The Fight For Survival
The animal in front of me looked like a giant rat on steroids! The seven foot long and ten foot high body of muscle glared at me with dark, green almond eyes. Six inch, razor sharp teeth gleamed in its long maw as a low rumbling growl emerged from his throat. Saliva dripped out of the corner of the rat's mouth and onto the ground, where I saw three deadly claws on each of the animal's four paws. Its fur was green, long and matted with leopard like spots covering his back and legs; he blended perfectly with the surroundings.
The rat contorted his body like a lion ready to pounce on a gazelle. My muscles froze in utter terror, my eyes became watery and my knuckles turned white from holding the spear so tight. The animal barked and took a step towards me. I jumped and could not suppress a whine. I struggled to hold the urge to run away, this thing would most definitely kill me if I did. 'Make yourself look bigger!' my mind screamed. 'Yeah right! Make yourself look bigger, great idea Dakota!'
I did not have time to contemplate further when the over grown rodent charged. It leapt into the air and came down to me, fangs and claws at the ready. I do not know how I dove to the right, but I did. I rolled over and sprang to my feet, my weapon in hand. The rat landed on the ground, turned and snarled irritably. I panted and lowered my spear slightly, keeping the sharp tip between me and the creature. Dear God, what have I gotten myself into?! The creature circled to the right and I went in the opposite direction, not taking my eyes of it. I gasped with fear and all I wanted to do was cry. But showing any weakness would make me lunch. The best, and probably the only thing I could do, was let this animal know that I was willing to fight for my survival.
The rodent snarled again then suddenly jumped at me. I side stepped and swung the spear as hard as I could, screaming. The sharp point miraculously connected with the rat and a howl radiated through the forest. I saw the creature back away, shaking his head and pawing at his face. It took his paw away and I saw a deep yellow line run under his left eye; had I swung and inch higher it would have lost it. The rat uttered a spine chilling growl and gave me a glare that burned right through my core.
The rat roared and charged at me again, raising his right paw into the air. I ducked out of the way as the claws came down across a tree, sending splinters of wood in all directions. My mind yelled at me to run and this time I obeyed. Adrenaline coursed through my legs and I ran through the underbrush for all I was worth. I heard the pounding of the rat's giant paws behind me and I knew it would not be long before he caught up. I sprinted left and right, weaving through trees and foliage when I saw a huge cluster of rocks over grown with moss and vines. I spotted a small outcropping just big enough for me to fit. I dashed into the opening, seconds before the animal pounced on me. I whimpered as I squeezed myself further into the rocks. Glancing over my shoulder I saw a green eye blaze at me, then a claw burst through the opening. I was not far enough away from his reach and its claws racked across my shoulder. I screeched in pain and pushed back, seeing my blood rub onto the stone. The horrible sound of the rat’s claws scraped across the rocks as it tried to reach me, causing flakes of sand a grit to fill the air. I shifted my shoulders, planted my back firmly against the cold stone and stabbed the tip of my spear right through the muscle of the rat's arm. It howled in pain and pulled his arm out and the spear along with it. OH SHIT! I shot out from my hiding spot before realising that was a stupid!
The rat limped a few steps, grunting and snarling at the spear in his leg. Then he opened his mouth, closed it around the spear and yanked it out. With a jerk of its head it threw my weapon away and it landed somewhere off to the left. The creature turned his head to me, his dark eyes laughing at me.
OH CRAP! OH SHIT! THIS WAS NOT GOOD!
There was no time to go back to my hiding spot and I had to get my spear back. With my bleeding shoulder forgotten, I clambered up the rocks as fast as I could, but as soon as I got to the top I turned to see the rat's paw come down on me again. I jumped out of the way, the claws missing me by inches. I had no time to react when the large rodent back handed me across my chest. The wind was knocked clear from my lungs as I flew into the air, kicking and flailing. I landed on the hard ground and tumbled over and over, the bushes scraping my bare flesh. A pain I had never felt before radiated through my chest and pounded on my damaged ribs as I came to a rough stop; I could only bring in a tiny gasp of air. I saw the rat rear up on the rocks and roar, as if it were some conquering soldier about to claim his victory. It slammed down on his front paws and made the final charge. I knew I was dead, I had no strength to move, much less put up another fight and I laid my head down.
My eyes suddenly caught a glint of silver and I looked to see my spear lying beside me! Oh thank the Lord! I glanced up to see the creature continue its charge, jump into the air and come down directly above me, foam lining his opened maw. Everything seemed to happen in slow motion as I grabbed the spear, pushed myself up with a cry of fear and power and raised the tip of the spear. I shut my eyes and looked away.
A wet crunch came to my ears and I grunted when something very heavy stuck itself on the end of the spear; the other end buried itself into the ground. I sat there holding my breath and felt something warm trickle over my hands. I nerved myself to look up and cried out. The maw of sharp teeth was hovering inches before my face. Drool dripped on my cheeks and the most unsettling expression of shock and death was permanently plastered on the rat's face. It’s claws hung limply near my sides and I could smell something like rotten meat in its breath. The spear was jammed deep in the centre of the animal's chest, blood pouring down the shaft and over my hands. My stomach wrenched in disgust and my arms burned with exertion as I let the very heavy creature fall to the ground with a thump.
I breathed again, taking in huge gulps of the thick air and yanked out the spear. For some reason I thought it was playing possum and slowly shuffled back, not daring to take my eyes off the creature. After a few minutes my systems began to calm down and I just stared with disbelief at the animal. Did I...did I really kill it? Did my skinny-self win against a muscle bond rodent? I must've lucked out and hit a vital organ.
My thoughts were suddenly clouded over with a pain. My shoulder pulsed with agony, dirt covered the wound and I realised blood had been pouring down my arm and side. More cuts and bruises covered the bare skin of my body. I inhaled, coughed, let out a wheezing cry and coughed again. White, hot jolts of pain travelled through my chest every time my ribs moved. Glancing down I noticed a much larger bruise over my previous broken ribs and it was quite obvious that hit broke a few more. As much as I hated to travel, I could not stop. I had lost a lot of valuable time. I quickly wiped the animal's blood off my hands, stuck the end of the spear into the ground and held my side with my left hand. Positioning my legs under me and gripping the spear I pulled myself to my feet, letting out a long groan at the same time.
I suppressed another cough and leaned on the extended rod for support, then turned from the dead beast and followed the line of trampled foliage. Soon, I was back on the path and continued to the clear. I forced myself to take one terrible step after another, fighting off waves of dizziness and keeping my hand on my wounded side to relieve some of the pressure. I constantly fought with my body to breathe properly; I could not inhale deeply without causing pain in my chest, nor could I take in too little for it would make my vision spiral. All I wanted to do was find a comfortable spot, lie down and sleep; but I could not give up. Becky and the children were counting on me to find the ship. The thought fueled my wrecked body just enough to keep me going on.
I had no idea how long I walked, but when I thought I could not take another step sunlight filled my vision. I was temporarily blinded, but after a few blinks I saw I had emerged into a giant field. Trees as tall as skyscrapers surround an amber terrain. A light breeze caused the grass to sway gently back and forth. It was the most beautiful sight I'd ever seen. I did it! I made it to the field! I felt myself rejoicing when I realised something was wrong.
The ship, where was the ship?
I blinked a few times and rubbed my eyes to make sure I was not hallucinating. I stumbled further into the field, gasping as panic gripped me. I did everything right! I know I did! I followed the dto trees and I am at the field! So where the hell was the ship! Where in God's name was Nadar–ian'ah! She has to be here! She has to be...Tears began to sting my eyes. I could not stop the feeling of betrayal from rising inside me. A sob escaped my dry lips, it was all for nothing. I had fought with my life to gain my freedom, my friend's freedom; and now that goal had been shattered into a million pieces. I sank to my knees, wanting to shrivel up and die.
A crackling sound came to my ears and I looked up to see the air shimmer. A shell shape began to appear out of nothing and I saw the black and silver metal of a spaceship. A ramp descended from the vessel and I saw Nadar–ian'ah. I could not begin to explain how much joy and relief I felt as I beheld the magnificent sight! I regretted what I thought before and mentally kicked myself for not thinking the ship would have had a cloaking device. I got to my feet and jogged as fast as my battered body would allow me.
"Dakota what happened to you? Where are the others?" Nadar–ian'ah ran down the ramp towards me.
I was about to speak when my legs gave out and I fell forward, dropping my spear. Nadar–ian'ah reached out and grabbed me before I landed on the ground. She cradled me in her arms and looked down at me with worry.
"Becky, Al, Sor'an...at the river..." I gasped, holding back a cough, "Xeenan’s...hurt...please help—"
I could not speak any longer and my hand flew to my mouth as I went right into a coughing fit. I pulled my hand away and much to my horror, blood and spit covered my palm. I stared up at Nadar–ian'ah in terror, then blotches of colour danced in front of my eyes and everything went dark...
Something was covering my mouth and nose and I kept hearing a constant beeping sound. I slowly opened my eyes and orange light greeted my sight. I squeezed them shut to get rid of the stinging sensation as I took in a deep breath. Wait a minute, I can breathe! A new mask had been fitted to my face, only a few picks of pain remained in my ribs and my shoulder felt numb. I moved slightly and found that my clothes had been removed and a thin sheet was covering my body. Two electrodes had been placed above my breasts and the beeping sound, I realised, was in time with my heartbeat. I must be in some sort of medical room on the ship—I hope.
I heard a shuffle on my left and I turned my head to the noise. I could not make anything out it was so dark, but I had a strong hunch as to who it was. The familiar hand of Nadar–ian'ah reached into the light and rested on my forehead and I looked up to see the comforting face of the Elder.
"Lie still, Dakota," she whispered, rubbing her thumb over my forehead, "You had two rib fractures on your right side. I had to operate on you to repair the damage and stop the internal bleeding."
She then took her hand off and pulled away some of the blanket to examine my wounded chest, "You were extremely fortunate Dakota. If you remained out there any longer you would've drowned in your own fluids."
Nadar–ian'ah pulled back more of the sheet to look at the rest of my injuries.
"You were also very fortunate the slash on your shoulder wasn't deep. You will have permanent scars and you will be stiff and sore for a few days."
Nadar–ian'ah saw the questioning look in my eye and smiled, "Yes, all of your friends are safely aboard. I have tended to his injuries, however he is still unconscious. Did you splint his leg?"
I gave a slight nod and the Elder smiled again.
"You did a wonderful job, I found very little damage to the muscle and nerves and his leg had good circulation."
She then turned away from me and went to one side of the room. I stared up at the light and smiled under my mask, feeling very at ease. I gasped when something pricked my arm and I looked to see Nadar–ian'ah injecting something into me.
"This is to fuse the bone with the cartilage and to help repair muscle tissue," she explained as she took out the needle. Nadar–ian'ah looked down at me with kind eyes and placed her hand on my forehead again.
"Sleep, my friend. You are safe now."
The Elder began to purr and ran her fingers through my hair. I closed my eyes and listened to the soothing noise. My body relaxed on the med–table and it was not long before I fell deeper and deeper into a safe, peaceful slumber.