Thursday, August 15, 2013

Prompt: River crossing

Tabitha pulled off her hiking boots and rolled up her jeans. David was already halfway across the ford, and she could see the water was still below his knees. The long-abandoned road they had followed for the past few days went straight across the river and continued on the other side into the dim forest.

David called something to her, but despite the shallow water, it made enough noise she couldn’t understand. He stood, looking over his shoulder at her, waiting for a reply, she guessed. She raised her hands up in an exaggerated shrug and called out, “I didn’t hear you!”

“It’s slippery! But come see what I found!” he shouted back.

She took a step into the water and gasped at the cold. She stood for a moment, letting it stream over her feet and ankles. It actually felt pretty heavenly after more than a week of hiking. She looked up and down stream wondering if there was a pool deep enough to bathe in.

David waved at he, encouraging her to join him. “Okay! Okay”! she said, but not really loud enough for him to hear. Adjusting to the cold, she took a careful step. The water was crystal clear, running just a few inches over the old road. Its brown concrete was broken into huge slabs, big enough for her to lie on, with a black speckling spread evenly across the light brown.

She took another step and winced, feeling sharp points under her feet. She bent down to examine the roadbed more carefully, and her eyes focused on the black speckles. They were raised, and she reached her hand into the water to touch one. It felt like a stone, but when she tried to pull it up, it felt stuck, then released with a pop.

“It’s a snail!” she exclaimed, then called to David, pointing into the water, “they’re snails!” He grinned and waved. It was like they were having two different conversations at the same time. She felt like that a lot, actually.

She gently dropped the snail back in the water, then considered how to cross. There was no way to avoid stepping on them. She walked to the side of the road, which had an unusually defined edge, with no dirt packed up against it. There were rocks all over the river bed, mostly looking flat enough for her to stand on. She saw no snails on the rocks, so she stepped onto one. And promptly slipped, almost falling into the water. The dark rocks were covered in a fine algae or moss that made her foot slide right off. She gingerly stepped back onto the road.

“Well, sorry, guys. I’ll try to step lightly,” she muttered, making her way out into the river. David was standing on the downstream side of the road, bent over to look into the water. “Hey, what’s so interesting there?” she called to him.

A long white tentacle whipped out of the water, almost faster than she could see, wrapped around David’s legs, and yanked him off the road into the river. It must be deeper than she realized, because he was pulled completely under and disappeared. He hadn’t even shouted or struggled.

She stood frozen in horror for a moment, torn between her instinct to run away and her desire to save David. She waited for turbulence, thrashing in the water, another tentacle coming after her. Nothing.

“The hell with that!” she cried out. Reaching to her back, she pulled out the taser he insisted she carry since they had been attacked in an old town several weeks earlier. She ran across the snail-covered road to the middle and looked over the edge. “Come and get me, then!” she screamed.

Dogs in house

Time writing:
20 minutes

August word count:

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