Image Flash #19

Image Flash #19

Somehow, impossibly, the sound of the blast drowned out the sirens.  There was a staccato shearing of metal as shrapnel dug into the back of the police car.  Rick and Cathy felt a wave of hot air.  Mendel fell to the ground with a scream and and clutched his leg.

Then the sirens continued their howling.

Rick pushed Cathy down, crawled to where the officer was holding his wound.  A black patch was already appearing on the grass beneath Mendel.

“Give me your belt!” shouted Rick, reaching for his waist.

Mendel’s face was contorted in agony.  “No.  Fuck that.  They’re on the ridge by the highway, firing down.  That’s where you’ve got to bring her.”

Rick nodded.  Another shell exploded and both men winced.

“Don’t come at them straight on.  They’ll be firing blind at everything near here.  Get to the edge, circle around, try to come up on their side.  Take this.”  He reached out and retrieved his dropped M-16.

Rick shook his head.  “You need that.”

Mendel pushed it into his hands.  “I don’t need anything anymore.  Get the hell out of here.  Now!”

A dim figure rose up on the other side of the smashed car.  Rick raised the gun and fired, holding the trigger down as the thing bucked and jumped in his hand.  Some hit, some had to have hit, but it hardly mattered.

“Cathy, move!”

She sprung from her spot as the thing pounced onto the roof of the vehicle.  She passed him at a full sprint and he followed.  They heard the sound of handgun fire as Mendel shot at it from the ground.  An inhumanly long arm reached out and, with two fingers, pinched his torso.  There was a crunchy gurgle and, despite the bulletproof vest, the man was effectively split in two.  They rounded a corner as another tank shell exploded in the spot they’d been moments before.  It blasted the thing onto it’s back and peppered them with rubble.  They didn’t stop.

Neither spoke as they bolted for the treeline.  Cathy outpaced him quickly.  She was light on her feet, scared, and he if he didn’t hustle he’d loose her.  Rick dropped the assault rifle.  The damn thing was heavy and did no good anyway.  It was like shooting clay.  Cathy didn’t slow down when she hit the bramble and vanished into the bushes.  Rick grit his teeth, increased his speed as best he could, and followed her in.

“Cathy!  Wait!”

Here, in the trees, the sound of sirens was muffled somewhat.  He looked around and didn’t see her.  Damn it!  That woman was the only one with answers.  If he lost her…

Something that felt like a rock wrapped in a wet towel struck him between the shoulder blades.  Rick spiraled onto the ground, rolling in the leaves.  His ribs were in agony.

It stood there, shoulders brushing up against the higher tree branches, looking down at him with a flat, vacant face.  It trundled forward, hand extended, fingers ready.  Rick was done.  He was certain.

“Stop it!”

Her voice came from behind him.  He heard her approach, she stepped past him, and placed herself between him and the thing.  She held the collar of her lab coat and shook it.

“You see this?  I know you know what this is.  Go on!  Get out of here!”

The monstrous bulk hesitated, pulling back its arm.  It considered the woman, debating something in its lump of brain.  Cathy didn’t give it the time.  She stomped toward it, close enough to touch.

The reaction was instant.  The creature pulled back, seemingly terrified of coming into contact with her.

“I said go!  Now!”

It made its decision, turning and crashing back toward town.  In anger it lashed out an arm and splintered a tree as it went.

Cathy returned to Rick and helped him up.

“How the hell?” he asked.

“Never mind.  I’ll explain later.  Just tell me where we need to go.  They won’t all listen to me.”

Rick pointed into the woods, a trail leading uphill.  They went.

Image Flash #16

Image Flash #16

“Your mask.  It is unnecessary,” whispered Ellise.  “I know what I’ve agreed to.”

Her speech was barely audible, a mere mutter, despite the fact that her captor stood across the chamber, past the smouldering embers of the fireplace and out on the cold balcony.  He would hear her.

The toothy skull that covered his head did not move as he responded. A thick voice echoed from the hollow bone.  “No.  You do not.”

He turned from the broken landscape and came inside.  He was naked despite the chill, pale, and the dark hair that flowed from beneath the mask dribbled a slick oily substance.  The fluid smelled rotten and slithered around his body on its way down.

Ellise didn’t look at him.  “Do not take me for a fool.  I am as old as you are. I know what I’ve sacrificed.”

He took her wrist and turned her around to face him.  “So you know the answer, then?”

She pulled her arm back, a black stain marring the skin where he’d touched her.  Her eyes locked on the shadow alcoves of the mask, with her face set in angry determination.

He chuckled. “You don’t.”

Ellise clenched her fists.  “I know that you’ve released innocent souls in exchange for me.  That is all I need to know.”

He stepped in close and put his face near her ear.  “You’re not at all worried?  None can say what happens when angels die.”

“We are taken to the bosom of the Father.  I am certain.”

Slowly, he slid his arms around her, leaving dark smudges on her feather dress.  She didn’t resist.  His body bent strangely, and his head tilted back to accommodate the bone skull.  She was surprised how tender his flesh was, mushy and un-muscled.  He held her still and whispered. “If that were the case, don’t you think we would have killed ourselves?”

This gave her pause.  He could see a flicker of fear in her eyes.  It was intoxicating.

“No.  It’s different.  We’re not the same… we’re…”

Her unfinished words bubbled on her lips. He tilted her back, luxuriating in her doubt.  Her body loosened, slid, and trickled away in his grip.

“Then go sister.  Go and see.”

She slipped,

faded,

and

. . .

Two Sentence Terrors

Two Sentence Terrors

Been seeing a lot of these style of micro-story going around and figured I’d do a list myself.  Here’s 1o little two sentence horror stories for you. Thanks Lisa for the idea.  These were fun to do!

1.)  It wasn’t the being lost in the woods, or the approaching sunset, or the fear of wild animals that terrified Carol.  It was the screams she kept hearing in the distance.

 2.)  Brian pried open the clam, hoping that it would be the one that had a pearl worthy of Lisa, but instead of a prize he found a tiny bloody eyeball resting on the meaty juice where a pearl should be. It blinked open and it’s color was exactly like Lisa’s.

 3.)  Amanda understood why Lubbo, their golden retriever, would always sit outside the door to Dougie’s room even after they’d lost him. What she didn’t understand was why he’d recently taken to growling at it.

 4.)  The smell of smoke had awoken him in time and, despite burns, Jamal kicked down the door and staggered out of the blazing house.  There were men there, he thought were firemen, until they began to pour gasoline onto him and pushed him back toward the house.

 5.)  Mark had known that participating in the Fright Fight game show would require him to do some disgusting things and eat some horrible stuff.  What he hadn’t known was that months after the show he’d still be able to feel the maggots moving around in his guts.

 6.)  “Nurse, I don’t see what there is to talk about since the patient died yesterday.”
“I know doctor, but the cancer is still growing.”

 7.)  When they’d cased the house there had been no sign of a dog, so Mike was very surprised to see a food and water dish on the kitchen floor. But he was more terrified to see that the water dish was filled with blood.

 8.)  In his last moments Private Murrow saw the angel standing twenty feet away near the severed bottom half of his body and muttered, “Thank you, Jesus.”
The angel smiled a row of fangs and responded, “I’m not that kind of angel.”

 9.)  When the aliens came they brought with them a religion that forbade the killing of any living creature and humanity was relieved. Of course, that was before we realized they considered human eyes a delicacy and had no problem harvesting from the living.

 10.)  On Monday morning Mary entered her newborn baby’s room with a bottle and found an identical copy of her baby in the crib, four of them on Tuesday, and eight of the things on Wednesday. By Sunday morning Mary entered her newborn baby’s room with a knife.

 

 

For Five Minutes, the Deep

For Five Minutes, the Deep

Hardy Wakowski stood on the brink of the spirit world and smiled for the first time in days. It was a flat worm-like expression that curled only the corners of his mouth and never reached far enough to meet his eyes. This pathetic specimen was mustered up from a genuine sense of satisfaction that had crawled all the way up from his tired heart and into those uncooperative invertebrate lips.

“Finally.” they muttered.

He stretched out his arms, looking down at the prize he’d traveled so far to discover. The Cenote, a natural stone water basin surrounded by thick jungle, slithered with steam. Vines and creepers hung long languid fingers to dip into the cool recess. Above, the Yucatan sun was evidently in the business of cooking the poor vegetation alive and the heady aroma of plant sweat was almost thick enough to chew. The dark pond wasn’t as large as the ones Hardy had first considered on the tourist maps; places with names like Ox Bell Ha, Nohoch Nah Chich, and Dos Ojos. He had tried the last place, because it was the only name he understood and he too was looking for something, but there had been too many people. The crowds of Cancun pressed close and he left quickly before something bad happened.  Here, the closest civilization was the infrequently visited ruin of ‘Zack Chili’ a hundred miles away. Turns out that Mayan architecture is much more exciting when located within easy driving distance of surfing, parasailing, and sunbathing. This place was isolated, his only company the malefic sun and the endless swath of smoldering jungle.

The inside of his wetsuit was slick with perspiration but heat didn’t bother him. Crappy weather was invariably the price of uninhabitable areas and solitude was what he sought. It was a quarry that had eluded him many a time and a hunt that had grown dangerous within him.

Hardy dropped to his knees before the pool those currently neglected Mayans used to believe led to another land.

“Thank you.” he breathed. “Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

Bending over, he stretched out his neck, closed his eyes, and kissed the surface of the water. Ripples.

 

line break

Hardy stood and awkwardly pulled on his tanks. He checked his dive light, took a few breaths through the mouthpiece, and gave a final look to the lush green around him. It wasn’t a long inspection because Hardy didn’t feel nearly as worried as he should have, preparing to dive for the first time in his life without any backup. The dangers didn’t matter, he had something he needed to find, at any cost. The mask covered his excited eyes and he jumped.

His skin recoiled at the cold water, the first chill he’d felt after days of bug laden humidity. As the curtain of bubbles rose the surroundings revealed themselves. Where the jungle above had been a thousand shades of jade, here below, the world was stained brown with tanic acid and it was more like swimming in tea than water. The rusty shaft of illumination from the dive light cut a wide arc and circled the cenote. Smooth stone striped with algae growing on the sedimentary outcroppings, beams of sunlight cut angular columns off to the left. Pointing his hand-held down, Hardy kicked and began his decent. It struck him then, as the pressure began to swell in his ears, that he’d made it. The pain intensified as the darkness beneath him expanded, surrounded him, engulfed him. But it didn’t matter. He was here now, and nothing could stop him. No amount of cold pressure or bleeding ears would be enough to make him turn back. Pressure was something Hardy was coming to terms with.

The city he called home was a beehive of pressure. People were everywhere, inescapable. He’d tried doing yoga with earplugs, but could still feel their vibrations in his backside through the floorboards. Someone was always right there on the other side of the drywall. He wanted to take an axe and chop through it, to find his irritation and chop through that too. The images of his neighbors silent corpses silently dripping into the muffled carpet thrilled and frightened him. He had thrown all his cutlery down the garbage chute. Just in case.

Fortunately, the bottom came before his eardrums burst. A soft moss looking layer of dead brown leaves ended with two opposite cracks in the wall, passages into the underwater cave system. He glanced at the surface, a tiny circle of tan the size of a silver dollar far above, and chose the left passageway.

In moments any residual glow vanished as he rounded a corner, kicking gently.  Everywhere his light descended wonders sprung forth. Stalactites, the teeth of some primordial crocodile god, hung above him. Down below rested a field of stalagmites that looked like a fantasy mountain range as seen from the sky. Tiny white flashes, he suspected were cave fish, darted and vanished into the gloom at his intrusion. Joining the floor and ceiling rose a massive column of mottled stone that reminded him of an orgy of mushrooms. He swam up next to it, breathing deeply, bubbles rising above him in a shimmer. The realization crept upon him that no living man had ever seen these things before. This was exactly what he needed.

His whole life had been spent in the company of people, and they’d grown to sicken him. He’d found himself becoming a recluse, angry and resentful that he never managed to be truly alone. He didn’t want much, just five simple minutes. If he found that, was able to suckle upon some lonely silence in a dark nothingness, then perhaps his soul could be satiated. The rising fires of rage would extinguish with no tinder to burn upon. It sounded nice to Hardy. He was tired of being irritated and scared of what he was turning into. He didn’t watch the news, but he knew what he was becoming; the sound-bite of the night. The guy that surprises everyone. “He never said much, always paid his rent on time. I still can’t believe someone could kill so many people with a toilet brush.”

Hardy threw out all his cleaning products and had begun planning his trip.

He reached out to touch a bulbous stone outcropping, fingertips on smooth stone. Just as his ears adjusted, he could feel his life balancing. The happiness pounded like a tribal drummer inside his ribs. The anger was melting. He had to see more. Kicking feverishly he passed the column on his right, dropping down toward the floor. Two strange formations, one from the top and another from the bottom, reached for one another but did not touch. He swam over and put his flippered feet on top of the lower outcropping and reached, his extended hand just long enough to connect the two. It was magnificent. He was grinning so much he had to be careful of water seeping into his regulator. There were buttons on it to purge the line, but he had no idea how they functioned. Ahead of him there was a dark portal in the wall, another passage to new wonders. He moved toward it, but pulled back in alarm.

When he shone the dive light on the opening it did not extend into the tunnel, but stopped on a strange vacillating wall of liquid. Approaching he frowned. It looked, for all practical purposes, like a sheet of lumpy gelatin, or the gobs found in a lava lamp. Cautiously he reached out and touched it. To his surprise, his hand passed directly through without resistance and seemed to vanish. Shocked, he quickly pulled it out. The surface jiggled slowly. Treading in place he considered the phenomenon. He couldn’t see where he was going, but he would never find better seclusion than this black doorway would provide. Making up his mind, he swam through, vanishing into the shadow.

The first difference he noticed was the taste, and he immediately gagged, biting hard down onto the mouthpiece and trying to make sure no more got past his lips. That it was not water was certain, more like oil or alcohol. It didn’t support him as easily and he lost buoyancy, dropping fast, having to kick harder to stay in position. He kept scissoring and, to further his surprise, passed through the dark veil and back into clarity. Horrible clarity.

Where the last chamber was vast, this room was a hallway; high walls barely six feet apart arched up to a cathedral ceiling. These were carved full of small shallow niches, and within each the sunken dead eyes of an inhabitant looked at their new aquatic visitor. Row upon row of shriveled and mummified bodies surrounded Hardy like cans on a grocery store shelf, extending down a seemingly endless hallway. They were tied and bound in the Mayan fashion, legs pulled tight to the chest with stick-like arms hugging them, skeletal chins rested on bony knees. The limbs were secured with rough cords and some of the bodies were wrapped as well, anchored into place.

Hardy screamed in surprise and instantly the fulminating liquid surged into his mouth, scouring his tongue. He choked, coughed, sinking to the floor of the cavern as he did, gasping for air and trying to regain control of his breathing. The rancid stuff was in the line, blocking the air. Desperate, he swallowed, strange fluid burning his throat, rolling into his stomach. The chest spasms won out and he managed to pull in an acrid breath. Trembling against the cold oily sensations he panted as best he could, fighting off nausea. Minutes passed and his body relaxed.

Recovering the light he’d dropped, he raised the beam. Fumes assaulted his nose inside the mask and made him tear up, but not enough to obstruct the circle of light moving along row after row of mummies. There was no escaping the feeling that he was inside a huge preservation jar, something you’d see on the shelf of a high school science classroom. Kicking hard against the thinner embalming fluid he moved down the hall, stinging eyes wide in fear and amazement. The hallway went on and on, but after eighty feet the mummies stopped, leaving a long dark corridor filled only with empty niches. Hardy stopped, not seeing any reason to press on. The formaldehyde substance buzzed in his head like the sound of traffic and as the reality sank in the fear was quickly gobbled up by disappointment. Here, even here, he could find no peace. The bottom of the world and there was a crowd of dead people just waiting to ruin his plan. As if they’d known. His mind did not try to comprehend the odds of what happened, they were impossible. This was no accident. Someone had decided he would never get his five minutes. The realization boiled hot in Hardy’s head, inflamed his veins, and set loose the rage he’d so long been holding back.

He swam to the closest mummy and took it in his hands, gripping the slimy ribs and smashing it back against the wall. It crumbled as he tore at it, furiously ripping off the arms and legs, strips of muscle and skin. Jerking the head free he swam to the next and used the skull as a bludgeon, crushing, bashing, breaking. From mummy to mummy he went pulling them from their niches, dismembering them and cracking their wet brittle bones when he could. Over and over they fell from their enclaves, broken parts gently drifting to land on the ground below, kicking up clouds of slow motion dust. He did not stop until none remained, utterly destroying what would have been an archeologists wet dream. He would have his solitude at any cost. The chamber was murky and hazy now, flakes of skin and grime floated on disturbed currents.

There, suspended above a field of bones, in the belly of the earth, he clicked his dive light into oblivion. With eyes closed in utter darkness and dead silence, he finally took his damn five minutes of peace. He thought about some of the neighbors he’d fantasized about locking in the building trash compactor and how lucky they were that he was sorting out his head. Would they notice how he’d saved them? Probably not.

An odd sound came to him, lifted up on the strange water. A clicking and tapping noise. Cracking his eyes he noticed that it was no longer entirely dark. A strange sepia glow filled the room. Looking down he saw the source of the clattering luminance; there, in the haze of dust, the bones were rolling and moving, each emanating a low amber phosphorescence. In some places they were joining, not always into the shapes they’d originally been. Unnatural disfigured forms; skulls crowned with ribs here, feet rising from shoulder blades like wings there, and long tendons stretching over crossed bones like dream-catchers of human framework. The current swelled and they rose and fell upon the floor.

Hardy wasted no time watching the gruesome spectacle. Kicking like a madman he thrashed through the dark watery veil and back into the main chamber. He had to get out, away from the repercussions of his need. He felt, more than saw, oily shapes that were not fish moving in the water around him. Flickering yellow pulses played like lightening off the cave fixtures, flashing and moving between the stalagmites below him.

Something bumped his hip roughly as the small crevice that led back to the cenote came into view. There was a jerk on his dive light and he let it go, guided on by the faint light of the exit. Pummeled and harried he rounded the corner and looked up to see the small disc of surface above.

He sprung upwards but something held him down, the straps of his tanks tightening across his chest. His destination in sight, he pulled the cords and the tanks dropped, jerking the regulator from his mouth. Unencumbered by the heavy diving gear, he raced to the top. Beneath him the bright gold glow increased, but he did not look at it. Lungs near to bursting he breached the surface, body aching and heaving for air. As he pulled himself out of the basin the current tried to drag him under again. Backing away on the grass he looked down at what was no longer the tranquil pool he’d entered. Rushing and turning upon itself the glowing liquid circled and churned in a whirlpool. Dark fetal shapes bobbed in the new rapids, skulls and limbs, fragments careening. Over-sized embryos, like big sunken faced raisins. Hardy screamed at the swirling urine colored stew of the dead.

“I just needed to be alone! Don’t you see that?!” He cried. “Just a little! I had to!”

In response, the ocher tarn rose up in a heavy wave, thick as honey and filled with the desecrated, to crash upon Hardy. Shards cut through his suit, cracked teeth sunk into his skin, and fingers found his limbs. Down and down they fell, sinking deep into the underworld cavern below.

The release of unconsciousness did not descend upon him as his knees were lifted and his wrists were bound around his legs.

There was a niche just for him now, and he would always have plenty of company.

end


Jude W. Mire is an author from Chicago specializing in horror, science fiction, fantasy, and surreal writing. He writes for Griot Enterprises, has been published in several online magazines, and ran a live horror reading series called Cult Fiction. In 2009 and 2010, he was a finalist in the DeathScribe Horror Radio Play competition by WildClaw theater. He’s married to the extremely talented painter Jill Cooper, and has three daughters, and a bearded dog.
Image Flash #10

Image Flash #10

Robert Loting held his coffee cupped in shaking hands. They were big hands, washed clean, but they looked bloody. They had no skin on the knuckles. The coffee was heavily sugared, dark, with no cream. Officer Brighton entered the room followed by another man.

“Hey Bob, sorry about the wait. How you doing?” Robert managed a smile for a moment before the absurdity of ever being happy again slapped it from his face.

“I’m here.”

“Good, good Bob. This is the sketch artist I was telling you about, Neal. You think you’re up to talking to him?”

Robert nodded. Neal reached out his hand. “I’m so sorry for your loss.”

Robert released his coffee long enough to shake. “So how does this work?”

“Well, I give you and Neal some privacy. He asks you some questions, you watch what he draws, give him input, and you go from there. Don’t worry about rushing this. You just do your best; take your time. If you need anything, you remember where my desk is right? Just down the hall.”

Robert nodded. “He’s going to think I’m crazy.”

“Now, Bob…”

Neal interrupted. “Mr.Loting, I’m not here to judge. I’m just here to draw.”

Officer Brighton nodded. “You just describe what you saw, we’ll worry about the rest later. Deal?”

Robert mumbled around his coffee. “Deal.”

The door to the small room shut and left the two men alone. Neal opened up a case, set out several pens and a large notepad. He sat down.

“So tell me about her.”

Robert flinched. “I thought I was going to describe… to describe… him… it.”

Neal picked up a charcoal pencil. “Not yet. Lets loosen you up a little. How long were you together?”

Robert clung to his coffee. “Four years.”

“Married?”

“No. She was divorced. Said that being married ruined everything. She didn’t want to do it again.”

“Sounds reasonable.”

“She was too reasonable sometimes. Practical, you know? Had her feet grounded in reality. She never would have believed…”

Neal started sketching. “She was attractive?”

“What… well, yeah, I thought so. She was a health nut, ridiculously thin. Not everybody was into how she looked, so brittle. I loved it. I liked thinking she was fragile.”

“Her hair?”

“Short. You know, modern girl.”

Neither man looked at one another. Neal sketched quickly and Robert watched a bubble skirt the lip of his coffee like a child clinging to the edge of a pool.

“How did you meet her?”

“A party.”

“Did you two go to a lot of parties?”

“Yeah, we did. She went to more. She’s more, what’s the other –verted? Not introverted, like inside, the other one.”

“Extroverted.”

“Yeah, extroverted. I always forget that one. It reminds me of a bug. Like exoskeleton.”

“So she was out a lot.”

“Yeah. I used to think she was a social butterfly, but after a while, I just couldn’t see her that way. She was just a fly, going from one shit party to another.”

“How did that make you feel?”

“Fuck man, how do you think? I just wanted to be with her and she was never in the right spot.”

“That must have been difficult.”

Robert shook his head. Took a long drink of coffee. “No, not really. I loved her, you know. Her head was all fucked up. Like there was a tangle of crossed phone lines, nothing really making sense. You can love someone even if they’re messed up you know.”

“I know.”

“You can love people through just about anything.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, sure.”

“What can’t you love them through?”

Robert set down the empty coffee cup. He leaned over and rubbed his eyes with a thumb. “When they crush your spirit. When they do that, then you’ve got nothing left to love with. You can’t help anybody when they’ve broken your soul’s bones and it can’t fly anymore, let alone carry them. When that happens, it’s over. Then you’re both gone.”

Neal put down his pencil, pushed his chair back from the table.

“I’ve heard enough. I think we’re done here.”

“But I haven’t described it yet! The thing that killed her! We were just talking about Alice. What the hell were you drawing?”

Neal closed the notepad and stood. “Don’t worry about it Bob. I think I’ve got a good enough sketch.”

Image Flash #9

Image Flash #9

The dawn soaked through the thick canopy at the cost of losing its nature. It was not a warm illuminator here. It emerged through mossy branches as a heavy yellow thing, tainted with a deeper hue. The fog accosted it, eliminating any joy or comfort it may have contained. The trees tolerated it, but only barely.

It was an eerie thing, this morning that Chalice walked through. She’d awoken in the darkness with a pain in her belly. Rising, she left Paul sleeping in a tangle of silk and went to the bathroom. Cool fluorescents revealed two tiny holes in her nightgown and two more in the skin below her belly button. Emerging from the small wound ran two spider gossamers. She frowned and ran her fingers along them. They did not break and felt much more like string than a normal web strand. They trailed down her body, across the tile floor, and back into the bedroom.

She followed them.

By the time they reached the front door, she realized that someone was reeling them in on the other end. The excess did not loop out behind her and she occasionally felt a slight tug in her belly. Chalice didn’t bother with shoes. She walked across the cold dew of the yard and into the forest.

Paul had been so insistent on living on the edge of the woods, but they’d always scared Chalice. She never told him though. That would be silly. Besides, she loved him and Paul loved these woods. He was a gentle soul, prone to long walks in the twisting paths and sitting on the back porch with his coffee, just staring at the swaying boughs.

“Some things Chalice, are just too mysterious to understand, and that’s what makes them beautiful.” he’d said.

“They’re just trees. It’s just a forest. It’s pretty, but hardly difficult to figure out.”

He’d tilted his head and smiled. “I think there’s more there.”

She barely felt the soft mosses beneath her feet. She moved like a ghost through the branches, feeling like a mere shadow of her self. The muffled stillness was like a dream. This couldn’t be life because it was too serene, too strange. Ahead, strung between the trees, was a web; a glistening pattern of white lines and curves, swaying gently. It seemed more solid than she did. Her ethereal hands coiled into the weave, her chest pressed against its gentle recurrence, her eye rested on the spider.

It was small, so very small. Its legs were long and barely thicker than a strand. Its fangs were tiny reflections, its body; an emerald. She could have crushed it with a finger, but she had none. Her soul was trapped by this tiny little mystery. She felt sad for Paul. The thought of him waking up next to her lifeless body sent chills through her. Her bodiless screams were wind.

The spider’s eyes glimmered. “It takes something wondrously fragile to catch something so delicate, so well hidden.”

She pulled, she struggled, and as the spider began to feed, her spirit faded away.

Dawn continued.