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Her Nightmare by Roy Radian
SUMMARY: Entry in the Jan.09 Flash Fiction contest. Theme: Flashback
Giles watched the apple roll towards the pool of reddish black blood as the screams and whimpers faded, to be replaced by the quiet creaking of wooden floorboards and the sudden silence. Bodies sprawled on the tables and benches and against the wall; all bore the same wound, five deep scratches still gushing with blood.
He checked the remaining room upstairs. The corridor reeked of blood. All the windows were shut and the trail ended in the last room. He noticed a smear on the door latch as he reached and turned it. The room was surprisingly clean, the sheets folded neatly, a vase of flowers stood undisturbed upon the table and the window was partly open for ventilation, but the freshness of the air was betrayed by the trail of pungent blood which pointed towards the corner of the room.
A small girl huddled there, hugging her knees and sobbing softly, her whole body covered in blood. She had probably watched the slaughter and had hidden in the room; even a glimpse of such a blood-bath isn't something a delicate small girl should witness. What a nightmare she must have had.
Giles took a careful step forward and the girl twitched, her body starting to tremble. "It's alright, the nightmare has ended." He took another step and asked in what he hoped was a soothing voice, "are you okay, child?"
She turned her head and her smeared hair swished to the front, fashioning a red hood. She looked up, her dark eyes staring emptily, seemingly devoid of any emotion. Then her irises changed from empty black to dark yellow, a bubble of blood washing her white sclera and converting it to crimson red.
The eyes, no, no, she couldn't be that girl...
And she smiled.
The village of Tuscan Downs, housing fifteen families, slowly disappeared from Giles' view, the vast scenery of grass with scattered broken rock turned into a darker narrow track shaded with tall trees.
They had been investigating a sequence of murders and all the trails lead to this backwater village and deep into Thornmoor Wood.
Rupert walked in front with an irritating scowl and, the deeper they got, his scowl became a stream of cursing. They were barely able to advance with the trees squeezing in on them from both sides. "AAHH! I hate these fucking vines," as Rupert's fuse exploded, he vented his anger and stomped upon the vines around him.
"I recommend cutting them."
"Shut up, Giles. We are not picnicking here!"
"A guide would have been nice, you know."
"You preferred those halfwits in the village. Oh no, the wood is sacred, only people blessed with acquiescence are allowed to pass, punishment from the god will befall you," mocked Rupert. "I am one hundred percent better than them."
"Wouldn't have hurt to bring one, at least they know the path," said Giles.
"Just keep slogging through, we'll make it."
True to Rupert words, which Giles believed to be one hundred percent pure luck, they arrived at the centre of the wood, a congregation of decayed old buildings covered in a mass of vines with scattered and jutting timbers both centrally and around the perimeter.