in the land of his enemy, lost and alone, with only his flint knife for protection.

Smoke reached his nose, and for the first time he noticed the fire. With a puzzled look on his face, he knelt down and poked at the coals with a stick. Deep in thought he did not notice the flames that were reborn. He did not remember starting this fire, he did not remember much actually. Absentmindedly he drop the stick into the resurrected flames and sat back on his haunches. Last he could remember he was chasing a young Missouri warrior down a narrow trail. He rubbed his forehead in frustration, he suddenly felt nauseous. There was a giant knot on his forehead. The pain it brought triggered his memory. “Damn tree branch,” he said to himself.

How long he laid there he did not know, but he did know that he had been wondering these damn hills for days, with no sign of man. Except, maybe this fire that he did not build. Standing, he looked around for any sign of how it got built. All he could find was a drag trail in the dirt, where a tree trunk had been moved, and the place where it was broken up. Not chopped, but broken, like a child with a stick. The shards left over were just giant splinters. Then a sight froze him in his tracks. One human foot print, at least it looked human. He walked up to the print and put his moccasin in it. It was easily twice as big as his foot. Quickly he return to the fire, grabbed the largest burning log, he kicked out the fire and left.

As he walked away his thoughts returned to his last few days in the wilderness. How he survived by catching lizards and squirrels. His water skin was full, which was also odd, because it was almost empty when he passed out yesterday. After a few hours he crested a rather tall hill, and in the distance he could see the smoke of several cooking fires. He backed up to a great pine and leaned against it in thought. The knowledge that there was a Missouri settlement so close gave him mixed feelings. If they did not recognize him they would greet him and give him food and, most importantly, he could find out where he is. However, if they did recognize him...

Movement caught his eye and he shifted his focus to a thicket of trees a few hundred feet away. Three Missouri warriors were coming up the hill. 'Well,' he thought, 'might as well find out here with just three then with a hundred.' The trio was not in their war dress, maybe out hunting, when the stumbled into him. They walked towards each other, and stopped about twenty paces away.

They signed welcome to him, he returned a polite reply. They asked who he was and what tribe he belonged to. He lied and said he was part of the Iowa, was separated during a buffalo hunt. The three stopped and looked at each other and talked in hushed tones. Everything seemed calm until the one with the spear yelled “You lie dog! You are Talanka of the Osage!” while he lunged at Talanka's middle. Talanka dodged that jab and drew his knife. He stood at the ready, waiting for their next move.

An inhuman bellow ripped through the air, freezing all four men. A head sized boulder came flying down the hill, pulverizing the ribs of the spear wielder. The spear man bellowed in pain and another roar ripped threw the air. Talanka was already running back down the hill, away from the sounds of snapping bones and screams of fear and pain. He tripped over a twig, rolled down the hill, bounced back up and ran some more. He dropped the smoldering branch during his tumble but held onto his knife. The sound of rushing water reached his ears; he ran towards that sound and found a creek where the water was running swift. He danced across rocks and splashed in shallow puddles, hoping to loose what ever that was. As the sun went down he found a place to sleep, a giant hollowed out tree would be a good place to hide.

Days went by and he began to not only question what he saw, he also began to grow more and more desperate. Did he anger some unknown god that cursed him with the doom of wondering the earth for eternity?

“Son, come over here. There is something I want to show you,” a familiar voice called to him. Talanka looked over towards a pile of fallen trees and saw his father. “Dad?”

“Yes, come here, this is truly strange.”

Talanka walked over to his father and looked at what he was pointing at. It was a large footprint, like the one he saw the other day. “And over here.” He looked at where his dad pointed and saw a pile of bones around a large rock outcrop. Talanka walked over to the large pile and saw it was a mixture of both human and large animal bones. Most were snapped open to get to the marrow inside. “Be careful my son,” came his fathers voice. When he turned to look, his father was gone.

Talanka had lost his father a few years ago to a bear attack. His fingers drifted to the necklace he made of the bears claws after he hunted it down and killed it. After this, he had several conversations with himself and other loved ones that just were not there. He was unaware of his madness. It seemed to him like he was dead and on a spirit journey.

One night he made camp in a glade of great pines. He lay on his back, muttering to himself and looking at the stars, when he sensed something watching him. He rolled over to his side and slowly slid the dagger out of his deer skin belt and waited. Whatever it was, it was content to keep its distance and watch. After what seemed like hours, his stalker lost interest and moved on.

Talanka woke before the sun after a few hours of restless sleep. He muttered to himself that he was crazy, there was nothing there. He reasoned with himself that it was just his nerves, they were shot after all. Then he screamed at himself that it is real, and that something watched him last night.

As the sun cracked the horizon, he talked himself into walking over to where he thought his watcher stood. His eyes roved the loam, looking for any hint of what may have been there. His eyes locked onto what was becoming a familiar sight, a large human like foot print. He backed away slowly, eyeing the woods beyond, expecting the giant to reach out pf the shadows and grab him at any moment. When he felt he was far enough away he turned and ran through the woods, leaping over dead trees. He ran through the hills and valleys, not caring about any tracks he may leave behind. On and on he ran until, hours later, he came across a small stream. He plopped down near the bank and dunked his head into the water. He yanked it out with a spray of water flying from his black hair. The eyes where on him again. Somewhere, along the tree line, they burned into him.

He scanned the tree line looking for any sign of the giant. His eyes rested on what seemed to be an oddly shaped pine tree. He guessed that the tree would be two heads taller than him. What made him notice it was that it was rather oddly shaped and the needle color wasn't the vibrant green like the rest of the forest, rather it was a reddish brown. Talanka was about to turn back to the creek, thinking he was even crazier than he really was, when the top of the tree moved. It was a very slight movement, with no breeze running through the forest the top of the tree tilted sideways, like a dog listening to his master. It froze Talanka's heart and limbs as the fear paralyzed him.

He slowly gathered his wits and decided to act like he saw nothing. Slowly he stood up and started to walk up the hill, away from the odd tree. He worked his way up through thick undergrowth and fallen timber. Quite a few times he slipped on wet gravel and almost slid back down the hill. Reaching the top he looked back, saw nothing unusual and began to walk down the hill when a sound cracked through the silence and stopped his heavy breathing. It was a deep roar like the ones he had heard when he had encountered the Missouri warriors. It had come from where he just was, at the base of the hill. He began to scramble down the hill, away from his pursuer when another sound stopped him cold. It was another roar, just like the first, but this one came from in front of him. He paused for a moment, cold sweat running down his spine. He stopped his descent and ran along a creek, trying to outflank them.

The giants followed alongside of him, herding him to some unknown destination as the sun sank. He burst through the forest into a clearing. On the other side was the same glade he was at days ago, with the fire. He ran through the clearing, his eyes focused on the glade, hoping to reach it before the giants could overtake him. The tall grass whispered to him as he ran like a gazelle, bobbing up and down as he ran. Up and down, up and down, then he vanished. He fell into a small rocky ditch, his head slammed down on a rock and all went black.

The noon sun greeted his aching eyes. The gash on his headed was dressed with moss and mud, and he was propped up against one of the taller trees in the glade. He looked around to see if anyone was there, no one was in site, but he saw a rather large hand print in the mud next to the tree. Woozily, he stood, and instantly felt eyes on him, he walked away from where he felt they where. A roar came from his right and then, shortly after from his left. They herded him that way all day. Talanka tried to find a different way to go, but he felt death close in on him a few times. 'Where were they taking me? What do they want? Why wont they just kill me?' were just some of the thoughts racing through his mind.

The moon was rising when he heard the sounds of a rushing river. He came to the first familiar site in months, it was the Great River, he stood on the opposite shore from his homeland. He truly felt alone, and safe. His stomach was telling him it was empty, so he made and set some snares. It had been days since he last ate. With traps set, he went off to find a place to sleep. He found a good spot and made a bed from pine bows and passed out.

Talanka rose with the sun and checked his snares. The first one was smashed against a large rock. The next one was ripped apart. Talanka was desperate when he headed to the last one. It too was a pile of sticks. He picked it up to see if he could tell what caused the damage. As he picked through it he froze. Out of the corner of his eye he saw movement. Talanka stood and faced the beast that was less than a hundred paces away. It was a monster from legends, stories told to scare children. It was quite a bit taller then him, had a pointed head, brutish shoulder, long strong arms, and everything was coated in coarse red and brown hair. It opened its mouth, showing yellow teeth and pointed at him.

Madness gripped Talanka; he pulled his dagger from his belt and rushed the beast. Preferring death to being hunted anymore, he attacked the giant, stabbing it over and over. The sight of blood drove him on, knowing that if it bled it could be killed. It did not struggle, rather it cried in surprise and moaned in pain. Then it was gone, it fell from him and laid in its own blood at his feet.

Talanka fell to his knees in a mixture of relief and exhaustion. He breathed deep, calming his shattered nerves. He held his breath, he heard the snap of a twig behind him. He turned in time to see a giant hairy fist slam into his face.

He awoke, back in his own village. There was a lot of angry voices. It seems that he had killed the tribes guardian, a Sasquatch. The surviving one brought him back to the village and dropped his limp body down in front of the shaman. The shaman understood the language of the Sasquatch. It had recognized Talanka as an Osage, and the Sasquatch were their guardians. He and his mate had tried to guide him home, but Talanka slew his mate. The Sasquatch was angry with the shaman for not teaching his people the language of the Ancient Times. If he had then his mate would still be alive. In his anger he cursed the Osage people. He prophesied that a great tribe would came and take their land, and he would still be here, watching from the shadows of the glade.

fiction
Eddie Loud
Eddie Loud
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