Flash Fiction Story, Worms

Flash Fiction Story, Worms, by Ernie Howard

The worms pushed underneath bare feet, looking for purchase into a world they had never seen. Much like this little one that would be pulled through with a skip of a rock, and a view of mortality.

He woke up that day with the sun on his face. It peeked through cheap vertical blinds that were bent and stained with the food that boys of that age eat, things sticky and full of fun.

Mom and Dad were still in bed, and his sisters snored peacefully in the next room. He quietly put on his clothes, subtracting the shoes, and walked out the front door. He was walking out to find an adventure, and dark adventure is what he would find.

The funny thing about adventure is people think it is always something fun and fanciful. But most adventures are filled with peril and the loss of innocence. They never think of the journey that is laid before the brave wonderer. They only think of the end when love conquers all, and our hero finds his purpose.

That is all opinion, though… Let’s get back to our adventure.

The sidewalk was hot, and he needed to get to cooler surfaces, the soles of his feet still burned even with the ground being cooled overnight. He was looking for grass. Temporary relief from the man-made ground that burned tender feet. Feet that had just been released out of cool sheets and a mattress that was pleasant on chapped sunburnt skin.

The trail came quick. It shot off into the woods. Mostly dirt, but a few patches of grass came every once in a while, leading the way to the lake. And the start of this adventure. This life, where we can’t take anything important back. No matter how much we try. Sights are burned into our subconscious. They sleep there forgotten for years, then they bubble up like an unwanted knock at the door.

He stepped onto the dirt. The earth cooled and caressed his feet, making the burn go away as if it had never been there. His stride was purposeful. He needed to get to the lake. This is what all the kids called it, but it was really nothing more than a pond. To a boy, on a bright sunny day, it was an ocean. It flowed in and out in his mind just like he thought the Pacific probably would.

The canopy of trees covered the trail and smiled down at him, egging him on. The clearing would come soon. There he would find a beach full of rocks. Rocks so flat and smooth, they would skip across the water like a sheet of ice in the summer.

The opening loomed before him. Soft light shined through leaves that had already arrogantly the bitter cold of the winter. The doomed leaves said hello and then went about their business. The dim light turned back into a bright sun that kissed the boys already tanned skin.

The beach awaited. Rocks of all shapes littered the ground in hopes of a throw. The boy reached down. Spying one slender and smooth. He held it up to the light and watched the sun glint off its sharp edges. He reared back and threw the piece of earth at the surface of the water, never once thinking of what would become.

He didn’t think of the worms looking for purchase in a world they had never seen. He didn’t think of those dark places until he saw the face that shined like the rock that he had just skipped across the water. The sun glinted off of bloated cheeks.

The face looked up at the sky as if to ask why. One eye and nostrils were visible to this lighted world. The rest was in darkness. Dark like the place the worms try to escape.

Halloween Decor

Halloween decor

“Is that guy ever going to take down his Halloween decorations?” Rob said, as he rubbed the crust from the corner of his eye.

“Honey, he’s an old man, and it is probably hard for him to take them down. Everyone likes Mr. Samson’s Halloween decorations, they are always so, elaborate.” Samantha always found the good in people, it was her downfall. If you didn’t stick up for yourself people would walk all over you, Rob thought.

“His Halloween decorations are always great because he just adds to them from the year before. I mean look at that damn scare crow, it’s falling apart! I have had it! The HOA lets this guy leave his crap up all year, but if I have one weed in my yard I get a fine. I’m bringing it up at the next meeting.” Robs ears were getting hot, which meant he was about to lose it.

“It’s not a big deal, leave it alone.” Samantha grabbed both of his ears and pulled him to her lips, kissing him and making an exaggerated smooch sound. “I’ll see you tonight Honey.” She was out the door before Rob could get in a rebuttal.

He watched as she put her purse in the car, and looked across the street. Mr. Samson was fussing with a plastic bat that had seen better days. The string that attached it to the front door was frayed and looked like it would break in a slight breeze. His wife turned towards the window and mouthed the words, “calm down.” Rob raised one eyebrow and shook his head. Samantha threw up her hands as she got into the car and drove away.

Rob continued to watch the old man through the window. He fiddled with one of the Styrofoam tombstones that had fallen over and made his way back to the front door, pausing at the ragged scare crow that sat on a cobwebbed bench on his front porch. Mr. Samson reached out with his shaky old hand and patted the infernal thing on the head. Rob scratched the dime sized birthmark on the top of his hand, as he did when he was anxious, or something unnerved him.

****

The HOA meeting went just like Rob thought it would, with him shouting, and nothing being done about the eyesore across the street. They didn’t want to hear about Mr Samson’s never ending Halloween Decor. They had bigger problems. Like broken sprinkler heads, weeds, and a dwindling budget. Rob was asked to leave and never return to another meeting; which resulted in him getting physically removed by a large man who had the smell of liquor on his breath.

Rob frantically scratched his birthmark as he walked down the street. His ears felt like they were on fire when he paused in front of Mr. Samson’s yard. The tattered cloth ghosts, and sun bleached spiders only adding to the heat that originated in his ears, but now seemed to have found a home in the front of his head. He was done. If you wanted to have something done in this world you had to do it yourself. The first thing he would throw away was that damn scarecrow! He walked up the man’s driveway, kicking a rotting pumpkin out-of-the-way as he went. He lost his balance when he reached the front porch, slipping on the rotted pumpkin juice on his shoe. He reached out as he fell, grabbing onto one of the scarecrows arms, ripping it from its body. A stream of maggots and cockroaches came flowing out of the hole falling onto Rob’s face.

“What the hell!” He said, sending a maggot that had made it to his mouth, flying. He didn’t even feel the needle go into his neck, the old man was lightning fast for his age.

****

Those weeds are getting out of hand, Mr. Samson thought, as he stared across the street. He needed to notify the HOA. He hadn’t seen Mrs. Lawson work on her lawn since last February. He realized she was in mourning, but her yard was getting ridiculous. I mean what were they? Savages? He sighed, looking down at his new scarecrow. Well new as of last year. After Halloween he would have to replace it, it was just getting to tattered. The straw smelt funny, and look at that, one of the gloves was coming off. Mr. Samson pulled the glove up, covering the dime sized birthmark it had exposed. That will have to do for now. Halloween is only a day away. He patted the top of the scarecrows head and went inside.

Happy Halloween!!!

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Nothing to see

Nothing to see

“Excuse me, are you Steven James?”

The guy looked like a CIA agent, complete with plain black suit and sunglasses, that were not needed since it was almost dark. In one well manicured hand he held an envelope that had the name in question written in what looked like old cursive, or calligraphy. The envelope was old, it was browning at the edges and looked like it would fall apart at the slightest touch. I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. Every time I glanced up at the man, my eyes would dart back down, as if the paper were made from a magnet exclusively for the two round objects that fit neatly in my skull.

I was not Steven James, the mysterious man who gets hand delivered letters from guys dressed up like secret service. No, I wasn’t him, but at that moment I wanted to be him. It seemed his life was a lot more interesting than mine. Bet he wasn’t an assistant manager of a gas and sip, who came home every night to sit alone and watch bad TV and eating bad food.

The man extended the envelope towards me, and not even thinking I said “Yes I am,” and snatched the note from his hand. He gave me a smirk as if saying he knew damn well I wasn’t who I said I was, making me instantly want to give him the envelope back. “Humanity thanks you.” He said. The man tipped his head as he walked away. I could hear his footfalls echoing, each one making the foreboding feeling that had come over me almost unbearable. I turned around to tell him the truth of my identity, and give him back the letter, but he was gone like he had become one with the molecules in the air.

The envelope seemed to burn in my hand. It wanted to be open, the note wanted to be read.

I opened the envelope. The brittle paper crumbled in my hands. Glue that had been sealed long ago obliterated into dust, leaving my hands a chalky yellowish color. The note looked newer, and was folded in classic letter style. I unfolded the paper methodically, relishing the moment even being overcome with the most horrible fear. It said in big red letters, “Look behind you.” As I turned I felt the cold hand of death on my shoulder, and then I was staring it in the face.

The emptiness is what I remember most. Where my soul resides is a dark place where monsters lurk in every corner. Yes my friends, hell is not the fire and brimstone kind of hell. Hell resides in your mind, on a Tuesday, when your bored, and coming home from work.

Oh are you wondering what I saw…? Well I saw nothing.

Other writing by me that you can find on Amazon. Click the images if you have further interest.

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