Alone- Friday Flash

By Melissa L. Webb


Something about the house felt different when Kara awoke this morning. She couldn’t put her finger on it as she got out of bed, but that feeling was there, heavy as a mallet slamming into her. Something wasn’t right.

She padded through the empty house on her way to the bathroom. She couldn’t figure out where these feelings were coming from. Sure, she lived alone. That was enough to make anyone paranoid, but she had lived there for six months.

Six months was way too long to suddenly feel creeped out.

She hurried about, quickly getting ready for work as she tried to brush the dark thoughts from her mind. There was no place for them. She was an adult. Adults didn’t get freaked out, especially when it came to being in their own home.

Kara poured herself a cup of coffee and let the warm, caffeine-infused liquid flow through her soul. She tried to rationalize her feelings as she stared into the steaming mug. Some forgotten dream was haunting her mind. That’s all this was. She needed to let the morning sun burn away such thoughts. A woman afraid to live alone was doomed to live in someone’s shadow forever.

That wasn’t her. She was good at being alone. She even thrived in it to some extent. She wouldn’t let some ridiculous feeling shatter her solitude.

She grabbed her purse and locked up, heading to the car. Rays of sunlight danced around her, driving back the morning chill as she warmed up the car. A small laugh escaped her lips and a foolish feeling washed over her as she sat there, taking in the surrounding day.

Kara couldn’t believe how spooked she had let herself get. She needed to learn to let her dreams go before getting out of her bed if they were going to do this to her. This was her home, her sanctuary, and there was no reason that would change in one night.

She slipped the car in reverse and glanced up at the house one last time, a smile still on her lips. Her foot came down hard on the break and the smile faded. Something moved in her bedroom window.

Something black with red eyes.

It watched her, tilting its head side to side, as if gauging the amount of fear it caused.

Kara wanted to scream, but she was frozen in fear, her hands locked tightly on the steering wheel. She didn’t know what she was seeing, but she knew it was watching her back with a terrifying purpose.

In a blink of an eye, it was gone, leaving nothing but a fluttering curtain. An eerie reminder that the shape wasn’t imagined.

Tears flooded her eyes, silently slipping down her cheeks as she backed out of the driveway. Her solitude was broken, her life shattered in an instant, because something had changed over night.

The nightmare hadn’t plagued her sleep last night; it began the moment she woke up. That was the reason everything seemed so wrong. She was no longer alone.

© 2014 Melissa L. Webb



Little Lost Girl- Friday Flash


By Melissa L. Webb

English: shadow of a girl Dansk: skygge af en pige

English: shadow of a girl Dansk: skygge af en pige (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


The white blur moved gracefully above the city, dropping low here and there as its search continued. It listened for the cries and sighs, for the discontented and the hollow. It needed to set things right, to give peace to the youth who so deserved it.

A sob echoed through the night, the tortured sound piercing the white shadow’s heart like thousands of tiny daggers. It jerked to a stop, instincts taking over as it flew straight to a window and perched on the sill, drowning in the sorrow contained within.

A girl sat on the edge of a bed. Teardrops glistened in the moonlight as they streaked down her face causing the shadow to gasp. It had never seen anything quite as beautiful before. Or quite as tortured.

Her chest heaved with an unknown burden as another cry escaped her lips. She was suffering. Another innocent had fallen victim to the cruel society around her. A society that used and abused their youth, turning then into nothing more than dirty, discarded objects. Children weren’t human beings to this world. They were property.

The shadow slipped through the open window, causing no more noise than a single breath. It moved near the girl, aching to free her from the pain.

“Why are you crying?” it asked her softly, knowing it really didn’t matter. It would stop whatever was troubling her.

The girl sat up, her bright green eyes going wide as she took in the white shadow. “What are you?” she asked, pushing herself away from it.

The shadow stood there, confusion plaguing its mind. Couldn’t she tell what he was? “Well, I’m certainly not a little white bird.”

She frowned, not daring to take her eyes off it. “What are you doing in my bedroom?”

“I heard you crying. I came to help you.”

She slid back to the edge of the bed, curiosity getting the best of her. “What do you mean? How can you help me, shadow?”

“I can free you from the sadness. I can take you to a place where you will never be treated badly again. A place where you will never grow old. It’s a place where you will have no responsibilities or expectations. A place where you can simply be you.”

A ghost of a smile now haunted her eyes. “This place…no one will yell at me? No one will ask things of me? I can do what I please?”

The shadow nodded. “Yes. This world will have no hold on you there. You’ll be free.”

She got up from the bed, her excitement at the offer no longer contained. “You can take me there? Right now?”

“If that is what you wish.”

“Oh, I do,” she said, practically jumping up and down. “I want to be free of my parents and their rules.”

The shadow sped around the room, bouncing off the walls with delight. “You and I will have so many adventures.” It stopped, looking down at the girl. “Are you sure you want to leave this world? You can’t come back once it’s done.”

The girl stopped, seriousness creeping into her face. She was quiet for a moment before looking back at the shadow. “I won’t have to be sad anymore, right? I can be free?”

The shadow moved closer. “Yes, I promise no more sadness, little lost girl, for I have found you.”

A smile spread over her lips. “Then let’s go.”

The shadow swept forward, reaching out for the lonely child. The girl waited for its embrace, thinking of all the lovely adventures in store for her. They’d fly to its world together and start the life she always dreamed of having.

Her smile faded as soon as the shadow’s hands made contact with her. They sank into her chest like wisp of smoke, tearing at her insides. Pain swept through her and she gasped, dropping to her knees.

The shadow stared down at her as its fingers dug into her core. The look of terror in her eyes displeased it. It wanted to free her from the pain, not add to it, but it knew this was the only way.

It ripped its fingers free, a blue glow sticking to them, coating them with a shimmer that pulsed brightly.

The deed was done. It had saved her.

Her body fell to the ground with a thud. It lay still, a pale shell no longer tortured by the world.

The shadow leaned close to the body, holding the girl’s essence close to its chest, shielding it from the sight. “Don’t worry,” it whispered, “death is the greatest adventure after all.”

Holding it’s prize close, the shadow turned and flew through the window. It was eager to show the girl its impossible world. Another lost soul for his collection.

It rose above the city, soul in hand, and headed for the second star to the right.

© 2013 Melissa L. Webb

Better Safe Than Sorry- Friday Flash



By Melissa L. Webb


It shouldn’t have been possible. There was no rot. There was no lightning. No earthquake. No wind. The tree simply fell apart for no reason.

I stood there, staring at it in disbelief. How did a perfectly good tree come apart at the seams? The wood inside was a nice healthy color and sap oozed in several different places.

I kicked the fallen piece. It was solid and heavy, my boot barely causing it to move.

Something wasn’t right. This was one of my prized apple trees. I took painstakingly good care of it. There wasn’t a single thing wrong with the tree. It should be in one piece.

I glanced at the base of the tree, where the separation started. Four protrusions of shaped wood stood out of the raw wound. They were no bigger than pencil erasers. I’d never seen wood grow like that before, but nothing about this seemed normal.

I went back inside and got my camera. I needed to chop the tree down, but I wanted pictures first. I needed documented proof of this strangeness.

I rushed back out and started snapping pictures. No one would believe me without proof. As I bent to photograph the protrusions, I nearly dropped my camera in shock.

The bumps weren’t the size of erasers any more. They were now the size of the whole pencil. They attached to a larger bump and included another chunkier pencil shape.

It looked like a hand.

A wooden hand now stuck out of the split wood.

I looked around me. This had to be a joke. I’d been set up. Someone came and split my tree and now they were trying to scare me.

Well, they picked the wrong guy to mess with. Anger flared in my chest as I turned back to the caved hand someone obviously glued to the tree.

My anger died instantly as icy fear took over. Another hand accompanied the first one.

I backed up, wondering if I was going crazy. This wasn’t a joke. There wasn’t time for someone to attach the other hand. What was going on? This was insane. Thing like this didn’t happen.

I turned around again, the hairs on my arms rising instantly. I felt I was no longer alone. Someone was messing with me. I was sure of it. But this time I was beginning to think it wasn’t a human.

I needed to get rid of the tree. That’s all there was to it. Nothing could mess with me if there wasn’t a tree.

I glanced at the tree and almost screamed like a girl. A carved wooden face peered out at me. It remained motionless as I stepped forward.

With each step, I was convinced the thing would blink its eyes and come alive. It didn’t though. It remained frozen, nothing more than a statue, as I moved even closer.

I didn’t know what was going on, but I knew I had to stop it.

I turned and sprinted for the barn, dropping the camera along the way. The pictures didn’t matter any more. Only ridding myself of the tree did.

I grabbed my ax and raced back out to the tree. I lifted the ax high above my head and froze. The thing was gone.

The split was the only thing there. The sent of apples filled my nose as I peered closer at the raw wood. It was as if the figure had never been.

I lowered the ax, wondering if I had indeed lost my mind. Too many long, hot hours working in the sun. That’s all it was. I was seeing things.

Nothing peered out at me. Nothing freed itself from inside my prized tree. The world was as normal as it ever was.

I looked at the fallen piece of tree. Maybe the tree was sick after all. No use risking the health of the other trees.

I raised my ax and started to chop. Who knew what might happen if I let it live.


© 2013 Melissa L. Webb


Death Lands- Friday Flash

Redwoods-Little Creek

Redwoods-Little Creek (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


By Melissa L. Webb

The man climbed across the charred ruins. The burnt flesh of the fallen redwood trees cracked under his weight. He didn’t know where he was, but he struggled forward, trying to free himself from the hellish landscape.

Acrid smoke hung heavily in the air, causing his lungs to labor. His body slowed without his consent, but still he did not stop. He couldn’t. Stopping would be the end of him.

He wiped filthy tears from his eyes, tears that seemed to burn more than his lungs did. When his sight cleared, he saw the bits of metal for the first time.

They were giant and hollow, looking like pieces of a knight’s discarded armor. However, no knight the size of this armor ever walked the earth. The pieces made the man feel no bigger than an ant playing near some child’s toys.

He couldn’t identify any of the parts except for the eyeholes. Large empty spaces where optical orbs should be stared back at him. They seemed to mock the man as he scurried by.

What had happened here? Had he stumbled across the aftermath of a battle? Was this the death lands of some futuristic race, or was it something worse? Something closer to home?

The man couldn’t think about that now. He needed to keep moving. He needed to find away out of this mess. The dead would have to stay dead.

But as he hopped over a chunk of wood, the black soot staining him worse than before, he heard something under his feet. A slithering sound echoed around him.

The man realized with pure horror that he wasn’t alone after all. Something was moving below. Something that squirmed under the metal and the wood. He wasn’t in the aftermath after all.

The battle was still going on.

Darkness blurred next to him as the wood rattled. Something was moving close by, like a shark waiting for its victim to make a mistake. It slowly entwined itself into a metal piece. Its movement caused a hollow thump to rise up around the man.

He stopped, fearing his heart might seize in his chest. He didn’t want to know what the thing was, but he knew there was nowhere to go. It already knew he was there.

Something peered out of one of the eyeholes from deep inside. A hissing sound rattled the man’s teeth as the thing watched him. Neither one moved. They stayed there, locked in silence as decisions were weighed.

The man knew he couldn’t stay there much longer. He needed to move. He needed to put as much distance between the thing that lurked and himself.

He stopped thinking and ran, hurrying back the way he came. More movement rattled the wood around him as he flung himself through it. It wasn’t just one of those things. They were everywhere, including under his feet.

The man didn’t stop. He kept his body moving through the ruins. Tears from the smoke and fear coming fast and hard. He didn’t know why he was there. He didn’t even know where these death lands were.

He had fallen asleep in his bed. He should be there right now, back in the normal world of work, bills, and family. This was insane. This place couldn’t exist.

Maybe that’s all it was. Just a dream. A horrible nightmare brought on by too much meatloaf before bed.

And…maybe that giant mouth that had popped up in the blacken debris in front of him wasn’t really going to eat him.


© 2013 Melissa L. Webb


Silent Watcher- Friday Flash


By Melissa L. Webb


Goblin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


The dark distorts things in ways we can’t even begin to imagine. Something as innocent as shrubbery or utility equipment tend to take sinister shapes when night falls. We’re tricked into believing something lurks nearby when it really doesn’t.

The dark is tricky like that.

I was leaving my sister’s house last night. My arms were loaded down with the remains of our family dinner as I made my way to the back of my station wagon. Darkness had already descended on our town, leaving my car shrouded in shadow as I approached it.

I fumbled with my load as I unlocked the hatch back. A chill swept up my back as I finally got it open. I could feel eyes on my back. I didn’t know where they were, but they unnerved me to the core.

I turned quickly, tying to find my silent watcher. I couldn’t see anything at first. The only thing surrounding me was darkness and nothing stood out.

As my eyes adjusted, I realized there was something odd across the street from me. A white shape loomed near the curb, silently waiting for something as it watched me intently.

A gasp escaped my lips as I turned away. I didn’t know what the thing was but dread washed over me as I realized something was wrong. I had never noticed anything there before.

I shoved my stuff in the back of the car as fast as I could and hurried back to my sister’s door. I stepped through and slammed the door, causing everyone to look at me in shock.

“Is there normally something white and creepy across the street?” I asked breathlessly. I was sure there wasn’t, but I needed to hear it from her.

My sister gave me a puzzled look and headed outside. I followed close by, eager to have a witness to the insanity residing outside. Her porch light was burnt out and we stood on the porch, squinting in the darkness at the shape across the road.

“Um…” she began, “there’s an electrical transformer box over there, but…” She fell silent, confusion forming on her face. “That’s not the transformer.”

We stepped back inside, trying to put distance between the thing and us. We both knew something was off about the shape, but without walking right up to it we couldn’t tell for sure what it was.

When we were safe behind the closed door, my sister turned toward me. “It looks like some kind of goblin thing. Like Dobby on steroids.”
I had to agree. A dwarf from hell had taken up residence outside my sister’s place.

I couldn’t leave now. I couldn’t leave my sister and her children there alone without knowing what was there. We had to be wrong. It had to be something normal, something we just never noticed before.

But my sister should know what was normally outside her house.


She quickly went to go look for a flashlight. We would go confront our silent watcher. We would make sure our mind was only playing tricks on us. We’d end up looking like idiots, but at least my sister and her family could sleep peacefully.

She came back, defeated. The flashlight was missing.

We would have to confront it in the dark.

We stepped back outside and stopped in the middle of her yard. The squat creature was still there, in the same spot, staring back at us. We stood there, trying to screw up enough courage to approach it.

Sudden movement caught our attention. A guy was walking down the street. He was going to pass right in front of the thing.

We watched as he passed, waiting for either one of them to react. Neither one did. The man continued into the night.

He hadn’t even notice the thing.

We had been scaring ourselves over nothing. It was obviously nothing more than some everyday object. Something that couldn’t have been watching me in the first place.

Unless…it was something only we could see.

We had to find out what it was. I couldn’t leave without knowing the truth.

We moved closer to the street when suddenly a car came by, shining its headlights on the small creature. My heart thudded as I realized we were idiots.

It was a fire hydrant.

I let out a small laugh, feeling foolish to my very core. Boy, had I spooked us all over nothing. However, even as dumb as I felt, I was glad that was all it was. Just an overactive imagination running rampant.

“I don’t remember a hydrant being there,” my sister said and smiled sheepishly at me. I didn’t remember it either, but I guess we weren’t the most observant people in the world.

I finished packing and left her house, feeling silly the whole way home. I had been creeped out over a fire hydrant. How was I ever supposed to live that down?

Maybe I don’t have to.

I said the darkness tries to trick us into believing something’s there that isn’t. However, maybe it’s not tricking us. Maybe it’s helping us.

By trying to show us the truth.

I say this with some certainty. I did feel eyes on me last night. And my sister and I are more observant than we thought.

Because, today, that fire hydrant is gone.


© 2013 Melissa L. Webb

Collision Ahead- Friday Flash


By Melissa L. Webb

Deutsch: Verkehrsunfall mit zwei PKW.

Deutsch: Verkehrsunfall mit zwei PKW. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Julie sighed as she pressed her forehead against the cool glass of the passenger side window. It felt good against her skin, slightly calming the fury in her chest.

Carl was pushing every button of hers this morning. It made her wonder why they had even bothered to go on this trip in the first place. Her husband was a jerk when he got into one of his moods. He was even worse when he got behind the wheel angry.

“Don’t you think we should stop, Carl? Maybe get something to eat?”

Her husband glanced sideways at her, a frown on his lips. “Why? So you can have more time to yell at me? No way. We are getting to my parents’ house as fast as I can possibly drive.” He turned his eyes back to the road and took a deep breath. “I’ve had enough quality time,” he growled softly. “Ten hours trapped in a car with you is more than I can stomach today.”

Julie felt her eyes sting at those words. What had happened to them? There was a time when they couldn’t stand to be apart for more than a few hours. Now it was like pulling teeth to get them in the same automobile.

She loved his parents, but his mother’s birthday party wasn’t worth the hell she was being subjected to. Would it really kill him to be civil for a few days?

The divorce papers Julie drew up the day before were packed in her bag. She hadn’t told him about them yet. She’d been worried she rushed into things. That maybe their marriage could still be saved. Maybe they could work things out if they tried.

However, looking over at the tight-lipped man behind the wheel, she knew there was no hope. The chasm they created between them was just too deep.

There was no crossing it.


She’d give him the papers as soon as they got back into town. Assuming they both actually managed to survive the trip. If he kept going the way he was, she might kill him long before they even arrived at his parent’s house.

“Never mind,” she said glumly as she went back to staring out the window. “I don’t have to pee that bad.”

“Good,” Carl muttered tersely and fell silent.

Boy, it was going to be a long trip.

Julie watched the scenery as her husband slowed with the traffic around them.

“Hmm,” she whispered as she saw a piece of cardboard flapping in the breeze. It was taped to a wooden sawhorse along the side of the road. Written in somebody’s sloppy handwriting were the words: Collision ahead.

“What?” Carl grunted.

“There was a sign. It said collision ahead.”

“I didn’t see anything.”

“It was back there, stuck to a sawhorse.”

“Well, I don’t see anything ahead of us that looks like an accident. Was it put there recently?”

“How would I know? I don’t even know where we are,” she snapped, but she wondered if he was right. Maybe it had been there awhile.
Wouldn’t there be other signs of an accident if it were recent? Like flares, emergency workers, and groups of people standing around waiting to see all the gruesome details for themselves.

“Well, I doubt the sign was from today,” he said, ignoring her. “There’s no accident and traffic is speeding up. There is absolutely nothing to fret about.”

She twisted in her seat, wanting to get away from his condescending tone. Why did everything have to be a fight with him? She had only told him what she saw. He didn’t need to treat her like an idiot.

Julie took a deep breath, fighting back the tears. She just needed to get through the next few days. This whole nightmare would be over as soon as they got back and she gave him those papers. She could move on with her life and away from Carl’s negativity.

However, as the car moved on, she felt more and more uneasy. That sign had been put there for a reason. She was sure of it.

It was a warning.

But a warning of what?

“Something’s wrong,” she spoke impulsively, turning back to her husband. “We should listen to the sign.”

“What?” he said, glancing over at her in shock. “Are you crazy? There’s nothing to listen to. There’s no accident. It’s an old sign. Obviously people are too lazy around here to do anything with it.”

“No,” she snapped, finally putting her foot down. “We need to turn around, or stop, or something. We can’t drive any more on this road.”

“You are crazy. I’m not turning around. We’re already half way to my parent’s house.”

“Please,” Julie begged. “Listen to me. You have to stop!”

“Dammit,” Carl hissed, eyeing the hysterical woman next to him. “Fine. You want to stop? We’ll stop. There’s no way in hell I’m putting up with this for five more hours.”

He changed lanes suddenly, preparing to pull off the road. In his anger, he didn’t notice the truck in the lane next to him.

He did notice the sudden impact as it slammed into them from behind.
© 2013 Melissa L. Webb


Diner Madness- Friday Flash

Frazer Diner, a Jerry O’Mahony Co. diner, esta...

Frazer Diner, a Jerry O’Mahony Co. diner, established 1929, at 189 Lancaster Avenue, Frazer, PA 19355 in East Whiteland Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Diner Madness

By Melissa L. Webb




“Order up.”

Madison Monroe turned and watched as the cook slid three plates of food in front of her. She quickly scooped them up and gracefully headed over to table two with them.

It was a slow night and she was going to earn a decent tip even if it killed her. Which with this crowd, it might.

Royce’s All-Nighter didn’t cater to the best people in Nebraska, just the best people at causing trouble. She didn’t know why that was.

The diner was nice and the people who worked there were decent. However, night after night, lowlifes and scum came through that door.

In the end, she chalked Royce’s clientele up to what you get at night in a small town like Gunther. Nothing but trouble.

“Here’s two double cheeseburgers, one chicken fried steak, and a round of beers,” she said as she smoothly slid the order on the table. “Is there anything else I can get you?”

The three men stared at her, grins plastered to their pocked faces. “I’m sure we can think of something else, sweetheart,” the guy closest to her cooed as he ran a hand down her bare arm.

She quickly pulled away, his clammy touch still ghosting along her skin. Pushing down a shiver of revulsion, she glared at the men.

“Listen up,” she began, but the words were barely out of her lips before her boss was standing beside her.

“Maddie, can I have a word with you?” he asked casually, smiling at her.

She nodded with a sigh, following him to the back, away from prying customer ears.

“Look, Maddie,” Royce said as soon as they were alone, “I know those guys are jerks, but you need to keep your temper.”

She stared at her boss, a look of disbelief clearly written across her face. “I will not just stand there and let them treat me that way.”

“I know it sucks, but you have to. In this economy, we have to put up with every customer we get, even if it’s slime like that.”

“But, Royce…”

Her boss sighed, his eyes softening. “Why don’t you take a break? Step out back and cool off a little, okay?” he told her and headed back onto the floor.

Maddie turned and made her way past the cook and dishwasher. They both adverted their eyes quickly, giving her no reason to turn her anger on them. She silently prayed that they would say something. Her temper just itched to have a go.

They stayed quiet as she passed, and with the anger still boiling inside, she slid out the back door. Stepping into the crisp night air, she breathed deeply, letting out the negativity that had been building inside of her.

If only she didn’t need this job so badly. She absolutely hated it here. Who really wanted to spend their lives serving drunks and jerks anyway? However, money was money, and she had no place else to go.

“If only life was a fairytale,” she muttered darkly to herself as she let the cool breeze wash over her, numbing the pain inside. “My prince would come for me.”

She sat down on a plastic crate outside the back door and stared into the dark woods surrounding the diner. More than anything, she longed to be somewhere else, free from this life.

If Nancy, the other night waitress, had been in town, she would have called in sick. And…it wouldn’t have been a lie. She was sick, sick of this job, this town, this life. None of it was her anymore.

She had changed. Nothing else had.

She let a sigh escape her lips as she rested her chin in her palms. This was the life she was given, she needed to face that. She was stuck, and it was never going to get any better.

“Unhand me, you Savages!”

Maddie’s head snapped up as she scanned the tree line in front of her. Who was out there?

“I said, let me go!” the voice yelled, unseen among the trees.

She didn’t even think about it. She was up off the crate and headed into the trees before she even realized what she was doing. Voices grew louder as she moved deeper into the woods. Drunken laughter filled the air as a stream of obscenities cut through the night. Someone was pissed.

What the hell was going on out there?

Light from the moon filtered through the trees ahead, and she stepped out into a small clearing, stopping with a gasp. A small group of Royce’s regulars stood grouped together, laughing at something between them. They taunted it, like a child with a bug.

“What are you doing?” she called out, scolding them like a bunch of schoolboys.

The guys turned to look at her. “Well, hello, Miss Madison,” one of them called to her. “We aren’t doing anything except having a little fun.”

“Yeah, it’s the small pleasures in life that really mean the most,” another slurred.

Laughter filled the night again as they all got a kick out of that comment.

“Listen up, assholes. None of this is amusing. Now get out of my way before I do something we’ll all regret,” someone spoke from inside the circle of men.

“Oh, how cute. It thinks it can take us,” one of the men spoke as they all laughed harder.

Maddie moved closer, trying to get a better look inside the circle. She peered in and gasped at the sight. A midget stood there, his arms crossed over his chest. The men had boxed him in, toying with him like a cat with a mouse.

“What the hell are you doing?” Maddie yelled, outraged at what they had been doing. She shoved at the men, parting them before her.

“You should be ashamed of yourselves. How can you treat someone like this?”

“Aw, Miss Maddie, we were just having some fun.”

“Fun?” she cried. “This is not fun, Carl. This is harassment!”

“We weren’t gonna hurt him none.”

She glanced around at the men. “Go home! All of you. Now. Before I call the police.”

The men just stared at her through a haze of alcohol.

“Now!” she snapped.

“Okay, Maddie,” Carl said as they turned and reluctantly headed back to the diner. “We’re sorry for the trouble.”

She watched them go, shaking her head at the stupidity of it all.

Gunther’s finest hard at work.

She was so sick of this town. What she wouldn’t do to find a way out of this hellhole.

“I could have handled that myself,” a voice stated, harsh words in the night.

She turned around and stared down at the tiny man. She might have though he was a child if it wasn’t for his face.

Dark eyes stared back at her as he shifted uncomfortably under her scrutiny. “What’s the matter? You’ve never seen a freak before?”

“Sorry,” Maddie whispered, pulling her eyes away from the scar. It curled up the corner of his mouth, causing a permanent smirk on half his face.

“Look, girly. I don’t need any pity. You hear me? Just because I’m tiny and ugly doesn’t mean I need a woman to fight my battles for me.”

Her eyes snapped back to his face and locked with his dark ones, anger blossoming in her chest. Was every guy in this town a creep? “Look, I would have done that for anyone, regardless of who they were, because it was the right thing to do. Now, if you’ll excuse me,” she said, turning around, “At least I get paid inside for dealing with jerks.”

She stepped out of the clearing with her head held high. You try to be a good person and this was all the thanks you get.

“Wait a second,” the small man called softly from behind her.

Maddie turned, folding her arms across her chest. “What is it now?” she snapped.

“I’m sorry. I’m not used to showing people kindness…because I haven’t received any in years,” he told her and took a step closer. “Where I come from is a dark place, one where a dwarf has to look out for himself. I’ve forgotten that some people actually care. That some are willing to stand up for what they believe.” He bowed slightly. “Thank you for your kindness.”

Maddie felt her anger weaken, then fade as she stared into his eyes. They contained such sadness. Life had been cruel to him. You could see it without even looking at the scar. “You’re welcome.”

He turned then, heading away from the diner.

“Hey, are you going to be okay?” she called to him.

He stopped and turned slowly, staring up at her. “You are a very strange girl. You don’t know me, you don’t know the things I may have lived through, yet you are concerned enough to inquire.”

“I’m strange? That’s funny coming from you,” she said with a frown.

He smiled then. A real honest-to-goodness smile. It made his scar less severe. He looked much younger with it on. “I like you, Miss…”

“Maddie. Maddie Monroe.”

“Well, Miss Maddie Monroe, my name is Percival, and you have made a friend in me.”

She raised her eyebrows. Percival? What kind of name was Percival? Who was this guy?

“Take care, Miss Maddie,” he said, turning once more. “And don’t worry about me. I’ll be as okay as anyone in the world truly is.” He disappeared into the trees, leaving no trace he’d even been there.

She shook her head, heading back into the diner. Why couldn’t she just have a normal night at Royce’s?

© 2013 Melissa L. Webb