The Moonlit Corridor

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 14 (v.1) - nightmare

Submitted: August 23, 2019

Reads: 15

Comments: 1

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Submitted: August 23, 2019

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It seemed to Miyamoto as if he had been walking for hours through back city streets and deserted alleys. “How difficult can it be,” he impatiently muttered, “to simply find a spot to lie down for the night?” Lost in thought and too weary to pay attention, he eventually found himself in a dark, abandoned alley he considered was appropriate. But there was no time to rejoice. The relief he felt when finally finding what he determined was a good place to sleep was suddenly eclipsed by the ominous feeling that he was no longer alone.

A sudden chill ran up the length of his spine and the hair at the base of his neck stood up as if electrified. Was it his imagination, he wondered, as his wide-staring eyes quickly locked onto a ‘ka-ge’ (shadow) within the shadows; an almost imperceptible form, much darker than the darkness surrounding it. Almost the moment he was aware of it the vague, wraith like ebony shape moved suddenly with blinding speed. Human like in form but not substance, it leapt from the shadows within which it silently stood, sped along the wall to Miyamoto’s left and abruptly disappeared. An instant later the frightened bandit sensed someone or something at his back. As he tried to turn his head to look he discovered he could not; he was paralyzed. Renewed terror gripped him as he detected the overpowering aroma of jasmine. Simultaneously he sensed the person or thing standing directly behind him was poised to strike. He was reminded of the traumatic, uncomfortable sensation inside his body he had felt at the toll bridge when the demonic vision he saw there attacked and collided with him. He felt something very similar now in the left side of his back, although initially not as intense. The sickly, mildly painful sensation grew as it moved through his back and into his chest, causing a sharp pain in his black heart. The pain intensified as the seconds passed, and would have brought him to his knees at any other time, but he could neither move nor cry out.

Attempting to scream, he discovered his vocal chords were as paralyzed as his body. He could, however, move his eyes, which he strained to look downward. To his astonishment he saw a petite, transparent spectral hand emerging from his body. The phantom hand, open and palm down, was followed by an arm that was slowly rotating as it protruded from the left side of his chest, precisely where his heart was located. The ghostly arm continued to turn, slowly and hypnotically, until the hand was palm upward.

He watched in horror as the slender arm stopped emerging, the hand slowly formed a fist, paused a moment and then suddenly was pulled back through his body. The brisk action caused more pain than he imagined he could bear, and his stomach wretched, almost causing him to vomit. His knees buckled then and he dropped to the ground. A sudden gust of wind spiraled around him accompanied by a blood red blur of motion that quickly stopped directly in front of him. His terrified eyes caught just a glimpse of the same spectral maiden that he had seen on the bridge, shrouded in a crimson mist. He screamed uncontrollably and at that moment she raised a hand, fingers spread, the sharpened nails of which suddenly elongated seven or eight inches. He screamed again as, with an evil grin, the frightful maiden raised her arm higher in preparation to strike…

The sound of his own voice frightfully awakened him. He was covered in sweat, his body shaking… ‘A-cu-mu’ (Bad dream)’, he reasoned. ‘A nightmare’. The thought brought him little comfort as he jerked his head this way and that, straining his eyes to pierce the darkness of the alley. There was nothing out of the ordinary there; no mist, no phantom and no scent of jasmine. There was, however, an intense pain in his chest. Momentarily, as he struggled to calm himself, the pain subsided. Withdrawing his sword then, he sat upright with his back against the wall of the building he had been lying next to. Afraid to close his eyes again, he planned to sit there until dawn. More than ever now, he wanted to find a horse, eliminate the samurai, and get as far away as he could from this bedeviled place.

 

The samurai awoke once again to the pleasing aroma of Kwai’s early morning cooking. After another delicious breakfast, he was ready to set out for the Moon Temple to take care of things that required attention there in gratitude to the shaman for his benevolence and hospitality. He went to his room to retrieve his old cloak and discovered it was not where he left it the previous night, so returned to ask Kwai if he had seen it... “That old rag?” Kwai said. “I burned it early this morning.”

“Mu-ah (What)!” Sung Ji exclaimed. “You burned it? Why on earth did you burn my cloak?”

“It didn’t suit you,” replied the shaman, without turning his eyes away from the pot he was cleaning.

“I can’t believe you did that”, said the samurai. “I’ve had that cloak for years.”

“Obviously,” said Kwai. “It had the smell of age attached to it.”

“How will I manage to keep warm on these cold nights?” Sung Ji stammered.

“I imagine you’ll use your cloak,” Kwai stated nonchalantly.

“You burned it!”

“Are you still holding onto the past?”

“What are you talking about?” Sung Ji moaned. “Honestly, at times you make me crazy.”

“You shouldn’t blame others for your own confusion,” instructed Kwai. “And that attitude of yours…is that any way to treat someone who has given you a gift?”

“What?” Sung Ji exclaimed.

“Did you notice the black cloak hanging on the hook outside your room? Did you think I would get rid of your old rag without replacing it with something better?”

The samurai was speechless.

“You should learn to relax,” said Kwai. “As a physician I can tell you it will help you live longer.”

Sung Ji took a deep breath. “Thank you,” said Sung Ji after taking a deep breath and exhaling slowly, “for the new cloak.”

While he turned to leave, shaking his head in dismay, while Kwai, smiling contentedly, continued cleaning as he hummed an old Chinese song.

Meanwhile in the city, Miyamoto, stressed and weary from nightmares and lack of sleep, was fruitlessly searching for an unattended horse. Eventually he spied a young, petite girl riding a white Arabian.  Dressed in colorful clothes and wearing hand crafted leather boots, she appeared to be well fed and carefree… ‘Obviously comes from a wealthy family’, reasoned the outlaw. ‘A spoiled, pampered little princess’, he told himself as he began to follow her, awaiting the opportunity to take her horse and purse, which he assumed would be full of coins.

She led him on a mini tour of the city, stopping to look at merchant’s wares, but not to buy. Soon she entered that part of the inner city reserved for livestock, allowing her horse to drink and then to graze before venturing into a more populated area. Miyamoto followed with the patience of a vulture, and eventually the girl turned onto a narrow, isolated street. It was just the opportunity he had been waiting for, and as he approached he marveled at how attractive she was, with long strands of midnight hair that resembled black silk. She appeared to be either in her late teens or early twenties, which inspired more evil thoughts in his perverted mind as the lustful lout ran quickly to overtake the tiny rider.

Rounding the horse on its right side, he grabbed one of her slim wrists in an attempt to pull her down. The startled maiden, rather than reacting fearfully, twisted her hand and wrist against his thumb, immediately breaking free from his grasp. Abruptly sliding off one side of the saddle, keeping a firm hold on the reins with one hand and grasping the left side stirrup with her other, she slid feet first beneath her steed, striking Miyamoto with the bottom of her heels simultaneously on both shins. He cried out in pain as he fell forward, slamming into the side of the horse as the girl, with a pull on the stirrup, pushed off the ground with her left leg. Once back on the saddle, she struck the outlaw in the center of the forehead with a perfectly executed sidekick, knocking him off his feet. He slammed back first onto the street and although dazed and close to unconsciousness, struggled to rise as the precocious pixie nonchalantly rode away without looking back, her horse prancing with high steps. The stunned outlaw wasn’t certain, but thought he heard an audible ‘Hymph!’ come from the girl, as if to imply contempt. As the disbelieving brigand watched, the horse flipped up its tail in a defiant manner and dropped a huge pile of dung onto the cobblestones.

Miyamoto, recalling the incident with the girl Moon and her grandfather, muttered to himself… “Kicked me in the same place as that other lethal little vixen. What is it with the girls in this cursed city?” he yelled as the rider disappeared from sight. At that precise moment he was startled back to reality by a man shouting… “There he is! That’s him…he’s the one. I saw him attack the girl!” followed by another man yelling… “Get him!”

The dizzy desperado wasn’t certain how many pursued him. He lacked the time or wits to count numbers. Whether Five or fifty, or from where they came, had no bearing on the fact that he had to once again do what he had become an expert at doing; evade an angry mob. ‘I’m getting too old for this,’ he thought as he forced his trembling legs into action.

He wasn’t running long when, as dumb luck would have it, the bedraggled outlaw rounded a building and he beheld something he could only have dreamed of. A hundred yards ahead was a man tethering a horse to a hitching post outside a public building, which he entered just before a winded and panting Miyamoto arrived at the post. Quickly loosing the reins, he jumped onto the animal’s back the moment his pursuers rounded the corner. Prodding the horse with his heels, he almost fell from the saddle as it abruptly lurched and galloped off in a cloud of dust. The curses and shouts of those in pursuit died off in the distance as Miyamoto put as much space as he could between himself and the angry city dwellers.

 


© Copyright 2019 C Wm Bird. All rights reserved.

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