By Casey Douglass
as part of #fridayflash
Some people are just gloomy. This is only an issue to the eternal optimists amongst the general population; people who are so afraid of feeling blue, that they force their false smiles and manic happy thoughts onto others whether they like it or not. This was Oliver Smith’s opinion anyway. He stared at his muddy trainers as he traipsed across the meadows, the broiling clouds above casting the rises and falls of the landscape around him in hues of dark and darker. Where the sun did manage to punch through the clouds, the light was weak and sickly, like a flashlight in which the batteries are about to die.
He liked this time of day, the quasi-twilight that always felt so surreal and grim. Oliver was a creature of dark tastes. The bookshelves in his bedroom full of the classics of horror, from Lovecraft to Poe, King to Lumley to...anything he liked basically. He had just finished a particularly good book about creatures that stole the dead from the midst of a battlefield. He was about to crack on with the next book on his “To Read” pile when his Mother had put her head around his bedroom door and suggested that he take a walk or he would get scurvy. His fear of scurvy was small, but his fear of his Mother was great.
He fished in his pocket for his smartphone and took a hasty snap of some “God Rays” lancing down from the clouds. Smiling to himself, he shared it to his Tumblr followers. They were mainly Goths if he was honest. He didn’t share their dress sense but he felt a kind of kinship with them. The wind was really whipping up around him now, the chill felt like fingers trying to prod their way into the little places on his jacket that would just not zip up any tighter.
The phone stowed once more, he pushed on, the ground sucking at the soles of his shoes. It was boggy here, large puddles and pools of stagnant water reflecting the grey clouds. He neared a particularly large one, his mind warning him of the probable depth. He was familiar with this field and knew there was quite a dip here. Something protruded from the surface of the pool. It looked like a bundle of white sticks. Oliver stood on tip-toe but the extra few inches in height did little for his view. He decided to walk around the pool, the disturbance looked a little nearer to the other side.
Taking his time, he edged around the body of water, wary of sliding in. The reflected light shifted as he changed his angle. Retrieving his phone once more, he took a few snaps of the murky water, quite fancying some spawn of Cthulhu could reasoably live there. He smiled to himself as his phone whizzed the data to his followers.
He achieved his goal of reaching the other side of the pool and stood as near to the water as possible, his neck straining to see. As in all moments of unfortunate clarity, the clouds shifted above, allowing the bottom of the pool to become visible.
Oliver felt a lump rise into his throat as he gazed down into the tea coloured water. The enormous bulk of a large bull hung a few inches below the surface, the hooves barely off the bottom. Its skin was a whitish pink and covered with small green veins. The large horned head was low, as if the great creature was looking down below himself. The only part of the beast that broke the surface was an area of its back about half way along its length. Here Oliver could see properly what was so indistinct before. A large swathe of skin and fat was gone, leaving only a massive open wound, picked and washed clean by carrion and the elements to reveal a curved spinal chord and a handful of bleached white ribs. Oliver couldn’t shake the phrase “Skeleton’s Lunchbox” from his mind as he looked on, the acid in his stomach threatening to burst from his mouth. He put his phone back inside his pocket.
‘Sorry,’ he said to the body. ‘I’m really sorry.’
He started to cry.