Stepping Stones

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: The Imaginarium

Submitted: February 20, 2019

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Submitted: February 20, 2019

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Stepping Stones

They are so close to you now. You can feel the force of their footsteps through the soles of your feet. You can hear the gasps of their breath.

Which way? You are hopelessly lost as you swerve past trees, avoiding the well-trodden paths. The leaves, the overgrowth, it’s your only chance. But even that will give you away; a sway of a branch, a snap of a twig and you might as well be waving a flag.

Maybe if you knew how many were in pursuit it would help? You dare not stop, pause, look back. Any tiny, precious lead that you’ve achieved will be lost in that split second of hesitation.

You could climb, hide up in amongst the branches further up the tree but you know before you moved out of reach, out of sight, they would be upon you, pulling you down, tearing you apart.

The river is your only chance. You need to get your bearings right for most of it is impassible. Too deep or too swift flowing except for that one place where the level dips, the stones rise, and for one who dares the attempt a way across is there.

It’s in front of you now. The sound of the rushing water drowns out the sound of your pursuers. You got it wrong; there are no stones ahead of you, but there, to the right. You race forward, desperate to give yourself the necessary time to cast off your footwear.

The only way to make this trip is barefoot.

Almost tumbling as you reach down to pull off those socks, for your shoes have already been kicked free, left abandoned, you slide down the bank. Jagged pieces of sharp stones tear at the soles of your feet but you ignore the stinging pain.

The first foot lands on the first stone. Moss covers nearly all of them which is why barefoot is the only way to go. Toes gripping, hold you upright long enough for you to regain your balance, step forward on to the next and the next.

Your bloodied feet are making your grip far less effective now. Your toes cramp but you cannot give in and loosen their grip. You MUST keep going. Forward now, to the next.

They have reached the river, are storming their way towards you. Every single bone and nerve in your body is tensed up. Your brain is screaming at you to run. To do so would be suicide so you grit your teeth and hold your nerve, taking your time, weighing up your next move.

A splash behind you but don’t look back. Keep going forward. The pursuer is in the water and the water will take care of that one. The howls that batter at your ears tells you that the sprites have wasted no time in claiming what had entered their territory.

Half way across now, the urgency is somewhat less and that could be your downfall. It will only take one to conquer the stepping stone path, just as you are doing.

Concentrate! Your foot slid, barely missed the water’s surface. They are waiting, as much for you as those who are giving chase. You would be dealt with just as quickly, as harshly and as thoroughly should you even touch the river water.

Another splash. They are clumsy, rushing too much to take care. After all, their prize is so close now and so very clearly visible. More screams and howls drive you on, reinforcing that need for urgency.

Two more stones, then one....The bank is finally beneath your feet, but they are so sore, so cut and cramped that they make you cry out in pain before you take to your heels, shut your mind to the agony and as fast as you can, run for further cover.


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