Chuck Wendig‘s crazed version of “Telephone” in story form is finally at an end. The concept is that each person writes 200 words of a story and that same story is picked up by another writer and so on and so forth until we reached 1,000 words. I’ve been part of five stories over these past five weeks and it’s been great fun seeing how the stories have developed and morphed from the originals. I concluded a story by Adrienne, j, Smoph, and Joyce. You can read it below. It was previously untitled, but I’m going to call it “The Hunted.”
Part 1 of 5 (Adrienne)
The trio looked at the fence in front of them. It was a simple chain link, but it had to be about ten feet high, and the razor wire on top added another two feet. He was expecting this, but he was not expecting to have two girls on his coat tails. He could take care of himself, now he was pretty sure they would all die.
Except for his heavy breathing and the muffled sobs from the girls, it was silent. The setting sun was hidden by an ominous sky, promising rain at any moment. He knew what happened when the rain came, so he needed to move fast. He surveyed the barrier one more time, but froze as the wind brought an all too familiar smell. He turned to face the direction they were running from. The trees edging the clearing began to sway as the wind picked up. He could hear the soft pattering of rain on the leaves. The air rushed out of his lungs as the storm descended upon them, bringing with it more than just wind and rain. The three had to move now or accept certain death.
They were coming.
Part 2 of 5 (j)
He picked up one of the girls and hung her on the fence as high as he could reach. Then he did the same with the other. Knowing what was coming, he had to take a steadying breath before he started up. A lost moment was better than panic.
At the top, he threw his coat over the razor wire. It would help, a little.
He flipped himself over the fence. He’d taken some damage but it wouldn’t kill him. For a moment, he thought about leaving the girls. The things coming out of the woods would find the girls first, give him a bigger head start.
Shit. When had he gone soft?
He hung himself back over the fence. The wind tore into him but it was that or what was left of his soul.
He stayed as still as possible while the girls climbed over him. They were slow. The sun was probably already down but it was hard to tell with the storm moving in.
Where were they? Shouldn’t the damn things be on top of them already?
Finally, the girls were over the top.
He pulled himself off, ignoring what he left behind. Then he dropped down and pulled the girls off the fence.
Part 3 of 5 (Smoph)
What they had to do was find shelter, and fast. He didn’t fancy being out in inclement weather with these young girls and they were better off hidden from their pursuers. He could see a barn, edges blurred in the falling dark. Shelter and a hayloft to hide in were too appealing to pass up.
He set off at a slow jog, the girls struggling to keep pace, their tired feet dragging in the dirt. He made them go around the barn, through a stand of trees behind, and in through a smaller back entrance with a door that squeaked traitorously.
They waited until it was dark before slowly edging the huge barn doors closed. With a penlight that grew ever weaker, he showed them the way up to the hayloft, tucked them into some canvas and took watch. He would wake one to take his place so he could catch a few hours later. As a precaution, he pulled up the ladder.
An urgent tug on his arm and he was sitting bolt upright, straight from sleep. Wide blue eyes looked to him out of a terrified face. Beyond her, there was the squeal of a door on its hinges. Their hiding place had been discovered.
Part 4 of 5 (Joyce)
“Show yourself.” The rancher’s voice was deep and menacing. “I know you’re in here. I can smell you.”
“Please,” the man said quietly, as he slid the ladder down. “I have children with me. We only seek shelter.”
He sent the girls down the ladder; both were crying. Once he climbed down, he pushed the girls behind him. He hoped he would be killed first. He could not bear to witness the murder of innocents.
“I know who you are,” the rancher said. “You are the ones being hunted. Do you know what would be done to me if it became known I harbored such as you?”
The man knew all too well.
“I know they’re close,” the man began. “But, if we move quickly, we can distance ourselves from you. Or, let the young ones go and I will remain. When they come, they will decorate you as a hero.”
Both girls wrapped their arms around the man’s legs tightly, tears streaming down their faces.
The rancher stepped back out of the doorway, motioning for them all to go. The death of these humans would not be on his conscience.
Part 5 of 5 (me)
The man hoisted the smaller girl onto his back. The extra weight wouldn’t make their flight any easier, but he couldn’t leave them now. He didn’t look back. The wet ground sucked at his feet and he knew his grip hurt the older girl’s arm as he wrenched her along.
Too slow. Much too slow. Even if the rancher distracted them. If he was alone he’d swarm up a tree. If he had to go down, he’d take some of them with him.
He heard them. When prey was close, the Outworlders began to thrum. An eerie sound somewhere between the purr of an engine and the reverberations of bass. Two things he barely remembered.
“Please,” the girl holding his hand begged. “Please.”
He scanned the terrain. A bolt of blue light lit the sky illuminated their path. Their pursuers grew louder. He saw a rocky outcropping to his left.
“There,” he said. “Hide there.”
He thrust the smaller girl at her and watched long enough to see them duck into a crevasse. He lifted his leaden feet and broke into a shambling sprint. A bit farther and the girls wouldn’t hear his screams.
It was enough.