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

 

A Heckler’s Tale- Friday Flash

 

A Heckler’s Tale

By Melissa L. Webb

youth-football-1414061597ZRY

 

 

The mist hung heavily on the field as the spectators watched from the stands. Sarah pulled her jacket tighter and sighed. Her school was losing to the visiting team. What a way to ruin Homecoming.

“Are you cold?” her boyfriend whispered, pulling his arms tighter around her.

She nodded, scooting closer. “Yeah, this is a miserable night, Charlie,” she told him as she wiped the moisture from her cheeks.

“We can leave if you want.”

“No, we promised Joe we’d be here for him.” She frowned down at the players on the field. “After all, his team is getting slaughtered.”

Charlie frowned. “Your brother is going to be unbearable after this.”

It was true. It was going to be a long night.

Sarah let her gaze drift back to the field. She watched as a blanket of fog rolled in, settling over the field. No one could see what was happening down there now.

“Maybe we’ll get lucky,” Charlie whispered, hope clouding his voice. “Maybe they’ll call the game on account of fog.”

She grinned slightly. “I doubt it. Our team couldn’t play any worse even if they were blindfolded.”

A whistle pierced the night as one of the teams scored.

Charlie sighed. “At least we don’t have to watch the bloodshed.”

Sarah smirked and settled back against him, staring at the thick fog swirling in front of the bleachers.

“Hike!” Joe’s voice rang out above the fogbank as the kickoff commenced.

An object shot up in the air and headed for the crowd.

“Look out,” a lady next to Sarah cried. “Ball’s coming.”

Charlie shook his head in exasperation. “Not again.” It flew straight towards him and he caught it on reflex.

“No,” Sarah gasped as she stared at the thing in her boyfriend’s hands.

A head stared back at her, a look of horror permanently etched into its face.

Charlie dropped it as the people around him scattered. “What is that?”

Sarah shook her head as she scanned the field. The fog had cleared, leaving in its wake pure chaos.

Body parts covered the field. Some of her brother’s team was on their hands and knees, feasting on the remains. Others left the field, making their way into the stands, drooling with anticipation.

A cheerleader’s bloodcurdling scream filled the night air as the tight end tore her captain apart.

People shoved their way out of the stands, escaping the oncoming savagery.

“Sarah, we have to go,” Charlie said, trying to pull her with him.

She stayed, frozen with shock. “Charlie. Look.”

Joe made his way up the stairs. His eyes were glazed over and blood dripped from his mouth. “You,” he moaned as he pointed at them. “You laughed at us.”

Charlie looked over at Sarah as the zombie moved closer. “Maybe we should learn to keep our comments to ourselves.”

 

© 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

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

Prologue- Friday Flash

Prologue

By Melissa L. Webb  

A man stood in the center of a greenhouse, his eyes sweeping over the plant life thriving within. Thousands of flowers dazzled in the cascading sunlight. Their colors and smells mingled together, creating a sensory experience no one in all the Realms had ever encountered.

It was a paradise, one that had been nurtured into existence over the span of the man’s lifetime. It was one of his most prized possessions and no one but him could have ever created something so breathtaking. What he was seeing should have brought him great joy, but it did not.

He was not happy at all.

Something was wrong. He could tell by the way the flowers stood, their leaves curling inwards, like a small child seeking comfort from a frightening world.

These were his children and something was wrong.

“Don’t be sad,” he spoke, his deep, rich voice echoing around the sun-filled chamber. “I’m here.” He walked up 
and down the rows, touching the plants as he went, yet his reassurance did no good.

The plant life was sulking and it hurt his heart to see it.

“Please cheer up,” he said, trying once again to raise their spirits. “I’ll bring you a treat after supper. That should please you.”

But it did not, and this confused the man.

Before he could speak any more encouragements, the doors opened, and a boy stepped in. He made his way into the greenhouse and took a knee at the edge of the man’s feathered cloak.

“I’m sorry to disturb you, Your Majesty, but we have secured Data Town and all its labs,” the boy spoke quickly. 

“We only found a few members of the Undergrowth hiding among them. They were taken into custody and have just arrived. Would you like to speak to them?”

“No, no,” the man said, gesturing for the boy to rise. “That won’t be necessary. A few weeds among the harvest is to be expected.” He clapped a reassuring hand against the boy’s back. “I’m sure they won’t be any trouble. Have the Gardeners tend to them as normal.”

“As you wish, Your Majesty,” the boy said with a nod, turning for the door.

“Ash,” the man spoke his retainer’s name, stopping him in his tracks.

“Yes, your Majesty?”

“Is there anything odd going on in the Sorrows today? Anything I should be aware of?”

The boy looked thoughtful for a moment and then shook his head. “No, Your Majesty. Everything is as usual. Is there a reason you ask? Is something bothering you?”

“Not so much me, Ash. It’s my plants. Something has them worried. Are you positive nothing is cultivating out there?”

“No, Your Majesty. No one has picked up any word of an uprising. Ever since Percival disappeared, the Undergrowth has been nothing more than children playing at war.”

The man laughed, deep and rich. “Good. Let’s keep it that way. Now, if only my plants were in a better mood.”

The boy looked around, taking in all the colors before him. “Have you promised them a treat?”

The man nodded.”Yes, of course. Have the Gardeners send over a prisoner after dinner. The plants do love their dessert.”

The boy nodded again. “As you wish,” he spoke, once again heading for the doors.

“Oh, and Ash?” the Thorn King called before the boy could slip away. “Make sure it isn’t an Empty. I do love it when they scream.”
© 2015 Melissa L. Webb

Alone- Friday Flash

Alone
By Melissa L. Webb

                                                      Alanya_old_house

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

LITTLE LOST GIRL

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

Silent Watcher- Friday Flash

SILENT WATCHER

By Melissa L. Webb

Goblin

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.

Right?

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

Soulless in Seattle Chapter 2- Friday Flash

Soulless in Seattle Chapter 2

By Melissa L. Webb

Downtown Seattle, Washington and the Bainbridg...

Downtown Seattle, Washington and the Bainbridge Island ferry. During the past few decades many high rises have gone up. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

I stood behind the check-in counter of the Hotel DenMark, filing my nails with a yawn. My passion pink nail polish was chipped in several spots and I was in dire need of a manicure. I filed away, trying to give my mind something to focus on.

It was a losing battle.

I tossed the emery board on the counter behind me in disgust and glanced out onto the empty lobby. I was bored. Bored out of my little blonde head. It was a Sunday afternoon in the beginning of February and no one was checking in.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. Most of our rooms were full, but no one graced our lobby, lingering like they normally did. No one needed anything. The phones stayed silent.

For some strange reason, everything was calm and quiet, and it was driving me crazy. After all the excitement I had lived through lately, absolute nothingness was wearing me out.

Ever since Christmas, after my parents had gone home from their vacation, things had calmed down in my life. Nothing had tried to kill me. I was learning to harness all the power that flowed within me.

I was also beginning to learn when to use magic, much to my friend’s relief.

Hey, a girl summons one little God and everyone comes unglued. I just didn’t get it. It wasn’t as if I had gotten anyone killed.

Well…coming close didn’t count in my book. Either you did, or you didn’t. And I definitely didn’t.

Anyway, control was good in their eyes. I wasn’t completely out of the doghouse yet, but it was a start.

Moving to L.A. was the best decision I had ever made. I just wish I had done it sooner. But then again, the Fates always knew what they were doing. Maybe I hadn’t been ready to embrace my witchyness until then. I mean, after all, it had taken me a while before I was willing to accept that I was anything but a freak, even this late in life. And trust me, 23 was way late to find out what you really were.

No wonder why I was always trying to play catch-up with my friends. It was only natural.

I sighed as I stared at the clock. I wondered what Van and her sister were doing. I still thought it was strange she hadn’t mentioned her sister was in town. Did the clueless witch that shared her apartment embarrass her?

That thought stung as I contemplated it. But it only lasted for a second. That wasn’t who Van was. She had welcomed me with opened arms since the first day we met. She was my best friend. She’d never let my naïve actions come between us.

Something else must be going on, but what?

My boredom was put on hold as the front doors opened. The girl of the hour was back and I had a million questions I needed to ask.

She hurried to the counter, a worried look on her face.

“Is everything okay, Van?” I asked immediately, worried at the sight of the frazzled pixie. She was normally so calm and collected. The rock to my off-kilter days.

She looked at me, shadows as thick as smudges under her blue eyes. “I don’t know yet.”

“Why? Is it your sister? What happened?” I had never met any of her family, but I knew how much she loved them. It would rip her heart out if something bad had happened.

“Jenny’s worried,” Van told me quietly. “Something strange is going on with her family.”

Her sister, Jenny, lived in Seattle with her husband and son. I shivered at the thought of the child in danger. I could only imagine what Van was feeling.

“What’s going on?” I asked.

Van shrugged, the weight on her shoulders taking up far too much room. “It started at their store. Little things. Lights going on and off. Stuff moving by itself. Voices with no source.”

I frowned. Sounded like some kind of haunting. “There’s a ghost in the store?”

She nodded. “Yes, but that’s not the problem. Their store has always been haunted. No,” she told me seriously, “whatever is in the store now is scaring the ghosts.”

“Okay.” What do you do when something scares ghosts?

“It’s spreading. Things are happening at their home. They see things out of the corner of their eyes. They aren’t the only ones occupying their house now.”

She had my full attention. Someone else living in your home? That was the creepiest thing I had ever heard. “So what is it?”
“It’s never more than a fleeting darkness to Jenny and her husband. But…they think it’s appearing to their son, Mackenzie. They hear him talking to someone at night.” She sighed, leaning wearily on the counter. “He’s changed. Jenny says he’s not the same bright, inquisitive 10-year-old he used to be. He’s become sullen, withdrawn.”

Mmm, sounded like a teenage thing to me, but 10 years was a little young to start, especially if he came from a good home. And if Jenny was anything like her sister, it was one of the best.

“My sister is hoping Mac will talk to me. He’s always loved his Auntie Evangeline. He used to talk to me for hours about nothing just because he could. Maybe he’d be more open with me now.”

I looked around us, half expecting her sister’s family to be right there. “So, when do you get to talk to him? Is he in town, too?”

She shook her head. “That’s the thing. She wants me to come to Seattle. Talk to Mac in his own surroundings.”

Wow. It looked like Van was headed north for a few days. “When do you leave?”

“She wants me to come as soon as possible. Jenny’s afraid to wait any longer.”

That made sense. When something was wrong with your child, help couldn’t come soon enough. “I suppose you’re leaving with her today.’

“No. She’s already gone. A Djinn who owed her a favor popped her here and back. She wanted to talk to me in person, but needs to be there when Mackenzie comes home from school. She…” Van stopped, staring down at the counter. “She doesn’t want him to know how serious she and James are taking this.”

Hmmm. Was Van’s sister afraid of her own son? What was going on in the Emerald City? “Well, I guess this means a road trip is in your and Danny’s future.”

Van shook her head. “The high school is testing this week. Danny can’t leave his classes,” she told me, a sigh coating her words. “I’m going to fly up there alone. It’s the simplest way to go.”

Van’s hesitation filled the air. That was the last thing she wanted to do, and I couldn’t say I blamed her. Taking a journey alone, no matter what waits at the end, is always a daunting task.

As I stood there, taking in Van’s despair, an idea suddenly started to take form. I knew I still needed to find a way to repay Van for everything she’d done for me.

Like a miracle, she had risen up out of nowhere to help steady me in my time of need. I wanted to do the same for her.

I was going to go with her.

But forget the airplane. Flying was so passé. We would do it in style. An adventure worthy of a witch and a pixie.

“Van,” I said, holding back a squeal. “I’m coming with you. That is, if I can have the time off work.”

She looked at me, the gears in her head turning. “Are you sure? It’s just going to be a lot of boring family time. Nothing too exciting for the great Maxie Duncan.”

“Oh, come on,” I told her. “I don’t have any siblings. I’d love to experience some Auntie time. Even if it’s only vicariously.”

“Okay,” she said with a smile. “I’ll go book our flights. You don’t mind if we leave tomorrow morning, do you?” She turned around, no doubt headed for her office.

“Wait,” I called, practically bubbling over from the anticipation. “We’ll take my convertible. It’ll be fun.”

Van stopped, turning back around, a smile haunting her lips. “It would only be a three day drive,” she said, thinking it over. “Three days wouldn’t make a whole lot of difference.”

My face lit up as the smile I was holding back came out to play. “It’ll be an adventure. You and me on the open road. Some quality BFF time as we Thelma and Louise it up the coast.”

“Deal,” she said, the smile now full fledged. “Just as long as you don’t drive us off any cliffs.”

“You have my word.”

“I’ll hold you to that,” she teased as she walked away, no doubt to preplan our trip. That was Van for you.
I shuffled through the paperwork behind me. It had been a long winter and I was ready for a vacation. True, this would be nothing like a tropical paradise getaway, but a vacation was still a vacation.

Who knew working 9 to 5 could lead to cabin fever?

I couldn’t wait to go home and start packing. I just needed to take a short trip down town first. After all, a girl needed to stock up on essentials before hitting the open road.

This would be my first time seeing the West Coast in all its glory. It would be like one of those coming-of-age movies where the girl discovers everything about herself while seeing the sights.

It was going to be awesome.

Coastal highways, best friend bonding, and tacky souvenirs. This was going to be the road trip of a lifetime.

After all, when a witch hits the road, adventure’s sure to follow. Right?

 

© 2013 Melissa L. Webb