Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Captive Trilogy: Part 1 - The Hunted

Author Personal Note: This is an unedited portion of my memoir, which has sprinkles of fiction and such. Sometimes a written picture is more powerful to me than trying to explain my heart or the place I find it in.  This was written  in January 2010 from a place of brokenness and despair about the goodness of God, His intentions for me and the lies surrounding my core identity.  I intentionally wrote it the way I did, in third person and in an allegory form so that anyone could plug themselves in the storyline.

There she was, crouching behind the largest tree in the grove, breath heaving while trying frantically to fill her lungs with air and attempting to not give her position away. She knew if he or one of his men were to come within a few feet of her, the petrified gasps of air would betray her. A small squeak escaped her lips as a sob tried to force itself from the depths of her being.  “No,” she willed herself and demanded her soul to turn to steel once more. She privately chastised herself that the need to cry had been vowed away many years ago. Her own soul was a traitor though and she cursed her soft nature; and she hated it. She always had been so prone to tears.

Raw fear wrapped itself around her spine as the still distant sounds of hounds grew louder. They had found her scent. If, and “when” she said to herself, she were caught again she knew there would be hell to pay … literally. The wrath of her capturer was great and that she knew full well. She’d lost count at how many times she had tried to flee her enemy and wondered why she had ever attempted such a foolhardy venture. It was inevitable. He was the greatest hunter in the land and it seemed the scent of her blood and her blood alone was what he craved. He would never give up. She knew she would pay heavily this time. Each time she came back into his clutches his retribution seemed worse. He, the great enemy of her soul, was a true sadist in every sense.

Questions she knew she may never have an answer for permeated her mind. Why did he hate her so? What was it that brought such vengeance racing through his veins at the mere mention of her name or her Lover’s or the sight of her once lovely face? Her breathing calmed slightly and the cramp in her side was subdued and she knew that this was her last chance … her last attempt at fleeing. How well she knew that she could not physically take his wrath any longer but even more so mentally and emotionally. She knew that she’d come to the end of her reserve; her vault of inner strength and sheer determination bankrupt.This was it and she vowed to give it her all.

Fleeing westward toward her home, she ran with all of her might. The baying of hounds grew louder, the very drums of hell clanging in her ears. Each one a mock … a taunt. 

“Your enemy draws near, weak one,” each bark rang out as a flaming arrow of battle landing true each time it sailed forth. 

With the baying of the hounds of hell, which now drew near, came the merciless beating of horse’s hooves and the snarling calls of the men who sat atop them. Now: a war cry in their mouths, as they hunted human flesh. It would almost sound like a joyous shout to the untrained ear, but alas she knew these men well. No, their cries were desperate and laced slightly with fear of the one who drove them, for if she escaped it would be their flesh that paid.

“Do not look back and do not fall,” she repeated as a mantra as she grew more desperate. 

A shock of terror rang through her when she looked ahead and noticed the raging river. She’d never gotten this far before but the realization was not a sweet one.  She knew of the waters, the final icy barrier to her enemy’s realm; deep and wide as Hades itself. Then the jingling of reins, and not just any reins … his.  Only he could cause every hair on her body to stand to attention. But that was not the tell-tale sign that it was he. Bile rose in her throat as wave after wave of nausea rode over her body at the stench he gave off. It was he who led the charge. She turned to face him and saw the legions he brought with him.

Realization rocked through her … he knew.  Why else would he bring hundreds when just a few would do? Her mortal and ageless enemy knew how close she’d come to her freedom. Fear glazed his eyes for a heartbeat as she straightened her back, lifted her shoulders and slightly angled her chin at the distant remembrance of her regal nature and how she’d once been a lady of the court, a true lady with titles and inheritance and worth.  Just that heartbeat and his icy glaze of hatred flitted back into place. This was a gaze she hadn’t the ability to meet and her eyes fell once more towards her tattered, once fine clothing and bare, bloodied feet.

She could feel the adrenaline receding from her body and the inevitable exhaustion and weakness that was left in its place. Surrender … furious and weak surrender was her only option.  Tears threatened again. The scrapping of metal against metal resounded through the glen; that of eager hooks and nets his men had brought was the prominent noise as the hounds were once again leashed and quieted.

 “Hooks and nets my lord?” called his lead henchmen and with it the remembrance of searing pain caused her body to heave an involuntary shudder.

 “No, I have a better plan. We shall need to take the fight out of this one once and for all,”  snarled her ancient foe.

Grabbing her once fine hair and wrenching her around to face the river, he barked out, “Spread out and line the river. She’s going to take a little swim.” 

That and hundreds of rounds of raucous laughter was the last she remembered as she was flung like a rag doll into the depths of her demise.

Already weak and exhausted, she broke the surface of the water startled to realize that the human body can indeed sustain and bring forth the needed surge to fight once again. Arms flailing and legs kicking, she struggled to keep if nothing else, her mouth and nose above the surface.  The weight of her dress dragged her down and spat her into the current which had its way with her as though she were merely a blade of grass that found itself in its grips.  The reality that there were rocks and downed trees scattered in the depths of the water was brought to her attention when she slammed against them time and time again as she was dragged forth at the mercy of the current.

Her head hit something hard and she once again went down swirling about and reaching the bottom only to be dragged along it effortlessly as though even the river did his evil bidding. With her last bit of effort she kicked from the bottom of the river bed and felt the jolt of air fill her lungs.  Reminders from her youth that ‘If you went under the water a third time, it would be your final’ echoed in her ears, as she fought bravely, giving every ounce of her fortitude to her survival.

Dark thoughts began to prevail.  “You won’t make it,”  “There is nothing on the other side worth living for,”  “Who will take you back now that you’ve been compromised?” 

With a shudder she realized that these taunts were being shouted out from the banks of the river by her pursuers. Each verbal jab landing true, she felt the fight being taken out of her. Her arms grew weary as she paddled to stay afloat. A few vague desires for her Lover to come and rescue her floated lazily through her mind. She’d pictured her rescue at His hands hundreds of times before hoping and willing her mind to stamp out the words her capturer had hurled at her on many occasion.  “He’s powerless to save you,”  “He’s given up His search,”  “He couldn’t find you even if He wanted to,” “He never loved you in the first place,”  “Who would want you now?”

And the stone cold facts battered her body like none delivered by her enemy. “It is true. He hasn’t come and He isn’t ever going to.” 

Aligning herself with the words of her foe took the last bit of fight out of her and she succumbed to the icy elements and let her body become its own hang man’s noose. Emptying her lungs of air she submerged her face giving herself over to death … sweet blissful death. At least she would no longer be captive in a palace of living death.

Just as quickly, a large icy fist clamped down at the nape of her neck jerking her body from the depths. A spiteful laugh cascaded over her.

“Did you think I’d make it that easy my little sweet?” mocked her faux rescuer. “No, death would be too easy for you. I’ve not had my fill of your flesh yet.”

 ~Thanks for reading
Part 2:  Return to Captivity and Part 3: The Rescue will be the next two posts.