I thought that I would share another start with you. I like to jot them down when they come to me, and this one appeared after reading the prompt: “It was safe inside the cave…”.
With seven days to go to the publication of Blindsided, I thought I’d share with you how I keep track of the ideas that are too good to put down.
He’d managed to drag himself to the back of the cave and had lit a small fire from the scraps he’d found on the floor before the pain overwhelmed him. He daren’t even look at the wound. His ankle had stopped bleeding at least, but it was swollen, and the radiating spikes of pain coming from it couldn’t mean anything good.
He’d propped himself up against the wall and had wedged a rock against his side to prevent him from falling if he passed out. He’d checked his pockets at least three times already, but habit had him rummaging again for the cigarettes he already knew wouldn’t be there. The scream of pain and frustration he let out must have masked the footsteps of the creature as it approached him. He’d lost his weapons in the fight outside, but instinct had him reaching for a stick from the fire and thrusting it out in front of himself. The flames illuminated the creatures amber eyes and the calm, amused grin that formed across its face as it took in his pitiful state, sent chills down his spine. Slowly it held up a small cardboard box in its thin fingers.
It rattled the container and said, “I believe you dropped these on your way in.” Its eyes missed nothing as it scanned him. It saw every detail. “I’d warn you that these things’ll kill you, but given the circumstances, I’d say you don’t have more than a few days anyway, so go nuts.” It threw the cigarette packet down so that it landed just far enough away that he had to stretch to reach them. The creature grinned as he tried to hide the pain he felt when he leant forwards and groped for his one source of comfort in this wretched place.
To his surprise as he fumbled the packet open the thing lent against the wall opposite him and slid to sit, one leg up to its chest, facing him. It rested an arm on its knee and considered him as he shakily lit a cigarette from his makeshift weapon.
“You gonna wait for me to die before you eat me?” He asked it, taking his first drag and letting his head fall back, the familiar routine a comfort even now.
The creature scoffed. “Don’t flatter yourself. Humans like you aren’t on my menu.” It opened its mouth wide and allowed two needle-sharp fangs to descend before adding, “I can smell the sepsis from here. Contrary to popular belief it doesn’t add to the flavour.”
He felt his grip tighten on the fire-scorched stick in his hand. He was shaking, but he forced himself to still. “So, what’re you gonna do? Keep me company as I die?”
“You’d prefer to be alone?” It tilted its head in curiosity. “In my experience pack animals usually prefer company, especially when faced with danger or death; but I can leave if you like. Maybe you’ll get lucky, and the wolves won’t find you.”
“I didn’t say I wanted you to go. I was asking why you’re here.” He was impressed that he managed to hide most of the panic he was feeling from his voice.
The creature grinned at its small triumph anyway. “Whilst it doesn’t bother me per-se, the snowstorm outside was enough of an excuse to follow your scent and see what had happened to the soldier that’d managed to escape the ambush. The rest of your comrades are either dead or captured by the way.”It tilted its head slightly. “Seeing you now I’m not sure who got the best deal.”
Pain shot up his leg again. “I do.” He hissed through clenched teeth.
The thing chuckled. “Maybe.” It watched with fascination as he gathered himself again and shifted into a more upright position. “What’s your name?” It asked curiously.
“Why should I tell you? Do monsters even have names?”
It laughed happily. “We do, in fact. Soren Cincius.” It leaned forward and held out a hand for him to shake. He sat and stared at its fingers until it laughed again, leaning back against the wall. “I assure you, the pleasure is all mine.”
He took two long drags of his cigarette before he gave in and said, “Chris Woodsman.”
“And what brings you into my territories Chris Woodsman? I’d have remembered such a remarkable specimen as yourself, I’m sure.”
“I don’t know if you’d noticed, but there’s a war going on out there.”
Its eyes sparkled. “I had. The powers that be even suggested that I join in.” It paused before adding, “I thought it might give whichever side I chose an unfair advantage, so I politely declined. Besides, there’s no satisfaction in the kill when you do it on such a scale. I’m an up close and personal kind of guy.”
Chris coughed and felt the pain shoot across his whole torso. It only ended when his ankle knocked against a small stone. He couldn’t keep the scream in. It felt like his entire leg was on fire.
“Would you like me to have a look at that? I have extensive knowledge of human anatomy.”
“Don’t touch me.”
“Suit yourself. The offer still stands if you should change your mind.”
“You’re sick, you know that?”
“I’m not the one with a septic leg and lung cancer.”
“At least my condition’s only temporary.”
Soren’s grin lit up his entire face. “Oh, I like you. Keep it up, and I may just offer to fix your little predicament.”
“And lose out on such high brow conversation, I doubt that.” He threw what was left of the cigarette into the fire and stared at the thing across from him even as his vision started to blur.
“I said fix, not end, Chris.”
Silence fell between the two of them.
“I was a dead man walking when I joined this war. That’s why I joined. There’s no fixin’ what I got. I outlived my stay as it is.”
“Ah, I see. Well, you humans do utilise the tools you create very well.” Soren bowed his head in a polite, but mocking, gesture. “I admit, I’m not able to craft such amazing creations as you, nor can I handle them with the skills you seem to possess.”
Chris let out a snort of derision.
“There is one detail, however, that you seem to have overlooked. You appear to be labouring under the misapprehension that I would be using human tools to save you. I’m a creature of magic, Chris Woodsman. That’s all I need to correct what’s gone wrong with your body. It’s not an offer I give to many.”
Chris’s voice was heavy with sarcasm. “I’m honoured.”
“That’s the spirit.” Soren rose in one fluid gesture. “Now, you’re going to need something to drink if you wish to survive the night; and that fire could use some more fuel. Sleep. I’ll gather what’s needed.”
“I didn’t say yes.”
“Indeed. But neither did you say no. I like to stay optimistic.”
Sophie, signing out.