Laura James’s Picture Choice: 1
Title: The Hunt
He couldn't believe she still had enough strength to run. Everything he had put her through had been designed to break her spirit, ensure compliance but, unlike his previous guests, she had conned him. He had obviously missed the little signs of defiance, let his guard down. When he caught her, and he would, she would pay.
He stood at the top of the stone path squinting through the rain trying to see more than a few feet in front of him. "Vera?" No response. “Vera?” he called out again. All he could hear was the ratatatat of rain on the leaves and the ground. Nothing else, even the various animals he knew were in abundance in this part of the woods kept silent. Annoyed with her for running and himself for letting her go, he pulled his jacket closer round his body and walked forward looking for any sign that she had passed this way.
He was drenched, rain dripped into his eyes blurring his already limited vision, the branches smacking his body and face keeping his anger at Vera fresh. When he found her he would inflict such pain that the tortures she had already suffered through would pale in comparison.
He needed to find her quickly but once familiar landmarks distorted by the wind and rain caused him to have to take his time searching. At least the knowledge that the traps he had loving set at the perimeter of his land would prevent Vera escaping to civilisation. A sudden break in the weather allowed him to see further ahead and he caught a glimpse of milky white flesh between the trees before it disappeared once more. "Vera" he called, "come back honey! It's not safe out here."
He pushed forward in the direction he was sure she was headed, a spring in his step now that he was close to retrieving his prize. "Vera, Vera" he sang. Another break in the rain and he saw her in all her naked glory. At some point she must have fallen and broken her ankle as she was crawling slowing over the ground, her left foot swollen and bloody. "Hi Vera."
He watched her stop and tense her body. God she looked so good, the mud enhancing her curves and when she turned her wild blue eyes peaking thought her wet hair made his heart leap in his chest. It was a pity he hadn't taken the time to grab a knife as he needed to end her life now in this moment, preserving her beauty forever. His fists would have to do.
He stepped forward and grabbed her by the hair, wrenching her off the ground and dragging her into a seated position. He was surprised that she had uttered no words, not even a scream. They all screamed in the end however and she would be no different. Crouching in front of her he took his time and ever so slowly used his finger to push the bone jutting from her ankle, watching as her face contorted in pain tears flowed from her eyes. Silence.
"Stubbornness won't save you, you know. Scream for me and it will be over quickly." He wiped the rain from his face as she shook her head frantically. "So be it." In one fast movement he brought his fist round and connected with her nose, the sound of it breaking clearly heard above the rain. Blood flowed down her face, mixing with the mud, snot and rain already decorating her face. Silence.
"You will scream for me, I promise!" He shouted grabbing her ankle and twisting it against the break. A gasp escaped her lips but that was all. He stood and screamed at the heavens before laying punch after punch on her body, not caring what he hit or taking the time to relish the actions. This wasn't how it was supposed to end. She should be begging for her life, promising anything, everything for him to stop the pain.
Stepping back from the limp bloodied body at his feet his arms hung wasted at his side he was furious at himself for loosing control. With relief he saw she still was still alive, small shallow breaths escaped her bloodied features. The rain had tapered off to a light drizzle and he took it as an omen of luck. He would take her back to the cabin, nurse her to almost health and then the fun could begin again.
Grabbing her by the hair he dragged her back over the route he had taken, the way easier now the deluge had stopped. As he walked he heard life return to the world around him, Vera was still silent but the animals were beginning to make their presence known. Then as suddenly as it began all was silent once more. He stopped, the suddenness filling him with a dread he couldn't explain.
Then he heard it, a crunching noise, reminiscent of the way Vera's bones had broken as he had punched through her soft tissue, something was following him. He dropped Vera's head and readied himself for the attack he felt sure was coming. The was movement behind him and he turned fists at the ready.
Before him towered Vera, her body contorting, changing shape. The crunching noise - her bones knitting and breaking to form new configurations. Frozen to the spot he watched as she moved towards him, her body finally settling into shape.
Reaching out her arms she grabbed him by the shoulders, "Scream or stay silent, I do not care. This will not be over quick."
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Based in Dunfermline, Scotland, Laura is obsessed with all things horror and spends her time writing flash fiction which she hopes, on occasion, really scares her readers. Feel free to stalk her on twitter, @lejamez