• Britt Leigh

Onward

Prompt for this story: Different perspective


He marched onward, acutely aware of the dangers that awaited him at every turn. He had no way of knowing who decimated his home, or why, but he knew he needed to find a safe place to start over. Perhaps then, once he had located his wife and children, he would set his sights on revenge.


An elder had told him of an oasis a day’s trip from his now-destroyed home just a few weeks ago. He had turned the elder down then, but when he returned to his home today to find not even a hint of silk, he knew his family had gone there for shelter.

He set out immediately, a forest of green stood between him and the ultimate destination, and threats lurked at every moment.


He paused to listen for the tenth time in only an hour. This time, however, he could hear it – the one threat that could destroy him and everything within inches of his body. The marching began with a heavy-footed effort, sending small shockwaves through the ground below. Soon, however, it became a light and gentle pitter-patter, like a baby taking its careful first steps. He smiled, thinking about his children. Then, he remembered how much they were counting on him.


He refocused. Innocent or not, he knew the small pitter-patter could be just as perilous as the heavy marching.


Like the soldier he was born to be, he pushed forward. Though he felt his nerves vibrate with anxiety at each step, he refused to be bested. His progress was swift and direct as he skittered intently towards the oasis.


Then it happened.


The ground, as if possessed by the hum of a thousand bees, began to move. It quivered and quaked, causing the tops of the long, green stalks to bend and shake. Those less brave than he dove into the closest enclosures, intent on escaping their impending demise.

But the soldier remained.


Like an unwelcome guest, fear welled up in the back of his throat as he continued carefully forward. He tried to swallow it down and bury it behind his pride, but it insisted on forcing its way into his mouth. It rolled over his tongue like a tsunami wave and erupted from his lungs as the war cry he didn’t know he needed, propelling his body forward.


The ground continued to shake as the booms became louder. He stopped suddenly as he realized the booms were following his path. If only he knew how close he was to the oasis, he would run towards it as fast as his legs would carry him, letting the full force of his fear carry him like a hawk desperate to feed its starving offspring.


But he knew better.


He knew that the pace of his movement could have devastating effects if he were seen. He had seen too many fall victim to the booms before him. May they all rest in peace.

It was much safer to stay painfully still. The kind of stillness that sets into your joints, crawls into your muscles, and hides in your tendons. The kind of stillness he had practiced all of his life for moments precisely like this. The kind of stillness that made him invisible - especially to the giants who threatened his life.

The booms grew louder and quicker as they drew closer to him. He could hear the breathless air being released from the beast above him, sending a light fog of water droplets to the ground below. With every boom, the air grew quicker and more violent. Like everyone who had died before him, he waited for the beast to spot him, let our an ear-piercing death scream, and attempt to eliminate him from this world.


But none ever came.


Slowly, as if time were moving backward, he started on his way again, moving as if the slightest noise would start a battle he could never win.


Then, he heard it.


The swish of a tail, the trickle of water over smooth river rocks, and the light hum of the flies that hovered near the picnic tables, and he knew the oasis was close. Maintaining intentional steps, he moved at a pace even his wife would have been proud of.

An extensive and picturesque clearing was all that stood between him and the oasis behind the logs.


While the beauty was enough to captivate all eight of his eyes, he knew he would need to be aware of the winged beasts waiting to make him their prey.


But he made it this far, and he wasn’t going to give up.

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