A Friend Indeed- Friday Flash

A Friend Indeed

By Melissa L. Webb

 

 

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“It’s only a field,” Lucy muttered to herself as she stared into the night, her eyes searching for the well-worn path in the overgrown grass.

“You don’t have to do it,” Kyle said from beside her. “You can take the chicken way out.”

Lucy rolled her eyes. They were in high school. They were too old for name calling. “Why don’t Shawn and Beth have to do it?” she asked, motioning to the other side of the field. Two more of their friends stood there, their flashlight beams bouncing around the grass.

“They’ve already done this,” Lisa said, banging her flashlight against her leg. “It’s our turn to prove ourselves.”

“This is dumb,” Lucy said, her heart hammering away in her chest. “Everybody in the neighborhood plays in this field. There’s nothing out here but weeds and trash.”

“Then why are you so afraid?” Kyle snickered. “You know as well as anyone there’s something wrong with this place.”

She did know. People walked through the field all the time. Kids spent long summer hours on their own out here, yet the field had a strange vibe to it. Something was off. That never left anyone’s mind as they used the place.

And no one dared entered it after dark.

No one except them.

“Come on,” Lisa snapped. “It’s not difficult. Just walk across the field. That’s all you have to do.”

Kyle nodded. “As long as you don’t look back you’ll be fine. That’s all there is to it. It’s a piece of cake.”

A shiver ran down Lucy’s spine. “What happens if you look back?”

Kyle shrugged. “No one knows. Either no one has, or….”

“No ones’s lived to tell about it,” Lisa added evilly.

“Only the brave walk across this place at night,” Kyle said, handing Lucy a flashlight. “Are you ready to be brave?”

Her eyes drifted back to the field, trying to see through the darkness coating it like a blanket. Anything could be out there. How could she be brave when anything could happen?

“Oh, please,” Lisa said, pushing past her. “I’ll go first. I don’t want to wait all night for a scared, little baby to take her first step.” She looked Lucy dead in the eyes. “You need to grow up if you want to continue to hang out with us. We don’t socialize with losers.” With that she stepped onto the path, her flashlight beam sweeping back and forth with each determined step.

Lucy watched, her breath caught in her throat. How could anyone think this was a good idea? The night paused, like a thousand eyes fixed on them, waiting for one wrong step.

“Hey, Lisa!” Kyle yelled, startling Lucy out of her thoughts. “Don’t look behind you!”

“Very funny, Kyle,” she called with a laugh.

Lucy couldn’t believe it. “She’s not afraid.”

“Of course not,” Kyle said. “She’s not a coward.”

Lucy glared at him, but held her tongue. What happened to her friends? They use to be fun. Now all they did was put her down.

Lisa reached the other side and waved her flashlight proudly.

Kyle waved his back, then turned to Lucy. “Are you ready?”

“I…,” she started, looking back into the dark field. “I don’t know.”

“Fine. I’ll go next,” he said, rolling his eyes. “Maybe once you’re left all alone you’ll be more eager to cross.” He stepped into the field. “See you on the other side.”

Lucy watched him go, dread building with every step he took away from her. Why were they so eager to humiliate her? Was this the only excuse they could find to ditch her? She knew she would never be one of the cool kids. She was too unsure of everything. She didn’t have the confidence the others had.

Sadness crept over her as she realized the truth. They did want to move on. They wanted to shame her into giving them an out.

Well, no way. If they wanted to stop being friends they’d have to tell her to her face. She wouldn’t let them use her fear of the field as an excuse.

She waited as Kyle triumphantly stepped on the opposite sidewalk, flashlights spinning like mad in celebration. Someone shone one in her direction, clicking the light off and on in three rapid burst.

It was now or never.

Lucy took a deep breath and pointed her flashlight on the path ahead. She could do this. All she needed to do was walk.

She took one step into the field and then another. She could imagine the look on her friends’ faces as she drew near. She refused to hand them a excuse for destroying their friendship. Let them be the bad guys.

A rustling stirred the grass behind her even though no breeze touched her skin. The night was calm. There wasn’t any reason for the sound.

Lucy’s eyes locked onto the flashlights in front of her. She didn’t know what was behind her but she refused to turn around. Kyle said she’d be fine if she didn’t look back. She didn’t know if they’d been teasing her or not, but she didn’t dare risk it. It wasn’t like the field was a normal place.

She reached the center and took a deep breath. She could see her friends clearly. She was all most there.

“What is that behind you?” Shawn yelled, pointing with his flashlight.

Lucy started to turn, then caught herself. “Knock it off,” she yelled through clenched teeth. “It’s not funny.”

“Yes, it is,” Lisa called back. “You should see how funny you look standing there with your eyes about to pop out.”

“Why did you stop?” Beth asked. “Did the little baby pee her pants?”

“Aw, do you need a diaper change?” Kyle said with a laugh.

Lucy felt tears sting her eyes. When had her friends become such monsters? High school changed them and the thought sickened her heart.

She had half a mind to turn around and leave them where they stood. Who needed friends like these? She certainly didn’t. She could make new friends. Friends who didn’t treat her like dirt.

Lucy started to turn when she heard footsteps on the path behind her. She froze as ice settled into her veins. She was no longer alone.

“Who’s behind me?” she called, the shakiness of her voice betraying her fear.

“No one’s behind you,” Kyle called impatiently. “Stop being a baby and get over here. You’re almost done.”

“No, someone’s behind me,” Lucy insisted. “I hear them.”

“We’ll leave you here, Lucy,” Lisa snapped. “Is that what you want? Take a few more steps to prove yourself or we’ll leave you alone like the baby you are.”

Terror wrapped around Lucy as the footsteps stopped behind her. Something was there and her friends weren’t going to do anything about it. She tried to take a step forward but fear turned her legs to cement.

A strangled cry escaped her lips as she felt a warm breath drift over the back of her neck. “Help,” she managed to squeak out.

“This is lame, you guys,” Lisa said. “Let’s go. I’m done with this loser.”

They turned and walked away, heading away from Lucy when she needed them the most. She stood there, tears falling from her eyes, as despair fought the fear for control.

They abandoned her.

Fingers curled around Lucy’s shoulder as a voice whispered her name in her ear.

She spun around, pulling away from whatever it was. As her eyes swept over the path, the landscape changed around her.

Flames rolled across the field, churning in delight as ashes fell like snowflakes against her skin. Moans rose from the sea of fire as a chorus of screams tore through the night.

Black eyes stared out of a twisted white face as the creature who touched her drew its hand back. Its body was nothing more than shriveled flesh under the black leather it wore. It towered over her as it grinned down with a blood red slash full of teeth.

“Hello, Lucy,” it spoke. “I see you’re in need of some new companions.”

“Um,” was all she could manage to get out as the fire raged around them.

“Don’t worry. You and I will have lots of fun. We can even teach those losers a thing or two.”

A smile spread across Lucy’s lips as she felt her sanity slip away. She dropped to her knees, staring up at the monstrosity. “Hello, friend.”

 

© 2015 Melissa L. Webb

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Imp Woods- Friday Flash

Imp Woods

By Melissa L. Webb

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Have you ever seen an old rope swing hanging from one lonely tree? It hangs there, swaying slightly in the breeze.  Its seat covered with dead petals and leaves and you know it hasn’t been used in years. It’s a sad sight and sometimes you think they should just take it down.

They can’t. It’s there for a reason.

Along time ago, every patch of woods had a tree that stood away from the rest.  It was called an Imp Wood. That tree was feared because of the strange things that happened nearby it.

Animals would die. Children would disappear. Men would quake in their boots from the sights and sounds that emanated from that area.

It wasn’t like the tree could be avoided. Imp Woods were always within sight distance from the dwellings. You could look out the window and see it, mocking you with its ominous presence.

A few men thought chopping it down would help. It didn’t and they paid the ultimate price for their mistake.

Everyone who raises an ax to an Imp Wood died horribly within a few days.

People soon realized the only way to protect their homes was to appease these malevolent entities with an offering. It needed to be something that distracted them from their mischief.

A child came up with the answer. They needed to bring laughter and delight to the tree. It needed to become a place to have fun.

Rope swings went up all around the world and Imp Woods lost their Darkness. You could still feel a presence, but the danger was gone. Whatever inhabited the trees seemed pacified by the swings.

Things quieted down and time moved on.

Cities formed and the trees were cut down to make room for the urban developments. Imp Woods became forgotten. They were nothing more than folk tales handed down through the generations. Their Darkness was no longer relevant to society.

As the cities grew, people started to realize it was a bad thing to cut down so many trees.  They began to crave nature once again.

Slowly, people began planting trees. These trees were placed here and there, any where people thought they might look good. They were no longer part of a forest or grove, they were only trees standing alone.

Lonely trees seek company and nature brought back what humanity had once overcome.

Death, violence, and disappearances run rampant through our cities. We shudder and weep because of it, but we have no idea that it’s our own fault. We’ve forgotten to make our offerings.

The Imp Woods know that.

So, tell me, is your family safe in this world? Can you sleep sound at night knowing your home, work, and schools are free from any lonely trees?

If not, maybe it’s time to buy some rope.



© 2015 Melissa L. Webb

The Eye- Friday Flash

The Eye

By Melissa L. Webb

 

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I sneezed yesterday. It wasn’t particularly loud or long. It was just a normal something-tickling-your-nose sneeze. I guess I wasn’t paying attention or something, because I forgot to close one eye.

I know you’re saying that’s not possible. Our bodies automatically close our eyes when we sneeze.  Well, something went wrong. One of my eyes didn’t close.

I didn’t do it on purpose. It was an accident. I was just going along, minding my own business, when I sneezed, and my right eye stayed open.

A terrible pressure built up behind it, causing it to bulge. I thought it would shoot clean out of my head, but a few terrifying seconds passed, then I blinked and the pressure was gone.

My eyesight in that eye was blurry, but it hadn’t shot out, and that’s all I cared about at that moment.

I ran to my mother, to tell her what happened, but she took one look at me and screamed.  My eyeball was bight red.  She said it looked like I was staring at her through a pool of blood.

We raced to the doctor, my mother convinced I was dying.  I wasn’t.  My eye didn’t even hurt anymore.

He told her I was fine.  He said I burst the blood vessels in my eye, but that wasn’t anything to worry about. The blood would go away on its own. As for the blurriness, I’d strained the eye and it needed to rest.

He taped a gauze pad over that eye and told me to wear it for a week. With rest, my eye would be as good as new.  Better even.

Boy, was he wrong.

Everything was fine during that week. There was no pain and my mother kept me home from school. I got all the TV and ice cream I wanted. It was like a mini summer vacation.

Then my week was over.  It was time to remove the gauze.  At first my vision was still a little blurry. I couldn’t make out anything I was seeing with that eye. After a few days, the blurriness went away and my vision was as good as before.

That’s when I wished my eye had shot out of my head.

Everything looked different with that eye.  I could close my right eye and see things like I always did.  A lamp.  A vase.  If I looked at it with my right eye open and left eye closed, it would be different. A burnt lamp. A shattered vase. Nothing was the same.

Things got worse the more I looked. I saw my brother’s bloated corpse floating in the hallway when I knew he was standing there, alive and talking. I saw my cat, Tigger, hanging from a tree from his own entrails even though he was only climbing it.

The images were driving me insane. I put the gauze back on, determined to wear it forever if I had to. I had seen enough.

My mother cried, begging me to take it off.  I was fine. I didn’t need to disable myself any longer.

I tried to make her understand. I wasn’t disabled with the gauze on.  I was better.  If I didn’t look through the eye, I wouldn’t have to see what really was.

My mother’s worried that I might be losing my mind. I’ve told her what I’ve seen.

The world behind the world.

Everything I’ve seen is real on a different level than we know. It’s waiting for us there. I’m sure of this. I don’t know why my messed up eye can see it, but it does.

Mom doesn’t believe me. She hopes that I’m looking for attention, but deep down she’s worried the sneeze gave me brain damage. I wish that was the case. I’d be able to sleep at night.

I’m hiding in my room, the gauze on my eye, and the lights off. Monsters lurk in the world behind the world. If I can’t see anything, I won’t have to know what’s out there.

My parents are deciding what to do with me. They want me see someone.  I don’t want to see anyone.  I’d rather not tell them what I see lurking over everyone’s shoulder.

© 2015 Melissa L. Webb