Okay. So this completes chapter 1 of Chasing Shadows. Like I said, this is rough, but it’s a scene I’m 99.9% sure is a keeper. If you didn’t get an opportunity to read the first three scenes, feel free to have a looksee (Scene 1, Scene 2, and Scene 3).
Chapter 1 Scene 4
Kecil woke with a start to the dim trickle of light filtering through the thick canopy of trees. A numbing hollowness consumed her as last night returned to her like a fading nightmare, blotting out any brightness the sun might offer.
She rose to her feet and brushed away the dirt caked to her stinging shoulder, the least of her pain, and took stock of the area.
For the first time, she noticed a peculiar smell, slightly sweet, familiar but with a hint of decay. She traced the scent to a goliath of a tree and circled it.
A binturong, dead, its back twisted abnormally lay in the dirt. She stepped closer.
She jumped back and stumbled in her retreat, her heart thudding in her chest as she scrambled backward, her heels finding no traction scraped the dirt. From behind the corpse, a miniature, whiskered face appeared and hissed.
She took a deep breath, calming herself as she stood and returned with cautious steps. Holding out her hand she approached the baby binturong no larger than a newborn wehr-tiger cub.
Its fur bristled as she neared and its hiss turned to a growl, it lips pulled back revealing tiny fanged teeth.
“It’s okay. I’m alone too.” Only inches away, she jerked back as it snapped at her fingers. She tackled it, clamping its mouth shut with one hand while holding it tight to her body.
It spit and hissed as it thrashed for freedom, scratching her stomach and arms, but in the end the small cub’s size was no match for her. Defeated, its struggles slowed though its body remained tense.
“That’s better,” she cooed, releasing its muzzle, letting her hand slide over its head.
It turned to sneak in a bite, but missed. Eyes wide, teeth bared, it snarled as she pet it until eventually it quieted and turning its head into the caress.
“I’ll take care of you now,” she said.
“Find him! He couldn’t have gone far.” Gemuk’s voice called out.
She scanned the area and found the small handful of mated males in her clan approaching, combing the area—all of the men, except her father. If he’d been here protecting his territory, her mother would be here today… waiting in her hut when Kecil returned. Her teeth ached as she clenched them. Why wasn’t he here?
“What are you doing out here?” Kasut asked from behind her.
She spun around and craned her neck to look at him, a giant of a man, like her father, like all of the men in her clan.
His eyes flicked to the binturong in her hands and twitched. “Go back to the village. It’s not safe here.”
“Did you find him?” Gemuk’s mouth hung open as he breathed heavily staring at Kasut. He focused on her, his eyes narrowing. “Get that runt out of here. She’s nothing but trouble… like her mother.”
Kecil’s eyes smarted and she fought to swallow the lump welling in her throat.
“He escaped—the killer.” Kasut nodded toward the village. “Get out of here.”
She edged by Kasut and ran. Leaving behind the scrutiny of Gemuk, she sought the safety of the village, prize in hand.