Save Me by Trevor Alderson

Here's a nice little piece that I just received in the mail today.  Give it a look and leave some constructive comments if you're so inclined.

Markus staggered down the beach, clutching his bleeding side. There were cliffs above the sand, and Markus was forced to be careful of jagged rocks as he crawled forward. He could hear the voices of the men following him. Shouts and the barking of dogs. The tide was coming in. Soon the beach would be flooded, and the force of the waves would dash Markus against the rocks. His face twisted in pain as he tried to stand upright. 

The voices were getting closer. Markus’ breathing was becoming shallow. He crawled to the cliff base, looking desperately for a place to hide. There! Six feet or so up the cliff was an outcropping of rock. He reached up and started to haul himself upwards, gasping in pain. His hands were slick from blood, making the climb more difficult. The waves were catching up to him. He could barely hear the sounds of his pursuers over the crashing at his feet. With an aching groan he made it. His limp body rolled onto the thin outcropping, far enough above the waves. He didn't know if he could be seen from the cliffs, but soon he forgot even that as blackness took him. 

Markus awoke to a cold ocean spray. For a moment his eyes were blinded by the sun. Then he came to his senses. He looked down and saw his hand caked in dry blood. The wound in his side had stopped bleeding. Hunger pulled at his stomach, and his throat was dry. He lifted himself up and climbed down to the beach below. The tide wasn't rising again yet, but it would be soon. He half limped half jogged down the sand until he found a place to safely climb up. Minutes later he emerged onto the wide field above the cliffs, gasping for air. 

He walked. His side was in pain from the beginning, and soon the wound reopened and warm blood began to soak back into his clothes. He could see the castle far off in the distance. Thin flags flew above it. Most of the village and keep were obscured by trees. Markus walked in the other direction, listening fitfully for the sounds of a patrol. He made it about three hundred yards before he heard them. The sound of horses and men. Panicking, he made for the trees. They weren't very far away, but the horses had been kicked into a gallop. He stumbled over roots and scuffed his hands on the forest floor. The sounds of horses came inexorably closer. He could hear the barking of dogs now. He came out onto another field and hurried towards the far side. He wouldn't make it. 

Men spilled out of the trees behind him, arrows whizzed overhead. 

“I’ll save you,” said a voice in his head. It sounded like a child.

“Save me!” shouted Markus as an arrow pierced his back, the tip bursting from his chest. His body 
collapsed to the floor, blood pooling around him. 

“Don’t worry,” whispered the voice in his head as Markus’ eyes glazed over. 

The dogs reached the body first. The dragged it across the grass until the men arrived, hoisted it over a horse, and went back the way they came. 

All that was left was the imprint of the body in the grass and the pool of blood, soaking into the dirt. As the last of the soldiers disappeared through the trees, the blood began to stir. Bubbles started to burst upwards, then a quivering finger rose from the dirt, followed by a hand and an arm. The shaking limb reached out and grasped the dirt. It was followed by another arm from the same spot, then a third. 

Arms and hands continued reaching out until a mass of limbs was hoisting itself out of the dirt where the blood had been a moment before. Then there was a head and shoulders. Markus’ face appeared between one pair of arms. His eyes were glazed over. Then another head, a third, a fourth. Eight men finally pulled themselves from the blood soaked earth, and one by one they stood. Eight copies of Markus stood naked on the plain. As one, the bodies exhaled and began walking in different directions. 

No noise escaped their lips aside from the sounds of breathing as they disappeared in different directions. One made its way through the forest back towards the village. Its spine was rigid and the eyes stared blankly ahead, glazed over as in death. The other bodies fell out of sight behind it. Slowly the glaze fell away from his eyes as he came closer to the village. The grass gave way to the dusty road that led into the village, and soon he encountered people. A farmer and his family along with a man at arms looked up from their dealings to see the naked body of Markus approach them and stop.

Markus’ body looked from one to the next, his mouth opened as if to speak. No sound emerged but a tiny, almost silent “eh.” Then Markus’ expression turned to one of pain. His skin cut itself, drawing a flow of blood as words were cut into his chest. One by one bloody letters spelled out “Where am I?” 

He gasped and more words cut themselves into his abdomen. 

“What is happening to me?” 

His hand opened up reading, “Help me! Make it stop!” 

His leg began bleeding, then his face and his back. 

“It hurts. Please, please help me. Why is this happening to me?” 

Markus’ body cut itself until pieces started falling to the ground and a pool of blood formed beneath him. The woman screamed as the body in front of them disintegrated. The village came abuzz while its people tried to comprehend what had just happened.

The next body of Markus walked through the foothills of a mountain until it reached a woodsman’s cottage. The man asked Markus his business. In response, Markus’ chest was sliced open. 

“I don’t know.”

He fell to his knees. 

“What did you do to me?” 

He reached out in pain to the man in front of him. 

“Help me! Please help me!”

The woodsman rushed to his side, his fingers shaking. Markus’ hand reached up and grabbed the back of the woodsman’s neck, trying to lift himself until the hand was cut to pieces. The woodsman was left sobbing, covered in blood. 

The next body walked into a wheat field, then fell before the farmer tending his crop. The next walked over the cliffs of the ocean and lay broken on the beach until he was found by a fisherman, forced to watch what he thought was a corpse cut itself apart. Each of the bodies were torn apart trying to communicate with those they encountered, until there was only one. 

The last body of Markus walked for three days over the mountains. He met no one. His bare feet were bleeding, but his body was otherwise uncallused and unblemished. Finally, he found someone. An old man lying motionless on the edge of a river, dead with a fishing pole next to him. Markus’ body looked at the other body. No words appeared; he just stared. He reached down and slowly pulled off the old man’s shirt. He looked at the thing for a full minute, then put it on. He slowly disrobed the old man, putting on his clothes one by one. Lastly he put on the old man’s hat and picked up the fishing pole. He looked back to the river and cast the line. In that moment his eyes unglazed fully and a sigh escaped his lips. 

He heard the whisper of a child in his head. “I saved you.”