By Jamilah Araf
Discussed: descriptions of wounds/death
When Evanna finds herself in a snowy forest pursued by a menacing figure with no memory of how she got there, she knows to do only one thing: run.
I moved as fast as my feet could take me into the woods. I was blindly putting one foot in front of the other, when I brought myself to a sudden stop.
Why am I running? And when did I start?
I felt like a wind-up robot. Someone had twisted my crank and let me roam. I looked at my surroundings. The tall trees reached the clouds and were covered in snow, blocking the moon’s light.
It was very quiet. Something was wrong.
I had no clue where I was or where I could go. My gut told me there was danger, so I kept looking. I turned around to find a small cottage. The lights were out. A figure could still be seen lurking, even in the night.
Someone was coming.
I ran, and it wasn’t long before I felt the sharp pain of needles in my foot. I kept a steady, relentless pace, looking back once or twice. He was always there, standing a few feet behind me. He never looked tired, as if he had teleported to catch up with me. He had the eyes of a shark, ready for the kill. His wolf always looked the same.
My shoes were coming apart and the snow was now sprinkled with red. I had cramps everywhere, but the fear of this man and his wolf pushed me. I did not realize I had been in a full sprint for hours, with no rest, water or food. I felt like I had all the energy I needed. And then, I crashed.
I woke up. The snow around my feet was bright red. Face down, I tried to get up, but I wasn’t sure how. I put my hands on the snow, and pushed up. But my hands weren’t listening, and pain shot up my right arm. I crashed back down. This time, I tried with my elbows. I put them under my body and pushed up. I’m doing it! I was a few inches off the ground when I was immediately pushed down. I heard growling above me. Fear shocked my system like caffeine. The sun was up. My hands were cold. One arm felt broken. And I couldn’t feel my feet.
I turned my head quickly to look at my feet but instead saw the man. In a matter of seconds, I saw he was resting on a tree, his arms loosely by his side. His eyes were open, looking straight ahead. His face had no expression. His legs were frozen together, he was covered in wounds and blood, and he was dead.
Oh no oh no oh no. The murderer was on my back. My first instinct was to roll, slamming the wolf against the snow. It was when I tried to get up that I noticed my feet. They weren’t there. I screamed. My feet are… gone. Oh my god that’s so disgusting! At that moment, I should have been focused on the wolf, but I couldn’t. The wolf, the woods, the dead man had all faded into the background as I stared at the two stumps that were my feet. Flesh and bone was all that was left. I threw up in my mouth and quickly swallowed it. As it all came back into focus, I became light-headed. I couldn’t tell if it was from the loss of blood or the newfound realization that I could not escape. That this wolf would be my end. He was now facing me, only mere inches from my face, revealing his teeth, sharp and red, matching his claws.
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I was in pain, and even though I couldn’t fight, I still tried. My shaky hands had grabbed his snout, mimicking a gutsy move from a movie I had remembered seeing on my thirteenth birthday.
The wolf was stronger. It escaped my grasp and dragged its claws through my eye socket. I let go to cover my gushing eye. Although pain had clouded my vision, I could see a blurry figure leaping towards the wolf.
A fox, a snowy one, had attacked him, and was winning the fight.
As the world began to come into focus, the fox approached.
“We need to get you home.”
The word home shocked me more than the talking animal. I couldn’t remember a home. I couldn’t remember anything but that stupid movie I saw on my thirteenth birthday, and running.
“Home?” I said on the verge of tears.
The fox stared at me, as if tolerating my confusion. He looked back to the cabin, which was now a dot in the distance, and turned to me. “The cabin will do,” he said.
Pain seared through my head as I made the small gesture of looking down. How was I supposed to get to the cabin in such a weak condition? The fox grabbed me by the hood and dragged me to the cabin.
Something about this fox felt familiar. I tried searching my brain for memories, but all that came up was the movie. There was no fox in it.
This story had humble beginnings, starting with a simple prompt during a pair meet-up: “write a scene or story that includes a character who is a talking animal.” Only after typing the last words did I realize it resembled a movie I had watched a month before that meeting, “The Bourne Legacy.” It really took off after the Mentee Mid-Year Workshop, which centered on sci-fi (and dystopian fiction) and inspired me to further develop this story, until I came up with a full plot.
After getting into sci-fi/thriller novels and movies during COVID, I knew to put action in the spotlight. This piece has helped me learn more about myself as a writer, and as a person. I realized that my strength and passion for writing rely on the emotion in a given story. My best work comes from when I write from my experiences, and this piece has helped me truly appreciate the line, “write about what you know.”
Jamilah Araf has been writing forever and has always enjoyed story-telling. Currently, she is branching out at the newspaper club at her Queens high school and enjoys physical and digital art, coding and music. While she might not call herself an athlete, Jamilah rollerblades, ice skates and swims. In addition to being a writer, Jamilah aspires to be a lawyer or a teacher. Today, you can find her jamming out to Ed Sheeran and Onerepublic or obsessing over Hamilton, Disney and the MCU. She eats Thai food, her grandmother’s desserts and ice cream with her family and friends.