Friday, 28 October 2011

The Ravine

This is a short piece I wrote ages ago - it's from a story I haven't written yet and is supposed to be aimed at children aged 9 or 10+...

The Ravine

The trees provided us with good cover, but the way forward was no easier. I could see the others ahead. Spiky, tangled weeds carpeted the forest floor. They wrapped maliciously around our legs as we struggled through the trees. It became harder to move as our strength, sapped from days of pursuit, was fading fast.

One of the malignant weeds wound around my leg so tightly I fell headlong onto the ground, spiking my hands over and over on the thorny menace blanketing the earth. I bit hard on my thumb to stifle my scream. What if they heard me?

We had to keep moving. The light was fading and our pursuers were getting closer. I did my best to pull the spines from my hands and freed my leg from the spiteful vine. We had to find shelter before nightfall. A horn echoed through the trees. We were being hunted like animals. So we would have to become like animals. We had to make a den, but to be sure we weren't found, first we needed to lay a false trail.

We tore strips off our clothing and attached them to branches and undergrowth, then, after about fifty or sixty paces, we retraced our steps and made off in another direction. I hoped this would throw them off our scent, but it remained to be seen.

As we stumbled on, the tree-flanked banking on either side rose and the path grew narrower. Not a single ray of sunlight touched the ground and the thick moss made the path slippery and treacherous. I cursed as I lost my footing and staggered to the side. Thankfully I stayed upright, as there was nothing to stop me from landing on the cold mossy rocks below. That would make me easy prey.

The others were slowly leaving me behind, but my feet were raw underneath and each step became more painful. Each time I slipped, the jolt made me almost yell out. As I climbed over slimy logs infested with oozing yellow fungi, I could see the ravine grew deeper ahead. But I staggered on, determined to keep moving. I didn't want to be caught and I certainly didn't want to die here. The air became dank with the putrid odours of decaying plant matter. The sky above was almost a memory. Our voices and movements became muffled.

There was a muted shout ahead. The others had stopped – pointing at the way forward. The path ahead was more treacherous and looked impassable. We looked around us for an escape route. Our only choice was to climb an almost vertical bank about eighty arm-lengths high. It was strewn with dead trees and mouldy rocks. We could see it would be hard work. But we had no choice if we wanted to get out of this fetid, fungus-ridden gully.

I gathered the last of my strength and launched myself at the bank, scrambling after the others. But the moistness of the soil made it impossible to get a sure foot-hold. Dead branches broke off in my hands and I frantically scrabbled at the soil, trying to seize anything I could. It was no use. I began to slide back down into the putrid ravine...


  1. Very powerful - who or what is chasing them?

  2. Aha! That is the question...I'll let you know once I've written more of the story!