One of my favorite things about writing is how often I surprise myself with the direction my story takes. I had a series of notes that I had taken last week for where I wanted to go (a great tip I once read is never stop writing until you know what comes next)…but today when I sat down to write I erased them all and took a completely new direction. I had no idea where I was going to go with this, but I’m really pleased with the direction it has taken. I hope you enjoy it too!
The old man was surprisingly nimble as he hopped through the snow, hot on Nick’s heels as he guided them to the cave.
“We must be quiet,” Nick warned, as the old man started singing a jolly tune. “Trust me, this beast is not to be messed with.”
“Oh, relax. I’ve handled a beast or two in my day.” The old man laughed and continued his tune while Nick gritted his teeth, keeping his head on a swivel as he looked for signs of the beast. The trip was relatively uneventful, the two men saw no signs of the beast though the old man did collapse in the snow at one point with a fit. His body shook violently and he screamed in agony, snow flying everywhere as he writhed in pain. Nick grabbed him by the shoulder and tried to calm him but the fit needed to run its course. When it was over the man hopped to his feet, smiled, and returned to his tune, skipping through the snow as if nothing had happened. Nick tried to ask him about it several times but the man seemed to have no recollection of the event and didn’t want to talk, just sing.
When they reached the cave Nick waved to the old man, telling him to quiet down. The man smiled slyly and did as he was told, crouching in the snow next to Nick.
“So, the beast is in there, eh?”
“Well, this is where he held me, that’s all I know.”
“You said you knew where he lived!” The old man became agitated.
“Well, I assumed that…”
“You assumed? You assumed!?” The man handed Nick the water skin full of green liquid. “Drink this, you ninny. Can’t have you turning all crazy in there.” As Nick took a swig the old man darted towards the cave.
“Wait!” Nick tried to stop him but the man disappeared into the cave. “Fuck…” he muttered to himself, following cautiously. As he entered the cave Nick could hear a quiet giggling echoing off the walls. Following the sound he found his way to a dimly lit room in the back. A rough wooden chair sat by a table with five candles, all quite low, wax covering the surface. A rusty nail was driven into the wall a few feet from the candles and on it hung a fur suit.
“He’s not here.” Nick surmised, relaxing a little and looking around the room. Scattered around the floor were ropes and bags, nothing that made this place look like a home, no survival gear.
“Not here? Are you sure?” The old man laughed, dancing lightly on his toes. Nick’s head started to ache and he took a swig of the green liquid again, but this time the headache only intensified, blurring his vision.
“The medicine, it’s not working…” The old man beamed at Nick as he began to reel around the room, losing his balance and looking for something to hold on to.
“Here, here,” the old man grabbed his arm and guided him to the chair. “The candles, the wicks are lined with sap from the Teramon tree, an ancient tree from far away, it’s counteracting the…no matter, sit! Sit!” Nick sat as his muscles began to stiffen.
“We need to leave…” Nick muttered as his vision began to fade.
“No, we need to talk.”