by Elizabeth Leonard
an excerpt from her upcoming novel Born For This
I am perched in a tree, eagerly awaiting my prey below. The beast is lean and muscular and its heart is pumping steadily, I can hear it from my tree stand. My stomach churns with hunger and when I shift my weight a branch creaks beneath me.
And the beast hears it. Its heart begins to race. Fear jolts through its body and its mind tries to scream “run!” over the deafening pounding of its heart. But the beast doesn’t listen. It’s frozen with fear unable to move, terror gripping its heart, pumping faster and faster. Beating and beating, louder and louder, I can hear it in my head. My throat begins to burn with the thirst; I try to focus on my plan of attack but it’s hard over the beating of its heart. Why is it so loud? And it gets louder and faster and my heart is racing to keep up. And I can’t breathe and my heart is going to explode with effort and fear. I hear the beast’s mind scream again, but it comes out as a whisper over the ear-splitting pounding of its heart. I clutch my chest in pain from the effort to pace my heart with the beasts and then it stops. For what seems like an eternal second, an infinite moment of clarity everything stops and I see myself seizing my breast in an attempt to slow the heart that hasn’t beat for nearly 100 years.
I hear it again, “run!” and I realize that the beast is not screaming. The beast is gone. I hear another creak and look up and register the creature in the tree above me, eyes glowing in the moonlight. There is only patience and hunger holding her in her place. She is a skilled hunter whose only life force is rushing though the chambers of my overworked heart. I am sure she can hear it and it just increases her lust.
She pounces, and I am frozen in time. I was too easy and I can feel her disappointment dripping off of her as she sucks the blood from my throat. And my heart begins to slow and I begin to calm and succumb to her strength. And I begin feel the fear fade away; it was in my head. The beating, the screaming, it was in my head. Like the tell-tale heart it was guilt that caused my fear. The blood begins to pool in my stomach and I feel satiation wash over me. The beast has filled me and I am contented and the fear is gone. It was in my head. “My heart hasn’t beat in 100 years,” I thought “It never will again.”