forest view through trees
Photo by Elijah Hiett on Unsplash

Hide and Seek by Adele Evershed

He had been pursuing her since dawn. Or maybe it had been a thousand dawns. She could not tell. At first, it was a game of shadows. She could not see him as she flew from dwelling to dwelling, hiding behind walls and crouching inside troughs. But she could sense him moving like a malevolent spirit through windows and cracks, seeking her, but willing to have his attention diverted by any interesting object he happened upon, a ripe peach or the glint of a rainbow trout in a fish wife’s basket. But she was the prize. He did not like to be bored, and he bored easily. If she could find a worthy distraction, she might still slow him down for valuable minutes. So she threw a pretty little thing in his path, singing as she shelled peas, and he paused until her madrigal finished. That gave her precious time to leave the village.

She followed a slushy trail of footprints until she came upon a familiar spectacle: man killing man. Bodies were falling all around like meat off a bone, and she thought he might not track her through the quaggy meadow of death, as he did not like to get his tunic soiled. So, stealthily she threaded her way through the throng, folding her wings and daubing herself in the muck to throw him off her scent. But she could hear him shouting over the melee, "I will have you. Why make it so hard? I've already caught the others."

Spreading her wings, she rose intending to hide in the massing grey clouds. However, before she could ascend, a sickening pain spread across her back, and she fell. Gasping, she crawled into the cover of the battle, making for the band of trees that ringed the field. Her shoulder screamed, and she was too scared to explore the wound. She knew it would heal, but the fact he had dared strike her gave her a renewed desire to escape. As she reached the trees, she was momentarily soothed by their vastness. She pressed the rough bark to her cheek and had a flash of remembrance, her father, his solid shoulder telling her she had a special destiny.

She wished for her sister's raw energy or her elder brother's strength, but if what he said was true, he had already caught them, so their gifts had not helped. All she had were her wings. She knew he had magicked the arrows as only an enchantment could wound her. Her blood dripped onto the pine carpet of the forest. From each drop, a poppy sprung. Nike lay her head down and inhaled the scent; the throbbing pain receded. But it was too late. Her brother Zelus was upon her.

"At last," he said, "You've led me in an elaborate dance."

Nike spread her wings; her injury was gone. As she rose, her hair was a golden river flowing about her shoulders. "You cheated, and just imagine what will happen to you when I tell father you struck me," she said, her voice as tremulous as the wind.

Zelus smiled, "You're always such a bad loser. You cheated too. You know you're not supposed to leave Olympus.”

Nike shrugged and said, "I'm the hunter now! Go back and hide on Olympus. I won't give chase until I see the moon."

She looked at the day moon, and smiled. She whispered, “You are not the only one who can bend the rules little brother. Here I come, ready or not.” As she flew away all that was left behind was the white swoosh of a ghost moth birthed from her fallen feathers.


Adele Evershed was born in Wales and has lived in Hong Kong and Singapore before settling in Connecticut. Her prose and poetry have been published in over a hundred online journals and print anthologies such as Every Day Fiction, Free Flash Fiction, Ab Terra Flash Fiction, Grey Sparrow Journal, Reflex Fiction, LEON Lit, Prose Online, Wales Haiku Journal, Shot Glass Journal, and Hole in the Head Review. Adele has recently been shortlisted for the Pushcart Prize for poetry, the Staunch Prize for flash fiction, and her chapbook Turbulence in Small Places will be published next year by Finishing Line Press. Find her here.

Author's note

'Hide and Seek' began life from a prompt to write about a childhood game. I like the idea of taking something we consider harmless and giving it a dark twist. Originally I had not named the characters, but as I had given the story a historical setting and the protagonists possessed superhuman powers so making them, gods seemed in keeping with the theme. I did some research and found that the goddess Nike had three siblings. Her brother Zelus was the god of zeal, and this seemed perfect for a character determined not to lose a game, especially to his sister.