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The Hours #11

It took me quite some time to come to a rational state of wakefulness. At first, my mind wondered at the firmness of my bed. Then, the warmth and perfume of the body pressed against mine led me to my dreams of Mary. I pulled my arm tight, pressing the warmth of the figure to my chest and I was rewarded with a soft groan.

I nuzzled my face into her hair and she shifted her body. I felt my pulse quicken and I moved my arm so that my hand pressed against her stomach.

A small hand reached up and ran fingers into my hair. I felt her tighten her fingers, pulling me in a most pleasant way as she wiggled further back into my embrace.

I began to slide my hand up her body. “Mary,” I breathed as my palms slid over an inch of soft fabric. Then the fingers in my hair and the warmth of the body disappeared in a rush. I stopped smiling and asked, “What’s wrong?”

“I am not Mary.”

I snapped up, staring in horror at Samantha. Her wide, dark eyes bore holes into me and I felt the heat in my body rush up to my face. “I am…”

“No,” she said and the word snapped in the silence of the morning. “Don’t say it.”

“I only wanted to apologize,” I said.

She balled her fists up against her face and pressed them against her eyes. “I know that.” The words screeched out of her in such a deafening cacophony that I lifted my hands in preparation of covering my ears to protect from another burst.

The second outburst was interrupted by a different screech.

Something hit the tent, much as a bird will sometimes hit a window. This was followed by a second thump; and then a third.

“What,” I began before a rain of thumping and squawking drowned out the rest of my question.

I don’t know what exactly possessed me in that moment, but I was afforded a brilliant flash of clarity. I acted on instinct and lunged toward Samantha, plowing over her like one would their mates on the rugby field. I cringed as I heard her breath leave her and though I hoped that I had done her no injury, I was more concerned with saving both of our lives. My legs worked like massive springs and I was able to carry her tiny form with me over a span of at least ten paces before I overbalanced and we struck the earth. I bit my tongue and tasted blood in my mouth.

“Oh,” she said.

I turned back to see a flock of large black birds with bright red wings ripping and rending our garments.  My coat was on top, but the thin fabric of the summer jacket protected Samantha’s dress for only a moment. Gleaming black beaks dissected her dress and in minutes, the flock took to the air, each member carrying a scrap of our clothing.

I turned back and found myself looking into Samantha’s eyes. They were rimmed in red from the tears she had just  shed, but they were dry. I considered my position astride her and promptly rose, offering her my hand.

“Don’t,” she snapped when I opened my mouth to apologize. “Stop telling me that you are sorry.”

I shut my mouth, nodded and looked around, attempting to think of something to say before sighing and asking, “Are you injured?”

She laughed. “No, and that is a much better question.”

I smiled and to my amazement, Samantha smiled back. It was a full smile, unlike any I had ever seen on her before. She lit up and for a moment, I considered Carl a lucky man.

I took her hand, bent over it and kissed her knuckles. “My lady,” I said. “Will you be so kind as to accompany me on a stroll?”

She opened her mouth to answer, but was interrupted by another loud squawk. So without a word, she grabbed onto my arm and we made our way toward what I took to be the south.


Categories: Horror, serial, Uncategorized
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