Friday 13 July 2012

Dark Fiction - Holiday

Dark Fiction Image


By Casey Douglass

As part of #fridayflash

Just outside the village, there is a place that straddles the divide between the known and the unknown. To the unwary traveller, it is a place of spacious awe, but to the locals, it is a place to fear and avoid.
When you walk there, you wind your way through a pleasant smelling forest, a general atmosphere of rest and tranquillity hugging your shoulders. You push on, the first sign of something amiss is the smell. To begin with, it smells strangely like a sweet scented mould, not unpleasant but just bordering on the uncomfortable. The odour increases and grows the further you go along the road, becoming more and more intense. The trees lining the road appear withered now, and blackened, as if something leached away at their spirit until they just tired of life.
The last few hundred yards of the road are barren, a dry silty sand all that sprinkles the ground, but you don’t notice this. The ground slopes ever so slightly away from you, drawing your eye to the yawning chasm ahead of you. A vast hole in the ground punches down through the land, its tableau looking like someone had discarded a black dinner plate that was just too heavy for the table top, sinking down and down, the walls of the precipice strangely smooth and slightly shiny. Once you have drank deeply of the nothingness that resides there, you look at something that only vaguely impinged on your consciousness before.
One hundred paces to your right, a rickety rope bridge stretches across the unfathomed depths, twisting and shaking in some foul updraught that belches the sickly smelling vapour from deep below. As your eyes trace the route of the bridge, they alight on the very centre of the eerie view. A wooden house, perched precariously on a slim sliver of rock that stabs out from the centre of the void. You gaze at the house, wondering at it’s existence and how on earth it was even built. It looks a nice house, well kept and in a style that wouldn’t look out of place in any more modern scene. There are even a number of hanging baskets and flower pots on its quaint veranda, rainbow coloured blooms adding the dash of colour that the scene so desperately needs.
A face appears at a window, a waving hand conveying that you should leave in no uncertain terms. You don’t. The place has beguiled you and tweaked your curiosity. After all, you can handle yourself, what is there to be afraid of? You head to the bridge, your eyes upon the figure still gesturing madly towards the forest. The first wooden slat groans slightly as you test it with half of your weight, but seeing the number of them ahead of you, decide to throw caution to the wind and stride forward.
The figure rushes out from the house now, a middle aged man with a balding head and a midsummer tan. He doesn’t look like a local. He shouts at you in some foreign language that you have no comprehension of, but you know enough of the local language to confirm that he’s not from around here. He stands at the far end of the bridge, becoming more and more agitated with every step you take, his face turning red with consternation.
You have reached the half way point now, the blackness on both sides giving you the distinct feeling that this might be how a horse feels wearing it’s blinkers. The bridge sways more violently as your weight adds to it’s wavelength of oscillation, your hand tightly gripping the guide rope. You notice one missing slat just in time and almost stumble avoiding it. The air blowing up from below you is almost unbearable in it’s stench now, but very warm. You aren’t sure if the sweat on your brow is from the heat or the concentration.
The man drops to his knees, his hands clasped tightly together under his chin, the sounds of sobbing reaching your ears. You try to stop, alarm triggering some innate sense of caution that had until now been subverted. You find you cannot. Your feet carry on pacing, slowly and with a purpose, chewing up the distance between you and the man with every passing moment. The man is coughing now, his hands scratching at his throat, a rattling wheezing sound that doesn’t bode well. You grasp the rope rail hard, trying to stop your feet by virtue of your arm strength, but only achieve a stinging rope burn as the fibres rub off a layer of skin.
You are there. The man lays gurgling on the floor, his last breath expiring as your foot touches the rocky foundation of the house. Whatever spell bewitched you clears in an instant, the full control of your body returned to you. You turn and stride onto the bridge again but your foot hits an invisible barrier that’s as hard as a brick wall. Pain shoots through your toes. You stumble backwards in shock and fall over the man's body, your backside landing painfully on the floor. You pant awhile, your pounding heart slowing enough for you to stop shaking, and you slowly raise yourself and dust yourself off.
A flickering figure appears in front of you, seemingly made of dark sand particles and dust from the heated air. It speaks, its voice resembling the sound of pebbles being rubbed together.
‘Welcome to the Locii. I am your servant, and I can grant any wish that you desire.’
You stand open mouthed but soon venture a small wish and stare amazed as it materializes in front of you. Then another. Then another. Your mind is beguiled with possibility and lust for the things you have always wanted, the sexual encounters, the trinkets, the powers. You have been given a vast tankard of possibility and you drink of it deeply. Time passes, and you couldn’t be happier. Fantasies achieved steer the brain away from the old life and cloud its small nagging voice that keeps trying to bring you back, but it fails.

One day, you are sitting in your plush lounge, enjoying another day in paradise. Your servant fades into view in front of you.
‘Another is here.’
You smile, not understanding. The servant points to the window. You gaze out and see a traveller standing awkwardly at the forest mouth, gazing at the view before them.
‘If they come here, you will die.’
You turn to the servant but it has already vanished. The traveller is looking at the house now. You gesture for them to go away. They wave. You shout at the traveller, your voice standing no chance of reaching them. They wave again and move towards the bridge. Panic grips you as you run outside to the bridge.