The Hounds of HellMature

They spent an hour looking for her before going back to work hoping she would turn up there.  Sandy was fraught with worry, Sep was anxious.  He popped in often to the office, going via the archives hoping to catch a glimpse of Christina.  Sandy kept one eye constantly on her mobile phone, unable to concentrate on anything, she just wanted to be out looking for her.

 

‘Any word?’ Sep’s head popped through the door. 

 

‘Nothing’ Sandy said with a heartfelt sigh.  ‘And Ricky hasn’t seen her.’

 

‘I’m going to finish early at about half past four-ish and drive about to look for her, you coming?’’

 

‘Of course, I’ll think of likely places and plot a route.’

 

The afternoon was unbearably slow and at twenty five past four they burst out of the main entrance and headed for Sep’s car.

 

‘Flat first?’

 

‘Yeah, she’s not answering but we should try.’  Sandy answered. 

 

They went along in anxious silence, Sep driving too fast on the residential roads.  His tires gave out a little screech as he squeezed the breaks outside of Christina’s flat.  He ran to the door while Sandy peered in through each window in turn.  Sep looked through the letterbox and coaxingly called her name.

 

‘I don’t think she’s in there Sep.’ Sandy said throwing her hands up in the air in defeat.

 

‘OK, where next?’  He spoke like a man of action.  Sandy was impressed with his determination to find her. 

 

‘Library, then we’ll try the pubs and cafes she usually goes in.’

 

They both jumped in the car and slammed their doors shut simultaneously.  By the time they’d walked up and down the rows in the library and got back on the road they hit the rush hour traffic.  Sep banged the ball of his hand against the steering wheel in frustration as they ground to a halt.

 

‘Lets park and wander yeah?’  He was starting to look slightly panicked.  It unnerved Sandy, he usually seemed like he couldn’t be fazed.  ‘And we should keep ringing the flat.’

 

He narrowly avoided the curb, annoying drivers behind him as he abruptly exited the stream of traffic.

 

They walked a circuit around town, checking the place Christina liked to go, and also the ones she’d never mentioned until satisfied they’d investigated every watering hole and hang out the town had to offer they decided that they would head back to the flat to check.  Then if, god forbid, Christina still wasn’t back Sep would take Sandy home and go out and walk around the parks and lanes with a torch.

 

Sandy called Christina’s mobile, while standing with her ear pressed against the open letter box.

 

‘Well I can’t hear her mobile ringing in there, I don’t think she’s there but I really don’t know where else she has to go.  Do you think we should call the police?’

 

‘They wont do anything until she’s been gone twenty four hours.’  He looked deep in thought but Sandy could see the agitation in his eyes. ‘Come on I should take you home.’

 

***

Christina kept up her speedy pace as she navigated the streets in a state of confusion.  There was no-where to go, no one to run to.  Everyone was gone.  She could feel her heart beat increase, thumping in her chest and causing a red blush to appear across her collarbone.  She could feel the back of her neck get clammy and a moist little puddle form in the dent created by the cupids bow shape of her top lip.  As her heart beat faster and faster, it drove her breathing into it’s rhythm and before too long Christina could feel the borders of reality stretch and warp, as she propelled onwards, seemingly by some strange inertia, until the whole world became a blur and there was nothing but the heat and the never ceasing feeling of movement. 

 

She had wandered out past the fringe of the suburbs, first into flat fields where the grass remained a sickly but uniform green as it battled the cold winter air for it’s stake in existence.  Eventually she cleared the fields and walked straight into the forest, the green and woody smells getting denser and thicker as she wandered in the twighlight beneath the canopy.

She clawed wildly at the plants, sharp branches tore at her clothes and the noise of an owl waking up for the nocturnal hunt echoed in her mind. 

 

Slowly, the noise morphed into the howling of wolves, the distance decreasing with every guttural utterance.  Christina began to pick up pace, taking flight into a run, blindly with her hands in front of her face, through the night and the foliage.  She ran so fast and with so much exertion that she grunted with every breath.  No matter how hard she ran, she could hear the closing gap between the wolves and her.  Their howls coming from all directions as if they had surrounded her and were closing in on all sides.  She pumped every ounce of energy into her thigh muscles, pumping onwards and onwards, driven by the approaching pack of hounds. 

 

Any scream that wanted to be uttered was halted by pure fear in her throat until in time she could hardly breath, Christina could feel that the wolves were almost upon her and her heart beat with such force that it almost burst through her ribcage.  Suddenly the world went dark and she fell to the ground to be devoured.

 

***

Sep turned his torch on and off a few times to check the batteries.  He’d just dropped a fretting Sandy off at her home.  A cosy looking place, Sandy had been both relived at the familiarity and reluctant to stop looking for her friend.  Sep had driven off after seeing Sandy to the door, delivering her safely into the arms of her boyfriend. 

 

‘Ok so you have my number, and her flat and mobile numbers?’ Sandy had double checked frowning. ‘We call each other the second we hear anything, or …if you find her tonight.’  Sandy paused in the middle of the sentence, as if she didn’t want to consider the consequences of not finding Christina tonight.

 

Sep drove with his torch in the passenger seat.  He had no intention of going back to town to search for Christina.

The End

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