By Ella G., Orland, CA
Andrea raced through the dark forest; her painful gasps for air echoed loudly within the silent forest. Bare feet flew across the rocky ground, the gravel slicing at the pads of her feet like knives.
But she didn’t stop.
She couldn’t afford to.
Branches reached out with sharp fingers, scratching her face, and burying themselves in her hair. Her thumping heart screamed in her ears, the noise rising into a ringing crescendo. It throbbed in perfect harmony with the shrill cries of disturbed crows that burst into the night sky in dark clouds. Her veins felt on fire, her muscles burned as her heart pumped poison; but it only made her run harder into the night.
Her legs trembled and shook, while her lungs shuddered and crackled wetly as she sucked in the cool night air greedily, fear and adrenaline pumping through her.
“Oh, yes Andrea! Run! Run all you want but I will find you! You can’t protect her forever!” His voice rang out in the darkness, shrill, angry, and hysterical. It cut through the thin air, mocking the very sound of the crows enraged caws.
Andrea stifled a horrified scream and ran harder into the dark. She leaped over logs and rocks, flying through the air landing back onto the hard ground with a hard thud. The tremors vibrated through her wobbly legs until she thought they wouldn’t be able to hold her weight.
She burst from the forest in a flurry of flying leaves and broken twigs, raced toward the ocean, the crusty sand splitting then squishing in between her toes. The inky black sky curved above her head in a twinkling ceiling, the cicadas singing out shrilly. The black ocean stretched out for as far as her eyes could see, the waves hurling themselves at each other. The whoosh of salt and the cool ocean breeze was only a soft breath that spread over her heated, sweaty face like cold kisses.
With trembling hands she pushed her tangled, sweat-dripping hair out of her face, her breath leaving her lips in curling white mist. Where was he? She turned in a dizzying motion, her breathing escalating into wheezing, racking, sobs that escaped from her as her eyes searched the darkness. Where was he?
Her feet tumbled over each other as she stumbled backwards, until she felt the ocean water reach out with cold fingers and grasp her ankles, as if to drag her back into its black mouth. Andrea sank to her knees, sobbing with relief and fear. She let the waves wash over her back while her knees sank into the sucking, wet sand.
“Oh, Earth-Shaker, hear my pleas. Poseidon, I am in danger. Your daughter is in danger. He knows, oh, great god, he knows--”
“--what do I know, lovely Andrea?”
Andrea’s head snapped up, her heart stopping and her blood freezing as she saw him stroll lazily toward her. His amber hair was a snarled mane of fiery curls, while half-closed green eyes shown like wet jewels in the night. His full lips were drawn into a mocking, lopsided smile, while one of his eyebrows was raised in an expression of teasing puzzlement. Relaxed, confident, powerful, his posture spoke volumes of him; the way his strides were lazy and slow and surefooted, each step bringing him closer and closer to her.
“What do I know, Andrea? Do you mean that I know of your alias? Or that you aren’t here because your parents are dead, for I know that your parents are well and alive. I know many things, Andrea. I know and see all. Like the fact that you have been watching me, making sure I stay away from her. It was weak of you to try. This is merely a feeble trick. Neither you nor your precious army of guardians can stop me.” As the current receded again, it pulled with it Andrea’s last hope and pushed it out to sea.
He grinned, his white teeth flashing. “I know that you have been telling your friends of me. Which one Andrea? Which one do you mean, lovely Andrea?” he whispered. His grin spread across his face like an opening wound. Andrea noticed that his canine teeth were longer and sharper than any humans should be. Oh but, he isn't human, she corrected herself.
Andrea gulped and looked down, sobbing out her words. “W-we are e-e-everywhere! You c-c-cannot touch her!”
In a motion faster than Andrea could detect he was suddenly kneeling on the wet sand in front of her, shaking his head and smiling with so many teeth in his mouth. He reached out with a pale, graceful hand, brushing back her hair and stroking her face. Andrea tried to jerk away from his touch, but he held her face tightly between his strong fingers.
“Oh, Andrea, don’t cry. My lovely Andrea, don’t cry, please! Besides, you needn’t waste your tears on little Mermadea. I won’t touch her. If I had wanted to kill her, I would have done so long ago, when she was only a baby. I have watched her, studied her, her whole life. I have no urge to bruise or puncture that soft skin. But, enough of Mermadea, let us speak of you.”
Andrea gazed at the ground. Under her shuddering breath, she whispered pleas and prayers in a shaking, small voice. “Please, great god, save me. Save me, I have served you loyally for so long. Save me--”
“--no, no, lovely Andrea. No need for praying to Poseidon. After all, he sent you here, to your death, even though you are so young and lovely. What a thoughtless and wasteful action. What makes you think that he will save you now?”
Andrea’s words became a noise of hysterical sounds, as if her words were leaving her mouth too fast. Her teeth chattered while she shook terribly, the fear bright in her eyes.
“D-d-d-dear g-g-gods. Please I have done everything...everything to serve you. Everything...serve you...please great lord...merciful saving lords!”
He leaned in and let his icy lips brush against her cheek, his breath soft and hot against her flesh. His fingers dug into her wrist as he chained her to him. Laughter rang in her ears as he gently kissed underneath the corner of her jaw.
“No one will answer your pleas.”