I know this isn’t exactly a week after my first, but I guess I’m going by what the word given on Dictionary.com is. I didn’t much care for the one yesterday.
Today, however, the word struck a chord. I give you
verb (used without object), crepitated, crepitating.
- to make a crackling sound; crackle.
Smith knew the forest could be treacherous. Every time he ventured into them, he felt something would be hunting him. He never saw anything, nor anyone, but he sensed a presence nearby.
This time he would be even more alert. If a hunter had their eyes on him, he wanted to know before it hit him rather than feel the sting of the weapon first. He didn’t want to bleed without his attacker doing the same.
Each time he looked to try to see an enemy he would stop and listen. He looked around, scanning every tree, every fallen limb. Several times, he caught sight of movement only to realize it to be an animal scurrying to find a meal. He knew whatever hunted him could not have been an animal, for if so, it would have to be as large as a man.
Deeper into the woods he trekked, his arrow nocked and bow half drawn. He had strapped his sword to his back so it didn’t interfere with his crouch, yet remained easy to unsheathe if the need arose.
He spied a huge buck and stopped. Relaxing his draw, he stuck a finger in his mouth and raised the wet digit above him. The breeze came from his right.
Satisfied his scent would not betray him, he made his way with due care to get a clear shot. The meat from that creature would feed him for a month, and give him enough to trade the farmer to round out his stores.
He moved to his left, downwind to keep the smell of his sweat out of the creatures’ nostrils. Stepping on the spaces where the leaves had been pushed aside from the soft current of air, or the occasional gust, he kept his presence masked.
When he achieved what he considered an optimal position, he braced his left arm against the trunk of a small tree. With his right hand, he used the first three fingers on the string to draw back.
Biding his time, he inhaled deep through his nose, and let it pass easy through his pursed lips. He relaxed his fingers, letting the string slide over the pads.
As the arrow began to fly, they both heard leaves crepitate to the left. The buck dashed off at the same moment Smith jerked to his right. The shot went more amiss than any he had fired before and stuck into something that wasn’t there.
He heard a howl of pain as the bolt rose higher without going farther. A shimmer began surrounding the shaft where it disappeared into whatever had been in the way of its trajectory.
Smith stared, wide-eyed in wonder, at the sight that could not be. He saw more of the shaft disappear as the feathered end wagged up and down, then snap down as if it had been broken from a wound, then dropped to the ground.
The shimmer rose and swayed to and fro. Pained grunts reverberated through the trees around him. The blur moved quicker toward the ground, followed by a thus as the ground shook around him. The stench of fear assailed his nose and he realized it to be his own.
He stood and made his way toward the spot. Moving slower than he did hunting, for whatever had been hit by his errant shot could still not be seen, and he knew not if it lay prone or in wait for his arrival.
He found the discarded shaft. The broken end had some thick clear fluid on it, almost viscous to the touch. There beside it, an indention in the earth, more gelatinous goo, but no solid mass, visible or not.
He placed the remainder of the arrow in his quiver, careful to not wipe off the evidence that he had, indeed, shot something. He knew no one would believe his story with nothing to show for it.
Returning to his shack, he tried to make sense of it, for nothing he knew of bled so, let alone could avoid being seen like that had. He still doubted anyone would believe him.