Moor at Midnight

Hello! This is my first time at writing suspense, so I hope you all like reading it - any constructive criticism is welcome. :-) Thank you!

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1. The Chase

It was a dark and stormy night, but not one of fantasy belonging to fairy tales. Those gave hope that there was a break in the terror, like the dawn after night. This one was sinister, especially with no stars threading the sky to breach the shadows. A violent gale screamed as if incapable of anything quieter, and rain pelted down without worry of where it landed. It was bone-chilling. Apart from the hurling wind, plummeting rain and the occasional rumble of thunder, the world was silent. Beneath the numbing calls of wind nothing else moved, as if intimidated, or as though the vehement weather had overwhelmed any other sound willing to compete.

 

My sweaty hand clutched at the gun, my grip re-adjusting robotically as if the uncertainty I felt was in the hold of the weapon instead of the situation. According to the steady clock hands of my watch, morning had dawned; there had been no indication that midnight had occurred, only a chorus of lightening strikes which illuminated the barren wasteland.

Swiftly, a haunting cry of a wolf echoed plaintively and every other noise faded to the background: the thunder ceased to a mild grumble, the downpour stilled to a pathetic trickle and the chilling gale died away with a whistle, until only my shaky breaths formed by adrenaline remained.

But the silence only increased my panic. Without noise to deafen my heavy footfalls, the feeling of exposure grew and the prickly suspicion of being observed drowned out every other rational thought, until it plagued my mind and the doubt that I was alone on the moors swelled to maximum proportion. Fantasies soon loomed uncontrollably from the dark pits of my imagination and shadows became threats instead of shields from prying eyes. Instantly leaves rustled and crunched, as if another apparition hovered, unseen at the side of my vision. Any confidence that I had attained with the presence of a weapon had vanished in an instant, yet I still readied my grip on the cocked revolver until my knuckles went white.

Suddenly, lightening crackled with a vengeance and a fearsome blast shook me from the shackles of panic, by blinding me. When it lit up the surrounding cloud of black, a warped and deformed shape emerged from the inky depths, striking against the white spotlight, and retreated when the light source was consumed by the remaining darkness. Dazed by the black spots behind my irises, I was well too aware of how vulnerable this rendered me against this foe. Splintered fingernails clawed viciously at my waving arms, as I spun in futile hopes of warding off the attacker even with the use of bullets. Abruptly another bolt struck and yet again, out from the dense silhouettes there materialised what seemed to be a gangly human, who recoiled with a violent shudder and then fled once more into the folds of night when the wind blew and lightening hid.

“My God!” My own hoarse voice was hardly recognisable. Even in a crowd I would be unable to distinguish it from one of an elderly lady whose throat had undergone decades of smoking, with irreversible raspy results. “Stay away!” The commands ability to sound hostile diminished when it didn’t rise above a murmur, but I was too feeble to tempt the wrath of an unknown, grizzled enemy in the dark.

But only after I had waited precious seconds for the enemy’s move, did it dawn how gnarled it actually was. A wary chuckle escaped my lips when the root of my attack became clear.

“A tree,” The revelation to the identity of my assailant drove me to almost hysterical tears, whilst the frantic racing of my pulse quietened slightly. “Only a tree.”

The lone one in question, with a few curled leaves dangling limply from its contorted limbs stood at a permanent angle, providing the only protection for miles around. Still, the peril of the hour subsisted whilst I remained on the moor isolated from assistance. It would be a most foolish act to let my guard down, no-matter how reassured that the nightmare was over for now.

My knees buckled like unsupported lead and instinctively I leant against the grooved bark, with the hope to remove fatigue. From using the tree, I felt a peculiar sense of satisfaction like the infantile revenge of a smug child, as if I had a score to settle against the tree for the amount of alarm it caused. During the attack, every muscle was electrified in anticipation, but now I was simply drained of any energy.

Yet the call of an owl reminded me that the danger was not done and the blinds of my eyes widened in an instant. From then on, my body was a coiled spring, waiting for the dawn, waiting for the opportunity to flee this living nightmare, which seemed as if reality and the improbable had joined forces for the night.

However, there was still time for the night’s reign and for the time which awakens fear that lies dormant during the day. And the relentless ticking of my watch was a frequent reminder. The automatic mechanism created a repetitive rhythm, one which seemed to drill into my skull. The pattern made you painfully aware of the hours and minutes and seconds passing through your fingers like sand, and despite the exhaustion I still remained conscious for the passing of the hours. One struck, and two, and three, and four…yet there was still more waiting involved for my prolonged fate. The quiet radiated a sense of boundaries, as if no noise was permitted. Any breath was hushed, any movement sluggish with the effort to stay mute, and still the time dragged on, and on, and on…

A twig snapped. Her eyes darted. Stones crunched. Her chin wobbled. Leaves rustled under the pressure of a skulking figure. Her trembling finger inched towards the trigger. Her face paled at the unmistakable clink.

 

The gun was out of bullets.

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