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by Jack
Rated: 13+ · Chapter · Fantasy · #2056990
A traveler helps a stranger; takes place in a fantasy world.
Julia’s feet crush the dirt path with each step through the dark woods away from home, covering herself with a scarf and hood against the cold wind howling through the trees. Her blue eyes frantically scan her surroundings through the dark, hearing foreign sounds of animals, moving and screeching, in the unseen edges of the path that even her flashlight could not penetrate. The trees looked as if they were leaning over her trying to capture her in darkness, and Julia could have sworn they had faces.

Though Julia was scared, she wanted to find a place away from those who kept her in a cage. A yearning for a freedom that she could not have in an environment that suppressed her desire to explore. Julia felt as if she could hear her parents in the wind calling for her, “Julia!” “Julia where are you!?” “Julia please come back home!”, but instead she kept pressing forward along the path hoping no creatures attack her from the dark. Julia used to live in a town called Lumin, which discouraged others from travelling outside its large, white walls. “It’s not safe” said almost everyone. Julia would spend nights looking outside her window, toward the stars above the wall that separated her from lands beyond. Now she is outside, backpack filled with snacks and clothes, but one thing Julia wished she brought with her was a knife to defend herself from the creatures in the darkness.

Further along the path, Julia spotted a signpost. She raised her flashlight, and it said ‘Davon Town, 5 miles.’ Julia smiled. “Oh thank God!” she said, “I won’t have to sleep in this place.” She quickened her pace along the path, ignoring the sounds of the night. Another town was a good start for her journey, and she pressed on with a brighter hope that barely overcame her fears of the forest surrounding her.

Ahead, the path opened into a yard of dirt, with a small cabin containing a light in the window. A brief gust of wind threw her brown hair and blue dress wildly about her, exposing her skin to shivering cold. Julia clutched herself, and looked toward the cabin. “Maybe I could ask to stay here for the night. Walk to Davon tomorrow.” Julia quickly approaches toward the door to escape the cold dark, passing a big pile of bricks and mortar next to it, as well as a grave. Approaching the door, her smile fades into a frown as she hears sobbing in the background through the door. She moves to the lit window and peaks in to see a pale, skinny man in a checkered shirt, crying over a young woman lying on a couch by the fire. She is covered with a blanket, also looking pale, and the man is leaning over her whispering as tears roll down his cheeks.

“Hope she’s alright. I wonder what happened.” Julia ducked away from the window, and walked back toward the front door.

With a deep breath, she gently knocks.

Waiting in front of the wooden entrance, a loud hiss is heard from behind. Julia instantly turns, shoving the flashlight toward the trees behind her. Adrenaline fills her body in an instant, breath heaving her chest up and down in rapid fashion. A creature, maybe a snake, hisses again, and it vibrates in her head. Julia had no idea what was out there, but she knew it was close by. Another hiss echoes in front, and the sound of twigs and leaves crackle in the dark behind bushes where her flashlight could not illuminate. Julia holds her breath, darting her eyes as quickly as she could along the tree line, panicking.

“Just go away, go away,” she whispers under her breath. “Leave me alone.” Julia shines the light between two bushes, and what she saw even she couldn’t believe. A snake, with a head on both sides of its body with flashing green eyes, moving quickly through the gap. Then her flashlight flickers, and dies within seconds of witnessing this strange creature. “No! Dammit no!” She hits her flashlight, and the light tries to flicker back on. “Work dammit!” The snake hisses again, closer to Julia.

“Who’s there?” The door suddenly swings open sending Julia in a state of shock. At the doorway a middle aged man with a gray beard and somber brown eyes looked down upon her. “Who are you?” Julia looks up to his eyes, shaking. “Who are you? Why are you here?” the man asked again. The hissing stopped.

“Um… Hi sir, my name is Julia. I am a traveler, and I was hoping you could let me stay for the night.” Julia then shows the man her flashlight. “Also I need some batteries if you have some to spare.” Julia’s heart still pumped violently in her chest, but she felt calmer with someone present.

“You are too young to be a traveler. Where are your parents?” asks the man.

“Hm. Well fine, you may stay for the night. If I catch you stealing anything I’m throwing you out.” The man opens the door for Julia to let her in. “My name is Marcus.” Julia walks in through the door. The door creaked as it closed, and ahead she sees the woman lying on the coach, still pale. “This is my daughter, Anna.” Marcus’ voice trembled saying her name, and he wandered back to her side again, kneeling before her clutching her skinny hand. Julia approached closely to Marcus and his daughter. The cabin is dimly lit by the fire, revealing a room sized rug on the floor, photos hanging on the walls of Marcus, his daughter, and who looks to be his wife. Anna looks to be about 20 years old in some of the photos, and looks very similar to Marcus’ wife who Julia observes is not here. “There is a guest room upstairs”

“What happened? Will she be okay?” Asked Julia.

“I don’t think so. She was poisoned by a venomous snake outside.” Marcus rotates the hand he held toward Julia, revealing a bite. “A calaman viper. A very deadly two headed snake. She was picking some berries nearby and the viper jumped from inside and bit her on the hand.” Marcus puts his hand on Anna’s forehead, and then struggled to get up toward the kitchen. “I have to get some ice for her. She’s burning up,” said Marcus, as he wobbled to the entrance of the kitchen behind the couch.

“Is there anything you can do? Any cure?” asked Julia.

“I’m sorry there’s not much food left here, and I don’t have anything called ‘batteries,’ but if you need a lantern I should have one somewhere.” He replied, not hearing her. Marcus appeared from the kitchen and entered into the room with a bag of ice. He placed the bag on Anna’s forehead. “I don’t think she has much time left. Maybe a day.” Marcus looked outside the window Julia peeked through. “Her mother is buried out there. I’d have to dig a grave for Anna right next to her.” Marcus then looks at his daughter and said “If I can somehow extract the venom from the viper, I’ll be able to create an anti-venom for her. The venom is created in the center of its body, so if I could cut it in half I think I could save her. But I am too weak now to face it. Even when I was strong, its venom would still render me helpless. Unless…”

He looks at Julia. “What?” she asks.

“If you can distract the viper,” he said, “I can probably sneak up with my hatchet and kill it.” Marcus eyes looked at her, begging.

Julia raises an eyebrow. “You want me to go out in the dark to help distract a deadly snake?”

“It would be easier than you think.” Marcus moves back into the kitchen, and returns with a batch of grapes, and two vials of liquid. “They may be rare, but if you see one you would likely find one near a place with fruit. They don’t eat animals, and they are a stubborn bunch. And don’t worry about the dark, I have a couple potions I bought that help make you see.”

Marcus hands her a vial of blue liquid. “Potions?” exclaimed Julia. “I don’t understand. There’s no such thing as potions or magic.”

Marcus looks her over. “Where’re you from?” he asks.

“Lumin. A town.” She replied.

“The one with the white walls? My, you are far away from home. I guess magic is not part of your culture.” He said. Marcus turns towards the door, and beckoned Julia to follow him. “Now lets go.”

Marcus drinks his vial of liquid, and motions for Julia to do the same. She looks at her vial, and then to Marcus. “I’m not drinking this. Could be poison.” she asked.

Marcus drinks his vial of liquid, and motions for Julia to do the same. She looks at her vial, and then to Marcus. “I’m not drinking this. Could be poison.” she asked.

“Oh for the love of God…” said Marcus as he took her vial, and sipped it himself. “There,” he says, “not poison. Now drink and lets head out.”

Julia held the vial of blue liquid, and then drank it. It tasted like a strong soda, and she could feel the liquid running down her throat sizzling and bubbling. She tosses the vial in a trash basket nearby, and follows Marcus outside. “See?” said Marcus. “How’s your vision?”

Julia couldn’t believe it. It was if someone lifted up the blinds to let more light into a room. It was almost like being outside during the day, and it was slightly disorienting at first because her other senses still believed it was night from the scent of the air mixed with the sounds from bugs and other animals in the distance.

“Okay,” said Marcus. “See that bush?” he pointed to a bush of berries off to the right. “That’s where she was bitten. I bet it’s still there. I only need a couple minutes to get the hatchet and sneak up behind it. Will you be okay?”

“I think so.” Replied Julia. “Now that I can see, I’m sure I’ll be fine.”

“Okay then. Good luck.” Said Marcus. “And thank you for helping me. I promise you’ll be fine. After I cut it in two I’ll put the venom in an empty vial I have in my pocket.” He patted his left pocket, indicating that’s where he kept it, then he snuck away to ambush the snake.

Julia approaches the bush, and saw the snake curled up inside. The snake shifts toward her, preparing to strike, making Julia fall backward. The snake slowly slides toward her, and Julia frantically tries to crawl backwards away from the snake.

“Who goesss there?” it hissed. “Who isss approaching my home?” asked the viper on the other end of the body. Both of the viper heads face her now, ready to defend itself.

“Holy shit…” said Julia. “It talks…”

“I asssked who you are! Ssspeak!” said the viper.

“I’m… I’m Julia…. And, um... you are?”

“Sssoloman.” Said the other viper head. “A common name, why are you here? You aren’t going to sssteal any of my berries are you?”

“No! No of course not,” said Julia. She looked past the bush and saw Marcus quietly approaching with the hatchet.

“Good!” said the other viper head. Julia notes that they seem to interchange sentences. “The lassst girl who reached to take my berries, will be dying sssoon! So why are you here if you aren’t taking my berriesss?” Marcus then jumps from behind with his axe high in the air, and swings downward. “A trick! Ssshe tricked usss!!!” exclaimed the viper, and she watched Marcus raising his axe up and down attacking the viper.

After less than a minute the swinging stops. Julia stands and walks over to see the viper split in two. “Here” said Marcus, handing her the vial, revealing several bite marks on his arm. “Fill it...” he said weakly. “Quickly.” Julia reluctantly reaches down to pick up one of ends of the slimy viper body and pours the sulfur smelling liquid into the vial. “You got it?” Marcus asks. Julia nods her head. “Good,” he says. “Now help me up, and take me into the house. I’d like to speak my daughter one last time before I go.”

Julia takes him over her shoulder, and helps him back into the house. Once inside, Julia sits him up against the couch on the floor. “Mix the venom with sap I have in the fridge. The venom should dissolve it, and mix.”

“Yeah okay, are you…”

“Just do it. Quickly, please.” Julia nods, and somberly heads off into the kitchen. She takes the sap from the fridge, and has it flow into the venom a couple seconds before returning to Marcus. Marcus instructs her to tilt the bottle in Anna’s mouth while he holds her head to drink. In about a minute, her green eyes open to see her father next to her.

“Dad? Dad!” Marcus stood up slowly, and they both hugged. “I was so scared, I didn’t want to leave you!” They released the embrace, and Anna looked on his face to see him crying. Anna looked him over. “Something is wrong… are you okay?”

“I’m fine…” Marcus said, as he sat back down on the floor.

“No you’re not! What-” Anna spots multiple bites on his arm. “No, oh God…” Anna shuddered. “Those bites are from the viper.” Anna looked toward Julia with teary eyes. “You, do you have an antidote on you!?”

“No... I’m sorry.” Said Julia. Julia stood frozen in place, not sure what to do.

“Anna,” said Marcus. “That’s is Julia, she helped me kill the viper. Fixed up an antidote for you.”

She knelt back down toward her father, and tried to pick him up. “Don’t talk dad… you need rest. I’ll find something for you.” Anna managed to place her father onto the couch.

“You can’t help me Anna. I was bit too much.” Cried Marcus.

“No!” pleaded Anna. “I can take care of you, dad, just stay with me.”

“I’ll be gone by tomorrow sweetheart. I’m sorry.”

“Don’t… No, don’t say that…”

“Anna…” Marcus takes his hand, and puts it on Anna’s cheek.

Anna takes his hand. “I don’t want to lose you too…”

“I’m sorry. I love you.”

“Love you too.”

Marcus’ eyes closed, and his hand went limp. “No dad, please,” whispered Anna. Anna tried shaking her father to be awake, then she stopped, and sobbed at her father’s side.

“I’m sorry about your dad Anna,” said Julia. “I wish there was something I could do.”

Anna stood up, keeping her eyes on her father. “You can stay in the guest room, at the end of the hall, for the night. I’d like you to leave tomorrow morning.”

“Sure. Thanks.” Julia walked toward the stairs, and stopped at the first step. “If there is anything I could do for you, let me know.” Anna said nothing, not even a nod, to show that she heard Julia. Julia walked upstairs, down the end of the hall, and opened the guest room. Aside from a plain bed, and bureau, it was as empty and quiet as it could be. Julia sat her bag down, and lay on the firm bed to rest. She tried to listen for Anna downstairs, but she slipped into sleep without hearing any sound but the night.
© Copyright 2015 Jack (jacksaxe at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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