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The Hours #18

We walked together, no longer hand in hand, but holding hands. I watched over her, not because I did not want to be alone, but because I was worried about Samantha’s safety. With every step, I grew more concerned for her than I was for me.

“Stop.” Samantha hissed the word, pulling me back by the hand so that I almost fell back into her. “Be careful.”

I had been looking up, checking for spiders or birds, so I had missed the large hole in the ground a few steps in front of me.

“Thanks,” I said.

“Quiet.”

I looked at her in confusion, wondering why I needed to be so quiet because of a hole in the ground.

She leaned over, whispering so that the heat of her breath sent chills running down my spine. “Wait and watch.”

We stood there for a few minute before I saw a gigantic fly weaving its way through the forest. It dodged from side to side, flying as if it were a drunk staggering home after a night on the town, until it reached the center of the little clearing that we had been about to step into.

A worm of some sort shot out of the ground, its mouth opening and spreading out like a fisherman’s net, as it tried to grab the fly out of the air. There was a swishing sound and a quiet clap as the worm’s mouth missed the mark.

Almost a dozen of the worms shot up after the fly before one managed to catch it. There was a squishy sounding crunch as the insect broke apart, and then the field went quiet.

“Oh,” Samantha said. “I had only seen one of them.”

I nodded and began to lead the way around the clearing. We did more looking around than we did moving, doing our best to be careful. Samantha pointed out holes ahead of us, and I would move further away into the brush.

When the worm shot out of the ground beside of us, coming out of the middle of a bush covered with thick green leaves, it was a total surprise.

The wide net of a mouth was large enough to wrap all the way around Samantha’s chest and still catch my arm as it snapped shut. I was jerked closer to her. The force of the delicate looking jaws clamping onto us sent a sharp jolt of pain through my body as my shoulder popped and knocked a short scream out of Samantha. As our bodies were slammed together, I heard cracking noises come from Samantha’s torso and I realized that her ribs had just broken.

The worm let go, pulling back into the ground. I turned and tried to wrap my good arm around Samantha’s waist. Her eyes rolled, even as her knees buckled, and I felt a stabbing pain shoot through my chest.

Then the worm came back up.

Its mouth wrapped around us and when the worm’s jaws snapped closed, my own breath was forced out of my body as my ribs snapped. Waves of burning pain tore my mind to shreds and for a moment I thought I was on fire.

Then, I looked into Samantha’s eyes. She was looking at me, nose to nose, as our bodies were lifted into the air.

I tried to say “I love you,” but no words came out. She mouthed the same to me.

Darkness crashed down as the pain threw me into the abyss of unconsciousness. My last clear thought, “If only we could have had more time,” seemed to echo around inside my mind in the way a man’s voice will answer him in the mountains.

 

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