Warning to those who have not read
Bat Blood - the Devil's Claw,
this preview will spoil its ending.
Copyright © 2018 by Richard Myerscough
First Edition copyrighted — 2014
All characters, events, names and specific locations, are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales or people (dead or alive) are entirely coincidental.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form, or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or any information browsing, storage, or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
Distributed to the trade by The Ingram Book Company
Dedicated to my very loving and understanding partner
my inspiring daughter
and my inquisitive son
Amidst the dark, storm clouds looming over Northern Ontario, icy shivers ran up and down Mother Nature’s back. In a cold sweat, she looked down and saw the smoke belching out of Doctor Scott’s research facility. She felt as if she was being stabbed by thousands of barbed, serrated-edge knives over and over, tearing apart the very fabric of the delicate and balanced world she had created. The first time the doctor lost control over his research, a colony of bats was contaminated. But at least the gargoyle-like creatures he created were just flesh and blood.
She paid no attention to an unfortunate pair of mutated creatures as their flaming bodies hurdled through the air and into a lake. To her, they were freaks, mere misfits in the grand order of things. The outcome of the humans’ experiments on them were childish compared to the horrific potential of what the doctor was about to unintentionally release into the wild.
The Grand Lady’s entire body began to quiver as she felt the DNA of an ancient uncontrollable demon flowing through the veins of some of her innocent creatures. It was the unnatural rebirth of an unyielding mistake of nature that she thought had been subdued and eradicated forever. “Again, these humans have crossed the line. Why do they pretend to be gods?”
In a cruel, violent and thundering rage, she shouted, “Not this time."
She slowly raised her shaking arms. Her long white hair spread wildly throughout the sky and expanded into plump, dark blue clouds that almost instantly turned day into night. With her fingers spread far apart, she slowly lifted up her hands. Bright, destructive lightning bolts shot out of the ground around the doctor's research facility to illuminate the tips of her long curled nails.
A small section of vast woodlands over Northern Ontario was about to feel the fury of Mother Nature’s wrath. The blackened skies, red flares and rain added to the manmade chaos below. Clouds of harsh, toxic smoke formed next to the ground for the survivors to choke on.
From a gap in the asphalt, next to the large fortified structure, a powerful bolt of lightning rose up and cracked the building’s thick foundation. As she pulled all the energy she could find out of every crack, part of a wall started to crumble. The ominous lady grinned as a thick multi-coloured cloud of toxic gases blossomed out of the structure and mixed with the black smoke from burning sections of the surrounding asphalt.
The violent rage inside her eased long enough for her to look around and see what she had accomplished. A cold, thick, hazy fog had crept over the lake. The structure beneath her was surrounded by a scattered mess of fallen trees and multitudes of large muddy pools full of manmade debris.
As a handful of resilient, soot covered people scrambled out of the burning structure, she flew into another thunderous rage. It wasn’t good enough. She quickly released another wild series of thunderous lightning bolts upon them. Two bolts hit a section of the back wall of the flaming building and turned it into a large pile of rubble.
With all the men trapped within the huge chain-link fence and the asphalt under their feet afire, she looked again and questioned, Had she succeeded? Was it enough?
She wasn’t sure if the rumbling in her gut was because the threat to her delicate ecosystem was still alive, or because of the anger she felt towards the human creators had caused her. In the thick, choking smoke, she had no way of knowing that several of the large bats that carried the seed of her nightmare had already escaped.
The dark, rumbling, rampaging storm that Mother Nature had cruelly released slowly crept eastward. Although weakened, it continued its reign of havoc over the vast sprawling boreal forest of Wabakimi Provincial Park, deep in the heart of Northern Ontario’s untamed, unbridled wilderness.
Within an hour, the distant storm was only a mass of dark purple clouds that nervously tossed around its red and yellow flares in a quivering lightshow over the centre of the massive park. An uneasy sense of peaceful and calming tranquillity lingered over the lake in front of the burning structure. The aura of the pursuing silence was mystically broken by an echoing heart-wrenching cry that could only emerge from the throat of a lonely, love-torn loon searching for its lost mate.
Her second solemn, heartbroken cry was cruelly interrupted as an abrupt earth-quaking explosion heaved the placid lake into a white crested watery hell. A giant, dark billowing plume rose above the engulfed remains of the large structure on the shoreline. The violent explosion had lifted a massive array of twisted metal, bricks, glass, wood and other debris high into the air like a giant fountain. As fumes were released from the building more explosions were ignited filling the sky with more debris.
The falling shrapnel shot away from the building like a hand grenade. Instinctively, the loon dove deep under the water, narrowly dodging unscathed through the sinking missiles.
As she peered upwards through the weeds at the falling menace, a large marauding northern pike seized the opportunity. Its long, wide, powerful jaws snapped, crushing the loon’s abdomen. The hungry creature’s razor-edged teeth easily sliced their way through the feathers and into the flesh, turning the surrounding water into a giant pink cloud.
With the claws on her feet, the loon sliced the side of the creature’s face and the skin under its jaw. At the same time, she beat her wings against the sides of its head in a desperate attempt to escape. Even as her lungs filled with water, she continued to thrash away until her heart rang out its last defiant beat.
Two bloodstained feathers surfaced as her mate returned and landed on the rough, deadly lake. He gently nudged one of the feathers with his beak and took in the sweet scent of his lost mate.
Another battery of explosions erupted from the burning building and shot more debris into the air. Still longing for his mate, the fearless loon looked around amidst the deadly hail. His heartbroken cry could barely be heard. His second cry was cut short. A piece of flying glass sliced through half his neck. His limp head flopped into the water attached by only a small piece of skin. As his lifeless body slowly relaxed, his wings fanned out over the water’s surface.
With her hands tied behind a young tree in the middle of the forest, a chubby, round-faced girl watched as her overweight, pompous father slowly paddled down the wide creek. Along its banks, the odd cluster of snow lingered in the shadows.
Despite the fur trim on the hood of her light brown parka partially blocking her view, Claraicy Mitchell watched her father closely for any sign of remorse. With his face hidden inside the hood of his bright red parka, she couldn’t tell if he had any or not. As he rounded a bend and vanished from sight, it deeply bothered her that he never once looked back.
Using the tip of her tongue, Claraicy wiggled and forced the rolled-up sock that her father had shoved into her mouth around the bright green tie he used to gag her with. As the sock fell to the ground, the tie loosened to the point that she could yell out, “Don’t leave me. I’ll do anything you want from now on, but don’t leave me like this.”
Through the trees, Claraicy heard a faint voice, “The fun and games are over. You’ve become a liability and are no longer worth the effort.”
Claraicy screamed back, “But I’m your daughter.”
“Now you are just another young prankster about to find themselves lost in the woods on Devil’s night." After half a chuckle, he jokingly added, “Have a frightful Halloween, and may the ghosts and ghouls spirit you away to where you belong.”
Despite the thick cuffs of her mitts, the tight ropes still cut into her wrists. She could feel the tips of her fingers turning cold as the blood circulation in her hands started to dwindle. Her emotions raced from terror to relief, not knowing if this was just another one of her father’s cruel games to teach her yet another lesson in blind obedience, or a way to finally escape his clutches.
After surviving the night, a distant explosion woke her out of the dreamy, imaginary world that she had escaped into. Her dry mouth slowly opened as a plume of smoke lingered above the trees in the distance.
Images of being burnt alive in a forest fire ran through her head. Looking at the tree tops, she felt some relief. The wind was behind her blowing any fires that might erupt in the opposite direction. A few hours later, she could both see and hear a half-dozen helicopters circling the area around the smoke.
While watching the helicopters through the branches, she wondered if any of them could even spot her. With the forest floor covered in fall leaves, she was almost invisible in her drab coloured clothing. She watched the search lights beaming down from the helicopters for almost half that night. None of them came close enough to illuminate her. “They are not looking for me. Why would they? He doesn’t want me found. At least not alive.”
Helping her father paddle, it took them three days to get into the park. Without it would take her father a lot longer to paddle out. Staring at the babbling creek a few metres away, her mind started to wander. Even if someone noticed that she didn’t return and reported her missing, after three days without water all they would find would be her corpse.
As the sun was starting to peek over the horizon the following day, Claraicy woke to the clicking of two giant, long-nosed bats dangling from a branch above her. Almost a metre long, they were the largest bats she had ever seen. “You guys are definitely not from around here."
She watched as one fell to the ground and crawled toward her making a strange clicking noise with its mouth. The second one crept along the branch and started to climb down the tree trunk above her. While screaming as loud as she could, she violently flailed about, shaking the small tree. As pieces of birchbark crumbled in the bat’s claws, it slipped down the tree trunk and landed on her back.
Trapped between Claraicy’s puffy winter parka and the tree trunk, the frightened animal frantically tried to claw its way out. With her arms blocking both sides, the creature’s claws shredded the back of her coat and sweater, and sliced into her flesh.
Claraicy thrashed about furiously as the creature bit into her exposed shoulder blade. Clenching her teeth, she shut her eyes and put all of her weight into a flurry of backward thrusts. As the bat’s rib cage snapped, its squealing abruptly stopped.
Claraicy froze. A sharp pain ran through her entire body. Several of the creature’s shattered ribs had pierced and hooked themselves into the muscles in her back. With their two bodies fused together, blood poured out of the bat’s chest and into the deep gouges on Claraicy’s sliced back.
As the bat’s tainted blood flowed into the gouges, her heart sucked it through her severed blood vessels and slowly pumped it throughout her badly dehydrated body. As she opened her eyes, she saw the second large bat slowly crawl along the ground toward her.
With most of her energy spent, it took a few seconds for her to muster up the strength to yell, “Go away!”
All the thrashing had jostled the ropes off the cuffs of Claraicy’s thick winter mitts and onto her withered wrists. After flexing her fingers, she wiggled her hands to removed one of the mitts. The ropes simply fell off her wrist as she shook off the second mitten.
Out of breath and no longer able to scream, she reached around to her back and grabbed a hold of the crushed bat. After clenching her teeth, she pulled it off along with pieces of her own flesh. Rolling onto her side, she began to crawl toward the creek.
Cautiously, the second bat worked its way toward its dead companion. As it turned its head to hiss at her, Claraicy picked up a large stone and threw it as hard as she could. The stone glanced off the side of the bat and toppled it over. The creature immediately got back up and scampered into the bush, only to reappear behind the tree stained with its companion’s blood.
Claraicy watched as the bat slowly worked its way toward its dead companion and pulled its battered body toward the brush. A beam of sunlight broke through the dark clouds and highlighted the creatures. A glaring reflection bounced off them. For the first time, Claraicy noticed the nylon collars fastened around their necks and the round stainless steel pendants dangling from them. “You’re not pets. Where did you guys come from?”
After the creatures had vanished from sight, Claraicy turned to the babbling creek. Dying from thirst in front of a large stream of running water had been torturous. She crawled over to its bank and stuck her face through the skim of ice that had formed along its edge.
Glancing back, she confirmed that the bats were still gone. As her stomach started to grumble, she wrapped one arm around her belly. “Too bad, I’m hungry enough that I could’ve eaten whatever that creature was.”
A cold breeze dulled the numbing pain from the wounds on her back. Claraicy took off her parka and tried to twist her sweater and undershirt around her portly torso. She couldn't. Pieces from the bat's rib-cage were still stuck in her back and got caught in the material.
Reaching back, she prepared herself for the pain and pulled out all the pieces she could reach. After she was finished, she turned her sweater and undershirt back to front to help cover up the open wounds. It didn’t take long before her undershirt was soaked in blood. It acted like an adhesive and stuck it to her back. It covered her wounds and somewhat protected them.
As a cold breeze blew down the open trough cut into the forest by the wide creek, she put her parka and mitts back on. While she drank some more water, the outside of Claraicy’s exposed, blood-drenched sweater started to freeze. The frozen blood helped dull the pain as the young, bewildered and demoralized girl began to shiver.
Claraicy tied the hood of her coat tightly around her face. It had been three days since she had last eaten. With the back of her coat shredded and her back feeling as stiff as meat out of a freezer, any movement she made was agonizing.
With green resin covered needles sticking to the loose strains of her hair, she sat under the protection of a dense spruce tree. In her mind, she went over everything that occurred during the previous month. She had been sick and couldn’t keep anything in her stomach. Nothing her mother did for her had helped. After her mother informed her father about her condition, he had turned pale and bitter. His thirteen-year-old daughter was pregnant.
They confined her to the house. She was forbidden to talk or communicate with anyone. All phone and internet access was stripped away from her. Her condition was to remain a secret.
A few days later, a smartly dressed woman appeared at the door with a folder full of paperwork waiting for her parents signatures. After the lady had left, Claraicy remembered her father sitting at the kitchen table and smiling as he told her, “All of our troubles will soon be over. Soon you won’t have anything to worry about."
After that meeting, the mere sight of her had put a smile on his face. His grimacing smile had brought shivers down the back of her neck and took her breath away.
She had known a few older girls who had children. Their parents helped raise them. Unfortunately for her, those parents weren’t anything like hers and either were the circumstances.
She remembered the colourful business card that the life insurance agent had left on the kitchen table. She also remember seeing two hundred and fifty thousand dollars written in pen on the back of it.
What better way to get over the loss of an unwanted child than to have all your bills paid off and money left over to spend? It’s much more lucrative than an abortion, or even selling an unwanted newborn on the black market. It is especially so when you insure both the mother and unborn child with added clauses that multiply the payout.
Despite the pain that radiated from her back, the sharp stabbing pain from her gut reminded her why she was left in the woods to die. In the distance she noticed puffs of black smoke still lingered over the burnt medical facility. Gazing at them Claraicy decided, “Where there is fire, there are firefighters. There must be someone still there who can help me."
Using the branches of the tree that she was under like the rungs of a ladder, she pulled her rigid body upwards and got to her feet. After snapping off a couple of dead branches to use as walking sticks, Claraicy took one slow, agonizing step at a time and began the long journey across the creek and through the woods toward the lingering black smoke.
The sun was setting over the lake as Claraicy walked up to the fence surrounding what was left of the fortified medical facility. Except for the odd short lived small flame, the fire was mostly out. Through the blown out windows and cracks in the walls, she could see them twinkle as they flared up and died back down. They were limited to the inside of the building and prevented from spreading by the thick walls. The firefighters must have thought that it was safely contained because no one was there.
Disappointed and feeling helpless, she used two sturdy sticks to help her walked around the fence. Her spirit was slightly lifted when she found a small section of fence that had been sliced open by a piece of flying metal. Dropping the sticks next to it, she pulled away the twisted debris from one of the helicopters and examined the size of the opening. After wiggling through the fence, she retrieved the sticks and looked around the property for anything that she could use. Charred rags, bricks and chunks of metal were strewn everywhere.
Along the side of the building was an open door leading to the stairwell. Inside, all Claraicy could see was the twisted metal staircase going up to a floor that no longer existed. Peering through the rungs of the metal stairs she could see the odd flame. She also saw smoke meandering its way out of large piles of the debris covering what was once the basement of the gutted building.
Circling the ruins, she noticed a large breach in the back wall. As she approached the breach, she could feel the warm air escaping the ruins. She stood outside of it and closed her eyes. "At least I will get to warm up for a while."
After crawling inside, she climbed down the mound of concrete that the breach had created. She found herself surrounded by piles of rubble and twisted debris. The outsides of most of the piles were kept warm by the smouldering embers buring inside of them. After checking the temperature of the rubble, she found two large piles that were not hot enough to burn, but still warm enough to curl up against. “Maybe someone will come back to make sure the fire is out." Tired and sore, Claraicy curled up between the two warm piles and quickly fell asleep.
Through the night, a soft snow fell over the northern forest. As it blew over the building, the warm air melted the snow and turned it into a light drizzle. In the mini microclimate inside the structure, the moisture seeped into the rubble and extinguished most of the burning embers. By the time the moisture soaked through her coat, it was morning. Shivering, she quickly discovered that the inside of the burnt out building had cooled considerably. It was only a few degrees warmer than the outside.
After finding a warm smouldering pile of debris, she sat down and contemplated her options. As she wiped her tears away, the pine resin, needles and debris that clung to her sleeve created a wide stripe across her soot covered face.
With nowhere to go, Claraicy hung her coat over a smouldering pile of debris to dry. As the sun rose above the walls and melted the snow that had accumulated, Claraicy rummaged through the charred piles of debris for anything she could use. In the corner of the building she found a pile that had not been completely burned. A scorched, heavily matted, bulletproof vest had been tossed on top of it. She could see pieces of burnt flesh clinging to its inner lining. “I guess the firefighters must have stripped it off a corpse."
Slipping on the vest provided her back with the added protection it badly needed. Under where the vest had been, she spotted a pile of singed fur. Getting down on her knees, she grabbed the warm fur with both hands and gave it a tug. The meat beneath it had been roasted to various degrees. Undaunted and not caring what it was, she ripped off some of the flesh and shoved it into her mouth. After not eating for days, the strange metallic tasting meat was a welcome treat.
Claraicy looked up at the snow swirling in the air above her as the wind blew across the top of the walls. Inside the burnt medical facility, large flakes of snow floated back and forth as they slowly made their way to the bottom. With its collapsed ceiling, the structure protected her from the frigid wind but little else. She needed a shelter that she could cuddle up in and keep warm.
Grunting, crying and at times even screaming from pain, Claraicy shifted around large pieces of debris and leaned them against the wall at a forty-five-degree angle. Every muscle in Claraicy’s body ached and the open wounds on her back made every move extremely painful. With all the fireproof material used in constructing the building, there was no shortage of debris to choose from.
Using collapsed sections of walls made from fire retardant panels, metal counter tops, metal doors and anything big that she could manoeuver in place, she made a small, rudimentary lean-to. Seeing long, narrow gaps where the pieces overlapped, she began searching through the mounds of debris and collected anything she could use as stuffing and insulation. After separating it by size and texture, she pushed and squeezed the smaller more pliable pieces into the cracks.
Looking around, she found a flat stainless steel bar with cut forty-five degrees and holes at each end. The holes and one side of each end revelled signs of wear. It looked like it was used to stabilize something heavy. Gripping the end of it she made her way back to her shelter.
Using the bar a machete, she hacked a small, square hole through a piece of wall panelling and made a small entrance. After examining the interior of the shelter she dragged the larger pieces of insulation that she had previously collected inside to use as a mattress. Next to the entrance she placed a large, flat piece of metal that she could lean against it and use as a door.
If it wasn’t for the cold numbing her pain, she would not have been able to continue. She could only think of one more thing to do. Snow meant a source of water, but she had nothing to eat. Working on pure adrenaline, she fought off the pain and hobbled over to the corner of the structure where the metallic tasting creature was buried. After lifting a large chunk of thick fire retardant panelling off of the creature, a large section of one of its wings was revealed.
Claraicy took a step back and bit her bottom lip before questioning loudly, “What is it?”
Puzzled but undaunted, Claraicy continued to roll, lift and pull the debris off of the dead creature. “I guess it doesn’t matter, as long as it’s edible.”
After she dragged the creature out of the pile of debris by its hind legs, she stopped to examine it. The large lifeless eyes of the creature’s hideous, cat-like face, glared at her. “You may look worse than those giant bats, but you tasted alright to me.”
The time that it had taken her to construct the lean-to was enough to freeze the exposed outer layer of the creature’s body. Claraicy placed the body over a jagged piece of crumbled wall. Using the steel bar she hammered the creature’s bones and joints until its body was easier to move. Dragging it behind her, she crawled into the lean-to and pulled the creature’s corpse inside.
Despite the cold, the blackened wall that the lean-to was built against absorbed enough heat from the sun to melt some of the snow that landed on it. Finding a metre long piece of the building’s round air ducts, she layed it on the ground and used her foot to cave it in, turning it into a trough. After bending one end over, she used the steel bar to hammer it into an almost water-tight seal. Taking it inside, she leaned it next to the wall with the open end slightly elevated. Afterwards she flattened the edge next to the wall to redirect as much of the water into the tough as she could possibly get.
Exhausted, she curled up on the insulation, reached over and grabbed one of the wings of the strange creature and used it as a blanket. When she woke, the sun was starting to go down.
Grabbing the hind leg of the creature, she used the edge of the flat bar to hammer small strands of meat into soft peelable mouthfuls. With a full stomach and enough black water to at least quench her thirst, Claraicy snuggled next to the back of the corpse. After wiggling one of the creature’s fur covered wings under her, she folded the other overtop. It was cold inside the lean-to, but Claraicy was still exhausted. Before she could barely bat her eyes, she had fallen back into a deep sleep.
A gust of wind whistled through the ruins and woke Claraicy. Above the high pitched sound she could faintly hear the whooshing of a helicopter as it circled the burnt facility. Crawling over to the metal plate that she used as a door, she tried to push it open. It wouldn't budge. As she slept, the wind had changed and a large snowdrift had accumulated along the wall where she had constructed her lean-to. Beneath it the metal plate was solidly frozen in place.
Sitting back and looking at the wall she had constructed, she noticed that the entire lean-to was bowed inward. Using her fist, she pounded on the steel plate that she was using as a door and various sections of the wall. A solid ‘thud’ was all she got back. As the sound of the helicopter’s propellers slowly went away, her heart sank along with any hope of being rescued.
Believing that her survival depended on her own will to live, Claraicy reached for the flat steel bar. Using one of its angled ends, she jabbed a hole through the roof at the top corner of the lean-to. Even after widening the hole, all she could see was snow.
As she reached into the hole, she found that her mittens were useless. Taking them off, she used her bare hands to remove all the snow she could reach. With her shoulder pressed against the roof, her finger tips could still feel more snow. After pulling out her arm, she gazed into the hole and saw the glow of the noon sun radiating through the icy blue snow. "How long had I been asleep?"
Without warning, the section of wall next to the hole gave out. As snow piled into the lean-to, Claraicy stumbled backwards. Landing on her injured back, she gave out a shrill, “AAAAAhh." Terrified, she wiggled her feet free from under the snow and crawled to the far end of the lean-to.
As the sound of the pair of helicopters got louder, Claraicy was too scared to move. She could tell that they were directly overhead. With every rotation of the propellers, she could feel the snow vibrate and the outside wall of the lean-to bend inward under the increased pressure. Trapped at the end of the shelter, tears ran down her face. She wrapped the creature’s wings around her and curled into a ball. “Daddy, how could you do this to me? I tried to please you. I tried to do everything you asked of me.”
Buried under the snow drift, Claraicy had nowhere to go and barely any room to move. Huddled in a ball, she stared at the metal bar sticking out of the newly-formed snowbank that filled half of her shelter. Somehow a faint ray of light had filtered through the snow and gave its shiny surface a strange colourful glow. She sat there with her hands tucked under her armpits and her knees folded up to her chest trying to preserve any warmth she could. While her mind mulled over her short, brutal life, she had nothing to do but sit in her snow covered tomb and wait for death.
Even with the creature’s wings wrapped around her and her hood tightly tied around her face, she could feel the temperature in her body drop. Unable to think of anything else, her mind focussed on the glowing metal bar. As she stared at it, her shattered mind twisted and turned the glowing image into an elongated surreal effigy of her father’s satanically grinning face. With his haunting face embedded in her mind, Claraicy’s breathing decreased to the point that her chest became almost motionless. If it wasn't for her eyes occasionally blinking, she could have been easily mistaken for dead.
Claraicy woke from her trance and looked at the once upright bar as it slowly tilted away from the melting snow. It had lost its intoxicating glow. In her zen state, she had lost all sense of time. Had it been hours, days, weeks or maybe only a few minutes? She had no idea.
Looking down at her arms, she found that her once tight fitting parka had become loose and baggy. A thought occurred to her, Maybe it had been months. With a large section of the roof of her shelter missing, enough light filtered through the snowdrift that she could see. While looking around she took off one of her mitts and tore a handful of raw flesh off the creature’s ribs.
Leaning forward, she looked up through the hole in the roof of the lean-to and all she could see was snow. After pulling out all the loose snow she could, she reached into the hole and discovered that there was a gap along the wall that the lean-to was resting against. The sun had penetrated the drift and warmed up the dark soot covered inner wall enough to melt away a narrow gap.
Grabbing a hold of the metal bar, Claraicy widened the hole and rammed the pointed end into the sheet of ice. After fifteen minutes of muscle-numbing chopping, she had created barely enough room to squeeze her head into. Peering inside, she saw that there was a solid sheet of thick ice running almost parallel to the inner wall.
Overwhelmed, Claraicy wasn’t able to think clearly and had to sit down. Along with her confused mental state, her drastically weakened body was in no shape for prolonged physical work. As she sat there, she told herself, “Even if I get out of here, where can I go? The helicopters are long gone and I can’t survive in the woods alone, not in the middle of winter.”
Crawling to the far end of the lean-to, Claraicy stuck the stainless steel bar on the snow in front of her on a slight angle. After adjusting it slightly to catch the light, she stared at it like she had done before. While chewing on a handful of meat, she muttered, “In here, out there or back home, it doesn’t matter where I am. I’m still going to die.”
A loud exploding crack shook Claraicy out of her stupor. Like a hibernating bear, she woke up hungry. While cracking open the creature’s femur and picking at the marrow, she gazed at the hole. She could see that a wide gap that had formed between the wall of the facility and the iced-over snow drift. Tossing off the creature’s wings and remaining skin, Claraicy tried to crawl through the hole. It still wasn’t big enough.
Grabbing the metal bar, she chipped away at the edges of the hole. It didn’t take much to break apart the crumbling panels and twist the metal studs to give her more room to work. Within a few minutes, she had made a hole big enough to get through. With the cold metal bar held tightly in her hand, she lifted herself out of the lean-to and wiggled her body into the gap next to the wall. Squeezing and chipping her way along the wall, she got to large gap in the ice covered drift. She had room to hacked and chiselled out hand and footholds. With her back resting against the wall, she carefully climbed out of her icy prison.
Crawling out of rubble, she shaded her eyes and tried to look beyond the fence into the surrounding forest. The bright world outside her shelter appeared foreign to her. Standing outside the ruins with her eyes shut, she stood and smiled as the sun warmed her face. The bright light burned her eyes even through her eyelids and she had to cover them with her hand. She listened to the creaking trees as wet snow broke off their brittle dead branches.
Her mouth started to water as a gentle breeze fanned the aroma of a dead caribou past her twitching nose. She had been trapped inside her self-made prison for too long. Basking in the warm sunlight, it took over fifteen minutes before she finally risked opening her eyes. Even then they had to be shaded with her hand.
As the pain in her belly forced her to unzip her coat, she could see something inside her move. With her face bouncing between a smile and a scowl and back again, she gazed at her stomach as something inside of it was pushing outward. The large bulge reminded her why and how she got there.
While remembering her father abandoning her, she suddenly thought of the giant bats and her injured back. After pushing her shoulders back and rotating them, she could feel a large, itchy growth attached to her back. Judging solely by the size of her gut, she knew she had been entombed in a semi-hibernative state for months. “It should have been healed by now."
With her nose in the air, the faint smell of rotting meat made Claraicy’s mouth water. Guided by the intoxicating smell, she ran through the woods searching for its source. When she got to what was left of the dead caribou, she scared away the scavenging birds and knelt next to the scattered bones.
The remnants the scavengers had left behind of the frozen winter wolf kill wasn’t very much. After gnawing all the meat she could find off the bones, she used the metal bar to crack open the ribs to get to the marrow. By the time she was finished with the carcass, every bone had been crushed and every piece of its skin had been chewed to the point that it could have been used as shoe leather.
A short few steps away from the kill was a frozen stream. Claraicy smashed the metal bar through the ice and cupped her hands to retrieve some water to drink. After pushing the ice towards the edges, she looked down at the water. She barely recognized herself. Her face was gaunt. In fact, despite her unborn offspring, she had lost almost half her weight.
She didn't know if it was just the angle of her reflection, but even her eyes looked different. They were much larger and rounder than before, plus her nose had grown wider.
With a swift kick, the fetus inside her belly made Claraicy clench her teeth. While rubbing her belly she yelled out, “I can’t do this." Looking down at her extended belly, she softly added, “Father, if I get rid of it, will you take me back? I promise I will be good. There will be no more mistakes.”
Wanting to end all her suffering, Claraicy stripped off all her clothes and sat next to the small stream as the wind started to pick up. Her entire body quickly turned from blotchy red to a pasty white. Claraicy’s long, straggly dirty blonde hair draped in front of her face. Behind it, icicles formed on her nose and the sides of her mouth. She felt nothing; no pain, no cold, no regret, nothing at all.
Another painful kick from inside her belly shook her out of her trance. Looking down at her belly, she could see it move. “What did you do to deserve this?” With both hands, she raised the metal bar high into the air. With tears in her eyes she suspended it above her head, she tried to muster up the strength to stab the fetus growing inside of her. She couldn’t. Lowering her arms, she started to weep.
As the snow melted and the bodies of the animals killed over the winter started to appear in the snowdrifts, Claraicy gnawed away at their remains. Wolves, cougars, crows and other predators had eaten almost everything. The scraps they left behind barely added up to a single meal. With the hungry fetus preventing her from sleeping, Claraicy aimlessly wandered around the forest, searching for anything that would help stop the stabbing pains in her belly.
Covered in frozen animal skins, the gaunt-faced Claraicy walked out of the brush and stepped on the bank of a large lake. After following its shore line, she saw a giant fence. For weeks, she had been walking in a huge circle. Collapsing to her knees, she looked down at her belly. “Why won’t you let me die? Living is not what you think it is. At least in death, nothing can hurt you; not hunger, not the weather and not even your own family."
Hearing something in the woods behind her, Claraicy turned around and saw a pack of wolves. They were loosely spread out at the edge of the forest. Noticing a few partially hidden from sight, she wasn’t sure how many there were.
Leaping to her feet, she spread out her arms and released a deep, echoing growl. With the frozen skins almost doubling the length of her arms, the confused, skittish animals turned around and trotted away. As the occasional one turned back to look at her, Claraicy growled and flapped her arms. Barely above a whisper, she cried out, “Abandon me, just like everyone else has.”
Dropping her hands, Claraicy rubbed her belly. “You are all I have.”
Two long, mind deteriorating months later...
If a man screams in the middle of a forest, will he be heard? If so, by whom and for how long? Life is too short to be that stupid because every action you make has a reaction, and sometimes it can be deadly. That is what Patrick Leer was thinking as he lay on the ground with his head pounding.
He knew that he had to think before he did anything at all. It had been dusk when he was struck and rendered unconscious. The hot burning sensation on the side of his face informed him it was morning. Opening his eyes, he found that he could only make out fuzzy pulsating shapes from the various objects that surrounded him.
The strong lingering smell of ripe decaying flesh filled the air. He knew he was not alone. The strange young unkempt woman that he met in the woods was still there. The rotting furs that she wore gave her away. He could feel his limp limbs being shifted about. After a few minutes, he tried to snap out of his dazed state and resist, but discovered that he couldn’t move.
It took a couple more minutes before the fuzzy shape hovering over him slowly manifested itself into the hazy outline of the woman he had found. As his sight cleared, he could see maggots crawling around the decaying animal skins that draped over her body.
A couple of wiggling creatures dropped off and landed on his face. One maggot rolled off his forehead and got tangled in his scruffy, dirty blonde hair. As the other maggot started to squirm its way through the thick stubble on Patrick’s unshaven cheeks toward his left eye, he asked, “Who are you?”
The disquieting woman didn’t respond. He attempted to shake the maggot away from his eye, but found out that he couldn’t move his head. He could feel the small creature twist and turn as it got entangled in his scruffy beard.
As more feeling came back to his limbs, he started to feel the bindings cut into his skin. In desperation, he tried to move his head, arms, legs, and torso. Nothing moved. A few minutes went by and his eyesight started to clear up some more. Out of the corner of his eye, he discovered that his head was wedged between stakes pounded into the ground, and his body and limbs were lashed to a dozen more large stakes. Even with the violent thrashing of his thick, massive muscles, he failed to loosen any of them.
Patrick’s mind wandered back to when he first spotted the wild, hunchbacked girl draped in hides. The sun was setting behind her as she washed her face on the shore of the wide, fast flowing creek. His view was obscured by the blinding sunlight as he glided his canoe towards her.
As he pulled his canoe ashore, she had quickly stood up. With the sun radiating still behind her, her dark, obscure figure was the centre of a glowing ball of pure light. While she walked towards him, she had blurted out, “Mr. Leer, I remember you and I remember what you did. Do your wife’s thorns still bother you?” Then a blur flashed in front of him and everything went dark.
Patrick’s stubborn, sharp-tongued wife had been dead for almost three years. Thorns? Patrick licked his dry lips before inquiring, “Claraicy, is that you?” Before the words left his mouth, disbelief confused his thoughts. “No, that can’t be? You’re dead.”
Claraicy looked at him, “So you do remember me after all.”
Something inside him snapped as he bellowed, “Untie me right now, you little brat.”
With a wide grin, she replied, “Why, so you can treat me like you did your wife?”
Her defiance shook Patrick. As his rage turned into fear, his tone quieted. “You’ve completely changed. What happened to you? You use to be such a obedient child. Have you forgotten everything your father taught you? What turned a nice girl like you into someone that could do this to your own neighbour?”
Standing over him, Claraicy calmly answered, “As you said, I am supposed to be dead. Being left to die and forced to live like a wild animal can change a person. It gives them a different perspective on life and death. Especially a naive, ‘obedient’ child."
Patrick finally managed to blink the maggot away from his eye. He couldn’t see much. On a large boulder near his head he could make out his unravelled first aid kit. Some of its contents were pulled out of their pouches. Working as a guide for urban shootists (or so called hunters out of Toronto and the United States) his first aid kit was equipped for almost any type of accident or mishap.
Patrick’s foggy brain tried to comprehend what was happening. Claraicy didn’t appear injured. The side of his face felt like it had been hit by a baseball bat, but he had shaken off worse after bar room brawls. He wiggled his toes and fingers; outside of the restraints all of his limbs were fine.
As fear began to make him sweat, he desperately tried to move his limbs in vain. They still wouldn’t budge. Claraicy had effectively bound him solidly to the ground.
His arms were tied to stakes next to his sides and under his armpits, with more rope lashed across his chest. His legs were straddled around the trunk of a large birch tree, crossed and tied in both directions around his ankles. The rope was than tightly stretched and tied off around another tree.
He was unable to move them at all without squeezing the knots even tighter. Even if he got his hands free, he wouldn’t be able to reach around the tree to untie his ankles.
In a low subdued voice he asked, “Why? What have I done to you?”
While continuing to search though the pockets of the large first aid kit, she simply replied, “Nothing yet, and I intend to keep it that way."
Looking at her wide, glowing smile, the hairs on the back of his neck straightened. Droplets of sweat rolled off his forehead as he studied her face. Behind her matted clumps of hair she showed no outward signs of sanity. Her twisted, dirty face seemed to radiate the same sinister glow he had once seen on some of his fellow prison inmates as they graphically described what they would do to those who ratted on them.
For the first time in his life, Patrick was not the one giving the orders. Even during the different times he was in jail, he wasn’t afraid of anyone. Fear was something that he had always dished out to others, not received. Despite being in his late thirties, fear had been a faint childhood memory. Lying there, he suddenly realized that he had absolutely no control over what was about to happen. He couldn’t use his size, strength or any ominous threat to intimidate her. All he could do was lie there and accept his fate.
Throughout his youth, students, teachers and almost all authority figures had feared him. Despite all the local police knowing his cruel and vicious nature, Patrick continued to manipulate everyone around him. The courts didn’t take threats from a child seriously. After time, no one dared to press charges against him. He had everyone terrified of his violent temper and sadistic reprisals on those who did. The only exception was his own mother after she finally realized her only child didn’t care if she lived or died.
Patrick was only ten when he grabbed a steak knife and stabbed his mother several times in her arms and legs as she tried to defend herself. She had forgotten her place. If she had let him drink his father’s beer, nothing would have happened.
In court, Patrick’s entire childhood was opened to the public. Even without his name being printed, everyone reading the local newspaper knew who it was. The prosecutor had told the court, “Given the chance, a child raised without any moral guidance can be more ruthless than any adult."
The words the judge said before sentencing him rambled through Patrick’s head: “Young children have no natural fear of mortality, theirs or anyone else’s. Unless they are taught proper social morals, they are not even bothered by a guilty conscience. The child that stands before me has clearly demonstrated a total lack of any parental guidance. This is why I am forced to lay down the stiff sentence and conditions I feel that this violent case compels me to." That was the last time Patrick saw either of his parents. Shortly after the trial, his mother found the strength to run away, and his abusive father got drunk and did the world a favour by slicing his wrists.
Patrick looked at Claraicy as she stood over him, holding his life in her hands. For the first time, he saw her not as a scared, twisted girl, but as a mirror image of himself after he had finally stood up to his drunken, abusive father and struck back for the first time. It was his seventh birthday. After tying a piece of fishing line across the top of the stairs, he watched his father fall and break an arm, leg and shatter his lower back. That was the best present he could have wished for.
Taunting his wheelchair-bound father taught him the glorifying joy of power. The spiteful acts of terror and vengeance he administered to his parents, classmates, teachers and anyone else that was stupid enough to cross him was more gratifying than a truck load of candy.
Now, helplessly tied and at Claraicy’s mercy in the middle of the forest, he knew that the tide had turned. His very life dangled at her whim. He knew if he screamed his life could be instantly over.
Claraicy’s big, wild, bulging eyes pulsated as she breathed deeply, in and out, in and out, over and over. Long strands of excited drool dripped from the corners of her mouth through her clenched teeth and curled-up, quivering lips. This once mere child had transformed into a deformed and emotionally deprived woman in a little over half a year. Despite her strange elongated facial features, enlarged hands and the large hump on her back, he could see that she was no longer a child. The patchwork pieces of loose hide that she wore couldn’t hide her lean, strong, muscular body and enlarged breasts that occasionally slipped out from under the stiff hides as she turned from side to side. Her appearance was far from the chubby, blonde child he had remembered seeing in the fall. The winter had somehow killed her and replaced her with this evil hag.
Standing over Patrick, Claraicy smiled. “You used to terrify me. Every time you came over for a visit, I was scared to open my mouth. You have no idea what I dreamt of doing to you. I often thought of poisoning you and my dad, but that was too easy. I wanted you to suffer, so I used to dream of other things that I would like to do to you.”
His last chance to scream for help disappeared as Claraicy stuffed and duct-taped the hollow, aluminum battery casing from his dismantled flashlight into his mouth. Producing pig-like grunts, he tried in vain to push the tube out with his tongue. Claraicy’s long, frizzled, dark hair hung wildly over most of her face as she worked. Patrick could see only a few stubborn strands of blonde showing through. Those few strands were all that was left of the child he had known. Patrick shook his body again to test his bindings.
Contemptuous of his struggling, Claraicy pounded four more stakes into the ground, firmly positioning them around his head, one on both sides of his forehead, and the other two placed tightly against his cheeks. The sticky pine gum on the green wooden stakes ripped out some of his whiskers as they scraped against them. Wrapping tape back and forth across his forehead to the adjacent stakes, they were squeezed together.
“You are a piece of shit. Shit is all you deserve and it’s all you will get,” rang in his ears as Claraicy tore open his shirt. “Let’s see how you like this?”
Patrick watched her twisted smile grow on the right side of her face, wiggling her nose as she flicked her wrist and cut a small opening in his stomach with a scalpel. The sudden shock numbed all Patrick’s nerve endings. Claraicy’s glimmering eyes sparkled as her smile changed the shape of her face with every gesture she made. As she slowly, methodically deepened the small slit, pure fright had replaced most of Patrick’s pain.
Inserting her forefinger into the small incision, Claraicy wiggled it about until she wrapped it around a section of Patrick’s small intestines. Slowly and very carefully, she started to pull it out. Patrick was fixated on Claraicy’s face as she closely examined his intestines, making sure they weren’t twisted or nicked. Then after three arm lengths were withdrawn, she sliced it. Patrick’s eyes bulged out as she placed his intestines over a low hanging branch above him. Its putrid contents splashed over his face as the cut end dangled above his head.
“Now let’s see if you like to swallow. I hope you like the taste of your own shit, ‘cause you’re not the only one who can dish it out.”
Grabbing the end of the intestine, Claraicy cut off a small piece to correct its length and flung it into the bushes. Slowly she slipped the outer wall of the intestine snugly over the flashlight casing attached to his mouth like a condom. “That fits just right, perfect in fact." With a piece of the remaining duct tape from Patrick’s back pack, Claraicy taped his intestines to the tube in his mouth.
On the boulder next to Patrick, Claraicy had already laid out a needle, thread and two small tubes of super glue. With a wide smile on her face, she began to hum. Like a caring nurse, Claraicy told him step by step everything she was doing as she sewed the protruding intestines to the skin around the opening in his stomach with a series of tight stitches.
A seam of super glue secured everything in place and completely stopped the bleeding. “Don’t worry Mr. Leer, I’ve had lots of practice stitching up my mom. She taught me well. You know my dad, he never liked going to doctors. Surely you remember what happened to her after she took me to the hospital with a shattered arm from a flying beer bottle? She couldn’t get out of bed for almost two weeks. I had to look after both of them with only one arm."
Patrick knew her father. He was nothing but a big-mouthed, blowhard. She broke her arm falling out of a tree. I’m sure that’s what happened. Claraicy’s father was a church elder and played Santa Claus for as long as I can remember. Shit, he had bounced every kid in the district on his lap. Claraicy was always more than a little touched! She was never like the other kids in the neighbourhood. Then Patrick remembered why he ventured into the woods.
In modern society, being the king and absolute master of your castle was something that was frowned upon. However, inside the walls of their castles, both Patrick and Claraicy’s father ruled with iron fists. That was part of the reason they had become friends. Looking at Claraicy, Patrick compared his early childhood to hers. He then wondered What kind of monster did Kerry created.
After all traces of any bleeding had stopped, Claraicy stood up and smiled like a child after tying up her own shoes for the very first time. While brushing her hair back with her fingers, she revealed to him the leftover fragments of her once sweet innocent face. Patrick watched her smile as she placed his unzipped sleeping bag over the low branch above his torso, forming a small tent.
In a sugary voice, she talked to him like he was a doll or stuffed teddy bear. “Now, are you nice and cozy? Well, I hope so, ‘cause I want you to die nice and slow." Then she added with a chuckle, “Besides, bleeding or freezing to death would be too good for the likes of you."
It took a few hours before Patrick’s intestines puffed out like a long, poorly stuffed sausage and his own waste started flowing into his month. Within the dark shadows at the very edge of his limited sight he could see the top of Claraicy’s head.
As she finally disappeared from view, his thoughts wandered. How could a young, frightened child survive a winter alone in these northern woods? How did Claraicy manage to grow so quickly into a crazy, demented creature and get the physical strength to overtake me? He shut his eyes. What did I do to her to deserve this?
A chill came over him as he heard Claraicy's voice echo in the forest, “Say hello to your nice wife for me. Oh, sorry, you won’t be seeing her. You will be going to Hell instead.”
Claraicy sat next to the edge of a small, calm lake and gazed into a still pool of water that was trapped behind a small dam of roots and silt. The reflection that she saw was barely recognizable as being human. Who am I?
The strange creature that looked back at her was a misshaped, ugly monster. Was her name still Claraicy? A name issued to her in a previous life. That girl never truly existed, or did she?
What she did caught up to her. Was it real? Was everything that happened just a fantasy, merely another dream? Did it really happen? Claraicy shook her head and screamed, “Who are you?”
As the echoes resonating over the lake died down, a clump of her hair dropped into the water and the ripples distorted her reflection. In her head she saw a little blonde girl with freshly combed hair and the pretty red bow that she always wore to church. Her face supported a well-rehearsed smile along with the heavy makeup her mother put on her to mask the battered and abused child inside.
As the ripples died out, the strange beast returned. There was no smile, no bow and no makeup concealing the bruises. A dark twisted mat replaced her once shiny hair. Her round face had become a long, lean piece of leather, hardened by neglect and weather. A wide, elongated and slightly turned-up nose had replaced the small, cute round one that was often the target of the back of her father’s hand. Claraicy swiped the hideous image in the water with her fist. The ripples made her look even more grotesque. Jumping up, she yelled, “Who am I? What am I?”
She looked at her body. It was covered in blood and filth. What she was forced to do to survive had deeply callused all of her fragile human emotions. Her constantly grumbling stomach had forced her to gnaw away on scavenged leftovers from rotting, abandoned animal kills. Sometimes she was lucky to caught or spear with a stick the odd frog or fish. Without being able to make fire, she was forced to eat everything raw. Over time, even worms, maggots and even bugs were eagerly consumed to relieve her constantly grumbling stomach.
She survived day to day and sometimes hour to hour, or even moment to moment. Malnutrition along with the past long cold winter had taken its toll on both her body and her mind.
Between her constantly changing body and the harsh environment, her clothes turned into rags. Even the vest she had found no longer fit over the large hump protruding out of her back. She resorted to peeling pieces of hide off of decaying animal carcasses, loosely tying them together in a haphazard manner and either draping them over her shoulders or tying them to her waist, legs or feet. As the rotting hides fell apart, on several occasions she had been left naked.
To her, warmth was a luxury. She instinctively knew that the bitter cold wouldn’t kill her. At times she had wanted to die, but something inside her kept her defiant heart beating. It didn’t matter what Mother Nature threw at her, her body refused to surrender, even after she had given up.
Claraicy’s mind wandered back to a time when she had stripped off the last remnants of her clothes and tried to kill the fetus growing inside of her. After she found out she couldn’t, she just sat there and cried. The freezing rain had formed icicles over her cold body. The cold had slowly lulled her into a deep sleep. She dreamt that her ordeal was finally over. She wanted to escape all of the suffering she was going through and simply die.
To her surprise, the bright morning sun woke her and she was forced to break out of her icy shell and face another cold winter day. Memories of her standing up and screaming out, “Why am I still being punished?” while ice crystals fell from her body, haunted her. She should have been frozen solid. She should have died.
Claraicy looked around. Up to the time that Patrick found her, her only possession was the stainless steel bar. After pounding and grinding the edge of it for weeks over course stones, she had transformed it into a crude tool that she used to cut, hack and dig with. To her delight, it had been replaced by a sharp hunting knife, a camp shovel and hatchet. Patrick wasn’t a man to be trusted, but he always had the best equipment he could afford.
Having waxed, waterproof matches meant enjoying her first fire since she had been abandoned. Within half an hour after it was lit, she was eating hot food that her taste buds could barely recognize. Eating a can of hot spaghetti next to a warm fire overwhelmed her fragile mind.
Everything was surreal. Claraicy looked around and stabbed the end of the spoon she was using into her leg. As the shocking pain made her leg twitch, she knew she wasn’t dreaming. The small fragile world that she created in her mind became hazy and confused. She looked around, trying to focus on what was really real, and hoping that her life was actually only an elaborate nightmare.
A big bulge on her hip gradually crept upwards under her hides. As it worked its way onto her shoulder, a strange, furry, almost cat-like head popped out. Claraicy twisted her head back and forth, rubbing the creature's face with her matted hair. “Jesse, I may not know who I really am any more, but I know you. You’re probably the only one that can stand me.”
Claraicy reached up and cuddled the creature next to her cheek. She sat there rocking back and forth until Jesse started to lick her ear. “I think you’re hungry?”
Claraicy put her finger into the spaghetti and brought it up to Jesse’s mouth. The creature shook its head in disgust and scurried back to the comfort of her hip. Claraicy giggled for the first time that she could remember. She felt like she was in a drunken stupor. As she smiled, her hard weathered face felt like it had cracked open. She no longer cared who or what she was. Her stomach was full, she was warm, and at that moment, ecstatically happy.
Claraicy built the fire higher and higher until its reflection made the edge of the small lake in front of her glow. Full of delight, she screeched into the air in a half howl, half growl that couldn’t be replicated by any human throat. She ate, danced and ate some more.
Resembling a young, hairy newborn ape with a cat-like head and retractable claws, Jesse creeped into the forest and hid. Staying away from the fire, the young creature scrounged for insects and frogs at the fringes of the clearing. The light of the fire drew in the insects, which in turn drew in the frogs that Jesse quickly turned into tasty treats.
Claraicy laughed as Jesse ran into the water, splashing around in the dark after a large moth. She ended up falling into a peaceful sleep with the constantly hungry Jesse curled up against her warm stomach, munching on some maggots that were embedded in her hides.
As the sun rose, the odd flame still appeared between the bright embers of the dying fire. To escape from the bright sun that shone into her eyes, Claraicy rolled onto her front, then to her other side. Caught by surprise, Jesse leaped off of her and ran into the forest.
Feeling thirsty, Claraicy got up for a drink of water. Instead of scooping it up with her hands, she simply filled up an empty can and drank out of it. With the label burnt off, she didn’t know what had been in it, but mixed with water she could taste the tomato and spices in its sauce. After refilling the can, she placed it on the embers to warm up and put some small pieces of wood next to it.
The warmth of the glowing embers drew her face closer to the fire pit. As she leaned over the ashes, a piece of hide slipped off her shoulder and some of its hairs caught fire. Patting the flames out with her hands, she started to shake her head. The stinging in her hands finally woke her from the surreal state she was in.
She looked around and saw all the stuff she had salvaged. Backpacks, blankets, food, empty cans and camping equipment littered the area. It was real, it wasn’t a dream. She had actually lived out some of her wild, vindictive fantasies. She was the demented wild creature in her dreams. It wasn’t about survival. If she didn’t slash holes into Patrick’s canoe, she could’ve used it to paddle out of woods and find help. “What made me do it? Do I really want to stay here?”
Claraicy dropped to her knees and curled up into a ball with her arms wrapped around her knees. Seeing her mother in distress, Jesse scooted to her hip.
Despite the warm sun and all the heat still radiating from the embers and burning kindling, Claraicy began shivering. With tears flowing down her face, she repeated over and over. “I’m a good girl. I’m a good girl. Daddy, please forgive me. I didn’t mean to do what I did. It wasn’t me. I wasn’t thinking straight. I’ll behave now. I’ll be your good girl again.”
After a half hour of wallowing in self-pity and regret, Claraicy crawled over to the water and splashed some on her face. She knew that it was too late. She could never take back what she had done to him.