The Keeper: Chapter I

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She came to after being unconscious for a good couple of minutes. The fall from the upstairs window had been enough to knock her spark out and she awoke with a searing pain in her left leg which suggested it may well be broken, fractured at the very least. Adrenaline kicked in at that point and she summoned the energy to haul herself a few yards but eventually the agony was just too unbearable. Why her? What had she done that was so Godawful that it had warranted being set upon in such a nefarious manner? The answers weren’t coming fast but she was only too aware that her pursuer would be far more forthcoming.

Her name was Analise Dickinson but her close friends called her Ana. Voted most likely to succeed by her classmates, she had a bright future in front of her with a place already secured at Sandworth University, the most prestigious in the entire state. At school she had led the debating team, been twice state champion at 800m and head girl, and came from a rather well-to-do family who lived in the most monied area in town. Boys flocked around her like shit-chomping houseflies and her long, champagne locks and hourglass figure had their pulses quickening with regularity. Right now, none of that mattered a jot as she was about to be voted most likely to be disemboweled and time was running at an ominous premium.

Ana attempted to stand but any pressure she placed on her left leg was proving too excruciating to consider taking the weight. She could discern the sound of footsteps closing in and let out an almighty shriek but to no avail whatsoever. There was nobody within ear shot and, despite the fact that boys generally flocked around her, there wasn’t a single soul around right now to bail her out. She racked her brain for an eleventh hour escape plan but there appeared to be nothing she could do to turn the tables on her huntsman. Grabbing the cell from her pocket to call for help also proved fruitless as her screen had been obliterated in the fall from the third floor window.

Suddenly her discomfort became a whole lot more intense as she felt a shooting pain down her splintered shin and the agony was volumized considerably. Struggling to maintain cognizance, she attempted one final yelp but this manifested itself by way of barely audible rasp. How fitting she considered that her vocal chords should give up the ghost now, when her assailant was no farther than a stone’s throw away. Indeed she could now hear his movements drawing closer and those clunky footsteps becoming more pronounced as they closed on her position.

Debating was never likely to offer a solution here, she had to summon some form of bottled vigor and use every last pinch of strength to remove herself fast as there had been no indication thus far that her antagonist was about to let up his pursuit and the serrated hunting knife he brandished would soon be finding a new fleshy spot in which to nuzzle its teeth. One final surge and she flipped herself onto her front, using her good leg to prop herself up while she regained composure. There was little time and this was confirmed by the sound of her attacker reaching the open doorway and stepping out to finish what he had started.

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Remembering what her father had taught her about never looking back, only forward, she began to hobble forth and towards the roadside. She hadn’t considered what she would do on her arrival and passing cars were all too rare around these parts so it wasn’t likely to be easy but the human body is capable of great things when your existence is threatened and she had to press on. The pain had subsided or, more accurately, adrenaline had kicked in thus she forged onward.

Her mind was racing. Why her, what had she done to warrant such a brutal attack? She was always congenial and had been raised to show kindness to others so it wasn’t as if she could’ve ruffled any feathers or given anyone cause to attack her in such a way. Nevertheless, her masked assailant seemed intent on ventilating her and she had been fortunate in escaping his wrath once already. She had been saved by brand spanking double glazed windows; fitted last month, they opened just wide enough for her to wriggle through while her pursuer hacked away at the barricade she had built across the doorway to her boudoir.

Alas, she resided in a converted third floor attic and the drop had been considerable but, had she not taken that leap of faith, she would invariably have been gutted like a swine so it had seemed like the only option available to her at the time. She was nothing if not resourceful and had grabbed a vintage letter-opener from her desk before plunging but that had become lost in the drop and there was no time to reclaim it as her ordeal appeared far from over and, whomever was hunting her, was disinterested in taking five while she regained her composure. He was yards behind her and closing worryingly fast.

She made it to the roadside and, still refusing to glance behind her, kept pushing on. The dense thicket before her was hardly sanctuary but it at least gave her some foliage to act as cover while she attempted to shake his attentions and make her dash. Using the surrounding woodland to steady herself, she pressed on and made her way into the woods. She had played here many times growing up and was familiar with the layout so this would make up for any lack of mobility on her part and she could head down to the creek which housed a large clearing for her to work out her next move.

About twenty feet through the shrubbery her cell began to chime in her pocket. She grabbed it quickly but the screen display was entirely fragmented thus she could not decipher who was calling. “Hello…please…please help me” she blurted but the line was breaking up. She was only too aware that the woods surrounding her abode represented something of a dead zone for signal and wouldn’t play ball the further she traversed so he propped herself against a tree and took a backwards glance to ascertain her attacker’s coordinates.

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He was nowhere to be seen but that was less than encouraging given that he had been moving at a greater rate of knots and could be flanking her as she rested. “Brad…Brad is that you?” Through the line interference she could just about make out his voice and he sounded distinctly concerned by the tone in her voice. “What is it Ana, where you at?” was the crux of what he was asking on the other end but the line kept dropping out to stop any concise communication. “I’m at the house. If you can hear then call the police. I’m being chased and I’m hurt. Please help”.

She wasn’t even aware as to whether her SOS had been legible and, at that point, her battery depleted, causing her to scream in frustration. She cursed not charging it earlier when she had planned and had been told time and again not to run it on reserves but hadn’t foreseen the events of the past half hour and could do nothing about it now. She looked around nervously, surveying her surroundings as she knew that her pursuer could well have covered enough ground at this juncture to enable the advantage.

Total silence, not so much as a snapped twig underfoot to offer indication of anything approaching. Her father had also taught her that there was such a thing as too quiet and these words were ringing in her ears at this point. She had to keep pressing on, the creek was no more than 200 yards from her current locale and she had to assume that her superior knowledge of the lay-out would stand her in good stead. Always the optimist, she pushed on past the pain which was returning with a vengeance.

Crisscrossing through the overhanging shrubs she made her way to the side of the estuary and towards the open space before her. She could move past the area and the highway was no more than a few kilometers but the smarting pain in her shin reminded her that this was pie-in-the-sky. She’d never get that far with her current affliction and already felt the bile rising once more in her throat and a groggy feeling washing over her. She ambled on until she reached the clearing and then slumped to the ground, frantically casting her eye around her immediate surroundings.

All the while she felt her grip on consciousness dissipate, passing out seemed an eventuality she could no longer stall and, at the very least, she would not be privy to her fated dissolution. Her eyes began to flicker and heightened audible awareness kicked in as she discerned the swaying night breeze dancing about her, punctuated by the erratic thumping within her chest. For the first time since she had been set upon back at the house she felt at ease, the adrenaline had subsided and, while the pain still persisted, an overwhelming calm began to wash over her. Analise laid back spread-eagled across the ground, sopping flaxen locks sprawled across her face as she slipped from sentience tranquilly.

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Read Chapter II

 

Truly, Really, Clearly, Sincerely,

Keeper of the Crimson Quill

Copyright: Crimson Quill: Savage Vault Enterprises 2014

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