The boy crouched beneath the leaves, his face covered in mud and sweat. His legs were beginning to ache from holding the position for so long. He tried to ignore the tiny creatures scurrying on the ground beneath him hoping that if he ignored them, they might ignore him.
His pursuer drew near, and he could hear calls over the noises of animals in the vicinity. He crouched lower, trying to curl himself into a ball, terrified that the frantic beating of his heart would somehow become audible.
He steadied his breathing, “just a little longer” he thought. He jumped almost imperceptibly as a twig snapped behind him. Close… very, very close. The sweat on his brow was beginning to run into his eyes. The stinging sensation was giving way to a maddening urge to rub his eyes.
He knew now that the slightest movement would give his position away. His eyes darted wildly trying to locate the intruder. He thought he could smell the coppery scent of blood but where? He panicked but daren’t turn his head.
After a moment, he realised that he’d forgotten to breathe. He feared that his first intake of air would be loud enough to alert his pursuer to his location. He tried to draw breath as quietly as he could but there was the tiniest wheeze and he heard his pursuer stop suddenly and then start in his direction.
He cowered, willing his tracker to leave but no, those footsteps came directly towards his hiding place. There was nothing else for it. He waited until the last possible moment and then sprang out throwing his arms in the air and yelling “surprise”.
His mother turned and shot him a sardonic glance, “very funny”, she said, “now come on in, your dinner is getting cold”.