One of the Facebook pages I follow is for our local area and its focus is photography from around our county. We have some amazing photographers in this area. One of our local guys, DW, posted the following photo. I contacted him and asked for permission to use his photo (with credit to him) with the short story that the photo inspired. I hope you enjoy.
(Photo by DW Harmon – Michigan. Shared with permission)
(by Michelle D.)
Unnatural silence surrounded her. The air so still not a single leaf rustled. Missing also were the normal sounds of wildlife. She should be able to hear the croak of the bullfrogs from the misty swamp ahead, the hoot of an owl, or the skittering of little feet through the dry leaves. Instead there was nothing but pure silence.
The woman took a careful step forward. Gravel moved under her foot, grinding together in a loud crunch. She stopped again, her heart racing, her heartbeat audible in the silence of the woods.
She just needed to follow the tracks, she kept telling herself. They would hopefully lead her to safety. The old cabin with the monster of a man was behind her. She hoped he was still unconscious from the blow she gave him to the back of the head.
The moonlight glinted off the rails of the old abandoned railroad track. She studied the rails. Years had passed since childhood, but she should still be able to balance on the narrow beam that the rail presented. She stepped carefully onto the right rail. The light mist made the rail slightly slick, but she should be able to carefully walk silently along it.
A careful glance over her shoulder showed nothing behind her. He wasn’t using the rails to sneak up on her, but she needed to hurry. He could come to at any moment.
Up ahead she saw a break in the woods. It appeared that the railroad tracks created a small bridge to cross a gap in the earth before the next stretch of woods. Maybe she would be able to figure out where she was, orient herself with the surroundings.
A loud snap broke the silence behind her. She gasped and took off running, carefully balancing as she ran. Years of training came back to her, unfortunately her body was not in the same shape as her gymnastics days. Her feet wobbled as she ran.
Low, rolling laughter came from her right. Another loud snap to her left.
“Leave me alone!” she screamed, abandoning the rail to run full tilt on the gravel next to the tracks.
She slid to a stop just before tumbling down the embankment. The tracks continued across the gap; just a couple of rails and rotted boards stretched between her and the other bank. Laughter came from her right again. Another glance around showed her she was still alone. She tested her weight on the rails.
“You can’t escape,” the words from below whispered over her skin.
“Go away,” she sobbed.
A growl came from behind, “Run!”
She took off across the suspended rails, balancing as carefully as she could on the shaking, slick rails. The other bank loomed, coming closer. If she could make it to the other side maybe she’d be safe.
She jumped the last couple of feet, slipping on the gravel and coming down to her knees. Her eyes wide, breath coming in short pants, she looked around. A light glowed ahead of her, just down a path off the tracks.
“Help!” she screamed before standing and running for the light. The woman burst into a clearing. “No,” she whispered, sinking once again to her battered knees. The old cabin, the same cabin she escaped only an hour ago, stood before her.
“I told you, you can’t escape,” a voice whispered just before pain burst across the back of her head. She rolled over, stared up at the monster, her vision fading.
“Until death do us part, my love,” he grinned as he raised an ax. The last thing she saw before the world went black was the light of the midnight moon shining on the gleaming metal head of the ax.