“The Wilding” / Memorable Fancies #1367

They were yelling, hooting, tumbling out of their truck in front of me as I slipped into the dark woods, went deeper pushing through branches, stumbling on roots.

Through the trees I heard them calling to each other behind my back, “there!” “no, he’s over here!” Why me? Because I was on a lonely road at night and they were eager to attack – anyone? Their truck was still on the road, headlights on but aimed the wrong way to find me; but sooner or later they might, just by random chance. And then what? Then there would be nothing to do but hit out at them, and then be hit, or defy them and be mocked. I couldn’t stand the thought of their jeers and taunting – my intimidation, humiliation. So I had to be prepared to be silent, blows the least of my treatment at their hands.

Even as drunk or drugged as they might be, they were gaining ground as I ran. Finally, at the last minute, I slipped behind a tree, sat down in its fallen leaves, and stayed as quiet in the darkness as any other hunted animal.

Over the next few minutes, their sounds grew nearer – back and forth in the stereo dark, and finally then more distant, their leaving punctuated by swearing, and swearing to be ready, more prepared, the next time.

I sat behind that tree another while, wary of a trap, but they had really left. Then, jubilant in victory, but ashamed of my prudent cowardice, I found my way home.

And then the fear. And then the rage.


Buy it at amazon.com/author/terencekuch: The Trees of Malice, 16 stories of horror and the weird too creepy to share. From Abuzz Press.

Malice-cover lightened

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