Never Run

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
A couple's honeymoon in the African bushveld takes a turn for the worse when their car breaks down.

Submitted: April 25, 2016

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Submitted: April 25, 2016

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"Finally!" Sadie cried as they slowed to a stop on the bumpy dirt road. 

"I knew we'd find the bastard eventually!" Blake said with a huge grin. 

The leopard lazily glanced at them from the tree it was perched in. They had been in the African wild for almost a month now, and had seen all of the Big 5 except the leopard, and now nearing the end of their honeymoon they had finally spotted it. Sadie's dad had given them the trip as a wedding gift and they had been loving every second of it - especially since they would have never been able to afford it.

"It really is a majestic creature." Sadie remarked between taking more photos with her expensive Canon camera - another gift from good 'ol Pops. As a struggling photographer, hopefully it would help to get her on her feet.

The young couple had been seeing each other for 3 years when Blake finally popped the question. After his first novel had had mild success, he finally had enough for a ring he felt was beautiful enough for Sadie, and for a large deposit on a cozy house outside of the city. She didn't hesitate - he had waited long enough as far as she was concerned. Marrying Blake was always a foregone conclusion for Sadie, and luckily her parents felt the same.

"We should start heading back, it'll be dark soon." Blake said after they had been admiring the leopard for about 40 minutes. Sadie gave the leopard a final contented glance, and sat back in her chair. "Let's roll." she said, giving Blake's leg a squeeze.

He started the old, but so far reliable, Land Rover Defender, and turned around, heading back to their private bush camp - which amazingly they had all to themselves.

The old Landy suddenly gave a splutter and for a moment Blake lost power. Sadie glanced at him nervously, but a second later the Landy was puttering along normally.

"Everything ok?" she asked.

"I'm not sure. That was a little weird. But it's going along fin-"

The Land Rover gave another unhealthy splutter, and suddenly white steam exploded from beneath the bonnet, and almost immediately the engine died. They glanced at one another for a second.

"Well, shit." Blake said softly. He pulled the release catch for the hood, and after checking the area for animals, he jumped out. "Keep a look out for animals, babe."

He popped the hood and steam came billowing out, blinding him momentarily.

Not knowing much about cars or engines, he didn't know what to look for. He saw that the water cap's lid was blown off and one pipe seemed to have burst, sounding like a pressure cooker.

He left the hood open and got back in with Sadie.

"Well?" she asked nervously.

"It's fucked - we're not going anywhere."

Sadie sighed and slumped back in her chair.

"What are we gonna do? We have no signal!"

Blake nodded.

"The way I see it, we have 2 choices. Either we wait here, hoping someone comes along, or  we can walk to the camp, which I think is about 15 km away."

"That's pretty far. And it's also getting dark. Don't you think they'll send someone when we don't get back to camp?"

Blake cringed. "Well, about that - I payed the 2 workers a handsome fee to prepare dinner and then clear out for the night. Seeing as it's our second last night, I wanted it to be romantic and private. We'd have the whole camp and the pool to ourselves. There's no one there."

Sadie had started to smile, but when she realised what this meant, the smile quickly dissapeared.

"What the fuck, Blake? What were you thinking?"

"Hey! I was trying to do something special! It's not like I planned to break down!"

Sadie was about to respond, but caught herself. There was no use fighting now - and he was right, he couldn't have known this would happen.

Blake scanned the horizen. "I think we should walk. It'll be much less than 15km if we cut through the veld. That distance is only if you follow the road."

She looked at the darknening plains and frowned. "Don't you think we should wait till morning? If no one finds us we can at least walk in daylight."

Blake thought about this for a second. "That makes sense, but, it should only take us about 2 hours - and I would really not like to spend my penultimate night cold and sleeping in a Land Rover."

Sadie milled this over. He had a point. And she was so looking forward to champagne by the pool.

"But what about the animals?" she asked quitely, looking at their surroundings once more.

"They're more afraid of us than we are of them. They'll almost always head the other way if approached. As long as they're not cornered or threatened, we should be fine."

Sadie sat in silence for a couple of seconds before she relented. "Ok, we can walk, but I still don't think it's the best idea."

Blake looked at her reassuringly. "It'll be ok, babe. I won't let anything happen to you.  And think, in a couple of hours we'll be laughing about this next to a candlelit pool."

They packed supplies they had into a backpack - 4 bottles of water, some biltong, chips, 2 half eaten sandwiches, one flashlight, Blade's Zippo lighter and also his leatherman, as well as a jacket for each of them. He also packed his hip flask full of whiskey - just in case.

Side by side they stood next to the Land Rover. It was dusk, deepening into proper darkness and the bushveld noises of the night were coming alive. Sadie gripped his arm tighter as she heard a lion call in the distance. He looked at her and once more gave his reassuring smile.

"So we were heading north when the Landy broke down, and according to the maps back at the camp, the road turns east further up. So if we head in a north-easterly direction, we should at least find the river and that small cliff close to the camp. We can then find the camp from there."

"That plan sounds a little vague..." Sadie said nervously, but Blake only squeezed her hand and, with the sunset behind them, started off in a somewhat leftish direction. Close enough for goverment work, he thought.

"Remember babe, never run. Even if something charges. It's usually a mock charge. Never run." Blake said firmly, looking deep into Sadie's eyes.

They walked next to each other and as the gloom deepend Sadie turned on the flashlight. Blake had given it to her with the hope that it would calm her nerves somewhat.

 

After about an hour's walk in deepening darkness, Blake started hearing rustling noises in the tall grass around them. Not wanting to alarm Sadie, he calmly looked around, but didn't see anything.

Eventually the rustling increased, and it seemed to be coming from all around them. Sadie froze, and Blake stopped next to her.

"What's that?" she whispered sharply, wildly trying to shine the light in each direction at the same time. Blake gently, but firmly took her hands in his, and slowly guided the light in a wide arc around them. Finally the light reflected a pair of eyes, and soon they were able to see at least 3 sets of eyes in that single patch of light.

Sadie had gasped, and it seemed as if she wanted to run, but Blake held on tightly.

"Do. Not. Run." he whispered fiercely, and she relented, although the first tendrills of fear had started to wrap around his own spine.

"What are they?" she whispered, finally finding his voice.

"I can't be sure. I only see their eyes. It might be jackals." he said, leaving out what else he thought it could be.

A sudden cry to the left of them pierced the still night sky and Sadie screamed. Blake jumped, momentarily loosening his grip and allowing Sadie to turn and attempt to run.  She took 2 steps and stepped into a meerkat hole, causing a sickening crack to fill the night air. Sadie screamed again, this time in pain, while tumbling to the ground. "My ankle!"

Blake recovered enough to quickly kneel by her side and to investigate her ankle. It was already swolen to double the size, either broken or severely sprained.

The call had also identified the pack of animals to Blake. The unmistakable "Whooooooooo-oep!" of the spotted hyena was a standard of the African night, but that close was terrifying - and much louder than Blake would've thought.

"Babe, you have to get up and we have to move - it's hyena's." he said, lifting her to her one good foot, while handing her the flashlight.

"But they're scavengers, aren't they?" she asked through tears.

"Yes, but they hunt too. Most of their food comes from hunting. Now come on."

While he was speaking, he quickly scanned the ground and found a fairly sturdy, long stick. He quickly tore a piece of his shirt off and wrapped it around the stick. Getting out his flask he poured some of his whiskey on the piece of shirt and then lit it using his Zippo.

The area was illuminated some more, and they could now make out the bodies of the hyena's, counting 5 that they could see.

"Easy, nice and slow." Blake started moving, with Sadie hobbling forward while clutching his shoulder and Blake walking backward, keeping the animals in the make-shift torch light.

The going was painstakingly slow, and the animals kept up their relentless stalking, calling to each other constanly, each one more bone-chilling than the one before.

Suddenly, one of the bigger hyena's lunged forward with startling speed. Blake swung the fiery torch, and the animal backed off. Blake glanced at the torch and realised that it wouldn't last much longer. Cursing under his breath, he started to drag the torch through the dry grass and soon a healthy fire was spreading.

"We need to pick up the pace, babe." Blake said, and Sadie obliged by hobbling a little faster.

Blake hoped the fire would slow down the hyena's, possibly even scare them away, and his hopes soared as he realised that he could no longer see any of them.

He turned around, and they were now able to move much faster, with Blake able to support more of Sadie's weight.

Things were looking somewhat better, until Blake realised, that in their panic, he had no idea in which direction they had gone. There was no moon, and Blake didn't know the stars at all.

On top of that, the fire had turned into an inferno, and it seemed to be catching up to them.

Quickening the pace once more, they moved to a rocky outcrop Sadie had spotted, and with great difficulty, climbed to the top. It was fairly high, but looking around didn't help either, as it was too dark and everything looked the same.

"At least the fire can't reach us here." Blake said with a grimace. "And who knows, maybe someone will see the fire and investigate." But he doubted it. They would possibly see the smoke in the morning, but that was a best case scenario.

They sat for a while, cathing their breath, when a new, terrifying sound broke the night's stillness. A lion's "Hooo-uh, hooo-uh" thundered through their bones, closer than they had ever heard it before and as if in answer, the hyena's calls resumed, so close they felt they could touch the sound.

Blake realised that the hyena's had surrounded the outcrop. To make matters worse, his torch had died, and the flashlight, which was not very bright to begin with, seemed to be dimming even more.

Working quickly, he hit the stick against the rock, dislodging the burnt material. After tearing up more of his shirt, dousing it with booze and lighting it, he heard a sound like nails on rock. He spun towards the sound, and saw that a hyena had crept up to within a few feet of them. Sadie screamed, and struggled to her feet, somehow forgetting about her injured ankle - as soon as she put weight on it, her leg buckled.

For Blake, everything then seemed to happen in slow motion. As Sadie's leg buckled, she fell backward, still trying to get away from the menancing hyena. She landed on her backside, but then leaned back, using her hands and one good foot to scramble away from the animal - right over the ledge of the outcrop.

"Sadie!" Blake screamed, but it was too late. She seemed to hover for a moment, and then tumbled backwards, slamming against rock after rock as she rolled and fell.

Blake stood frozen in horror as she finally came to rest at the bottom in a crumpled and bloodied mass of flesh and bone.

He turned in anger toward the hyena, which had retreated a few steps. Slowly lifting his flask, he took a large sip, while slowly approaching the animal. The hyena stood its ground, baring its teeth. When Blake thought he was close enough, he spat the whiskey in a long single stream into the fire of the torch and at the hyena. The animal reared back whimpering, and sprinted away into the darkness. Blake could smell burnt hair.

He turned back to the edge and looked down at his wife, lying in a small clearing next to the outcrop. She was motionless.

He started down toward her, but then movement caught his eye. 3 Hyena's were approaching where Sadie lay. He would never make it in time. He yelled at the top of his voice, but they paid him no mind.

In desperation he flung the torch at the closest hyena, actually hitting it on the rump, and it whimpered into the bushes. The torch, however was extinsuished by its travel through the air and the animal's thick coat, and they were plunged into semi-dankrness, the only faint light coming from the inferno burnig a distance away.

The 2 other hyena's, however, were still slinking closer and Blake found himself saying words that he never thought he would utter: "Please be dead, please be dead, baby, please be dead."

The first animal closed the final couple of steps to Sadie at a trot and sunk its powerful teeth into Sadie's arm. To Blake's absolute horror, Sadie screamed, and Blake joined in, yelling in anguish at his young wife's pain. He wished with all his might that he could help, but he knew that he was powerless.

The second hyena bit into Sadie's thigh, and ripping viciously, tore a chunk of flesh from the bone. Sadie screamed again, and the third hyena returned, encouraged by her screams of pain. It tore into her throat, ripping veins and flesh, causing blood to spurt everywhere. Sadie's scream was cut short, and after a few moments of gurgling, she was silent and still.

Blake had been making his way down the outcrop through all of this, but now he stopped. There was nothing he could do. Sobbing uncontrolably, he watched as his young wife was ripped apart before his very eyes.

The hyena's suddenly stopped, as 3 massive lionesses stepped into the clearing, drawn by the sound of pain and the smell of death.

At first it seemed as if the hyena's would defend their prize, but then a huge male lion entered the clearing, his mane almost completely black, and approaching the bloodied scene, the hyena's fled.

The male lion continued where the hyena's left off, and Blake's mind clouded over. Grief, guilt and pain overwhelmed his brain and all thought ceased.

Slowly he descended the outcrop, and got both feet on the ground. The lions glanced at him, the male lion pausing in the middle of his feast.

Taking a large drink from his flask, he walked into the clearing, toward the 4 large carnivours.

 

 

 

2 Days later, after finding the abandoned Land Rover the day before, the rangers of the Masai Mara National Reserve came upon a bloody and ghastly scene. They found a crazed man, with serious wounds to his face and all over his body. A dead lioness was close by, coverd in blood. The man was cradling the remains of a woman. The woman had been eaten by animals, and not much remained.

Trying to find out what had happened from the crearly insane man was impossible, as he only repeated the same phrase over and over again: "Don't run, baby. Never run. If you don't run, you'll be fine."

 


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