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The Beast in Me (completed)
Sue smiled, got up, and went over to her bags that she had left in the entrance hall. She rummaged for a while and then exclaimed,
“Oh -- I must've left them in the car. Back in a sec.” She opened the front door and went out.
“Sheena! -- Oh my God! Sheena!” I heard the voice of Mandy shout. It was coming from far away, I could tell. I was barely able to hear it but my ears were somehow sensitized on her voice it seemed. She sounded desperate. The hair on the back of the neck stood up. My heart rate accelerated. “I don't know how it happened, Frank! She suddenly slipped off the trail! -- Oh my God! Whaddawedo now? -- Can you see her in the water? It's at least 40 feet down! What if she...”
That was enough. I dashed out of the house and past my sister who was coming with a bag.
“Byron! Where...? What...?” Sue asked startled by my sudden rush and the sheer speed of my running.
“Emergency!” I managed to convey. It must have sounded severely Doppler-shifted like the sirens of an ambulance passing by. “Later!” I added although I doubt she picked that up.
Sheena was in danger! But where was she? She had been with Mandy -- and Frank -- I knew by what Mandy had said.
“Look! -- She's up there, caught in the tree!” Mandy's voice again, faint but just audible to my perception. I had run about half a mile down the road in the general direction of her voice. Out here I could locate where it came from much better. Without slowing pace, I made a turn into a side street to correct my heading.
Water? They must be somewhere along the river, although the banks were nowhere close to 40 feet high, unless... Could they be at the dam? The forested area in its immediate vicinity was off limits to the public. Too many safety hazards. I would know, I had been there often enough with Jim. But never beyond the trespassing warnings. Although there was a hole in the fence and a well-trampled trail that told tales about less law-abiding youngsters.
Geez, I hope they didn't go there!
But chances were they had gone there anyway as it lay right towards the direction of my my running. It was 5 miles from here using the road. It used to take me twentytwo minutes with my bike. I was certainly matching or even exceeding my best efforts on my bike. But I wasn't restricted to the road now. I crashed into the shrubs of the forest now. I was determined to take the shortest possible way to get there. I didn't even care to follow any paths. I barely noticed how branches, twigs and twines were trying to grab me as I made headway. The longer I ran the less my brain seemed to function in a rational manner -- instincts were taking over in the face of danger. Now even at daylight.
“She's moving -- thank God! Frank, we need to get down there. Do something! -- I think she's bleeding! -- Yikes, she's slipping off!”
I tried to accelerate even more. Mandy's voice was becoming clearer. I didn't need to strain to hear what she was saying.
“I'm not going down there! That's much too dangerous! It's too steep! -- Let's call for help! I've got my cell phone!”
“No! -- I'll be in serious trouble with my parents! I'm not supposed to go here. Especially, after what happened yesterday. -- Please, can't you climb down?”
“No way! Unless Toby or Hogan want to do it?”
Fat chance, I thought while I was listening. Aha, so they were also of the party.
“They're about as useful as Nada and Dodo here. -- What did you have to take her up here for? I told you she's clumsy!”
“What for?! Cos you told me we're gonna give her a bit of a scare, that's why!”
“Scare! Not kill!” Mandy screeched.
“Look's like it's too late for that...” I heard Frank say weakly. I hated his guts so much I wanted to crush his nose.
“Help!” That was Sheena's feeble voice. “My leg! I'm bleeding!”
“Sheena! Don't let go! We're gonna help you. Hang on!” Mandy shouted.
“She's gonna fall -- and drown.” Frank said with an indifferent voice. “I'm outa here! I'm in deep marmelado if my dad found out about this. Toby, Hogan! Let's get back to our motorbikes!”
Bastard! I dodged another tree and hit the road again. It wasn't far now. The legs of my pants were shredded at the bottom, my own legs bruised and bloody. Nothing of which I either noticed or cared about. I could hear the noise that the motorbikes were making.
“Frank! Call for help at least! Check if there's someone at the power plant who... Frank!”
“You better leave too, Mandy! There's nothing we can do here now!”
“Mandy... we should leave, too!” That was Narnia's shaky voice.
Then I saw the guys on the bikes heading towards me on their way back to town. I kept running without slowing down. I saw Frank who was in the lead.
Eager to pull his neck out. I had a burning desire to give him a fistful when he passed. But there were more important things right now than giving in to my righteous impulse. I just threw him a dirty look which he reciprocated with one of incredulous amazement at my appearance. But he didn't even slow down. Neither did Toby and Hogan who didn't even glance.
“Help!” Sheena's voice.
“No!!” Mandy screamed hopping up and down on two feet. Then I heard a splash. “She's drowning! Why doesn't anybody do anything?!”
“We'll only get into trouble if we don't get out here immediately!” Dalia figured. “It's not our fault. Let's go!”
“She's above the surface again! Call now! I left my cell phone at my bike!”
“We're not doing any good here. Frank will get someone.”
“I hope so...” Mandy said but that sounded utterly unconvinced. “She can't swim! Why can't she swim! -- Swim dammit! Sheena, get to the shore!”
Now I was almost there. Just the last stretch to the top of the dam was left. I threw myself against the fence. I saw the huge reservoir of water in the depth. There wasn't much water in the dam this time of year. I looked around and saw Mandy on the forbidden trail, across a stretch of water. She hadn't noticed me yet. She was staring down the spot where Sheena must've fallen in. But I didn't see her! Then a hand surfaced and waved before it disappeared again in the water. Sheena was drowning. I rattled the fence in despair. It was 25 feet to the water surface from my place. But even so, the fence was keeping me from jumping. I was strong but the fence was reinforced. It would take me too long to get through, I was sure. I could climb but the fence was barbed on the top. What did it matter? I started climbing. I didn't feel pain when the sharp tips cut in my flesh, gashing my arms, ripping deep wounds that started bleeding at many places. I pressed down the barbwire to push my body over the top. I put one leg on the other side and pulled the second one after. The wire caught my leg. I struggled, cutting a long wound into my shin. I tried to jump down but the wire was caught in the remains of my pants. I keeled over and went flying top first to the ground on the other side. My outstretched arms caught the fall and prevented me breaking my neck. My wrists complained. This pain I felt. I crushed onto my chest and the air left my lungs.
I must have been out for a few seconds as everything had gone black. But I got to my senses again, and then to my feet. Bleary-eyed, I looked down into the water. No sign of Sheena. I didn't even think for a second but threw myself down into the water. I never dove before. I was afraid of heights. Describing a perfect arc I felt the sensation of temporary weightlessness before I was engulfed in the ice cold wetness of the water. It seemed that I was being sucked into the depths. I wanted to get back to the surface but my momentum was taking me yard after another towards the bottom. Finally, I wasn't sinking anymore but nothing was lifting me up either. I started kicking with my feet. I needed air, I needed to get to the surface and look for Sheena who had been close to the bank about 50 yards from the place I had jumped in.
When I resurfaced, I gasped for air and shook the water out of my hair and face. I needed to get oriented. Where was Sheena? No sign of her above the surface but I recognized the point where she must have fallen in. I started thrashing with my legs and started crawl-swimming.
“Who's that?” I heard Narnia call.
“It looked like Byron!” Mandy said in disbelief.
“Where did he suddenly come from?” Dalia threw in.
I felt incredibly slow in the water. Time was ticking away. Sheena was drowning. How long had she been under water now already? I didn't dare to imagine.
Finally I was close to her place of impact. I submerged again and tried to look for her. Nothing. I did a few strokes in the water and searched around. I was getting desperate. Maybe she was deeper down? I kicked again and kept looking left and right. No Sheena... or was that...? I did a few undewater breast strokes and then I saw a plume of dark hair spread out like a flower. Yes, it was Sheena, she was floating motionlessly, her arms and legs stretched out as if... no! I grabbed her under her arms and dragged her up. It was easier than I imagined. I resurfaced with her and kicked the both of us to a place on the bank where it was less steep. I got on shore first and then quickly pulled her up on land.
Sheena lay motionless. Her face was weight as chalk, her lips were blue, and worst of all she wasn't breathing. I started pumping her arms up and down and pressed her chest. First there was no effect but then suddenly a gush of water came out of her mouth. I was amazed at how much water her lungs had taken up. I continued and she kept spitting and coughing until no more water came out. Now her chest was heaving up and down, she had started breathing again, at least. Relieved, I looked at her. She still was pale and her eyes wouldn't open. I bent over her and lightly patted her cheek.
“Sheena! -- Sheena are you OK?” At last, she cracked her eyes open.
“Ron?” Her head bobbed to the side and her eyes fell shut again.
“No! Don't close your eyes! Wake up! Sheena.” Confused, inspected her body. Then I realized that she had a deep wound in her thigh. Thick fluid of red was slowly oozing out of a nasty wound that must have ruptured an artery. I realized that the water was red with her blood, too. She was bleeding to death.
“Sheena no!” I ripped my shirt off and tried to tie it around her leg to stop the bleeding. I pulled and pulled until the shirt ripped off. The blood flow diminished but didn't stop completely. I was shaking from cold and anxiety now. “Sheena please stay with me!” But Sheena was out.
I looked at the wound. And then something strange happened. The blood looked appetizing to me. It was as if food was being laid out for me. I looked at my trembling hands. They were covered in Sheena's blood. It was irresistible to lick my fingers. Part of me thought, what are you doing? Another part could only think of more blood. It tasted delicious. I wanted more. I hated myself for it but I bent down and started licking the wound. I was in a frenzy. I couldn't stop. But then I realized that the bleeding had stopped. I panted, I recoiled at what I had done. I had devoured her last drops of blood to quench my thirst. I felt how this strengthened me. It was as if a warm power had filled me. For the first time in the past 48 hours I felt completely satiated and happy. But my mind was screaming. How could you do something like that?
I trembled, disgusted at the beast in me. My animal instinct had killed her... or so I thought.
“Ron? My leg... it hurts so much!” Sheena's eyes opened again. I gasped, she wasn't dead. A wave of relief went through my body.
“Sheena! You're alive!” Without thinking further, I lifted her up and lay her across my shoulders. I felt as strong as I never had done in my life before. Effortlessly, I climbed up the steep slope.
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