Haunted – an Open Speech
The trail stretched on endlessly before him. He could feel his heart beating faster and the beads of perspiration forming on his forehead. Lenny was more frightened than he had ever been. Going into the deep forest was revisiting a nightmare he had wanted to forget all these years. He could still remember the first and last time he had walked this trail. His father had been killed by a man-eating tiger that was prowling the area. It may have been over ten years ago, but the terror that he felt still held him in its icy grip.
But now, he had to walk the trail again to search for Emma. She was the pride and joy of his life, the only treasure he had from a marriage that was blissful but unfortunately short-lived. After Sara’s death, all that comforted him in his barren existence was Emma’s cheerful nature and loving ways. She had wandered off into the forest while playing by herself in the backyard. That was where her footsteps imprinted on the soft mud led. It indicated that she had gone on the dreaded trail.
With a deep breath, Lenny plunged into the forest on the trail, calling out for Emma as he went on. But all he heard were the wild shriekings of forest insects and creatures. He plowed on, determined to hold the terror that threatened to overwhelm him at bay. Yet, he could feel once again the familiar fear that gave him nightmares each time he recalled the horrific spectacle of the tiger tearing his father apart. His father had placed him on a high branch before the tiger pounced, safe from the physical attack but not the sight of his courageous father brought down by the beast. He saw it all, heard clearly the hoarse cries of pain that his father gasped even as his throat was being torn out by the mighty jaws of the tiger. But he had to shut out these thoughts; they were only impeding him from his search. He pushed on into the dark forest.
Suddenly, he heard Emma’s high-pitched scream. Without a thought for his own safety, Lenny lunged in the direction of the scream, concerned only with getting to his precious Emma was. He came into a clearing and saw Emma huddled in a corner and crying fearfully. He rushed to her side immediately and suddenly heard a low growl behind him. Frozen in his tracks, he finally turned around slowly, only to face the tiger of his nightmare. The latter even bore the scars inflicted by his late father’s hunting knife. Slowly, he lifted his gun, his mind whirling with only one thought. If he failed, Emma would die. He did not want to even entertain such a thought.
The tiger fixed its eyes on Lenny. It gave him a deadly glare, but Lenny continued to take aim. Almost as if it could sense what he was going to do, the tiger snarled and leaped into the air at him. The gun exploded and caught the beast just before it landed. Writhing in pain, it rolled over and over until it finally lay dead, just meters away from the shaking Lenny.
Emma ran to him and threw herself around his neck. He felt her warm little body and hugged her tight. His Emma was alive and the nightmare was dead. For a long time, he had not enjoyed the beauty of the forest, but now he did. It was so beautiful.