Chapter 1 - Run to me

Copyright 2011 Darlene Gibbs      All Rights Reserved
This story should not be copied for purposes of reproduction, performance or any other cause in whole or in part.

My heart raced and the veins in my neck throbbed, the stitch in my side was overbearing but I dared not stop.  What lay in store for me was enough to add wings to my feet and determination to my mind – I couldn’t let them catch me.
Most girls would be celebrating on their eighteenth birthday, but not me, there was nothing for me to celebrate.  Eighteen years old made me fair game to the clan leaders.  That was the rule, eighteen years old meant it was time for the ceremony, a ceremony that drove fear into the very core of my being.
I stumbled forward, grazing my knees, but I knew this was no time to linger; I picked myself up hurriedly and pressed on, my large dress bellowing around me and slowing me down.  I stared ahead, by vision blurred by my tears; the forest loomed ahead of me, my one safe haven.  The clan held several superstitions about the forest and they all feared to enter it.  Today, I found my fear of the clan greater than whatever lurked in the forest.
“She’s getting away!”  Col’s voice screamed from the group behind me, he was my half brother, Arkel’s son, but that didn’t stop him from wanting me.  There was just something so wrong about the whole ceremony.
“Hurry!”  Arkel, my father, screamed, he was much further behind.  In spite of the fact that he was our fearless leader...he was overweight and out of shape.  His only usefulness was to terrify young girls.  “Shoot her if you have to!”  Arkel yelled and his voice sounded so far away I knew he had given up the chase.
“Give me a gun!”  That was Col’s voice and my breathing intensified, my arms pumped double time and my legs lengthened their stride...the forest, the forest, I couldn’t let them stop me.  If they caught me now I’d be punished, I’d be the outcast, I’d be... I suppressed the thoughts; I couldn’t bear to think of the things that happened to girls that tried to run away and got caught.
The sound of a bullet whisking past the side of my face made my breath catch.  God, help me; I just need to make it twenty more feet before I can reach the security of the forest.
“What’s wrong with you...you keep missing.”  Talbot, another one of the hierarchy of our clan yelled angrily.  The second bullet struck the tree next to me just as I fled into the safety of the forest.
I had only gone thirty feet in when I stopped and looked back.  The twelve men that had been chasing me were already slowing down, apparently unwilling to even draw close to the edge of the woods.
“No point us following her in there.  She’s already dun for.”  A twig cracked off to the left and I glanced about anxiously.  There was nothing.
“Darn it, Arkel, I was really looking forward to that one coming of age.  We should have kept a better eye on her.”  Col complained.
“She seemed so quiet...didn’t think she had it in her to run off like that.”  Arkel grunted and spat out on the ground.
“Well, we got to keep an eye on Gracey, she’ll be eighteen in three months, don’t want her taking off too!”  Talbot said and the others grunted their agreements.
I watched as they stared into the woods some more, I slid against a tree to hide myself, fearful that they may be willing to brave the forest and come after me.
“Let’s get back, it’ll be dark soon.”  Arkel spat again and then the group turned and headed back towards our village slowly, dejectedly.
“She’ll get what’s coming to her.”  Talbot said; his voice rose possibly with the hopes that I would hear and be afraid, it worked.  My fingers slid across the breath of the tree and I pressed my face against it looking for both comfort and support, something that I could never get from the living.
“Oh...Lord...”  Arkel had always spoken about god, but I wasn’t sure if the god Arkel served would be willing to help me, but I needed help now.  I was away from home for the first time, and no idea as to where to go or even how I would survive in this god forsaken place.  Perhaps I should go back, didn’t Arkel teach us these woods were filled with demons?  Maybe...
“Aaaaaahhhhh...”  My scream was cut off by the feel of a strong large palm across my mouth.  Tears that had just dried started to flow again.  My scream must have reached the ears of the men, for they stopped and looked back, almost pitifully and then they took off running in the direction of the village even faster than they had left it.
“If you scream I will kill you.”  A strong harsh voice behind me said and my body went stiff and rigid.  “Do you understand me?”
I was frozen to the spot, fear clawed at my heart and I nodded my head dumbly.  When he released me I bolted back the way I had just come but he was too fast for me and within seconds I was lying on the ground, his body pressed upon me.
“Did I forget to tell you not to move?”  He sneered.  I blinked, staring into his face with a racing heart.  He was a good looking man, much better looking than any one at the clan, but he was hairy, beard and moustache which made it difficult to determine just how old he was.  He looked toughed, but was he a demon?  I rather expected a demon would be red with horns.
“Are you a demon?”  I asked; my voice sounding much higher than its normal level.
“Only if you disobey me.”  He said frankly and I swallowed nervously.
“I...I..I won’t, Sir.”  I promised.
“What is your name?”  He demanded.
“Careella, Careella...Cut..Cutting.”  I choked out; my breast heaving in spite of my best efforts to control my fear.  His head lowered slightly to take in the top of my blouse where my bosom seemed to be bursting forth and I blushed.  When he looked back at me his eyes were dark with the kind of desire I had seen in Col’s this morning.
“Perhaps it might be nice to have you around after all.”  He said and I wondered if I had jumped from the frying pan right into the fire.

Copyright 2011 Darlene Gibbs