The Ride Through the Night

As the night slowly shifted, a man sat and held the reins of a carriage. The large wooden box moved on slowly through the dark and dreary pathway in the ancient forest. The trees moved lightly as the wind picked up and dropped off. The man looked out into the dark road ahead and saw nothing beyond the horses in front of him. The road was bumpy, constantly shaking and rocking the carriage as they moved forward. The man let out a yawn as he gripped the reins, his grip loosening as sleep almost overtook him.

“Charles, how much longer!” The coachmen almost jumped up in his seat at the mention of his name, now awake once again. He turned around and peered through the small window behind him to see the Lord’s son giving him a stare.

“Shush now lad! Let the man do his job.” The lord sat across from his son in the carriage and seemed to be angry this night. He was a big man and was adorned with jewelry from many lands as gifts and trinkets. He wore a bowler hat on his head. Next to him sat a chest full of riches, a gift for one lucky noble far ahead.

Charles, not wanting things to get worse, turned back and faced the road onward, not a peep out of him.

“Father, can Charles please tell me the story again?” The child asked.

His father, knowing what story it was, had an instant in his response.

“What?!? No no no! Why do you wish to hear his nonsense? It’s but a folktale, not real! No need to get those thoughts on your mind…..”

At this moment, the Lord seemed to grab one of the trinkets on his necklace and grip it hard. Charles could not see what it was, but he could barely make out the color red.

The boy pouted and sat in the carriage, silent for some time. The carriage moved on, all three of the men silent as they moved. After a short while, a snore could be heard from in the carriage. Charles assumed the lord fell asleep, and suddenly felt a tap on his shoulder. The Young boy eagerly awaited his words.

“I’ll tell you about it once. But if your father finds out I’ll be in trouble!”

The boy seemed to let out a “Yes!” But it was so quiet he could barely hear.

“A long time ago, in a land far far away of sand and stone, there was a man. A man who found a secret scarlet kingdom in the sands. The land was beautiful, full of red shiny gems, jewels, and gold as far as the eye could see. As he approached the newfound land, he realized that the kingdom was full of something…… dark. The land was full of monsters.”

As he said that, a twig snapped off in the woods to the carriage’s side. He turned his head to the left of the carriage to look for what it was but found nothing. He slowly turned back to the front of the road.

“Anyways, he was welcomed in the kingdom. Yet, As Man knows- a monster can never be trusted! It was not fair they had treasures, while we had nothing! The man couldn’t resist the ideas of grandeur and gold. So, in the dead of night, slipped away to a nearby human kingdom. He called on the king to call as many men as he could, call all of humanity to band together before it was too late. The humans were precise and planned, thanks to the man staying in the monster’s nest for some time. they strike the Scarlet Kingdom on the night of a full moon, just like tonight-“

“They strike down the monsters!” The boy added. Charles chuckled as he said this. “Yes yes, they attacked.” He said.

“They struck, and, with swiftness and bravery, defeated the monsters before they had a chance to hurt anyone. And the riches of that city were given to the warriors who saved us from it. And thus, the heroes triumphed once again. “

“The heroes win!” The young boy cheered and immediately turned to see if he had woken his father. The man continued to snore, not a care in the world.

“Say, Charles…” the boy said, “do you think I could be a hero?”

Charles immediately chuckled. He could never think of this young boy as a hero like that. Having seen him grow, even the thought of this young man ever being like that was more like a brash joke than reality. The boy seemed to get annoyed, so Charles quickly responded.

“Of course. There’s one last part of the story I never told you. But, since you’re older now ….”

The boy leaned in. “What is it?!”

“Legend says, a monster still wanders the lands, trying to get all the riches back that they lost. So, maybe you’ll save us from that monster-“

A large thud sound came from somewhere behind the cart- like a tree falling. The cart shook rapidly, causing Charles to stop the cart on instinct. The lord inside the carriage awoke because of the sudden stop.

“Grah, Charles! What is the meaning of this?!

Charles turned to the boy, looking through the small window once again.

“ Wait here, my lords! I’ll be back in just a moment.”

The boy nodded and moved back into the carriage. Charles jumped off his seat, grabbed his lantern from his side, and moved to see what had happened. He moved to the back and knelt

down, checking the wheel. It was broken. The wooden wheel broke down the middle, completely shattered.

“Charles?!? What’s happening?!?” The Lord sounded startled.

“A broken wheel. I might be able to get it into a somewhat stable state for now, I’ll have to take it much slower from here on-“

He stopped as a loud crash suddenly came from the opposite side of the carriage. He heard the lord and his son scream, both of them making a sound not befitting or ever heard from either of them. Charles quickly darted to the opposite side of the cart. When he turned the corner, he saw the side door to the carriage ripped off and on its side on the road.

He was shocked and frozen, he couldn’t move. A shadow started to appear from within the doorway of the carriage. A foot stepped down the small staircase beneath the doorway. Yet this foot wasn’t of a man. It was red and seemed almost clawed on its… what he assumed to be toes. He couldn’t make out anything else. As he watched the foot move, the rest of the body appeared before him.

The figure stood bipedal and was cloaked. It walked out of the carriage slowly. It stepped down the small staircase until it stood on the hard rocky road. In its hand was a small item. Its gaze focused on what it was holding. The item let out a shine-off light from inside the carriage. It was bright and red.

Charles fell backward and slowly tried to back away, crawling from the monster, always keeping eye on the beast in front of him. The being slowly turned to face Him. It started to make a noise as if to speak, it was an assortment of clicking and hisses. In its noises, he thought he could hear something of a voice, speaking a language he couldn’t understand.

The creature slowly walked towards him. He continued to try and back away, but his slow walk was much quicker than his crawl. It reached out a hand and grabbed him by the collar, lifting his whole body off the ground with ease. Charles, without thinking, reached out and grabbed the lantern next to him and tried to smack the beast across the face. It didn’t even flinch, and Charles only got a split-second look at the monster in front of him.

The creature pulled Charles close to its face, and at that moment Charles screamed. The monster in front of him had the face of an insect. Its large mandibles protruding from its face moved as it made more noises.

At that moment, Charles felt a pain he had never experienced before in his stomach; he looked down to see a hole where his stomach once was.

He felt the monster’s hand let go of him and he collapsed to the floor. As he lay there, he stared up Into the night sky. His mind was scattered. Why? Why attack them? Why now? Why here?

He slowly looked over to the carriage once again and saw the monster holding both the lord’s chests and dropping them on the floor outside of the wagon. The beast bent over and opened them, making only what Charles could think was a happy clicking noise.

He understood what this was.

“It was real…..l” He started to say but couldn’t finish. Slowly, he closed his eyes. The last thing he saw was the beautiful night sky.

The night went on, and the carriage was set ablaze. The monster swiftly vanished with the riches. Yet its anger continued, always looking for the riches It once had and lost.

Jake Duerfahrd, writer of The Ride Through the Night.

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