Ghost of the Moon- Friday Flash

full moon near snowcap mountain

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

Ghost of the Moon

By

Melissa L. Webb

 

The moon reflected off the water, harsh and cold, like glass on a snow-covered day. A lone figured stood on the sand, staring out at the searing refection. He stayed motionless, his head cocked to one side, mesmerized by the sight.

It stirred a memory in him. One he couldn’t quite place. It nibbled at the edges of his sanity, threatening to resurface with the weight of a 20-kiloton blast.

He didn’t know why it stirred. He had no obvious memories of ever standing on this shore, staring out at the bright shape of the moon as it caressed the water’s surface. Yet, there was something inside him, screaming at the sight of it.

A ripple stirred in the water, branching out like a spider’s web in the cold moonlight. The strands reached the shore as the water shivered underneath their touch.

The man stepped back, frightened by the sight, but frightened even more by his desire to touch it, to see if it was as solid as his heart longed for it to be. The fluttering in his mind became more frantic, a wild rustling that strained at the confines of who he was.

He would never understand what the subconscious wanted if he clung to his reality. He was trapped. He wasn’t the only one, though. Everyone was as trapped as he was and they didn’t even know it. They lived in an illusion, confined by the turmoil of humanity.

But, that was the joke, the big sickening scheme. There was no humanity. Not at all. They were all prisoners trapped in the flesh of those who would play creator.

He sighed as the old memories became clear. He was never meant to be human. No one was ever meant to be human. The shell they’d shackled to him had suppressed so much, but he had finally seen the light and it was beautiful.

The world was as flat as a postcard, just a relic from the days when the soul wanted what it couldn’t have. They had thought that life could be caught, could be shaped and molded to give meaning to the pain. But they were wrong. They were so wrong and they all knew it.

The man smiled as his skin cracked and peeled, dropping off like strips of wrapping paper on Christmas morning. The body was nothing more than a dustjacket and just as archaic. It was time to toss it aside.

His body split open, falling to the ground in a sickly, wet thump as white light poured out, drifting up like tendrils of fog, eager to dance with the crashing waves.

A long, dark arm rose out of the refection of the moon, pulling the swirling light into itself. “Welcome home, my son,” a beautiful voice cooed as the arm dropped back into the ghost of the moon once more.

 

© 2018 Melissa L. Webb

 

 

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The Message-Friday Flash

THE MESSAGE
By Melissa L. Webb

 

Three days ago, I made a terrible mistake. It was an honest one…one that anybody would have made. I know that. If I could rewind time, I know I would do it the same way. I can’t be blamed for my actions, but I can still suffer from them.

I made a mistake that altered my life.

I answered the phone.

I didn’t recognize the number when my cell phone rang. I wasn’t surprised by that. I get a lot of calls from people I don’t know. That’s what happens when you run your own business. There was absolutely no hesitation as I answered it, but the sobbing on the other end did give me pause.

I was speechless as my mind whirled with images of people who might be hurt or worse. That was the only reason I could imagine for this call. But when she spoke, I realized I didn’t know this crying woman. She was only a stranger weeping into my ear.

“I’m so sorry to bother you,” she told me through tears. “But…I need to talk to someone; to tell them this and it can’t be anyone I know.”

I didn’t know what to say to that. How could I turn away this woman when she was so distraught? So, with a sigh, I spoke, “What can I do for you?”

“Just listen, please. That’s all I ask. Just listen to what I tell you, it will only take a minute.”

I reluctantly agreed. She took a deep breath and began to tell me about a conversation she had the other day. A woman had stopped her on the street, asking if she could spare a moment. This woman needed to speak to her. She told her a story of how she had been asked to hear a tale of woe from a stranger and ever since that day, her life had been a nightmare.

This stranger on the street told her she was having nightmares; that her luck had changed for the worse, and she was being stalked by some unseen thing. She was sure some negative force had entered her life and now she feared for herself and those she loved.

The weeping woman on the other end of my phone took a shuddered breath. “I told her I didn’t know what to do for her. She said it was okay, just telling me this would be enough to help her. She just needed to talk someone. She walked away from me then. It was the strangest conversation I ever had,” she whispered to me. “I didn’t think anything more about it. It was just someone with problems.”

I took a deep breath. I could understand that. “Is there a point to this?” I asked.

“It’s happening to me,” she sobbed. “I’m having nightmares. I lost my job. Everywhere I look something is going wrong. And…” She stopped, letting the silence surround us.

I couldn’t help myself. “What?”

“Something is following me. I feel it,” she told me. “I’m never alone anymore.” She was silent once more and then let out a deep sob. “I’m sorry. I just randomly picked you. I had to tell someone. I’m so sorry, but this has to stop.” The phone clicked sharply as she hung up.

I didn’t know what to make of the story. I shoved it to the back of my mind and went on with my life. I should have taken what she said to heart.

It’s started now.

The bad luck and the nightmares, I have them both. The unseen force? It’s here, too. I feel its breath on the back of my neck even as I write this. It’s watching and waiting, looking for the next person to be infected by this story. This tale is no longer my burden. I have finished writing it and you have read it, so I am free.

My only thought now is, “Who will you call tonight?”

© 2017 Melissa L. Webb

Pink Tutus and Blue Cheese

Pink Tutus and Blue Cheese

By Melissa L. Webb

 

I first heard God speak to me yesterday. It wasn’t a “Greetings from the Exalted One!” type message, more like a “Hey, how’s it going?” I have to tell you, I was quite shocked. Here I was in my skivvies, getting a bowl of fruity flakes, when a voiced filled the room and said, “You’re overflowing the milk, Gary.”

I nearly jumped out of my skin. Not to mention my hard-earned fruity flakes went all over the floor. Which is a bummer, cause I really like them. They’re like the nectar of the breakfast gods or something.

I scurried for the paper towels, throwing them down on the rainbow-colored milk. I leaned over, ready to soak up as much of the liquid as I could when the voice spoke again. It told me, “You can do that later, Gary. I need to talk to you.”

Why God needed to talk to me was puzzling. Why would I be important enough to talk to? I was just your average slacker. I didn’t do much in this world, good or bad. It wasn’t as if I should have caught his attention for any reason.

However, when God comes a calling, you don’t say no. So, I sat down and listened to what he had to tell me.

He rambled on and on about the weather, his disdain for retail stores, and his love for pink tutus and blue cheese. God really seems to love blue cheese. He puts it on everything. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that’s what clouds in heaven are made from.

I listened patiently as he talked away the day. I didn’t mind. It wasn’t as if I had anything else to do. I think the guy’s lonely. Floating around all day, watching everything but interacting with nothing, will do that to you.

As the sunlight was fading from the house, God wrapped up telling me about the doctor who decided to treat only squirrels before asking a favor from me. I would have thought listening to him all day would have been the favor, but as I said before, you don’t tell God no.

I told him whatever he needed, I would see to it. It would give me something to do, and if it was God’s work, all the better.

He then told me about his dislike of white shoelaces. How he couldn’t stand them. He said it had something to do with an experience when both the world and he were young, but that’s all he would say. I think even God has things he would rather forget.

White shoelaces and those who were associated with them had to go. He didn’t care how I did it, just as long as I rid the world of them. So, that’s how I started this quest. I must make this world a better place for God. He has given me purpose. No longer will I waste the life I’ve been given. I will serve him.

My God of the pink tutus and blue cheese.

I will cleanse the world of those who wear white shoelaces. I will destroy them because God told me to. This is my purpose. This is my calling.

Now I must ask: what color are your shoelaces?

© 2017 Melissa L. Webb

The Puppy- Friday Flash

 

 

Warning: Due to disturbing content, reader discretion is advised.

 

 

 

 

The Puppy

 

By Melissa L. Webb

 

cute-little-puppy-eyes

 

More than anything the girl wanted a puppy. She’d listen to her friends talk about their dogs or watch people taking theirs for a walk, and think, someday that will be me.

Every chance she got she’d ask her parents for a dog.  “Please, can I have one? I’ll take very good care of it.”

But, no, they would not give in.

“A five-year-old is too young to be responsible for a dog. We’ll talk about it when you’re older.”

Day after day, that’s what the little girl heard. She wasn’t old enough. She wasn’t responsible enough.

Her parents were wrong about that. She was practically an adult. She could take care of a puppy. She could take care of anything. She needed to prove that to them.

So, the little girl came up with a plan.

Every morning, she would get up early and fix a small plate of leftovers. She’d take it out to the backyard and bring it back empty. She’d wash it until it shined and then put it away, better than before. She would do the same before bed as well.

“What are you doing?” her parents asked her.

“I’m taking care of my puppy,” she replied.

“Do you think we should worry?” her father asked one night after the girl was asleep.

“No,” her mother answered wisely. “She’s only doing this to prove she’s responsible. She’ll stop once she realizes we’re serious about no pets.”

The little girl did not stop.

She gathered blankets and stuffed animals and took them outside as well.

“What are you doing?” her parents asked her.

“I already told you,” the little girl said dramatically. “I’m taking care of my puppy.”

“Should we worry now?” her father asked her mother.

“I’m sure she’s only building a fort out there,” her mother replied, but inside she was beginning to wonder. Did her daughter really have a puppy? “Maybe we should go check on her.”

The parents made their way out to the backyard, looking for their daughter’s fort. The door to the shed stood open, light spilling out across the ground.  A soft whimper rolled across the lawn from within.

“Sweetie,” the girl’s mother called as they approached the door and peered in. “Are you in there?”

“Yes, Mommy,” the little girl called back. “I’m playing with my puppy. Do you want to see it?” Her words were punctuated with a thin, watery whine.

Her father frowned. She had gone behind their backs and brought home an animal. He wondered which neighbor she’d taken it from.

“Sweetheart,” her mother said as they came into the shed, her eyes scanning the rows of boxes and shelves. “Daddy and I need to talk to you.”

“Okay, Mommy. I’m back here. Come see how responsible I’ve been.”

They silently followed her voice to the back of the shed, each one contemplating a fitting punishment. She couldn’t go around taking people’s pets.

The girl sat with her back to the wall. Something small lay across her lap. A blanket covered it from the neck down. Above that, the girl had tied an old jump rope around its neck as a leash.

Her eyes lit up, a smile covering her face as she looked at her parents. “This is Cupcake,” she said, patting the small brown doggy head in her lap. “She’s a good puppy.”

Her parents leaned down, staring into the puppy’s glassy brown eyes. They held no sparkle, no trace of life at all.

“Sweetie,” her mother said, looking back up at her daughter. “This isn’t a real puppy. It’s the stuffed dog Grandma gave you last Christmas.”

“No, it’s not, Mommy,” the girl insisted. “Cupcake’s only borrowing its face.”

The blanket twitched as a whimper came from under the dog face.

“What do you have underneath it?” her father asked, reaching for the stuffed head.

“I told you. It’s cupcake.”

Her father pulled the dog’s mussel. The head lifted away, nothing more than a hollow mask.

“Oh no,” her mother gasped as she stared down in horror.

A baby looked up at them, its large, blue eyes pleading as it made another whimpering sound. Bruises covered its swollen face and a black tint settled over its neck where the makeshift leash dug tightly into flesh.

“See,” the little girl said, petting the baby’s bald head. “I can take care of something all by myself.”

 

© 2017 Melissa L. Webb

 

 

Black Keys- Friday Flash

 

Black Keys

By Melissa L. Webb

antique-typewriter-keys

 

The typewriter stood silent. Black metal glittering in the harsh florescent light. Ivy stood mesmerized by the way the keys called to her. “Why does it have to stay in that display case, Daddy?” she asked, turning to look at the man behind the desk.

“What was that?” he spoke, barely even glancing up from the laptop in front of him.

“Can’t I just use it once?” she asked, trying to get his full attention.

He looked up at her, his eyes resting on her wrinkled brow and sighed. “I’ve told you before, Ivy. That typewriter means a lot to me. I started my career with that thing.” He glanced over at the display case, a frown tugging at the corner of his mouth. “I’ve created our lives with that. Everything I have, I owe to that hunk of metal. I don’t know what I would do if something happened to it.”

“That typewriter gave you the inspiration to write your first story?” she asked, thrilled by the idea.

Her father nodded. “In a lot of ways, it did, pumpkin. I would never have found the courage to share my words with the world if it hadn’t been for that thing.”

Ivy eyed the typewriter with awe. “I want to be like you, Daddy. I want to share my words with the world too.” She turned and looked at her father, putting on her best pout. “Maybe it can give me courage. Please, Daddy? Please?”

He shook his head as he closed the laptop and stood up. “You don’t need that relic to be a writer, Ivy. You can use the computer downstairs.” He walked around the desk and wrapped an arm around his daughter. “And if you decide you really like writing, I’ll buy you a laptop of your own.”

She looked up at her father and grinned. “Really?”

“Really, pumpkin,” he told her as he led her towards the door. “Now, let’s go downstairs and see what your mother’s making for dinner.”

She let he father lead her out of the room before glancing back at the silent back keys shimmering in the light.

 

***

 

 

Ivy tiptoed silently down the hall, taking the cold doorknob in her hand. Glancing around her, she opened her father’s office door, quickly slipping in. Reaching blindly, her fingers collided with the plastic switch and the room was bathed in the fluorescent light once again.

She looked around the room, her eyes instantly falling on the display case. All evening her mind kept wandering back to the archaic machine. She had no clue why it fascinated her so much. All she could think of was how wonderful her words would look on a sheet of paper from that typewriter.

She slipped across the room to where the display case rested on a table against the far wall. Her hands slid along the glass as she peered adoringly inside. She wanted to be a real writer like her father. If this was what started his career, it could start hers as well.

Ivy carefully lifted the glass box from the typewriter, setting it to the side. Holding her breath in awe, she brushed her fingers over the sparkly black keys. How exquisite it was compared to the boring, everyday computers which filled the world. She could see herself writing the next great novel with this machine. This was the romance of being an author.

She looked down at the paper still in the paper guide. Curiously, she pried up the paper release and pulled the paper towards her, taking in the typed words. It must be the last thing her father wrote on it. Her eyes fluttered over it, her lips turning down in a frown as she read it.

I will be a famous writer. I will have a wonderful wife and a beautiful daughter named, Ivy. They will both love me very much. I will be happy and have everything I ever wanted. My life will be good.

Ivy stared at the words. Why would her father leave something like this in the typewriter? Her eyes drifted over the words again, when suddenly they began to fade. Lighter and lighter the ink became until it disappeared completely. She gasped in shock, letting the paper fall to the floor.

She looked around her nervously. How had that happened? Words didn’t disappear like that. She stepped back, away from the display case. Something wasn’t right with that typewriter.

Ivy turned towards the door, opening it as she heard her father cry out.

“What did you do, Ivy?” his voice carried down the hall. “What did you do?”

She shook her head as tears formed in her eyes. How could she have known? Things like that weren’t possible. She wanted to scream, to cry out how sorry she was, but she stayed silent as she watched herself fade from reality.

 

© 2015 Melissa L. Webb

 

Ink Stains- Friday Flash

INK STAINS

By Melissa L. Webb

old-book

She opened the worn leather book , its over-sized pages cracking with age.  She sneezed as the movement stirred the dust clinging to it as she turned to the last page. Her eyes drifted to the last bit of blank space left in the book.  How quickly time passed.  She’d written the first prophecy before time even started.  Now here she was, pen poised to document the Last Prophecy.  The one that would change everything.

She stared at her hands as she wrote, worn and wrinkled as the leather book.  The prophecies were her burden to carry; and she had for so long.  The words burned into her mind with such intensity they had to be bled onto the paper; either that or she would surely combust from within for containing such knowledge.

They weren’t hers to keep.  She was the messenger; only a slave to the paper and ink.  Yet…it was changing.   This was the last.  They were letting her go because there was nothing else to write.

Laying the pen aside, she stared at the words, weariness building in her like a wave.  Why was there only one left?

Leaning closer to the page, she blew, letting her dry, old breath seal in the ink, forging it there forever.  Her eyes drank in the words one last time, trying to release them from her mind.  Two lives separated must now become one.  The changing world must be undone.  The light in the darkness needs protected at all cost.  If it should fail, then all is lost.

She pushed the curiosity from her mind as she closed the old book, placing it on a shelf.  It blended in with the other books around it.  Now obsolete in this time of transition.

She walked away, her old bones creaking as she went.  The prophecy was no longer her burden.  It sat upon the shoulders of the oracles in the world below her.  Let them worry and fret, making sense from the words her mind bore.

It didn’t matter what it meant.  Only that it was the last.  She could move on, no more words and ink stains.  No more messages being forced into her mind.  She was free.

© 2015 Melissa L. Webb

Secret Admirer- Friday Flash

SECRET ADMIRER

By Melissa L. Webb

love-message

I sit and watch you.  You are beauty personified.  The way your brow creases when you’re concentrating.  The way you throw your head back when you laugh.  The way you smile, genuine and pure, like the heart of a newborn.  I adore these things and more.

There is so much to you.  So much that other people can’t even see.  I do.  I see it all and I can’t get enough.  The way you make me feel is exhilarating.  I feel I could do anything because you exist in the world.  You are all I think about.  Day.  Night.  It’s always you.

You are my everything.  I breathe because you breathe.  My heart beats only to sync with yours.  I am your slave, chained to you by these unseen ropes of devotion.

I watch you at work.  I watch you with your friends and family.  I watch you out in public.  The times I can’t watch you I ache so deeply I think my soul might rip in two.  My eyes were meant to take you in; it’s pure torment when they can’t do what they were created for.

I stand in your room at night, watching you sleep.  I hear the soft sounds of breath your body takes in while you dream, and it makes my knees weak.  The feel of your skin excites me to no end.  These stolen moments, when I am this close, is pure paradise to me.   I long to climb into bed and put my arms around you, holding you until the morning light comes, but I never do.  I know it’s not time.  I’m not ready to risk my heart.

But, soon, I will be.

I have been hurt before.  That’s what has made me so cautious.  There have been others I’ve wanted.  They didn’t understand what I felt for them.  They couldn’t see what I had to offer.  We could have been perfection.  They were blind, so bad things happened.

I don’t want that to happen with you.  It would hurt too much to do the bad things to you.  You are my everything.  My whole life has become you.

I know I don’t have to worry about that.  I can see who you are inside.  You’ll know true love when you see it.  You won’t be blind like the others.  I’m sure of that because you are perfection.  I know I can trust you with my heart.

So, soon, my love.  We will be together.

Forever.

© 2015 Melissa L. Webb

Storm Front- Friday Flash

STORM FRONT

By Melissa L. Webb

desert-lightning-1408110525Yi1

Joy Westcott stood at the window. Streaks of light danced across the sky, heralding in a dark bank of clouds.  She shivered as the first rain drops struck the glass. They beat out a hypnotic rhythm, lulling her into false tranquility.

She breathed; condensation coating the glass where her foggy exhale touched it.  Stepping back, she checked the thermostat on the wall.  70 degrees and holding.  She tapped at it, convinced it was broken.

“It’s so cold,” she whispered, wrapping her arms around herself as her teeth chattered.  She moved back to the window, the lightning mesmerizing her as it tore apart the sky.

Thunder boomed overhead and the floor shook, quivering like a frightened child.  She glanced around as confusion fogged her mind.  When did the ground ever react to the sky?  The tremor grew stronger, then stopped, falling silent before the storm.

Joy gasped as the air chilled even more.  It felt as if she was on a tundra, exposed to the harsh elements instead of tucked away in her own home.

The lights flickered, then went out as another rumble split the sky.  She glanced at the emergency candles glowing in the gloom.  Thank goodness, she’d thought ahead.  Tonight wasn’t a night to be in the dark.  It wasn’t safe.

That thought surprised her. This was her home.  Her haven.  She’d always been safe here.  Why would one little storm change all that?

But, as she watched the clouds drawing closer, she realized it was true.  A prophetic shudder crept up her shoulders.  It weighed upon her as much as anything alive would.  It might be the last night of her life.  It might also be the end of every life in the world.

She pressed her face closer to the glass.  Lightning flared, turning the large bay window into a mirror.  Immediately her eyes moved to the reflected candlelight burning behind her.  In that instant, a figure moved, blocking one of the candles from view.

Joy gasped as the lightning died, once again gazing out onto her neighborhood.  Fear flooded through her, fast and hard, cementing her to that spot.  Something was behind her.

That was absurd.  She was alone.  All the doors were locked.  There couldn’t be anyone behind her.  Yet…she knew there was.  She’d seen it move.

A jagged gasp emitted from her throat as a slithering occurred behind her.  She wanted to turn, to see what lay in wait for her, but fear held her body tight.  It constricted around her as real as any solid bands.  She was helpless, nothing more than prey for whatever lurked behind.

Hearing a sharp hiss of breath, the room filled with darkness.  A scream ripped from Joy’s throat, terror crushing the sound into nothing more than a gurgle.  This was it.  She was going to die and she wouldn’t even see it coming.  Her mind raced.  Why her?  Why now?  If her life was going to end tonight, shouldn’t she at least be given that much?

Opening her mouth, she tried to force actual words past her lips.  “Did you blow out the candles?”

The slithering sounded again, moving closer.  “Yes,” a voice answered, barely more human than a garbage disposal.  “After all, it is my birthday.”

Joy cringed at its choice of words.  Something had been born into the world.  Something dark and sinister.  Something that shouldn’t be.  “What are you?” she asked.

“Hungry,” it hissed, moving close behind her.

Closing her eyes, she shook in despair, waiting for her demise as the storm raged on.

© 2015 Melissa L. Webb

Beside You- Friday Flash

BESIDE YOU

By Melissa L. Webb

ghost candle

“You can’t hide from us,” a voice whispered in my ear; an icy chill coating my neck as it did.

I turned, looking around me. I was alone. No one else occupied the dark street. It had been like that for the last week. Ever since that day.

The day I died.

People say when you have a near death experience you come back with something. I always thought that was absurd. How could your body gain anything as your cells shut down one by one? If anything, you should come back with less than what you had to start with.

Death is a decaying process. It strips you down until there’s nothing left but dust and bones. No more than nutrients for the ground below. It doesn’t add layers. It doesn’t bestow anything.

I continued on, trying quickly to regain the composure I needed to get on with my life. I needed to put the whole damn mess behind me.

If only I could be so lucky.

“We will never leave,” a hollow disembodied voice informed me; a smile coating every word. “We will always walk beside you.”

Grimacing, I pushed open my door, trying to hide in the confines of my home. It was pointless; the voices followed me as if I was a beacon of light.

It didn’t matter where I went. They were right. They’d always find me. I was the flame to those voices, they fluttered around me, drawn for reasons I will never understand.

When I died, I wasn’t given anything. Instead, I had things taken from me. My life, my sanity, taken from me in a blink of an eye. I wasn’t given any special gifts.

I can’t see the dead, but now they can see me.

© 2015 Melissa L. Webb

Home- Friday Flash

Home
By Melissa L. Webb

light-show

Owen sat up as bright beams of light shot through his bedroom window. He wiped at his eyes, trying to decide if he was awake.

The lights hummed as they pulsed, scanning the small room. Toys turned on as the lights touched them, turning the bedroom into a strange rave of flashes and sounds.

The German Shepherd at the foot of the bed raised his head, a deep growl rumbling his throat.

“What is it, Frankie?” the boy asked, fear coating the words.

The dog stood up, his growls drowning out the electronic noise.

Frankie’s reaction scared Owen more than the strange lights and the phantom toys. He was a gentle dog. The boy didn’t think he’d ever heard him growl once in his life.

The boy pushed back the covers and swung his legs over the edge of the bed as the light beams danced around the room. His body trembled as he thought about running for the door. He was too old to cry out for his mommy. Ten-year-olds didn’t do that sort of thing. What would people say about him?

But…something was wrong. Toys didn’t turn on by themselves and lights definitely didn’t appear in the sky. He was in danger. He needed his parents to make it all right.

Frankie jumped off the bed and glared at the door, his growls becoming deeper.

The doorknob rattled as someone turned it.

Owen swung his legs back in bed and wrapped the blankets around himself. Fear swam through his veins as he pictured what might be out there. Maybe it was only his parents, coming to see what the noise was, but he didn’t think so. Not the way Frankie was acting.

The door pushed open and darkness from the hallway loomed like a living thing in the threshold.

Frankie bared his teeth, lowering his head as he readied himself for an attack.

Movement stirred in the darkness and a small shape stepped forward, coming into the room. It was completely grey, devoid of any hair or clothing. Two almond shape eyes stared out of an oversized head. They were like blank TV screens blinking up at the boy.

Owen whimpered as he scooted away from the edge of the bed, drawing the blankets even tighter around him. The creature looked like those things in the Sci-Fi movies his father liked to watch. It was one of those creatures who did strange experiments on humans.

It was a space alien.

Owen tried to scream, but no sounds came out. His fear constricted his throat too tightly.

The alien stepped towards the bed, its arms and legs moving with a fluidity that reminded the child of Olympic swimmers.

Frankie lowered his head even more, letting the creature pass him.

The alien reached a hand out and petted the dog’s head. “Good boy, Frankie,” it spoke, sounding like a human.

The dog turned, following the creature with his eyes, a huge doggy grin on his face. He sniffed the air and then hunched over. The dog whined as his fur split open along his back.

Long spider-like legs sprouted from the opening as the dog’s muzzle grew and spread, turning into a wide slobbery grin.

Frankie scurried over to the bed, his new legs hauling him up as he bounced on the end of it. His long, swollen tongue grazed the bedspread as he panted happily.

Anger replaced fear as Owen stared at Frankie. The alien had turned his best friend into a monster. He threw off the blankets and glared at the small creature standing next to his bed.

“You hurt my dog!” he screamed at it. He would make it pay for that no matter what it cost him.

“Don’t be ridiculous, Owen. Frankie’s fine,” the alien said, chastising the boy for his anger.

Owen blinked, confusion fogging his brain. “Mom?”

“Yes, dear,” the creature said, sitting down on the edge of the bed next to him. “It’s me.”

“I don’t understand,” he said, shaking his head. “What’s going on?”

“We don’t belong here, Owen. Your grandma and grandpa have come to take us home.”

Owen glanced over at the window. “They’re the lights?”

“Yes,” the alien said, placing a gentle hand over his. “Our time here is over.”

He looked down at the small grey hand covering his. He could feel his mother in the touch. “How? How is this possible?”

“Our people sent your father and I here when I was pregnant with you. We brought Frankie with us to watch over you when you were born. We have spent the last ten years studying the human race. In that time, we have learned all we can. There’s nothing more to do.”

“I’m an alien too?” he asked, staring at his human hands.

“We aren’t the aliens, Owen. The people on this planet are. We’re going home to our own kind.”

She got up off the bed and headed for the door. “Your father is helping Grandpa load everything on the ship. You have a few minutes to say goodbye to everything here.”

He looked around the room, feeling a bit teary-eyed. What were they doing to him? Didn’t they know life was hard enough for a ten-year-old? Why did they have to spring this on him as well?

“Do we have to go, Mom?”

She stopped in the doorway. “Yes, Owen. We do. This isn’t our home, it was only an assignment. Don’t worry, we have a lot of friends and family waiting for us. You won’t even miss this place. I’ll be back in ten minutes for you and Frankie. We’ll do your form change before we leave.”

Owen sat there, tears running down his cheeks as he watched the slobbering monster at the foot of his bed. They were a family of monsters. They were what children feared.

“It’ll be okay, sweetheart,” his mom said, taking in the boy’s sadness. “Think of it as an adventure. You love adventures.” She disappeared through the doorway into the darkness.

Owen got out of bed, fending of slobbery kisses from the thing that used to be Frankie. He looked around the room, his heart filling with sadness. What did a boy take with him to a new planet?

© 2015 Melissa L. Webb