It was the bird that saved her. The bird whose entire head was inside the little one’s mouth. The bird whose scrawny feet were just barely twitching as the little one suckled in apparent ecstasy.
She hadn’t been to this side of the island. And for good reason, she thought, her legs aching as she pushed herself up the rock wall. Andrea’s fingers were raw from the less than ideal handholds she’d chosen in her haste to evade the oddity scrambling after her.
At first, she was surprised to run across someone on the other side of the cliff. When she heard the keening, she assumed it was a child crying. When she came upon the little one, naked and sitting on a log, it’s back to her, she figured she was correct.
“Are you okay, little one?” Andrea asked.
The keening stopped and the little head swiveled around, eyes coming into focus on Andrea. The sight of the bird, dangling from its mouth, made Andrea stumble back. Almost as soon as it saw her its mouth opened and it emitted an unearthly screech. When it did, the bird dropped from its mouth and disintegrated into a pile of loose feathers.
But the worst sight were the teeth. If this was a child, it was no ordinary child. The orifice from which the screech was being emitted was a round blackened maw, ringed with triangular, sharp looking teeth. There were still feathers and dark wetness around its lips and dangling from its chin, from the dried-up form of the bird that had fallen from its mouth.
Now she was running for her life.
Andrea felt herself slip over the edge of the cliff at the same time as the little body hit her. She got her hands around its neck, desperate to keep those teeth away from her, and looked into its eyes. She saw them go wide with fright as it looked past her at the ocean swells quickly coming up to meet them both.
She hit the water still holding the muscular neck as it struggled to free itself from her grip. Her back felt like it hit a blanket of pins and needles and she plunged below the water’s surface carrying the would be leech with her. The instant she pulled the creature under the water’s surface it’s struggling ceased and the muscular neck she’d been desperately holding away went limp and began to shrink in her hands.
Letting it go, she propelled herself upwards and gasped when she finally reached the surface.
“Oh my god, oh my god,” she repeated, spinning around trying to see where the thing would surface. All she saw was a soggy pile of something that looked like a skin shed from a snake in the woods and she pushed herself towards shore with frenzied, clumsy strokes.