12 Days, 12 Stories, each 200-300 words. The contest theme is gifts and each day has a prompt. Today's is:
Blood thundered in her ears like a bass drum. Her chest was tight, torn with ragged breaths as she staggered forward.
Don’t look back. Just keep running.
Seemed like days since the hunt began. Her brothers had been so hungry, their stomachs distended and their cheeks jutting like broken flint. They’d been digging for roots in the hard earth when the hunting party burst through the trees, hooves flying.
It was bad enough that the village was starving, without those aristocratic bastards pillaging the forest. Hard to remember it was the King’s forest. His hares. His deer. One deer would keep them fed for a month.
She barely remembered picking up the stone. Shouting. Throwing. She’d been so angry, so hungry, her rage just burst from her throat.
Retribution was swift. The only thing the King liked more than a pretty girl was a hunt. Creative bastard, he was. No stocks or hanging. He stripped her bare and tied antlers to her head like a broken spirit of the woods and gave her twenty minutes head start.
Then he let the hounds loose.
She’d been running ever since but she was tired, so tired. Soon she’d be in open country. They’d see her tracks. She could almost feel their teeth on her ankles, tearing her flesh. She’d seen a man torn apart once.
Doubling back around a rocky overhang she heard them howl in the distance. There was a cleft in the rock. Ducking inside, she flung herself down on dry leaves, breath shuddering.
She was dead, unless there was a miracle.
Closing her eyes, she slept.
She didn’t feel the first flake drift in to settle on her matted hair. Didn’t hear the sounds deaden as the storm descended swirling across the land. Covering tracks. Hiding.