.After a rough couple of weeks with my WIP (work-in-progress), I was eager to try something fun and refreshing. A big thanks goes out to a fellow blogger who posted a link in an online writer’s group.
This is the most recent Don’t Panic Picture Prompt from This is Not Hitchhiker’s Guide. The challenge is to write a 500 word maximum flash fiction piece inspired by this photo:
My answer to the challenge:
He’d been watching her wander from school and pass through town to the swamp. She moved along the creaking boardwalk killing time among trees and the smell of murky water. Some days she sat and dangled her legs over the edge. Her toes twirled among the floating leaves, careless despite alligators sunning nearby. Other days she wrapped her lithe body around tree trunks and shimmied up to stretch across limbs, bits of moss raining down into the clouded water.
She was unlike other youths he’d taken. She wasn’t oblivious to danger - she liked it. After days of craving her, he was prepared to change her mind. He knew the path she’d leave on, so he risked losing sight of her and sped through the trees to where he would head her off. His truck was waiting, unseen and unlocked. Everything would be in place as soon as he was.
Mere feet from his chosen spot she dropped to the ground in his path with a muddy squish. Had he been a typical man, seeing his desired object fall from the trees like sweet, overripe fruit would have been a living fantasy. But it unbalanced him. He stepped back, looking from her slowly unfolding frame to the trees above in bewilderment. This wasn’t as he’d planned.
His eyes met hers as she rose to her full height and he realized she was as tall as he. For a moment, his brain scrabbled for an excuse to turn this in his favor. But her eyes flared and all thought ceased as his veins flowed with chilled water. The cold seemed to solidify, ice spiking through flesh.
Pain tore every nerve. He shouted, falling into the muck at her feet. He clutched his abdomen, unable to make sound, unable to see through flashes of black and red that obscured his vision. His skull seemed to burst. He was so sure that he was dead that the gradual fading of the pain was more of a shock than the pain itself had been.
He gasped, relieved to breathe, and struggled to lift his body out of the mud. Her blurred figure remained, feet where they’d landed, arms loose at her sides. Her face was set, like a scowling sculpture. Each time he tried to meet her eyes his body trembled so violently that he could not.
“Never again,” she said. “Or the pain will come. And it won’t stop.”
He nodded once, swallowing back the bile in his throat. But she was gone. In a panicked frenzy, he stumbled from the swamp and ran home. Fully dressed, he climbed into a hot shower and swore through shaking breaths to repent and never feel such wrath again.
Days later, at a local beach, he ended in agony. He writhed in the sand, oblivious to the hands and voices of a group of teens who tried to save him. A tall, lean girl watched, a single tear evaporating from her cheek even as it fell.
Be sure to stop by This Is Not Hitchhiker's Guide.
I can't wait to do another challenge!
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