The pungent smell of rot permeated the air as footsteps echoed through the forest. Hairs rose on their tiny arms and legs as the bushes rustled to their right. The sound drew closer; their footsteps quickened. No point in running; the roots were a trip hazard and judging by the heavy odour, a swamp was close at hand.
Suddenly, the torchlight dimmed and went out leaving a yawning darkness ready to swallow them whole. Soft whimpers escaped their lips as they waited for their eyes to acclimatise to the inky blackness staining their retinas. All the while the rustling edged ever closer, shaking and snapping the undergrowth with a vengeance.
Just as the shadows and silhouettes became distinguishable against the purple hued sky, the creature broke free from the bushes. Screams pierced the night followed by running, tripping, crying figures. The odd shape gave chase, closing the distance with ease.
Flash! Another torch punctured the dark, exposing the two figures cowering next to the redwood with moss tinted bark. Big brown eyes looked up at the adult looming over them.
“That’s quite enough for one night, Izzy and Zach,” sighed their mother. “You’ve excited the dog and now he smells like the swamp. It’s time to go home.”
“Aww, mum please,” they cried. “Just one more game of hide and seek and then we will call it a night. Please?”
Her shadow panned across the tree line and shrubs as she turned to find the smelly beast wagging his tail, waiting for the command to hide in the undergrowth again. She smiled, her teeth glinting in the sparse light.
“Fine. I’ll count but no more screaming as if the devil is out to get you! Ready?”
Eager little heads bobbed up and down before disappearing back into the darkness.
A voice called,”One…two…three..!”
Two figures scrambled in the dark, their bodies pumped with adrenaline as their breath came in gasps. This was the best game of hide and seek ever!