I was given a word.. "Prayers" and asked to write a short story of my own creation from that.
The silence surrounded me in the darkness. There was no wind to rattle the leaves on the trees, no animals scurrying from my presence on this cold June night.
I slowly wandered through the wilderness, the moon as my guide. I don’t feel the chill of the winter air on my skin. Dressed in a simple pair of shorts, and a singlet, I feel as warm as I would if I were lying in my bed.
Once described as a mental deficit. I could feel pain, but only in the extreme. I didn’t feel the cold, though I could feel heat, and have it affect me adversely.
I wandered each night, exploring my surroundings. Memorising each landmark, each nuance of the night. Though I could guarantee that in daylight hours, I would recognise nothing. I slept during the lighter hours, nocturnal in my habits. I would wander to my residence in the wee small hours of the morning, and climb into my bed, secure under my bedding, the curtains drawn against the light that would penetrate if it had a chance. I would close my eyes and recall every detail of the nights discoveries, the creak of the cedar trees, the sound of small animals scuttling out of my path. The cicadas singing their chirpy tune. I grew accustomed to the sounds, and was able to identify them, even with my eyes closed.
I chose to live the simple life. I had no electricity. No running water. No indoor plumbing. In fact I have shunned most of the modern day conveniences. Instead choosing to live as our forefathers did. From the land.
My home, was a 3 bedroom rustic cottage, set amidst rugged bushland. A winding, rutted road crept its way from the main highway to the leanto shed I’d constructed against the truck of a gum tree. Within it’s walls right now was an old Land Rover, that like me, had seen better days. There were 2 smoke houses, a killing shed, and a room constructed much like a cold room. Water was continually run over it’s walls, keeping the temperature down.
There were no lawns, no meticulous details needing to be maintained. A natural setting, a stream trickling down from a natural fissure in the hilltop. A spring that provided me with much of my drinking water.
My gardens were rotated according to the season. And in a small clearing behind the house, I had several animals, which I would kill as needed. Though much of the flesh it would produce was wasted without the convenience of electricity.
I had 2 dogs. 2 blue heelers that were as faithful to me as any animal could be. I had had them since they were puppies. Abandoned on the side of the road. They were now greying around their muzzles, slower in their reflexes, teeth missing, and ears not quite as sharp as they had once been.
I stepped forward into the night once again, shaking myself out of my reverie. I stepped over the fallen log in my path, and around the boulder, towards the fence line that separated myself from my neighbours.
I caught the glimmer of the barbed wire which ran along the top in the distance. Standing on the edge of the stream, I bounded in one swift movement, landing on the opposite bank, without getting my feet wet, and moved forward once more.
Along this fence I had set many rabbit traps. Rabbit stews were always a delicious change during winter. Allowed to simmer continuously at the back of the wood stove in the kitchen, tender and succulent.
I was planning on checking the traps to see whether I had been fortunate enough to catch a meal.
Looking down I saw the chain and post hooked to the first trap, but it was still set. Sighing I turned to my right, and moved forward. Counting my steps until the next. One, two, three, four... When suddenly I heard a desperate whimpering noise from up ahead. I could see nothing through the shrubbery that grew wild.
As my footsteps crunched through the undergrowth, the whimpering turned to a howling sound. More and more anxious, more and more pained.
I moved forward faster towards the sound. I didn’t have a weapon with me, and for once I regretted my decision to leave my gun at home.
The fence veered to the left, and as I turned to follow it my eyes grew wide, and my jaw dropped open.
Caught in a trap a mere twenty feet in front of me was a little child. No more than 4 years old. Dirty in his appearance. Clothing in tatters. Dried tears and blood on his poor little face.
His eyes were wild with pain and fear. I could see him struggling against the jaws of the steel trap, with each movement, the tension increasing.
I held my hands up and tried to show him I meant no harm, but as I moved closer, he shrank back from me. Terror shining clearly in his eyes.
By this stage he was screaming. Terrifying sounds assaulted my old ears, the shrillness piercing through my entire body.
I knelt on the ground near his leg, my knees cracking as they bent. Resting my knees against the dirt, I pulled the post from the ground, releasing some of the tension against the trap. The boy shrank back further against the fence.
While I cooed soothing noises, I reached for his leg, and the trap that had it’s teeth wrapped around his calf. Holding one foot in place, I shuffled forward, and pinned his foot with one knee. With both hands I slowly opened the traps metal jaws. Slowly but surely releasing the boys leg. I could see it was broken badly. That the skin was torn in many places. Once I had the jaws open far enough the boy reefed his leg back. His foot got caught, it hadn’t opened wide enough, but in a moment of surprise, my hands loosened and the trap slammed shut against his ankle, falling from my hands. Splintering the bone, and cutting it open again. The little lad screamed, and was lost as he dropped into unconsciousness.
Working quickly, I released his foot, and wrenching the singlet from my back I wrapped his leg as tightly as I could.
As I stood, my muscles and bones creaked, and cracked in objection. I picked the boy up, and as fast as my legs could carry me I headed for the Rover.
The trip seemed to take forever. The little boy a deadweight in my arms, offering no help as I struggled to keep my footing. My heart was pounding in my chest, my breathing ragged.
Reaching the Land Rover, I circled to the passenger side, and opened the back door. Carefully I laid him on the seat, and reaching into the back, grabbed the picnic rug I had always carried. I draped it over him, and then closed the door quickly. Racing around to the drivers door, I tugged it open, and was already turning the key before my backside had found it’s groove in the seat.
The engine fired to life after a second. I slammed the door, jammed it into reverse, turned on my headlights, and then let my foot off the clutch. I could hear the wheels spinning against the gravel, spitting loose stones against the undercarriage, before the wheels found grip and I was propelled backwards into the night.
Quickly turning the wheel to the left, I felt the car turning, before jamming it into Drive and shooting forward.
Flicking the headlights onto High, I manoeuvred my way out of my driveway until I hit the bitumen. Turning left, I pushed the accelerator to the floor, urging it forward. I lived only minutes from town, but I didn’t want to waste any.
I glanced back to the backseat and saw that he was still out to it. A small mercy. I sent a prayer skyward, that God would protect this little bloke.
I saw the signs approaching, marking the edge of town, but I didn’t slow, The turn was a few blocks in. My eyes trained in on the turn, and as I came closer, I eased off the accelerator. Taking the turn too fast, I skidded a little, then floored it once more.
I looked back again and saw he still hadn’t moved.
Ahhh there was the entrance. At last.
I took my foot from the accelerator and started to push down on the brakes. The Rover obeyed my command and slowed. I swung into the emergency drive, slammed the brakes, threw it into Park and jumped from the cab.
I rushed to the backdoor, and leaned in to grab the little boy.
When he was safely in my arms, I swung and all but ran into the ER. I yelled for help, and was soon surrounded by nurses, and the young doctor.
They swung him from my arms, and into a nearby bed, before rushing down a hallway with him, through swinging doors, where they would fight and ultimately succeed in saving his leg.
I watched with tearfilled eyes. I fell to my knees, and I prayed.