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A Cruel Punishment (Short Story)

by Josiah Murray, Grade 9, NSW

Pale light was streaming into the cave. The sickly rays snaking their way around the dark, jagged rocks. Pancun’s muscles twitched. He had been standing, staring at the dark water before him for many hours now. His heart pounded at each ripple of the dim lit pool. He glanced down at the iron clasp fixed to his ankle, he could only just make out the rough circle in the thick black. How he wished it weren’t there, how he wished he could simply walk away.
Another splash tore him from his thoughts and he scanned the murky water frantically. He kept telling himself it was nothing but a drip falling from the ceiling above. This thought he deemed a rational one, though it did not stay that way.
Another louder disturbance in the water made his face cold. The ripples continued and even in the darkness Pancun could see the path they were taking, starting far and ever so cautiously getting closer. A spear quivered in his hand and he tugged desperately at the rusty chain tethering him to his doom.
He looked again at the water, two sickly yellow eyes peered at him from the shallows. The creature raised itself sluggishly onto the bank, its claws scratching as it tore at the cold stone. Its slimy dripping skin seemed to shift its colours; grim, poisonous greens to burning, furious oranges.
Pancun’s heart beat chaotically in his chest and his breathing became frantic. He held the head of the spear, as best he could, aimed at the beast’s snake-like snout.
The creature breathed a horrid raspy breath and then let out the most horrifying sound that echoed around the cave and mutilated Pancun’s ears. The scream went on and on, no matter how much Pancun covered his ears he got no respite. His mind began to cloud and he slowly dropped to his knees. The monster seemed to smile, the corners of its mouth lifting in abominable pleasure. The yellow lidless eyes bulged as the creature continued with the torture.
Pancun fought desperately to stay conscious, he knew what happened to those who slept during the fiend’s song. He crawled, vision fading, to the spear that had clattered to the floor unheard. The vile noise still ripping at his very being, he grasped his last hope. He tried to stand but stumbled. At the sight of the warm, flowing crimson the monster doubled its efforts. Pancun eyes grew wide, he looked in horror as his sight slowly left him. The only thing he could see was now the two vile, glowing eyes lustfully seeking him. He had just enough sense left in him to know his only avenue of survival was the spear he had recovered. He gathered his last remaining strength and the shaft flew ahead of him. With all his strength gone he fell sprawled on the floor. He heard the song no longer...