Last Leg – Short Story Back

Last Leg – Short Story


The Prompt

This story did not have a prompt, but it did come to mind when I was writing another of my short stories. Enjoy!

The Word Count

1422 words.

The Story

“I just…I’m not…oh God!” Lucy cried, desperately looking around at the endless towering trees in all directions, encasing them in the forests. “I’m sorry, Paul,” she said, tears filling the corners of her eyes. 

“Luce,” he said, taking hold of her hand. “We’ll be alright. Let’s just keep heading this way. We’re bound to find something that can help or indicate where we are.”

Of course, he was right; he always was. Paul had a way of easing Lucy’s fears and calming her worries. She kept hold of his hand. “Okay.” She said as she wiped away her tears with her free hand. 

Night had been fast approaching for some time, keeping them in a limbo of semi-light. Almost as if they were stuck in a neverending dawn. 

As they both marched through the forest, the noise from the wildlife began to get louder. Some kind of howling came in the distance, startling Lucy, but Paul’s hand, warm and soothing, brought her back to her safety.

“What do you think that was?”

“I wouldn’t worry. It sounded quite a ways away,” Paul said. “But—”

“But what?”

Paul had stopped, silent. He kept a tight hold on Lucy’s hand as he inspected something in the distance. 

“What is it?”

He didn’t respond for a moment, still locked into a stare with something far off into the trees. Lucy’s eyes could only just about make out the tree trunks a handful of feet away from her. She knew she should have brought a flashlight with her.

Suddenly, Paul came back to the present. Looking around them, he said, “We should keep moving. I don’t think it will be long before we find a ranger’s cabin or something similar.”

They walked on. Further and further, but their route continued. They could not find any signs of human life. The night had surrounded them in a dark blanket, making looking for anything impossible. 

“We’re going to have to make a home here for the night,” Paul said, wrestling his backpack off his shoulders and lumping it onto the ground. “You stay here and see if you can find my lighter. I think I had some cereal bars in there, too.”

“Where are you going?” Lucy asked. Her heart beating faster and faster. I can’t be left on my own. her brain kept screaming. 

“I’m only going to get some sticks and whatnot to start a little fire. That is if I did bring my lighter.” He laughed, momentarily touching her back before walking off into the darkness. 

When Paul’s footsteps faded away, Lucy felt genuinely lost and alone. She could only keep telling herself that he wouldn’t be long. That he would be back at any moment.

Paul’s backpack was heavy and filled with all sorts of things, but fairly quickly, she had found two cereal bars. Lucy sat against the tree trunk, unwrapped it, and ate the entire bar. 

Paul had to be back soon.

Lucy waited, but Paul didn’t come back. It had been well over an hour. He must have gotten lost. She didn’t want to go out into the darkness on her own looking for him, but she was quickly coming around to the idea. She felt her chest rapidly rise and fall with her heavy breathing, continuing to look all around her in the hopes that Paul would appear. But he didn’t. 

“Right,” she said, grabbing her backpack, looping it around her, and then holding onto Paul’s. She began to walk into the wall of darkness. 

Her vision was terrible; she couldn’t see anything. Lucy had found Paul’s lighter, but she couldn’t use it as a light source—it kept burning her fingers. 

“What—”

She stopped, looking in the direction of an amber light flickering in the far distance. Could it be Paul? Had he lost his way and made his fire somewhere else? She didn’t know but could only hope, and she was holding onto that hope with all she had.

“PAUL!” She shouted. “PAUL? Are you there?” She kept moving forward as quickly as the uneven ground would allow her.

 “PAUL?” 

Nothing.

Paul didn’t shout back, and no one did. If it wasn’t people who had set up a camp, then she had no clue what the light was.

“Hello there.” A voice came from the direction of the light, stopping her in her tracks.

That isn’t Paul. 

“Hello? Who is there?” Lucy shouted back, her mind racing with all the horror stories she had read online when she couldn’t sleep. Some fit her situation and created endless nightmares for her.

“I’m David. Are you lost? Are you okay?” The man calling himself, David said. 

“Have you seen my boyfriend? He went to get some firewood hours ago now. I haven’t seen him since, and he left without his backpack. Oh, God! I hope he is okay. Have you seen him?” 

“Hey, hey. Slow down. It’s alright, miss—”

“I’m sorry, Lucy. I’m Lucy.”

“Lucy, it’s going to be alright. Come back to our small camp. I bet you must be starving.” She nodded. “Alright. Come on then.” David came closer to Lucy and put his arm around her, taking Paul’s backpack from her hand and leading her to his camp. 

The light had been the light from a campfire. It belonged to David and his friend, who didn’t seem to say anything. When David helped Lucy down onto a small fold-out stool, David’s friend said nothing to her; he kept chowing down on some kind of stew. 

The stew smelt beautiful, forcing her mouth to salivate and her stomach to cry out for a bowl as big as David’s friends. 

David, seeing her wanting look at the large metal pot boiling away over the fire and back to his friend’s bowl, asked her if she wanted any. She did, she very much did.

 The bowl of stew had only been in her hands for minutes before it had been thoroughly polished. “That was beautiful…thank you.” She said to David.

“My pleasure.”

Lucy let out a great yawn as she placed the bowl on the ground.

“Yes, of course. I’m sorry,” David said, quickly grabbing a few blankets from his tent. “Here, take these. You should get some rest.”

Lucy took the blankets, thanked David and wrapped herself up warm. She needed to find Paul, but she needed to be more useful looking for him. She would have to wait until the morning for her to be able to see.

When she awoke, the campfire was still lit, but the flames had died down significantly. David and his friend weren’t anywhere to be seen, but she supposed they must have gone to sleep in their tents.

When she thought about it some more, still wrapped up snugly in her blankets, there were three tents. Three. There were only two people she had seen: David and his friend. David’s tent was on the far left of the camp; it was where he grabbed some of the blankets she had now. His friend’s tent was the one in the middle. It had to be as he was sitting in front of it when she arrived. But the tent on the right…

Did it just shake?

The tent rocked again. What was going on? David and his friend’s tents remained still, but the third tent started to rock back and forth as if something was trying to fight its way out. 

What the hell?

Lucy brushed off the blankets wrapped around her and pushed herself off the fold-out stool she had somehow managed to fall asleep sitting in. Slowly, she made her way closer to the tent. 

It kept rocking back and forth, and as she neared, she could hear someone mumbling, or was it a muffled scream?

She hesitated at the tent’s opening before slowly pulling down the zip, trying not to make any more noise than she likely already had. 

“What the…Paul?”

With the tent open and her head peering inside, she saw Paul with his hands bound behind his back and a gag in his mouth. There was a large amount of blood on the floor of the tent, and as she saw it all, she traced over his body to find where he had been hurt. Then she saw it. 

His leg. His leg had gone.

“What has happened to you? Oh, my dear.” Lucy moved over to him and pulled out his gag. “Oh, Paul. Paul, I’m so sorry.”

“Please tell me you didn’t eat the stew?” He asked.

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