a look at ‘The Time’ by Peri Elizabeth Scott #Dystopian #YA

The quick retreat
wasn’t totally silent. She could hear the sounds of the others, moving quickly
along parallel lines to her own painful effort. Wondering how long she could
keep the burst of energy up, she noted the noises diminished as people worked
their way outward like the spokes of a wheel. Four hundred paces and the air
burned in her lungs. Sh e fought the tough terrain and avoided the thickening
flora, the damn sled hanging up at each and every turn. Her arms burned with
the desperate efforts to free the runners and the hound whined with pain.
Six hundred paces
had her bent doubled over with a stitch in her side. She went to her knees when
the ground sloped away into a small ravine, nearly causing her and Gehlert to
tumble into its depths, the momentum of the heavy sled a terrible burden. It
was the dog who saved them, digging his forefeet in and throwing his body
weight back to settle on his haunches. She hugged him fiercely, his pants and
thundering heartbeat mirroring her own.
Skirting the
ravine took them well away from what she reckoned was a straight path outward
from the original starting point. She scanned the treetops in a near futile
effort to reorient herself. The filtered light told her the sun was at four
o’clock, so she deviated slightly to her right and pushed on, wondering where
the strength to do so had come from.
Having lost count
of her pacing, she chanced another three hundred, using images of what would
happen if they got caught to spur her on. Certain they’d walked a half
marathon, she chose a thick clump of gorse bushes, insanely wondering how
they’d come to flourish this deep in the woods. The hound stepped away from the
harness the instant she freed him and staggered sideways to collapse on a bed
of leaves and other organic debris. Doggedly working to separate the lower
branches of the bushes and wincing at the spiny press of the remaining leaves
despite the cover of her thin gloves, she managed to secret the sled, or at
least muddle the outline of it. She bent thinner twigs to camouflage it further
and made herself take the time to stand back and take as critical a look as she
could. Satisfied, she found another clump of the same vegetation and crawled in
backward, stopping only when her feet couldn’t press any deeper. She then pressed
a dog sized space open to her right.
“Gehlert.” Even a
whisper hurt her parched throat, but she was rewarded with a faint thump of his
tail. “Come.”
The hound visibly
considered her command, ears lowering and eyes drifting before he levered
upward, limping to her. He’d pulled more than his weight and was clearly on the
brink of exhaustion. Even in the dappled light she could see where the harness
had cut harshly into his hide, the thick guard hairs rubbed away. She wanted to
cry. Blinking hard, she swallowed against the emotion.
“Here.” She patted
the small space beside her and he obligingly wiggled in, somehow turning in
place three times before he settled down. Draping an arm over him, she tugged a
few branches into place over, poking herself in the cheek as she did so, then
dropped her head onto the fertile earth.
After a time, her
heart slowed and her breathing returned to normal, as did the hound’s, although
he hitched from time to time with a little gasping noise. At last, she could
focus on her surroundings and actually hear the forest sounds, the faint creak
of living wood, the rustle of a small breeze among the remaining leaves, and
the occasional call of a bird. The ground was reasonably warm, despite the
approach of winter, and with Gehlert pressed close, she wasn’t terribly
uncomfortable. She only wished she’d thought to bring one of the water bottles
into her makeshift shelter, her body crying out for moisture after the forced
Time crept by and
she became aware of how her pistol rested with solid intent against her belly,
the barrel grinding into her hip. Seeing that her weapon was the only thing
between her and whatever was out there hunting them, she cursed fluently under
her breath and hitched up enough to worm a hand beneath her. With some
judicious pulling and peeling back of the layers of clothing, she was able to
free the butt and work the pistol out from under her, blessing her foresight to
set the safety. She brought it up beside her head, one finger through the
trigger, palm resting lightly against the pommel, before she flicked the safety
The hound
stiffened beneath her lax arm and she strained her ears, suppressing a shudder.
Perhaps it was one of the others, off course and passing by, still trudging
those thousand paces, that had alerted him. Or an animal, picking its way
through the trees. Alas, it was the base notes of a number of male voices she
heard, far off, their words indistinct, distorted by the numerous trees and the
uneven terrain—and the sudden escalation of her heartbeat. Stark terror froze
her in place, chilling her blood, making her sex draw up in self-defense. Her
belly clenched in on itself and goose flesh broke out all along her spine. Air
rushed in and out of her nose as she tried hard not to pant, knowing how
foreign the sound would be, how easily heard if someone cared to stop and
listen. Her dog shivered in response to her angst and made a faint whine.
That whimper
awakened her higher brain functions and she gained control. With a firm
squeeze, she signaled Gehlert into silence. They huddled together and waited as
she held her weapon at the ready.
Disjointed phrases
drifted to her ears, accompanied by faint crashing sounds of something larger
than a person.
“…signs of at
“Over here!”
She was certain
she felt a cold stare focused on their location, something malevolent and
inhuman, and remained as still as possible, willing their hidden forms to blend
into the surroundings. Nothing to see here. Just more trees and underbrush. She
prayed there were no dogs, and cast her eyes down, refusing to risk even that
chance of a flicker of awareness.
Minutes passed as
she counted the seconds. Three hundred and sixty, then six hundred and sixty.
Eleven minutes, give or take. The evil stare lingered in her imagination, or
perhaps its owner was still out there, patient as a spider. The adrenalin
leached out of her muscles, leaving her spent and far more fatigued than ever.
She wouldn’t move, wouldn’t make it easier for whoever it was out there to find
her, but felt as though she had nothing left to defend herself if he did. Her
pistol seemed impossibly toy-like against the threat and her knife was still in
her boot.

Author Bio:

Peri Elizabeth Scott lives in Manitoba, Canada. After closing her private practice as a social worker and child play therapist, she joined her husband in running their season business where they pretend to work well together.

Writing for years, The Time is a departure from her usual romance genre, but it was a story that had to be told!

Peribeth also pens erotic romance under a different pen name and reads everything she can lay her hands on.

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