Good morning, All!
It’s Tuesday once more, so that means we have another segment of our thrilling round robin, Danger Comes Close! If you need to catch up, you can find segments 1-15 here. Without further ado, I give you Segment 16 of Danger Comes Close…
“I can’t…believe…he did …this!” Jayde exclaimed as she pulled on her restrained wrist. The frigid air coupled with her blistering ire motivated her to find a way to gain freedom. With each pull, each stitch of pain she saw Jason’s face in her mind’s eye, her fury competing with the utter disbelief of his parting kiss. As much as she wanted to remain angry with him for confining her to the tree- in the middle of a blizzard for that matter- the memory of his sweet yet desperate kiss kept her from going nuclear. Even as she struggled against the unyielding branch, even as tears of frustration began to roll down her cheeks, she couldn’t forget the moment that they shared, the warmth transferred between them. Years she’d known him, known of his feelings for her but the kiss had still taken her by surprise. For a brief moment, she contemplated what this meant what he’d said to her without speaking any words and realized that she’d been unconsciously saying the same thing. For as long as she could remember, Jason had been there in her corner, silently supporting her and her decisions. Even when she had come to the mountain, he’d told her, in so many words, that he’d be just a phone call away if she ever needed him. Of course, at the time, she’d been too wrapped up in her own internal drama to really understand what he was saying but now that all pretenses had been dropped and the cards were on the table, it was becoming clearer to her. Love and acceptance had been there waiting for her and she’d dismissed it in a foolhardy attempt to find that love somewhere else while it had been in her face all along.
Jayde stopped pulling and relaxed her body slightly, allowing herself a moment to relive that kiss once more. She could still feel his lips on hers, how he pressed against them just enough to let her know that there was something real between them. Even now she felt the familiar stirrings and smiled faintly at the thought of the possibilities. She was still a bit hesitant to put her full trust in anyone but Jason had the potential to bring her walls tumbling down.
That is, if she didn’t kill him first.
“You’ve got a lot of making up to do, Mister,” Jayde said aloud as she readied herself once more. Just as she was about to pull on the branch once again, she heard the familiar sounds of the underbrush snapping just a few feet ahead of her. She paused briefly, her eyes focused straight forward, listening intently to the world around her. The blizzard had lessened in intensity but the winds still blew and the snow still cascaded around her adding to her anxiety. It could’ve been a deer or a rabbit but her mind seized on what else existed just outside her cozy cabin door. Although she’d not seen one for herself, she knew that the bears had called this mountain home long before she had.
Even through the curtain of snow, she could see something moving in the shadows, its slow lumbering body meandering through the woods as if it knew that their quarry wasn’t going anywhere. Jayde began to pull frantically at her restraint, her heart pounding violently against her chest. She was trapped and the branch that held her captive wasn’t giving at all. Jayde grit her teeth together and closed her eyes as she summoned all of her strength to pull just once more, willing it to snap in two. A sense of impending doom descended upon her and she whimpered quietly as the chill that had been previously warded off by her anger toward Jason slowly crept in, making her shiver almost uncontrollably. Her teeth clattered against each other as she moved slowly against the tree and pushed her knees up to her chest, wrapping her freed arm around them. She rested her head against the tree and closed her eyes as she trembled with equal parts of fear and cold. If she remained still, she rationalized; the querying creature would simply pass by her.
She could only hope.
Jason stared at the prone body before him and then cast his gaze about the room, the dying embers painting a macabre scene of corpses and disarray. The heavy stench of blood hung in the rapidly cooling air and the unfortunate odor that seemed to emanate from Norm only made matters worse. Jason moved about the room, careful not to disturb the potential evidence. Once the skies cleared and the sun broke the eastern horizon, Jason figured that the area would quickly become inundated with every manner of law enforcement. But for now, he had the scene and he perused it quietly, walking deliberately around the bodies before coming to rest near Kyle.
“This is probably a stupid question but…did you kill the old man?” Jason stared at Norm’s body before lifting his eyes to see Kyle staring into nothingness. Jason took a hesitant step forward, careful not to make the mistake of moving too quickly, “hey man, are you okay?”
“Yeah,” Kyle answered shallowly as he shifted his weight more to favor his good leg, “I’ll make it, I suppose. What are you doing here?”
“Believe it or not, Jayde wanted to come back and save you,” Jason responded as he kept his eyes on the younger man. He could see the toll that his injuries were taking on him; his body was now hunched over and his skin had taken on a sickly grey pallor and slickened with perspiration. Jason figured that he had less than an hour to live. Moving to help, he shook his head, “You’re not going to make it much longer, man. We need to get going.”
“Wait a minute,” Kyle said as he used what little strength he had left to stop the ranger, “you said that Jayde wanted to come back? Where is she?” When he didn’t get an answer, he asked again, his voice taking on a deadly tone, “Where is she?”
“You don’t understand, she was a distraction,” Jason responded. He hated how weak his explanation sounded but he continued, “She’s safer where she is at the moment.”
“What did you do?” Kyle grunted. Although agonizing, he brought himself to his full height and looked Jason in the eye, “Where did you leave her?”
Just as Jason was about to answer, a blood curdling scream rent the night air.
It sounded as if a predator had just taken down its prey.