Better Safe Than Sorry- Friday Flash

 

BETTER SAFE THAN SORRY

By Melissa L. Webb

tree

 
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

 

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Death Lands- Friday Flash

Redwoods-Little Creek

Redwoods-Little Creek (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

DEATH LANDS

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.

Maybe.

© 2013 Melissa L. Webb