The 500 Club prompt I chose for this week reads like this:
“Writing Challenge: In 500 words, convey a sense of fear without using the word “fear” or a derivative there of (afraid, scared, frightened, etc.).”
Here is the story it sparked!
The sun shone high and basked the forest in its heat. I shivered. Light meant they could see me, as if their hearing wasn’t enough. Plus, my sweat left a smelly trail on every leaves whacking my body as I brushed by. The sun might as well serve me on a silver platter. Bastard.
Since moving was so risky, I chose not to. I covered my body and odour with as many foul-smelling plants I could get my hands on. Curled up between the roots of a tree, I waited for night to come. In night lied a spark of hope. During the day, I was basically a sitting duck on the X of a treasure map. All the chameleons had to do was follow the bread crumbs my very existence left behind.
A steady breath hit the nape of my neck. I bit back a revealing yelp. My hair standing on end were already too much movement. I stripped my breathing to the bare essential, fighting the instinctive speeding of adrenaline. Holding my breath meant coming up for air eventually; it was safer to allow just enough oxygen in to survive.
I tracked the chameleon’s progress by the stiffening caress of its sniffing. It trailed along my right side and pushed around a plant here and there. Maybe it hadn’t spotted me yet. Maybe it was playing. Either way, I knew better than to try to attack it. The toughest man of our group fought fifteen seconds tops before his neck snapped. The damned lizards were nearly invisible and slippery like freedom on this godforsaken rock.
My only out was hiding.
A foot crushed my left hip. The chameleon rested most of his weight on it. Tears streamed down my cheeks. I cursed silently. I resented the helplessness and pain that turned on the waterworks. Tears had a smell. Plants don’t cry.
The chameleon let out a long trill. It sounded almost as an echo of my suffering. I didn’t know what it meant. Would the creature move along and search for me elsewhere? Was it calling friends for diner? Signalling Grim Reaper for a pick-up?
I wished time stood still while I waited; every movement was a chance to doom myself. Assuming I hadn’t already done that. My muscles itched from the constant contraction. They didn’t twitch though the arrival of a second chameleon prompted them to. By the sound of it a third one arrived and stationed itself inches away from my left foot. My heart wanted to run for its life.
The chameleons clicked and clacked at a deafening pitch. Their conversation hovered above my body like a net waiting to drop. The intonations somehow reminded me of my parents arguing before their divorce. I didn’t understand what the discussions were about back then either.
Every nerve was ready to snap when two chameleons, including the one stepping on my hip, left. Hope washed over me a second before a chameleon’s hand closed around my neck.