Salma Gani

The ring became luminous with the light of the full moon. The moonlight cast shadows across the trees, moving, and twisting as we fled past them.

I turned to look at my mother who had her head toward the carriage window. Her face hidden in the shadow of the night, yet still her eyes were alive with resolution and firmness. No one dared deny any request she had. I noticed this just then, as I felt cold seep down my spine at the agreement of my marriage few weeks prior. What felt like a business merger than an act of holy communion made me ill to a point of losing my sense of sanity.

My head was turned to gaze upon the starless sky, a dense mass of black, of nothing. All was dark except the shine of the moon, so bright it lit the road ahead. The moon held my gaze for most of the trip, and gave me an uneasy feeling of being watched. Though uneasy, its bright, bold and beautiful light was so alluring, so captivating one could not deny the need to stare. I somehow at that moment felt a pull or a sign, in hindsight it meant a warning.

The carriage jerked my body from side to side. The hooves and wheels made a thunderous sound against the stone-like road. Large splutters of rain began crashing against the carriage with no sign of it coming. The road became dark as clouds gathered over the moon. The lantern above the carriage dimmed slightly and nothing was visible beyond my window. The horses seemed to carry on despite the rain.

As we moved on, a shadow or form seemed to grow bigger as we got further, I heard my mother gasp and put her hands to her mouth, she rushed towards me and held me in a tight embrace. I could hear her heart beating faster with each second. She held my head to her bosom. I heard the hooves screech against the wet stone, trying to come to a halt, the sound of the horses likened to a scream as the wheels kept turning despite the horses effort to stop.

A deep, sinking feeling of fear overtook me as I clutched my chest and thought of nothing except the need to live. The carriage knocked over the horses and went tumbling over and over, screeches and crashes and broken glass, the sound of horror and fear, deafening, all against the hard, roaring rain. My body twisted and overturned, and I fell out of the broken door, I seen my mother hold out her hand but it was too late. I tumbled over and fell flat on the wet floor.
With my head to the ground I lifted my eyes to see the carriage turned into a wreck, and looking nothing like it once was. I tried to force my body up, as I felt the urgent need to find my mother. Its as if my limbs were filled with lead, I felt weakened and fear paralyzed my body.

I forcefully got up, and when I looked again a being, a living presence of evil, a likeness to a dog standing on his hinds, its back curved into a grotesque hunch, howled in the moonlight turned my blood cold and caused the hair on my arms to poke through its pores.

Its form turned to my direction, I caught a glimpse of jagged bright teeth, dripping crimson against a blackened figure, and eyes bright like yellow, golden disks. I turned and ran, ran as fast as I could.

I heard its feet beat against the ground, its sound becoming louder and and faster. I felt blood being pumped faster and faster through every vessel in my body. I ran through the thicket of trees and branches, leafs swatting my face. I ran and felt the tears sloshing and churning and dripping against my cold face. It howled once more and then I heard its short, intense breaths behind me, its feet beating harder and harder against the ground, making an incredible deafening sound, hollowing and deep, pulsating with each heartbeat. I ran through a mass of trees in the absolute darkness, I tripped and fell over.

A sinking feeling overcame me when a deadening silence had fallen upon the forest. I then felt its moist breath, short and heavy against my neck. I could hear it heaving. My breath got stuck in my chest, I fear to release it. I feared to turn, to move even an inch. My nose was dug into earth, I breathed it in deeply, thinking this is the last time I will ever smell sand, soil, the damp earthy ground, how wonderful, beautiful, how cool. For a fraction of a second I momentarily forgot my plight. Seconds passed slowly and after an eternity of uncertainty the beast breath was longer upon me. I turned my head slowly, carefully and the ominous form became clearer.I felt my heart beat so rapidly, I feared it would jump out of my chest. My eyes darted away and fell upon the moon behind it. The moon seemed stared at me, to reprimand me, it felt so strange and deluding, an audience for this brutality about to befall me. It made me incredibly sorrowful. I turned and stared into the beast golden eyes, i was frozen, paralyzed. I then closed my eyes and prepared for death to overtake me. I felt half consumed, and the taste of death lingered on my tongue. I let go.

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