Death's Two Faces

The two of us spend some time resting. He stretches his wings and preens his feathers, pulling out broken and dirty ones and dropping them at his feet.  I watch him. He's very much like a prince, handsome and tall. He carries himself like he's royal, and not a giant bird monster.

When his feathers are shining and straight and each in a proper place, he spreads his wings and makes a sound like an eagle's call. He looks deep into my eyes before leaping into the air, leaving me on the ground.

"Hey! HEY!" I yell, jumping up from the tree stump I was sitting on, "Don't leave me! Stop!"

He glances at me for a second, calls again, and flies off.

My stomach drops and my throat tightens. Did he just abandon me? I yell again, but there is no answer. The sound of his wings doesn't reach my ears. I cry out, "Please come back!" but it's barely a croak.

I almost start bawling my eyes out. But I control myself, and sit back on the tree stump.  I try to come up with ways to help myself here, but what can I do? I'm all alone, no food, no shelter, no way to defend myself against Jacks or Rex. I don't even know where I am.

I consider finding my way out of the forest, but I don't know what kind of animals have popped up here. Surely, Jacks would be prowling around. In the end, all I can do is sit back down on the tree stump and pray for the bird to come back.

.

I don't know how much time goes by. The sun begins its decent, and it's getting darker. I can still see fine when that my skin crawls at the sound of a hiss.

It's the sound of my nightmares. How did I know that Jacks would turn up? I don't see them.  But I can hear them hissing and speaking in their strange reptilian tongue. Growls and grunts and barks. I cover my mouth to muffle my cry.

I throw myself beneath the pile of logs and branches that the black bird created earlier today. I crawl as far under as I can, ignoring the scratching thorns and sticks that tear my clothes and skin. I silently hope that the Jacks won't smell the cuts that I give myself.

An eternity passes, and I can hear their footsteps. They're nearly silent, only making sound when a twig snaps or dry leaves rustle.  I bite my fist, trying to keep myself from hysterics. Tears flow from my eyes, I'm so frightened.

I can see their talons now. They pace around, examining the area. I imagine they are discussing how so many trees were pulled up and destroyed in this one area. I see one pair of feet turn over the plucked feathers, and he chirps at another. That one leans down to sniff them. I see its yellow eyes and the terrible color of it startles me. A sob escapes my lips and the eyes roll over in my direction. The Jack turns its head at me and growls.

It crawls forward, sticking its beak into the small hole that I had managed to fit through. It takes a deep breath in, inhaling my scent. The teeth, the dreadful smile, are no more than a few feet from my face.

I'm completely unnerved. I scream at it, and it hisses at me, backing away a few feet. The other one jumps forward, and I can't see more than their feet. But I can hear their growls and the snapping of wood. I nearly throw up, realizing they're digging their way to me.

"Stop! STOP! Leave me alone!" I scream. I'm absolutely helpless. One of the Jacks sticks its head back in, glaring at me, intimidating me. The toothed grin bears right into me. It's as if it's telling me, you're mine, you're my prey, I'm going to kill you.

I try to back away, but a tree trunk blocks my way. I'm pinned where I am.

I look into the beast's eyes as it takes in my scent again. It's almost hypnotizing. It growls softly as its gaze takes me in. That's right, you're mine. Relax. It will be over soon.

Above me, the branches give way. Sunlight pours in. The other Jack looks down at me, only a few more layers left. It  bears its teeth at me, with the same sickening grin as the other. It sticks its head in the gaps, and I can feel it's breath on my face. It's  so close, I could kiss it if I were suicidal. It's jaws open, but the space restricts it. But I can still see the jagged teeth that are dying to tear me apart.

At this point, I'm numb. Frightened, sick, and numb. I'm praying for it to be over. If there is a Hell, this is it. Staring into two of death's faces. Watching it claw it's way so easily to me. Being able to embrace it, with just a shift to one side or the other.

The Jack on top tears away another layer of sticks, and it's weight on the pile of trees crushes down on me. I can barely breath, and what breath I do have is wasted on screams and cries. Pleads.

The teeth are now so close, if I were to move, I'd be dead in a second. The beak brushes against my cheek. As if kissing me, preparing me for what's next. It breaths on me, and I stare into the other one's eyes. I feel the jaws open, the teeth graze my skin, and I cry out once more at the kiss of Death...

The End

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