Welcome to installment #20 of the Chasing Shadows – Making Amends series. For more information or to read the previous scene, head to this page.
Kecil woke to quick and heavy footsteps pounding her way. Her keen hearing identified more than one set. She debated running, but didn’t want to give away her location by snapping twigs in her haste. Instead, she ducked low, using a massive tree root for cover.
Bristle fur brushed against her arm, and she flinched, ready to run but paused at the soft squeak.
Teman. With the unknown approaching, she needed her friend safe. She pulled his head close and patted the tree trunk. “Hide.”
The binturong brushed his face against hers then plodded to the tree. His claws scratched the surface of the bark as he scaled at a leisured pace. Hurry, Teman.
A flash of skin darted between the greenery, and Kecil pressed herself as flat as possible to the ground, not daring to look. If she could see them, they could see her.
Closer. Closer. They headed straight for her. She froze. Held her breath. If she could have stop her pounding heart, she’d have done so. Great Spirit. Let them pass me by.
One bounded over the tree root and landed beside her in a skidding roll. She rose to run, but a hand grabbed her by the waist and forced her down. She took a breath to scream, and a palm clamped over her mouth. A masculine body drenched with sweat covered hers, pinning her to the ground. She kicked her feet, brutalizing her toes, but smothered as she was, her struggles had little effect.
Her captor leaned close to her ear. “Sh, sh, sh. Say nothing.”
Mujur? She quieted, and he relaxed his hold but didn’t release her.
It didn’t take long for those chasing to catch up. Heavy panting filled the air as the running slowed to a walk.
Amazing that Mujur, as winded as he surely was, managed to keep his breathing silent. Even now, his heart ricocheted against her back like the beating wings of a hummingbird.
“He’s got to be here.” A voice she recognized—Kusut.
“Find him!” Gemuk.
One set of feet took off, but the heavy breathing of Gemuk remained.
Kecil squeezed her eyes tight to keep from fleeing. If she even glimpsed an opportunity to escape, she knew she wouldn’t be able to stop herself from running.
The breathing slowed, but nothing indicated Gemuk had left. No doubt he was doing what she was doing… what any wehr-tiger would do… listening.
She couldn’t stop trembling. Surely he’d hear the vibrations against the leaves. He’d find her. He’d return her offense in kind and slash her face. Then he’d kill her.
Footsteps retreated and faded in the distance. Kecil didn’t move, too afraid Gemuk would come back.
What seemed like hours passed. Eventually nature returned to normal. Birds sang; animals called… and Mujur grew hard against her leg.