Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Hide and Seek (08/07/08)
TITLE: Looking for Davie
By Jack Taylor
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Davie crouched on his haunches and intentionally scarred the limestone slab with a chunk of bituminous chalk. The sun was at its zenith and he’d been on the run since before dawn. A bead of sweat dropped off his nose as he finished his work and glanced back over his shoulder toward the horizon. He knew the trackers behind him would be relentless.
Circling back down the crest of the slope he removed his sandals and carefully stepped onto a granite outcropping. Trying to ignore the scorching on his soles he dropped over a ten foot precipice onto a flat section of gneiss. The pain in his shins shot right through his spine and into his neck. Gritting his teeth he knelt and slipped his sandals back on.
The young fugitive needed water and he needed shade. Scrub brush littered the wilderness in every direction but it provided neither. He could feel the dust on his lips and the grit in his teeth. This was a world for goats and vagabonds.
Only a few hills away, near the salt sea, he knew he could find hollyhock , delphinium and the safflower to ease the strain of the barrenness all around. Not too far beyond that was the river.
The distant circling of the birds gave away the position of the main group of trackers but he wasn’t sure that others might not have split off and formed a search grid to hem him in. He couldn’t believe he’d been betrayed by the very people he’d risked his life to save.
A week earlier Davie had started his life as a fugitive again. It wasn’t the first time. From the time he was young it seemed that trouble was inevitable whenever he finally felt like he was getting somewhere. One moment he was surrounded by people who affirmed and appreciated him. The next, someone’s jealous rage would boil over into an ugly confrontation.
It all started when a rival group had invaded the turf claimed by his brothers and their leader. Davie had stepped out of nowhere and turned the tide of conflict by taking out the leader of the intruders. His popularity didn’t last long after the celebration. His ongoing success at proving himself in the group made sure of that.
The favored ladies began to look his way. Some of the edgier members began to move into his circle and follow his lead. There was room for only one captain at the helm. His brothers made no effort to support him when he was run off by their jealous leader.
At first Davie had been left to find his own way in an uneasy truce. That didn’t last long. A week earlier he found the main rivals moving to stake out a new claim. There was some heavy looting and Davie had rallied the fringe members who admired him and had driven off the invaders.
He expected appreciation but it wasn’t long before he heard that the very ones he had rescued had reported him to the leader and another fit of jealous rage meant his days were numbered. The leader was going to settle things once and for all. Voices drifted from over the hill and Davie was cornered.
As if by magic the fugitive found a hidden crevice in the endless tundra. He examined the ground and was satisfied that he’d left no trace of his presence. Following the crevice he slipped into a cavern that stretched for several hundred yards.
He crouched quietly in the back waiting for the search party to pass.
The sound of hurried scuffling sounded outside his cave within the hour. Davie knew this was no harmless game of hide and seek where his discovery would lead to laughs and memories. He could hear the muttered whispers and noises of his hunter entering the cave and stumbling as his eyes were blinded by the darkness. He waited for others but there was only one. The footsteps came within a dozen feet as Davie pressed himself back into the wall. Then they stopped and the leader crouched to relieve himself.
The perfect opportunity to end this senseless escape lay within his grasp. The group needed a worthy leader. Davie could claim his rightful place. He had the element of surprise. He had the weapon.
Ten minutes later Davie emerged holding up a piece of the leader’s jacket. “King Saul, you can stop looking now. I’m home- free.”
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