Trapped in 1867
Chapter 5: Predator
An Irish boy finds Gauri and Ben in their time machine and offers them a ride to Ottawa in his horse and sleigh. That night, the horse is started as they three children come face to face with a dark menacing creature.
To do list:
1. Run 2. Run fast
January 17th, 1867 Early Evening
This isn’t happening. There’s no way. The image of its white teeth contrasting against its black, stringy fur is etched now into my brain. A heavy gurgling-snarl fills the once calm air. I duck down into the sled and close my eyes, praying the ominous creature will just slip back into the trees and leave us alone. But it isn’t moving. I know this because Ben can’t take his eyes off of the thing. And I’m scared. Really scared. “What’s happening?” I ask, shifting my mitts away from my face.
Ben lowers himself and tucks his knees into his chest. “It’s a wolf. There’s an actual wolf out there.”
“What about the boy? Is he okay?”
“I dunno,” he replies. “I can’t see him.” “Should we help him?” Before Ben can respond the horse shrieks again and darts to one side, pulling the sled and us along with it.
Heavy bags and the small pot bounce around the tiny space, slamming against the wooden panels. Frozen potatoes fly about, knocking us in the head and face.
I reach for Ben and wrap my arms around his waist.
I hear the hooves scatter over the ground, pulling us wildly along with it. I think about jumping— lifting myself over the tiny bench at the front and catapulting myself to one side. But I can’t.
I can’t because I’d be leaving Ben behind. I’d be abandoning a kid who doesn’t want to be here in the first place.
A kid who hates me already.
A short time later— maybe minutes—maybe seconds—my diary entries are blurred at this point
I continue to hold onto Bully-Boy. (I call him that from time to time in my entries because he’s still a jerk).
“Let go,” he shouts. “Get your hands off me.”
The sled jolts to one side, sending us down a steep slope.
I open my eyes just in time to see the snowy surface of what I think might be Lake Ontario.
We crash hard into the ice, shattering the frozen plain.
In seconds I feel a cold rush of water spread over me. It’s like tiny knives digging into my skin. It hurts—the icy water hurts like I’ve never felt before.
In seconds my head slips below the surface as the weight of my clothes pull me down into the chilling darkness. I can’t breathe, I can’t see. For a moment, I struggle, reaching out at nothing, hoping to kick and flap my way upward—but to no avail. This is it. I’m going to drown—I’m going to die and I will go down in history as the girl who didn’t get a better mark than Shelby Reynolds.
The coldness has numbed me now. I’m in a dream—floating in a black nightmare.
I wonder if Ben escaped—if he had the strength to pull himself up to the top. I wonder if he will be okay—trapped in 1867.
As my body heaves out the last of the air inside my lungs, a hand grips the collar of my heavy coat— thrusting me upward and back into the sled.
I gasp, feeling the life enter back into my muscles—into my blood. I’m alive! I open my eyes as Ben pulls me up onto his lap. The panicked horse has now gathered itself, and is tugging the damaged sled back up the steep hill, digging it’s hooves into the snow. The pain from the chilling lake returns to my skin, stabbing me all over.
“Are you okay?” Ben asks, unzipping my coat. “Talk to me, talk to me.”
I spit out some lake water and cough, rolling over onto the wooden panels.
There’s no time to reply—a gunshot echoes out—more like a cannon. I shoot upright as we reach the top of the slope and back onto even ground. The horse doesn’t react, like its heard this noise before.
I found my phone wedged between the mailbags and the floorboards. It’s still working—it’s even reading the correct year. It must be still picking up the signals from the Lotus-Five satellite reader.
How crazy is that? My dad actually invented a time-travelling satellite.
Anyway, the horse isn’t moving and we know we have to find the Irish boy. Scanning the surroundings I see him standing guarded behind a tree—the wolf is still watching him from a distance at the edge of a rocky hilltop. The light from the moon is beaming down on us, bouncing off the diamond-like snow crystals.
“He’s there,” I say, pointing into the woods.
Ben jumps up onto the sled’s bench and grabs hold of the reigns. He pulls the leather straps to one side and steers the nervous horse toward our new friend.
“It’s eyes are glowing,” says Ben. “Holy cow, that wolf, I swear it has red eyes.” “Is it going to hurt us?” I ask. Ben shakes his head and turns back to me for a second. “Nah. I’ll protect you.”
For the second time, a glimmer of ‘kindness’ seems to come from Bully-Boy.
Another gunshot blasts through the air—a distant squawk from the tree-tops is quickly followed by a flutter through the branches.
The two of us cower back into the small cabin and pull the mailbags over us.
“Where’s that gun fire coming from?” I ask—the lake water on my coat is turning to ice. Another shot. And then another.
To be continued Monday. Next Time: Onwards