Reading time: 5 min 1 sec
I run and cling to any root. The slurps of hot, dusty air felt like daggers battering the back of my parched throat. The incline was higher than we thought. I look back to see my mother crawling with on hand holding her fall and another reaching for my hand. She had sallow skin. Her throat was turgid in anguished breath. What can a woman her age do in the face of rushing danger trailing behind us?
The ache had knocked deep inside of my bone. For an instant, I felt that I should give up. My eyes climb to the swirling stars. Mistakenly, I thought that it was a beautiful night, with myself trapped in this blissful drop of nature, followed by agents of death.
The Wilies that’s what we call them. Creatures, though I doubt that God could ever conjure such horror into existence. They could crush a weak heart with a mere look from their wide round eyes. And their tiny slit mouths lined with a thin brush of teeth. They had black wisps of hair rushing down in sporadic tufts that touched the sides of their ankles. They wore no clothing only the sparse threads of perfect black hair that flowed around them like bead-curtains.
I refused to even see them, let alone hear them. I wanted to believe the echoing silence that enveloped us as we fled from the horde ambling towards us.
My mother wanted to call my name, I could see the word begin to form in her mouth. I shoot back to her and press a palm against her face. She struggles against my force. With a soft shush, she understands and nods–the predators have a keen sense of smell and hearing. Their eyes could see in the dark as we can in daylight. Though all the elements appeared to work against us, we still clung to our single shrinking shred of hope.
I held my mother’s hand as we raced with our throbbing legs down the green slope. Across the threshold of shallow water, we waded through the salt-rich river.
I had remembered the taste of the river from the first week the Wilies invaded our village. It was an assault to my tongue; an odor more foul than any possible decay.
The Wilies didn’t eat their victims. They only took one chomp from a random point in their bodies and left the rest to fester.
Other bodies were never found.
My mother tugged back at me, and belatedly, I understand. The long rasping wail of the invaders had neared enough to feel the reverberating sound permeate down my spine.
My mother shoved me away, her eyes must have frozen at that moment her breathing had stopped. The thick strings of skin were tense like cords reaching down the folded flap of shriveled skin on her chest. Her skin was turning pale and was losing blood as if the life left her from thousands of invisible pores. Her hands thinned down to the bone, her fingers looked more prolonged than usual. Or perhaps that’s how I remembered.
I lunged away from her, she only turned slightly towards me. Around her, the water continued to flow in long strings of foam.
The festering odor was relentless, I had to climb out of the other edge of the water. My eyes flooding, whether from the scent or from the shocking revelation that my mother was lost to the demonic flock. I did not know.
I hid behind a thick birch, and from behind the ashy bark, I saw the completion of my nightmare. My mother’s eyes fell from her face and plopped into the dirty water. The Wilies flowed down the hill and stopped by the edge of the water. Yet mysteriously, they quit their procession towards a juicer prey.
They stood there with eyes like puddles of a sooty dredge. They scattered like jagged tusks budding from the ground with hung bundles of sleek hair–Inanimate edifices for the worship of evil.
Their face didn’t express zeal in their newest triumph. Just little flat mouths, humming as my mother was sloughing clumps of hair, her bones were crackling as she jerked backward. Her elderly hunch was being replaced with an abnormal flat back. Long tendrils of hair slowly dipped into the water and flowed with the stream. Her hands flopped down, her fingers curls up with thin needles budding from her tips.
I say “her” barely recognizing the creature which was once my mother.
I couldn’t look anymore and started to run deeper into the woods; the haunting images were etched forever in my mind even if I didn’t know if the rest of my life would extend beyond this tremulous night.
The rasping wail was sharp, slicing through the woods, and it found me. My heart lurched in my chest, with newly found vigor, like a match had lit the last stretch of my will. My legs went faster while creatures fled from my path. Frogs croaked around me. My bare feet felt the cold damp ground, the earth started to succumb under me. I coiled root snagged my flying feet, and I tumbled into a pit full of brittle wet leaves and a bed of rolling twigs. Insects scampered from their holes.
The earth embraced me. All I could see was the frozen canopy of trees concealing the studded skies. The rasping breaths were getting closer an closer. I wanted to die there in that cold, comfortable pit. I prayed for my true mother to snatch my heart and claim my soul before the demons could feast on my body, or anything else.
From the rim of my pit, I saw a head with long back strings waddling. Its voice was full of agony and long stridors. The creature’s wide glistening eyes stared down on me, her long taloned fingers reached towards me. I held back. My face pressed against the ground, insects were prickling my face. The creature stopped it splayed fingers just before she would touch my skin.
In one last effort to claim my right to live, there was a strong urge to peer deeper into the demon’s eyes–my mother’s eyes. I turn my shivering face towards her. I could not see anything that belonged to my mother. Not her age, the familiar contours of her face, just a blank soulless figure with a horrible limp face.
Her hand tremored with a soft twirl as if she wanted to carve me, but I felt the thin wires slicing through, cutting ribbons of my essence, my will. Like invisible needles bending and gyring through me,. Finding every possible rout of weakness. In a way, she injected her silent screams in me. I felt that time held no meaning anymore, like an endless bundle of flesh was filling up the infinite gutter of time. And I was but a mere drop of it. Dating back to the very first gulp of air. I was with her. I felt every shattering sigh and yelp of agony.
There was another flavor of rage inside of me, of my mother, and how she’d let the darkness consume her vessel and claim her like a mewling lamb. I was without aid, no love was left in the world if your mother couldn’t show it anymore.
I craned my head and allowed the claws to embrace my shivering cold face.
Mother, kill me again, but this time, undo me from this stained world.