"the boathouse"

by C. Ikpoh

The floor creaked with each step her tormentor took. She trembled as she hid behind well buried barrels in the small, abandoned, single-room boathouse on the docks. Her predator's breathing did not escape her ears either. He was hungry - possessed by a carnal nature - and would not be denied his meal. She desperately tried to remain motionless, for any movement surely would awaken the wooden boards beneath her, sounding off her location. Thus, the fact her tailbone was painfully angled into the hard surface was of no consequence. The fear of losing her life was greater than her discomfort. With one hand over her mouth to silence her breathing, she remained hidden perfectly as the stalker methodically searched the boathouse. She could see him but he not her - the woman's sole advantage.

Every moment that slithered by on her watch gave her an increasing feeling of survival. She thought to herself she just might make it as the predator continued to grow in frustration. He could not find her even though he saw her run into the dilapidated structure. In anger, he knocked over boxes and grunted monstrously. It was apparent he would not cease his search though, as he meticulously inched along, careful not to miss any area. The woman gripped her leg tightly, controlling the shivering of her body caused by the cold night air on her skin and terror in her heart; a terror heightened every time the monster passed through the streams of moonlight peaking through the cracks of the roof. His eyes held the color of night and reflected the sky's beams. He was a man unlike ever before in existence, with teeth that rivaled the greatest carnivores. Her stalker was no ordinary predator. No. She was certain of that while watching him glide in and out of his surroundings, seemingly dancing around the dust particles floating in the air. Alas, his wickedly majestic nature was failing him, for he could not find his prey.

Then, he quickly turned, startling the woman. A noise captured his focus. The man snarled with excitement. Motionless with his ears at full attention, he glared at his target. Slowly, he crept near the location of the sound. When he approached, the monster thrashed the wooden crates and tore his way through the debris blocking him from his victory. The woman's heart pounded as she witnessed the horror that was her reality. Every inch of her skin was hot. Terror made her itch all over but she dared not move an iota to scratch - a form of discipline more painful than you can imagine. The woman's brain was overloaded from processing fear, physical ailments, and an unwavering self-control that was on the verge of shattering. Her chest heaved uncontrollably, and finally, when her body was about to burst into fits of screaming agony, the predator stopped.

The woman immediately gathered herself as to not make a sound. Her stalker froze, and she was at a loss for what he was doing. It was then she watched as his shoulders dropped in disappointment. The monster did not find his prey, for he was distracted to the opposite corner by a random chain hanging on the wall, hidden behind piled junk, as it swayed from the breeze. Disgruntled and defeated, the predator exited the boathouse sure his prey must have slipped out before he entered and thoroughly searched.

His miscalculation was her victory however. The distraction provided by Mother Nature left the tiny area she was crouched into unchecked by her tormentor. Not too quick to revel in her victory though, she remained silent and motionless while watching her predator run away at blazing speeds in his now misguided search of her. When he was long gone, she stood up and rubbed her tailbone while shaking and releasing a stuttering sigh of relief. She quickly worked to regulate her erratic breathing and heartbeat, and then immediately fled in the opposite direction of the monster.