Able

 

It wasn’t hard to walk away.  She simply placed one foot in front of the other and did not look back.

Of course she knew that for some, it would have been impossible.  The guilt would destroy them:  they’d slit their wrists or hang themselves.  Others would go mad:  the carnage and the screaming would lead them to gauge out their eyes and rip off their ears.

But not her.  She had the one thing that would help her perservere:  a souvenir.  It was tattered and bloody, but as long as she held it, she wouldn’t look back.

She would move forward, step by step.

Until it was time to look for a new one.

 

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  © ELIZABETH MICHAUD JOHN

The Arrogance Will Be Costly

old swing

 

“Is this it? Is this…all that’s left?”  Jakob asked. The villagers stood among the remnants, stricken with fear, dumbfounded.

They gathered in the center of what was left the playground. The jungle gym—once only a few crossties with heavy, knotted ropes for climbing—was mostly gone; only the support beams protruded from the grass, the edges jagged and sharp, like broken toothpicks.

“And that—what is that over there?” said Josiah, his voice trembling.

“Is that…my god, is that a shoe?” someone deeper in the crowd exclaimed.

A blonde-haired woman broke from the throng to grab the shoe. “No, no, no! Not Kamyra! Not my baby…!” she screeched, clutching the shoe to her chest.  A man tore himself from the group and went to the woman, wrapping his arms around her and stroking her hair.  For a moment, there was only the sound of the wind cutting through the trees and the wails of the woman with the shoe.

Abruptly, a question cut through her grief.  “Where’s the sandbox?” The loud whisper came from Kaitlin.  She stood with her jaw set and her shoulders square, a pillar in the midst of chaos, but the shudder in her voice reverberated throughout the crowd, and the villagers pulled closer together.  “The sandbox?” she asked again, extending her hands beseechingly.

Heads turned left and right, but no one responded.

Another villager pointed to the clearing near the tree line.  “Is that…the swing?

Jakob pulled away from the others to an object that was half-rammed into the ground.  It was the old swing.  He pulled it up with a yank.  All that was left was a bit of chain attached to the fractured wooden seat.  Teeth marks had made an ugly, ragged curve in the wood, and it was splattered with fresh blood and bits of flesh.

Kaitlin whipped around to the village elder.

“Do you see now?  Do you believe now?” she shrieked, her fear turned to fury.

The elder remained motionless, unable to move or speak.

“Perhaps you will give the offering next season, Elder?” Jakob spat, his eyes ablaze in rage.  “And maybe you will not be so wise?  So callous?” He waved the broken, bloodied swingseat wildly. “Shall we appease them, next season, Elder?” he repeated, his voice rising.  “Or will you  imagine still that they do not exist?”

The elder threw himself on the ground and at the feet of his wayward flock, he screamed for forgiveness.

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  © ELIZABETH MICHAUD JOHN

Coven

girl with red hair

 

“Go and get the girl.”

At the sight of her, the women shouted their cries and catcalls.

“She makes men fall to their feet!” cried one.

“She sings the songs of the wicked!” shrieked another.

“She does the black magic!” still another persisted.

“It’s true because she has the red hair of the devil’s wife!”  This from someone on the girl’s left.

“Yes, the devil’s wife!”  This echoed from someone on the girl’s right.

“His filthy bride—a red-haired demon she is!”

They dragged her to the chair and then flocked around.  The flames from the torches lurched and pitched, their crackling lights lengthening the shadows of the gathered into grotesque shapes. The oldest among them, Prudence, separated herself from the group.  “We are all in agreement then?”

The women nodded, and then kneeled.

“Our red-haired sister, we are at your service.”

Behind the drape of her long red hair, the girl looked up and smiled.

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  © ELIZABETH MICHAUD JOHN

Dead Man’s Alley

                “Okay,” he began.  “Here’s the street.  Dead Man’s Alley.”

                She hugged herself, rubbing her hands up and down arms.  “Oh, yea, it’s creepy, alright.”

                He nodded and extended an arm, pointing.  “The gallows were over there, but the victims walked this street last before their executions.”  He looked up, gesturing to the darkened windows above.  “People shouted down at them, cursing, throwing food…or worse.”

                She shuddered, but her eyes shone.  “Jeez.  I couldn’t imagine.”  Her fingers grazed the old stone walls of the buildings.  “But is it really haunted?”

                He shrugged.  “Who knows?  But at night, they say you can still hear the victims screaming as they take their final walk.”  He leaned closer to her, flashing a wicked grin.  “I’ve heard them, anyway.”

                She arched an eyebrow, and her breath quickened.  “Oh  yea?  How so?”

                She wasn’t prepared when he slammed her against the wall and squeezed his hands around her throat.  “Because frequently, I’m the cause.”

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  © ELIZABETH MICHAUD JOHN

The Evil Among Them

       

The news was tragic:  the girl had killed herself.

They talked about it in the hallways, between classes.

“All because of those rumors,” some said.

“But if they weren’t true, then why?” others countered.

Amidst the gossip and speculation, he giggled.  In his pocket, he stroked her locket.

    They’ll never know.  It’ll be our secret.

 

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  © ELIZABETH MICHAUD JOHN.

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The Monster and the Ghost

 

“So, what do you think’s waiting on the other side of the door?” Tommy asked.

“I’m sure it’s scary, whatever it is!”  Jason’s voice quivered with fear and excitement.

The older boy looked down at the younger one.  “Think so?  Monsters, maybe?”

“No, no monsters.  Ghosts.”

Tommy squinted.  “Ghosts?”

“Yea, of those boys that went missing a few months ago.  No one ever found them.”

“Could be.” Tommy cocked an eyebrow at Jason.  “You sure you want to open it?  See what’s on the other side? You brave enough?”

Jason hopped from foot to foot.  Hesitating only for a moment, he nodded.

Tommy curled his fingers around the handle. He pulled it up, then down, but it didn’t yield.

Jason sagged his shoulders, and kicked at the door. “Damn it! We’re locked out!”

Tommy shook his head and shrugged.  Releasing the handle, he turned slowly to Jason.  “Doesn’t really matter, though.”

“Why not?”

“Because the monster isn’t on the other side of the door.” From his jacket, he pulled out a long, serrated knife.  “He’s right here.”  Even in the semi-darkness, the blade gleamed.  “And you’re gonna be the ghost.”

 

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  © ELIZABETH MICHAUD JOHN.

True Face

Give it to me!” she hissed.

He trembled.  “B-but, it’s for…for the…”

Tooth Fairy?”  Her eyes flashed in fury.  “Who the hell do you think I am?”

His eyes widened in shock.  “You?

She bared her teeth, grotesque, jagged, misshapen.  She snatched the tooth from his shaking fingers.

“No one ever said I was pretty.”

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  © ELIZABETH MICHAUD JOHN.

Like what you’ve read? Then visit Austin Briggs Flash Fiction Contest and give this story a “thumbs-up”!

Thanks for reading!