I’d like to share the first chapter of a book I am working on until the writer’s block subsides on “Conniption”. Let me know what you think!
He ran through the forest as the light began to fade, his heels only narrowly avoiding the advancing darkness. His heart beat so fast and so loud that he could hear it in his ears. His face was whiter than chalk and his hands so slick with sweat that the numerous tiny cuts along his palms were stinging from the salt. Deep lacerations parted the skin on his forearms and the blood weeping from them stained his already filthy clothes. The blonde tint of his muddy brown hair was all but invisible in the now black forest. The sun had set and so had all Yakobe’s hopes of finding his mother tonight.
The plumes of smoke from the village he had just fled from marred the darkening sky and gave the still night an ominous smell. Even here, at least a mile away, Yakobe could still taste the flames that were licking the remnants of his once happy home. Or what had been his home, anyway. Small, barely audible, shrieks danced their way to his ears and clouded his eyes with tears. Not seeing where his foot was going, Yakobe tripped on the protruding root of a Being Tree and fell face first into its majestic cream bark. Stunned and without realizing, he touched his fingers to his cheek and winced as he felt the sting of the grazes now stretching from chin to ear. Wanting to curse but trying desperately to stay quiet, Yakobe shook his entire 6ft frame with soundless sobs and rested his back against the Being Tree’s trunk.
The root that had tripped him was but one vein, one connection, between the Being Tree and the rest of her forest. She was the mother core, the first blossom and the forests heart. Being Trees sprang up from nowhere many moons before man ever walked the Earth and covered the land in green and brown. Now only a few Being Trees remained. Some said that every Being Tree was connected to the other and spawned from one soul somewhere but no one had ever found it. The Mother Soul, as man called it now, was a myth amongst the fairytales.
Yakobe Cranewind took out a soft lavender scarf from his shirt pocket and pressed it against his dirty nose. Inhaling deeply, the warm smell of memory doused the bitter scent of fire and the feeling of his mothers arm around him again relieved his heart.
If only for a second.
Yakobe’s ears pricked, as only a Listener can, at the sound of a twig snapping under a trampling foot. As quickly as it emerged, the scarf was gone and Yakobe struggled to his feet. The strain in his thighs required a good nights sleep and a few days rest but he couldn’t afford that, not now. He had to find her.
Standing deathly still, he closed his eyes and listened to the wind around him. The leaves rustled pleasantly as the lingering cries of a barkfox tried to distract him. As soon as this thought crossed his mind, the wind began to pick up and howls and whines of forest animals everywhere began to call in unison. The screech of a burrow-owl mixed with the whinny of a baby thorse. The pitter-patter of the thorse’s hooves was overtaken by the sinister hiss of a hive of bee-snakes. Not listening anymore, Yakobe darted away from the Being Tree and deeper into the forest.
He couldn’t believe his own stupidity; he knew the threat to the Being Trees caused the forest to defend it. If he hadn’t been so tired and hungry he might have remembered. The night had just begun but Yakobe knew that he wouldn’t be able to keep his eyes open much longer. The cold bite of the coming autumn perked him up slightly, but he knew that would only last a short while. He needed shelter and he knew it but the hiss of the bee-snakes had unsettled him greatly. There was no hide from them if they chose to attack you, and being within a million miles of them seemed too close still. Suddenly, and without warning, the moon and its shine spilled forth through a crack in the forests canopy. He hadn’t noticed how thick it had gotten as he had plunged deeper into the undergrowth. He had been too focused on his feet and not tripping. But now that the moon was out, a clear path was trodden along into the mud and Yakobe knew, without truly understanding why, that he was supposed to follow it.
The bright white of the path ahead turned to mud as he walked – too tired to run now – along its length. Like mist, you couldn’t see what lurked within it but when you were far enough inside, you couldn’t see what you had left behind. Pausing for a breath, Yakobe looked at the path he had just taken and saw it was as ghostly white as that that was in front of him. Only where he stood did the mud look brown. He was too tried to see the metaphor.
Just as he was about to give up on his ‘celestial path’ and put his naivety down to how weak he was, he came across an open field with a run down barn sitting not too far from where he was. Half-running half-stumbling, his bare feet trod the cold ground and pushed him head first through a door almost off its hinges.
The barn looked cavernous from the inside. The ground floor was strewn with hay from above and loosely littered with rusted farming equipment. Several pitchforks, a few trowels and even a horse drawn harvester hung like corpses from the walls. Not caring whether abandoned or not, Yakobe pulled himself up a creaking ladder and threw himself into a pile of hay. The freshness of the hay amongst the decrepit foundations of the barn did not puzzle or even alarm Yakobe, the sleepiness had all but engulfed him.
The moon was still able to watch the poor boy, still lost in the woods, through a broken slat in the barns roof. The pale white fingers glistened off the boy’s wet cheeks as he sobbed in his dreams. His nest of hay was cozy enough to keep him safe from the night’s brutal cold but not strong enough to keep the boy safe from his feelings inside. As the tears streaked the filth on his cheeks, his hand groped drowsily for the scarf in his pocket. Wiping his eyes, he would never remember to thank the moon for watching over him. Nor did he realize that it was not the moon alone setting its gaze on his sleeping body.
Two eyes, filled with nothing but the shiny black of pupil, peaked through several strands of hay. Creeping forward, its soft hands felt the splintery wood of the barn beneath it and crawled towards the warmth of Yakobe Cranewind.