The night is a time for hunters, stealthy nightmares that prowl in the darkness while the weak run and hide.
In the night, the stillness is broken only by bursts of lunatic laughter as the hunters terrorise their prey, and by hollow screams of the dying.
A dream creeps through the forest on tiny silent feet. She is a dream. She has no presence. She something seen, but not really there. Insubstantial. Something noticed, but then easily forgotten. She slips in and out of the shadow forest like a whisper on the breeze. This is Sarah, or at least what is left of her. She has learned to live as a wraith. A shimmer in the darkness.
Through all the months since she awoke, half submerged on the bank of the river, Sarah wandered. She wandered away from the pungent sting of the ocean salt and off through the forest.
At first she blundered forward, tripping on roots and branches. Snagging her clothes on every twig and bramble. The forest animals fled at the noise of her passing and she grew hungry.
With the desperation of the dying she ate whatever she could find. At first grubs and grasses were all she could manage but as she grew into her life in the forest and her skeleton forced it's way out thorough her whithering flesh, she became desperate enough, and light enough, to take to the trees. The birds eggs were delicious. Rich and warm. So much better than grubs.
One evening, a mother bird retuned to it's nest while Sarah still crouched on the branch beside it, sucking an egg from it's fragile shell. The bird noticed her, but was too distraught be the sight of the empty nest to pay her much attention. Frozen at the sight of the bird, Sarah's mouth flooded with saliva. She could almost remember what meat tasted like.
The bird began to urgently hop around it's nest, and when it reached the point closest to Sarah, she leapt. With both hands she grabbed onto the silky feathers, and together they fell. The ground was soft with leaf littler, but the little bird landed between Sarah and the ground. It lay broken and dead, but still somehow beautiful. With broken wings and dripping blood, Sarah thought it to be the most beautiful thing she had ever seen.
The bird marked a turning point for Sarah. She learned that she was capable of killing, capable of fighting, capable of surviving on her own. This is when she began to move through the forest like a hunter. Her steps became quieter, and eventually silent. She learned the voices of the forest, and forsaking the language she was taught as a child, she began to speak as one of the animals. The distress calls of prey that she had heard in the past soon gurgled in her throat as she lured the night predators to her waiting hands and snarling mouth.
She became wild. More wild than the howling wolves. More wild than the wind on the ocean.
She lived for the half light between day and night, where animals were restless and tired, moving to bed after a day of hunting, or just waking up for the night. They were less careful then, more easily caught and subdued. In the half light, Sarah would fly through the forest on feather feet like a ghost. The dirt on her clothes and embedded in her skin made her the same colour as the twilight, invisible to any watching eyes. She was one with the earth and the birds and the sky.
Then the sun would lighted the eastern sky with a promise to rise and the earth would call her down to sleep. With a full stomach she would curl up where she stopped and forget all the world around her.
One night when she stopped, it was on a particularly hard patch of ground. Crawling along it, following a shallow rut in one direction, it seemed to stretch on for ever, but turning to the side she found a soft mound of dirt quite quickly. Curling up in a ball she placed her arm over her head to shield her face from the light of the quickly rising sun.
Something pulled at her brain as she lay there, drifting off to sleep. Something familiar about that hard ground and that rut running through it. The nagging thought in her brain swum into her dreams as she fell deeply into sleep.
A memory floated to the surface of her mind, becoming clearer with each hour as she slipped away from concious thought. The memory was from her childhood. She had been playing the in the garden across from her home when she heard the kitchen maids calling her in for supper. Exited to see her father at the table she had leapt up and run. She ran so fast that when she tripped she felt like he was flying through the air. When she landed it was bloody. Skinned elbows and knees. Ripped dress.
With tears in her eyes she had hobbled back to see what she had tripped on.
It was the wheel rut from carriages trundling down the road...
The road. Oh god. Dragging herself out of the memory she fought to wake up.
Desperate to be wrong, inside her head she was stuck on repeat thinking, "No no no, not a road, please god not a road."
Reaching the surface of her mind she finally woke up.
The sunlight was blinding when she first opened her eyes, even though it was filtered through the veil of clothing on the arm that covered her face. Fear filler her as she gave her eyes time to adjust to the light. Thoughts that her savage life had buried began to flow through her mind, and terror began to take hold. Her fiancée, her father, the blood, the terror. It all rushed back in and tried to drown her.
Fighting down the urge to run she realised that she had to look. She had to know where she was.
She calmed her racing heart, slowed her breathing, and removed the clothing that covered her face....
>> Continue to part 5 - New Light >>