An Unexpected Encounter

Submitted into Contest #20 in response to: Write a story about a character experiencing anxiety.... view prompt



Elias emerged from the rubble, coughing as he wiped the blood from his brow. He looked around. He had passed out and it seemed as if the demons had left some time ago. He cried out but there was no reply. He searched around under the rubble and called for his mother but all he could find was an outstretched hand with a familiar ring on the pointer finger. 

He paused to retch until everything inside had left. 

He woke up in the forest. He could not remember how he’d gotten there but his mother’s ring was clutched in one hand while a book his father had left for him was in the other. The birds chirped and the rays beamed down on him. Had the smell of death not been in the air, Elias might have thought he had dreamed the whole thing. He curled in on himself and lay there until the sun was high in the sky and hunger pulled at his insides. 

His father had taught him how to hunt, though he had never done so by himself. He fashioned a knife from a piece of bark and went to search for his breakfast. It took quite some time but he managed to catch a small hare. He hesitated. Hadn’t there been enough death that day? But the pain in his stomach compelled him. 

“Thank you for your sacrifice,” he whispered as he prepared his meal. His father had shown him how to start a fire so he roasted it. He paced when he finished. 

Now that he could think past the hunger, he felt a heaviness and clutched at his chest. In. Out. In. Out. He breathed deeply like mother had shown him whenever the heavy feeling came. He couldn’t hold back the tears and he found himself on the ground. A deep howl made him look up. When he heard it again, he jumped up, grabbing his make-shift knife. It must be a demon! He would have his revenge. 

He ran towards the sound in a fury and found himself in a clearing. There, a beast was clawing at the ground. Half of his body was trapped under the Earth while it clawed ferociously at the dirt, crying out as it did so. Elias did not know what it was but he clutched the knife tight against him, gathering all the courage his little body had within him. He felt himself charging towards the creature.

“Die demon!” he screeched as he did so. He felt himself being lifted from the ground. The knife dropped from his hands. He panicked and kicked and as hard as he could, trying to break free but to no avail. 

“What did you call me?” a deep growl emitted from the beast. In place of fear, Elias found anger. He felt hot tears sting his face. 

“A demon! Your kind destroyed my village! You monster!” he screamed and kicked out harder. The beast roared and Elias stopped. 

“Such ignorance! I am no demon little fool! I am a drake. Are your eyes just for show? I am stuck here. There has been no destruction from me,” he said angrily. Elias felt himself shaking but looked around despite himself. The beast did seem stuck and with the upturned Earth around him, it had been some time. He couldn’t have destroyed the village. But that didn’t make him innocent either. He was still a beast. 

“Now leave me be, I’m in no mood to kill younglings, but do not test my patience,” he said, placing Elias to the side. Elias wiped his eyes and ran to the tree line. 

He watched the creature for hours. The drake would claw at animals as they passed by, but they were too quick for it. 

Elias came into the clearing with a couple of rabbits, he had scratches on his face and arms. The drake’s eyes dilated as the smell of fresh kill filled the clearing. Elias tossed four of them in front of him and began to make a fire just out of reach so he could cook his own. The drake watched with mild interest before eating.

“What’s your name anyway?” Elias asked after a little while. 

“Kaemaer,” he said gruffly. After that, the two of them sat in silence. When the moon was high in the sky, Elias couldn’t keep his eyes open any longer and drifted off to sleep. 

He woke up with a start, he was still in the clearing and it felt as if the beating of his very heart had awoken him. He was breathing fast as he remembered the events of the day. He closed his eyes and focused on his breaths. He placed a hand on his chest, feeling it rise and fall. In. Out. In. Out. He had calmed a little but he could not stop himself from crying silently until he fell asleep. Kaemaer glanced over to him but said no words. 

“So how’d you get stuck in a hole as big as you are?” he asked the next night. He was more curious than scared. 

“If it was a mere hole, I would be out. I’m stuck between planes,” he said gruffly. When Elias’ eyes widened, the beast explained that a few days ago, a rift had opened between a Lower Plane and this one. He managed to get partway through but his power wasn’t great enough to come all the way and so there he stayed. Kaemear spent the rest of the night ignoring Elias, pretending to sleep and wondering when the boy would leave him alone. 

“Can’t you just go back to the Lower Plane?” Elias asked, after a few days of silence. Growing bolder with every passing day. He had gotten much better at catching food and had brought their dinner once again. He would bring Kaemaer a few and one for himself. He took a bite of his rabbit as he waited for a response. 

“No, little fool,” he sighed. 

“My name is Elias, not ‘little fool’,” Elias said, forgetting himself again. 

“Well Elias, no, I cannot ‘just go back’. If I could, I would not be here,” the beast said, growing rather annoyed. That was the end of that. 

Elias was plagued with nightmares again, waking up to a racing heart and repeating to himself that “it was okay,”. He tried to sleep but to no avail and instead paced through the trees until his body begged for rest. 

“So you’re stuck like that forever?” Elias asked, curious again. He looked around. The creature would have a hard time fending for himself or eating for that matter. He stepped a little closer to inspect the hole. 

“There are only two ways for freedom now. I could relinquish my physical form. I’d then have to begin my life cycle over. That would be...inconvenient to say the least,” he said. 

“And the other way? Dying seems pretty silly to get unstuck from a hole,” Elias said. Before he could answer, there was a roar that sent Elias into a panic. He stood up and clutched at his chest again. He could hear his own breathing and he tried to calm down but found that he couldn’t. There was a rumble through the trees. 

“Elias, calm yourself,” Kaemaer said picking the boy up once again and placing him next to him. Elias tried to calm down but with another roar, he curled up next to Kaemaer, covering his ears as he did so. Even when the roars subsided, Elias was curled against him. Kaemaer looked down at him. 

“Elias, what is one thing you can see?” he said in a gentle tone. Elias looked up, a bit confused. Kaemaer asked again and waited. 

“The...trees,” Elias said. 

“Good. Now take a breath. What is one thing you can feel?” he asked. Elias did so and felt the grass beneath him. 

“The Earth,” he said. 

“Good. Another breath. Good. Another. What is one thing you can smell?” he asked.

“Smell?...The rabbit,” he said, taking breath after breath. 

“That’s very good. Do you feel better?” he asked after a moment. Elias nodded and the two sat in silence for some time. 

“So what’s the other way? To get out of the hole?” he asked after a while. Kaemaer hesitated. 

“I have to make a contract with someone from this plane. I would merge with them. That will allow me a tether so I can come and go as I please. It is the only other way.” he said. 

Only the crackle of the fire could be heard after that. 

December 19, 2019 03:45

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