05/04/2016

#shortstory #amwriting 3

3

They followed the path down through the woods, until they reached a gulley cut by a waterfall. The night was barely moonless, and the woods enfolding. Beyond the approaching rush of water, and the occasional car: the very occasional car, to remind them that they had not stepped back in time: the only sound was the breaking of twigs and the crunch of their boots.

Josh kept close to Mo, who was clearly in no mood to talk.

At the gulley, Josh could see down the narrow gouge the lights of what he took to be a farmhouse by the looming shadows of the outhouses. And, in the fields in front the dotted outline of what he took to be sheep. The path here turned back up the hill, but to Josh's surprise Mo slithered down the bank to the stream and set off down the steep incline. Josh followed. At the bottom the ground was marshy, almost ankle deep mud, they waded through this until they reached a thicker tree-line again. Here Mo rested, ducking down behind a tangle of brambles.

"Ok," said Mo, taking off his back-pack, "we wait here for the others."

"Others?" asked Josh, dropping down beside Mo.

"When they come, you say nothing. Let me do the talking."

The darkness here was almost total. The only real light coming the slightest reflection of moonlight on the head of the waterfall. The shadows ran down the hill in a perfect gradation of grey, into it reached the blackness with the arching cave of the brambles, And just as Josh's night-vision adapted, so his hearing in the stillness began to pick up on the sound of the woods. The faintest creaking of trees, the splash of bird-wings, the distant squabble of late roosting crows.

"Mo," he whispered, indicating movement away to the left.

They both stared at the shape, which hung frozen, listening. Then hearing nothing, the shape moved again, slower than before. Josh thought he could see the head, which seemed to be sniffing, but at the angle they were viewing from, and amongst the trees it was difficult to make out what it was. Mo, angled his body to get a better look. Josh noticed Mo's thumb moving above the trigger of the assualt rifle. The shadow was moving toward them, less concerned now. As Mo moved the rifle to his shoulder, Josh could see that the shadow was a deer. Josh's heart began to race, realising that Mo had taken the safety off of the gun, and was intending to take a shot. The creature was less than twenty metres away, it's eyes glinted, and it was clearly sniffing at something. Mo braced the rifled into his shoulder, his movements matching the deers for stealth.

Then suddenly deer startled and sprang back in the direction from which it came, Moments later they heard the sound of splashing, stumbling, and guttural curse. Mo clicked the safety back on, lowered the rifle and said, "that was freaky."