Last updated on January 5th, 2018
Free Book Preview – Tooth and Nail
Amy, after finding the shield by the golden blossom tree, hurries through the thick brush before her. There is something behind her. She can make out the eerie screams and recognizes the sound instinctively. These are the Damned. They are upon her.
Knowing she cannot keep up with the unnatural speed of the creatures, she ducks into one of the overgrown areas in between two dead tree trunks. She digs her way under a trunk and pushes herself in the midst of the muck. The insects, having feasted on the rotten log, now move over her, but she doesn’t notice. The only noise she hears are the cries, and the loud pounding on the ground, as in a rhythmic drum pattern.
As the intensity of the sound nears her, she realizes, in the rush, she left her shield out amongst the madness. But, it’s too late. The shield is on its own!
At once, the noise around her stops. The beasts have arrived. In fact, the animals, especially the birds and the songs they sing, disappear. The beasts often scare off wildlife, but most importantly, they take the life found once in nature and destroy it. They turn back the time and take what is theirs: death.
Amy is not sure why the Damned stop here, but she is sure the moist rotten earth is covering her. They could not smell her. For them to see her is almost as impossible. The log into which Amy shoves herself only exposes a quarter foot.
Facing towards the crack, she can make out the feet of one of the Damned before her. One creature lays out a piercing wail and hurries off to catch up with the group already running away.
Amy waits for the sounds to become more distant, then she creeps out to inspect.
After pushing herself through the meager crack, and scraping and bruising her arms and legs, she gathers herself and stands up.
Taking one step, she trips and lands, hitting her head on the other tree before her. In the confusion, Amy heart races because she has flashbacks to her earlier tripping events.
This must be my shield!
She returns to the spot she tripped over and pushes the grass away from where her shield should be. Not finding the shield, she presses her body against the tree she hid under.
She touches her head and senses a painful wound. Blood runs down her face, and she is blind in one eye. The pain is unbearable.
She cannot rest in case the Damned come back, so Amy pushes off of the log and uses one hand on the ground to steady herself while rising from the ground. Amy takes one step and falls to the earth in a stupor.
The warrior she is desires to fight and overthrow her weakness, but it cannot overtake her desire to lie on the ground.
Facing towards the clearing from which she came, she rolls over to her backside, then turns her head to face the direction the Damned went.
Instead of an open field, there before her is a face of a creature she least expects. Her tribe calls them the Guonda. The Guonda are friendly animals, but alas this one found the least friendly creature of them all. Its head, which is torn from its body, sits upright on the grass. The animal is beckoning Amy to speak to it, and so she does. To Amy’s luck, the Guonda are the best listening animals, (especially with the disappearance of their head) so Amy begins to expound everything that had happened to her.
At the end of her speech, Amy asks the Guonda what it thinks, but the vocal cord had severed, so this one cannot manifest a response.
Still, Amy, in a daze, laughs and says, “I bet you figure I’m a woman like my shield does. ‘Cause I talk a lot and tell better stories than everyone else. Woo! I feel pretty good. Much better than you, Mr. Guonda!”
The laughing blooms and gives rise to the surrounding animals. The Guonda, once appearing frightened and lifeless, is now laughing along with her. The animals move in and make their marks as the laughter increases to delectable delight. All around her, from the groans of the earth beneath her, to the hills and the valleys beyond her, join into the celebration of life. Or of life lost.