This story is by Ray Kelly and was part of our 2018 Fall Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
I was sick and tired of this, night after night.
I heard the scuffling noise and simultaneously felt the sudden, jerking movements at the door and knew this was my chance.
I didn’t even look behind, but took-off because I had planned – though not thought about – how I was going to take a position that I could defend from.
My body shook as I sucked the breath into myself.
I raced across my bedroom with the confidence of an athlete, feeling my limbs flex and prepare for what must come.
The last time. The last time.
Quick on my feet I leapt the space, avoiding furniture and clothes awkwardly scattered about.
Not yet in.
I might have time to secret myself before being seen. My senses probed ahead scanning for safety.
No more. No, no.
Safe. I had made the drapes by the big windows. I would hide there often, inhaling the warm sunlight as I watched the world in blue and white above and green and brown in abundance below. I would watch the comings and goings, unable to engage but happy enough on my own.
Sometimes the rain would welt against the glass and I would watch the droplets congeal and dribble in long wormy lines, racing to pool where glass met aluminium.
The rain was rare and welcome and I would enjoy whatever the weather contributed to the view outside my window.
This day the water had come in burst after burst. The green grew richer and I was witness to the scurrying for cover from almost all that I saw. Even the dog that belted up and down the property next door was restricted to staring miserably into the slashing rain, from the cubby hole of his kennel.
It was as dark as I had hoped behind the drapes and I clung to the wall, by the window, by the dresser; by the time I looked up I could see the shadow moving about… searching? Ignoring? I remained motionless, extraordinarily alert as I focused my senses for a sign… anything.
I just want this to be over dug into my head, more like a memory than a desperate wish.
The shadow slid about my bedroom, knowing all the places. Bumping and shuffling about, squeezing past and sagging into.
I thought about my alone times when I could stretch and relax around my room; sleeping, confident of no impending sharp awakening. Dreaming of smaller times when I had been almost inconspicuous to him.
I often dreamed while running and jumping and climbing. If I could do nothing but play I am sure I would and though there were none to play with I was always happy and grateful for my own company.
Surely I would fly like a bird if I could, and when I chose to I would often view the world from above. Right now though I viewed the world from behind a curtain.
I could tell just by the breathing that rasped at my ears that these were his bloated exertion sounds. I knew these gasps well since they were the recital when he came at me.
He hated me, I knew enough to realise that and I pondered again on my feelings. Hate? Not nearly, but contempt, violation.
Dare I peek and see him staring back, waiting as he has done before, patient like fungus, watching until he is watched and taking the satisfaction of the predator from my weakness.
Perceived weakness. I look to find target points. So I look and he stares elsewhere and nowhere.
Dangerous and pathetic as he is, I decide to move and I do, because I think and move quickly. I make my break for the bathroom and imagine I have every chance of going undetected while full of hope that he takes my bait.
I am not looking but I am hearing and even the clumsy rolling of a dull head makes enough sound to alert me that time ends here this evening.
I race to the door and am past it before he can even rise.
It is so much brighter in the bathroom and I am momentarily dazzled and confused. I feel the thuds of approach, then the indecision… while I race for the only potential escape I can think of.
I climb and climb, clasping at any holds that present.
The door opens like a coward and suddenly it is now.
I look and he sees.
Which of us is more horrified? He recoils back as I squat into the position I shall defend from.
I have visited the bathroom many times, of course, and often found cool droplets to drink down where the white porcelain meets the darkness below. When smaller I would spend much of my time in this room as the hunting was good and the diminutive prey I could overwhelm frequent enough for my needs.
Scanning up I observed the hanging plants where I once slipped silently amongst leaves, feeling for any unexpected movements and recalling the joy of revelation.
Springing slightly to test my eight strong limbs, I gained confidence at the smooth elevation I experienced and the effortlessness as my legs absorbed the burden of my landing.
Keeping many of my eyes on him I studied his lurching about, looking for the weapon he needed.
Hearing him roar in disgust at me as I felt the impact of one of his boots pinioned down upon me.
I used the sink waste hole to descend into and largely avoid the blow. The hairs on my back rubbed against the rubber outsole of the boot and I flexed against it.
Blows, impotent and ineffectual, began to rain upon me as the boot heel was used to attack. My body flinched – but only to position better for retaliation. As soon as the blows ceased and the boot was raised so that he could view the results of his handy work I leapt with all my strength and cleared the waste hole, landing upon the porcelain and racing immediately to the top.
I sensed him jump back in fear and took the opportunity to leap again, to force him right back, however the slippery porcelain caused me to slightly lose my grasp and to slip back down. Enough time for him to turn on the faucet and send a tsunami of cool water upon my back. Rather than hampering me I was invigorated and sprang rapidly out of the stream and rushed up to the parapets of the bathroom sink.
We glowered at each other.
He backed away and I stayed long enough to see one of his few limbs reach into the small cupboard beside the large mirror and reveal an aerosol can.
My senses ached as I recalled my previous experiences of such actions. I had often laid secreted sniffing the pungent, acidic droplets, as I witnessed prey falling all about me – stealing the very life that I relied upon.
I ran-skidded, as the droplets hit me, immediately realising that this liquid was different. It did not sting but stuck like sap to me. Unbeaten I ran for cover, naturally attracted to the corner of the room.
My breathing laboured as some of my legs and body became covered, as he relentlessly sprayed his attack. However I raised my forelegs defiantly and beat him back.
The boot heel again, but in my corner the geometry was not suited to the assault though two of my beautiful legs were crushed, causing my mind to focus in agony.
Spray again, sapping me, gluing the hairs on my skin to my body. Covering my eyes and darkening my world.
As the torrent ceased, I sensed him stomp away and I spent some quiet time alone in my home. I planned my counter, my spring, my lunges once I was free but heard him return and refocused myself again to the task at hand.
I felt a sharp, crushing blow that pushed through me and left me unable to respond.
The leap I ordered from my limbs was not acted upon and my mind clouded.
Then, oh then…
I felt myself brushed gently onto a hard surface, then lifted… and begin to fly. I rose from the earth as I had always imagined I should. I experienced movement through the air, without apparent effort from my muscles, and felt myself travelling marvelously quickly, resting upon the flat surface.
I could hear the sound of my bedroom window squeaking open, as I hovered, and felt myself flicked into an arc to the soft ground outside.
My dimmed senses made out the dampness of the earth as I lay in the place I had so often observed.
I lay there, half dreaming.
I had flown.