A short story…
Stars, the sky is full of them. Paul blinks. He cannot sit up. His chest is heavy. He can see Orion’s Belt, the North Star, the Big Dipper, and Charlie?
“Oh my God. Baby can you hear me?” Charlie pants.
He tries to reach up and push her hair out of her face. His arms won’t move.
“God. SOMEONE HELP ME!” Charlie screams.
He blinks. His mouth is incredibly dry. He can’t catch his breath.
“It will be okay. You’re going to be alright. Keep looking at me sweetheart. SOMEONE WE NEED HELP.” Charlie begins to cry. Her tears fall into his face, soothing the heat in his cheeks.
‘I’m fine,’ he says, but she doesn’t seem to hear him.
“Baby please.” Charlie grips his face with her hands “Paul you need to stay with me plee-eease.” She cries out the last word and begins to sob violently.
‘I’m right here,’ he says again. He can hear his voice in his head, but he doesn’t utter a word out loud.
Charlie looks down at his chest. She presses her palms against him frantically. He cannot feel it. What the hell is going on?
“Oh God, oh God, oh God.” Charlie begins chanting. She rises on her knees and screams into the night “PLEASE. SOMEONE HELP US!”
Paul grunts suddenly. He exhales and hears the gurgle of his own breath.
Charlie looks at him, her eyes wide and her face streaked with tears. “Come on Paul. Don’t you die.” She brushes his brown hair away from his forehead.
He can see her hand now, wet with blood. His blood. His gaze drifts back to the sky and the brilliant stars over Charlie’s head. Slowly, the events reshape and form in his mind.
They are in the woods, camping. He heard something at the edge of their campsite. Taking his rifle, he went to investigate and was hit in the chest by something large and strong. A bear? He cannot remember seeing anything.
He tries to look around, but all he can see are those damn stars, like diamonds twinkling against black silk. Charlie frantically presses against his chest. Her sobs are loud and uncontrollable now. He sees something just beyond the fringe of her dangling hair. It is diving down from the sky.
Paul tries to speak, to urge Charlie to run, but his voice doesn’t work. Nothing works, except his eyes. He can see it all.
The black shape comes down from the night and jerks Charlie away from him. She screams. His eyes stay fixed as the figure lifts her into the darkness, out of his view.
The stars are bright in the sudden stillness. Paul can see Orion’s Belt, the North Star, the Big Dipper… and a shadow blotting out the star field as it flies down, down upon him. Sharp talon like fingers drive into his chest. He jerks, flying upwards as the creature carries him away into the night and he sees no more.
Rebecca R. Grusendorf © 3.6.23