“GO! DON’T STOP!” She exclaimed pushing the child ahead of her. But the boy was too weak. He limped, his leg obviously bothering him tremendously. He was bleeding from where the pitchfork caught him.
She had two choices: she could run, leaving the boy behind or she could carry him and hope for the best. She knew better though. The best never happened in this world. Not on this night, when the monsters came out for flesh. Maybe there was another choice, but she wasn’t ready to go onto the next world just yet. There was much left to do in this life. And it might not even save the boy. Not she wouldn’t go without him.
She grabbed the boy’s hand and hauled him in her arms. Cleverly he hooked his legs around her hips and his arms about her neck. She resumed running. There was only one place she could go to, close and safe enough, to even hope surviving the night. It was dangerous to bring the child there. Selim might not even open the door; she wasn’t sure he’d be there. But what else was she to do? Leave the boy? She couldn’t live with herself if she did; that was the truth. He could be her brother; would she abandon her brother? Never! If she left him, she’d relinquish her soul. She might as well go right now, let the monsters feed upon her. No. And Selim wouldn’t turn them away.
Though that might be moot anyway since the sounds of the pursuit were closing in on them. She struggled breathing. Her respiration was becoming erratic and each gulp of air sent a sharp pain down in her lungs. She wouldn’t last much longer like this.
“Leave me, miss.” The boy whispered. “Go! Save your life.” His eyes wide open held nothing but pain and understanding. He was allowing her, begging her to let him go.
“No! I can’t.” She gasped back, her energy renewed. It seemed the invitation had whipped some renewed strength into her.
They lived in a tough world, where once a month, monsters would crawl up from underneath the earth and destroy crops, forests sometimes even houses. Everything looked as if it were burnt. And then twice a year they hunted for flesh. Sometimes they couldn’t find anything so they emptied the graves at the cemetery. But fresh flesh was their preference. Of course, everyone would be home by nightfall. Today, she was not. Neither was the boy. But both would make it. They had to. She ran as she’d never ran in her entire life.
Finally relief flooded her. She could see the building. Holding onto the boy, she spent every ounce of energy she had left to reach the door. It wasn’t too early for the creatures appeared in their line of sight. She wouldn’t have known but for the tremor in the boy’s body or his silent scream. She pounded the door.
“SELIM!” She yelled, calling their village leader.
“Go away, you’ve been marked,” someone answered.
“Mikoum?” The silence told her what she needed. Anger suffused her. “OPEN THAT DOOR!”
She shouted even as the child wailed in terror. Thankfully the door opened and she fell through with the boy. When it closed, an unearthly screech tore through the air. She glanced quickly at the sort of limb, which was cut by the heavy iron door.
Letting go of the boy, Zarah stood and turned to her cousin. She jumped on him, punching him until arms pulled her away. Her hair fell in front of her face and she barely could see him, but she noticed the fear in his gaze. Zarah knew she’d tear him apart if they let go of her.
“YOU WORTHLESS PIECE OF DUNG! You would have let us die! YOU…”
“You are marked,” her cousin interrupted coldly. Pointing to the boy he added. “And he’s been bitten.”
Like a whiplash, it reminded her of the wounded child. She shook Selim’s hold and knelt by the boy who still trembled. He reached for her. Now that they were safe, she finally saw him. He didn’t look like them, though she couldn’t pinpoint what it was. He had the same tanned skin but it wasn’t exactly the same shade as hers. He didn’t look like the others either. Who was he? And what had he been doing outside at dusk? Right now fear still gripped him. He might wonder whether they’d kill him.
“He wasn’t bitten.” She said and he appeared to breathe easier. “He fell on a pitchfork that was in the middle of the path. He didn’t see it.”
His eyes were too wide for his face, still filled with fear and gratitude too. And something else she couldn’t place.
“Thank you miss.”
“Zarah. And you’re welcome.”
“Thank you Zarah. You could have left me there.”
“No I couldn’t have.”
“My brother will be thankful.”
He lowered his eyes: shame was what shone in his eyes. He wasn’t supposed to be there.
She gasped. Go Zarah! Well done. She’d managed to bring one of the Sajes into their hiding place. She could tell Selim was concerned but her brother didn’t say anything. In fact he silenced Mikoum’s retort with a glance.
“What is your name?” Lord Elrem had three brothers and two sisters. She might as well know which one she’d saved.
What luck! Lord Elrem’s treasured brother had landed into her lap on a Ghoul’s night. Perfect! She couldn’t think much more about it, because the boy started crying. She cradled him, as she’d done so many times with her siblings over the years. He cried himself to sleep against her shoulder.
“Let’s go.” Selim whispered. “He needs a healer. Bring him to Fadella. She’ll fix him up.”
She nodded and, accompanied by her brother and cousin, they went to the healer. Fadella was quick to confirm Halim wasn’t bitten and took charge of him.
Bringing him back to his brother would result in questions that she couldn’t answer. They couldn’t let the kid go by himself, now that he’d been here. But nor would she allow them to kill him. She argued bitterly with Mikoum who wanted to strangle the boy. Fadella would probably not allow it anyway. But she’d risked too much to save him and he was only a child. He didn’t know what else was going on in this dark world of theirs. The chances he paid attention to the path they’d taken were slim anyway.
“It may be something we can use.” Selim eventually weighed in. “After all Zarah saved Elrem’s favourite brother. Who knows what manner of reward he would offer?”
“I didn’t do it for that!” She exclaimed.
“Of course not. But still. You will bring the boy back to his brother. And you will haggle for something. We need seeds. The ghouls will have destroyed everything.”
She sighed. “Yes brother.”
So it was agreed. Fadella would give the boy a sleeping draught so they could move him to her house by sunrise. He wouldn’t know where he spent the night.
“Did you even complete your task, cousin,” Mikoum sneered.
“I did actually.” She answered and smiled. Selim nodded.
This night hadn’t gone as bad as it could or should have, in the end.
by Iva on www.minimalisti.com website