The Ink Chase
A Serial in eight parts
The road was there, I was there, we met, and it was good.
My strides swallowed the black tarmac, the dappled starlight, and the dry tamarind leaves that crunched beneath my feet. Headmost wild boars tilted their heads aggressively – their sounder halted and fidgety behind them – but let me pass before they crossed the road. Itchy mongrels chasing gophers snapped at me, but stayed well out of reach of a sound kick on their butts. Shy blue bulls shrank in alarm from the brush they were munching and bolted, their hog tufts bristling in the muggy air. As the road narrowed and meandered into a gravely dust track, the menagerie of critters fell behind and left me in peace. Or so at least I thought.
Other than the thump of my feet pounding the road and the rhythmic breathing, something else began to fill the silence of the crepuscular night. Sometimes it was a rustle in the grass and sometimes wood clanking against wood. It ran alongside, a susurrus dashing portside before looping astern to starboard, and then like a flying pennant flapping overhead. I held a steady keel, my vessel grim and daring. It chased me now and then raced ahead; its arms aloft it scrambled up banana trees and slithered down telephone cables before swinging from Verde Gris light poles. It bounded over wooden benches and dived under stone culverts, now like a crazed hound racing spray-curled in the wind, and then, a sepulchral creature of the dark rearing against the pale moon, silent sometimes, sometimes gnashing its teeth. I sensed it reluctantly falling behind when I hit the beach with the blue sea on one side and the tall, puce-colored compound wall of the penal colony on the other.
But it was back again when I met the road that took me through the gloomy woods the next evening…and every evening after that. It was getting impatient, audacious, with each passing day, licking at my heels, caressing my sweaty nape, an inky shadow skimming the road and the moonlight in my wake, waning into the moldering heap of dewy turf whenever I jerked back in growing dread. I soon realized the wild creatures of the night weren’t avoiding me; they were fleeing the shadows that pursued me.
To be continued