Id seen enough to know that if they caught me here, like this, I would die. I couldnt hear them over the sound of the burning but they werent as deterred by the flames as I thought they would be. Maybe I had waited too long.
Closer and closer, they moved towards the house. Now my limited view could not shield me from seeing their eyes; dark, bloodshot, and hungry. Now I saw my adversary clearly. They were starving and looked almost a little deranged. Thirst too? Perhaps, but not quite. Something was off about these already off creatures. From the back of the group came shouts; a horrible rasping and deep growling sound. "The leader," I thought. The others responded uniformly and immediately to his call. "Yup." One by one they moved in towards the house. As they got closer I lost sight of them. Then I heard the shattering of the wood, as if struck by some dull heavy handed object. Mace probably.
They were in the house. My hands began to shake with readiness. My paces elevated even higher and I closed my eyes to steady myself. My jaw clenched with summoned resolve. If I must die...they will all die too. I will not fall to this.
And then the wait. I couldnt see them outside the house. I couldnt hear them moving around down stairs either, but I knew they were there. In this space between facing my enemy and actually engaging them...I was terrified. I dont know where they are. My breathing began to increase to a frantic pulsing in and out. I forced myself to sit up a little straighter. I flexed my muscles and gripped the knife in my hand. These next few moments would be life and death; breathing and worm food.
It was then that I heard noise loud enough to champion over the flames crackling. The sound of fighting. Grunting and knocking about wafted up to second floor like the waves of mirage heat. For first time, hope rose in my chest. My eyes lightened and I knew there was a chance. Slowly I crept, smashing myself against the cold stones of the floor toward staircase. Though the stairs had long been burned away, the hole in the floor remained. Adrenaline rushed through me as I neared the portal, until at last I inched my eyes over the edge at a corner. Trying to show as little as possible of my face, I just barely peeked over the corner.
At last I could see my predators clearly. To my surprise, they were not monsters or vile creatures at all. These were men, however filthy and barbaric. They were fighting among themselves, for whatever reason barbarians fight. My eyes evaluated the scene quickly. Moving passed the initial analysis, I began to take in important information: how many, how armed, weaknesses, escape routes. In the corner of the decrepit house, two dark forms were slumped against a wall. Then I saw her. A small, pale faced girl was bound tightly huddled against a wall. The fighters were four, squabbling in the middle of the room over what appeared to be a large shiny sword. The remaining men were on either side forming a sort of outer ring. Bystanders...funny to think I was just like them.
Quickly my eyes returned to the girl. She was scared, but not terrified. I wonder how many such fights she has seen while in captivity. How long has she been in captivity? Where is she from...though her clothes were dirty, I could tell she was from somewhere foreign. My thoughts were torn from her with the sound of death. There is a noise every living creature makes when life is taken from them. A sort of gasping and hollowing out. My eyes flicked to see a sword protruding from one of the fighters. I met his eyes. He was staring at me with the shock of death. He stared at me until his head dropped and he fell to the floor. I was stunned. Fear rooted me not to move, but I wanted to. After 3 heartbeats I pulled away from the edge. Then slowly I peeked back out.The two brawlers in the middle had attained mastery over the other. One let out a victory roar. Pure animal brutality. It make me shiver. The other one did not make a noise. He was holding his side and his head was bowed. Then he too fell to the ground. The one that had roared looked down in disgust. He shouted something at the corpse on the floor and then spat at him. In his had was a beautiful sword, his prize, the living proof of his dominance.
There were now 5 bodies on the floor. Good for me to be honest. Five bad guys that I didnt have to deal with.
Then I heard the same shout I had heard outside. "The leader," I thought. From across the room strode in the biggest of the men. A tall giant with an angry face and bloodstained clothes. He shouted again in some kind of language and immediately all the others stood a little straighter and moved toward the edge of the room, yielding center stage to him. He looked from man to man and shouted out what appeared to be orders. They each responded with obedient and swift movements around the room. Quickly the fire was put out, although it was already burning out. Grass burns fast and fierce. Faster than I thought possible, men took down the tree that had barely burnt and brought in wood for a legitimate fire.
I backed away from the stairway hole. Its only a matter of time they come up here. It seems I was wrong though. They know nothing of me and werent after me at all. They simple wanted shelter as I had. Now my thoughts turned to escape. It seemed that with the leader inside, they must all be inside. I moved swiftly to the side of the house and peeked over the half fallen wall. No one was in sight on this side. I can do this I thought. I can slip away. But I have to do this right. I cant break my leg and get away. I counted to myself, clenching my jaw. This is it. I threw myself over the wall and climbed down as fast and quietly as humanly possible and in a matter of seconds I made it to the ground with a soft thud. I steadied my feet and took off running. I didnt even look behind, I just ran with everything I could muster. Though the plane afforded little cover, there was a slight outcropping with some larger rocks and tall grass in the distance. If I could make it there I could hide and wait for them to move on.
Hope flooding my veins and thundered out my feet as I neared the outcropping. So slowly I made it across the field and put distance between me and the house. I was happy, I was victorious. I had escaped again from certain death. Finally I was there. I ducked into the rocks and looked back. No one had followed. I had made it out alive.