Welcome to installment #3 of the Chasing Shadows – Making Amends series. For more information or to read the previous scene, head to this page.
The transient male cried out, silencing the chatter of the nocturnal creatures. Kecil shrunk back and covered her ears against his tortured screams but couldn’t look away from his face, which was distorted beyond recognition from the beatings her clansmen had issued before dragging him through the village and tying him to the rock.
The male recoiled from the blows and pulled at the bindings. His fight was futile though. With the rattan holding him spread eagle, he couldn’t even shift into a tiger without breaking his limbs in the process.
A pattern formed on his chest: first a crisscross of angry red stripes then as the flesh weakened ragged nicks appeared. The cane bit deeper and deeper, cutting into his skin until the soft tissue was raw and bloody, leaving deep grooves which puckered around the gashes.
His struggles grew less frantic until finally he stilled.
Kasut brought the cane down one last time before wiping his brow, his chest heaving.
Gemuk strode into the clearing, the weight of his body making his steps audible. “Why did you stop?”
“He passed out.”
“Then wake him.” Gemuk grabbed the cane and pushed Kasut aside. “It’s over when I say it’s over.” Gemuk weighed the stick in his hands then dipped the rattan in a basket of brine—a solution designed to increase the cane’s flexibility, more importantly, intensify each painful blow.
Kasut slapped the male across the face, bringing forth a weak groan. The transient’s eyes flickered and rolled back in his head before another smack brought him around again.
A smile formed on Gemuk’s face as he turned to the barely conscious male.
Kecil had seen enough. She walked through the village. Her feet led her to her mother’s hut, and she slowed but refused to look inside. She wanted nothing more than to rest, be surrounded by her mother’s belongings, and wrap herself in the scents her mother left behind. But she couldn’t bring herself to enter the lifeless dwelling, couldn’t sleep there, not tonight.
Increasing her pace, she left the village behind, fleeing the screams, the slap of wood against flesh, and him—her mother’s killer.
She ran deeper into the rainforest, gasping as a stitch formed in her side and echoed the pain steadily growing in her heart. Her vision blurred, but the wind dried the tears as fast as they fell, leaving the skin on her cheeks tight and the hairs of her lashes clumped in a fuzzy mass.
She sprinted, bounded over a decaying stump. Her toe snagged, and she fell. Her shoulder scraped along the forest floor as she skidded to a stop. Too exhausted to move, Kecil lay curled on her side and cried… broken and alone.