Friday is here and I am so happy. I loved how this piece turned out, totally surprised myself.
These flash fictions are solely for self-motivation but any and all critique is appreciated. Thanks for reading!
Sarah walked through a shaft of sunlight, as if on a leisurely stroll in the park. A rock wall rose on her left and a narrow stream on her right. How she could be so calm, I did not know. This was no walk summer’s day. We planned for weeks, scouted the area and the intervals of the uniformed workers that came and went in the night.
It was built to be explored, Sarah’s grandmother had told us when we were children. An ancient cave turned tourist attraction. She warned us to stay away, that whatever lurked within was more dangerous than anyone knew.
But the cave was shut off from the public, saying it was unsafe, erosive and riddled with sinkholes.
I don’t believe that.
After the cats and dogs in town began to disappear, many owners saying they witnessed them flocking to the cave in great numbers, I knew what Sarah’s grandmother had told us was true. Only after the birds and squirrels and insects began to vanish, did officials begin to monitor the cave, insisting it was only routine.
Our town was being drained of life. The sky turned grey and dull, the buildings plagued with an erosion that could not be stopped or contained. The people were worse. I could see it in their eyes. An injured predatory look that flanked the curling of their lips, their shifting eyes to those around them.
Sarah never believed. Even now that we stood near the entrance, a musky air pulsating out of the mouth of the cave as if it were a living, breathing thing, she held her ground and asked, “ready?”
No, no I was not.
I bit my lip, trying to muster the same strength that she now showed. “Yes.”
“Think we’ll go to prison if we’re caught?” she asked as she stepped into the darkness of the cave.
“I think we’ll have more things to concern ourselves with than prison if whatever is inside catches us.”
Sarah’s voice quaked with her next words. “They’re looking for something, Tara. These scientists, government, or whoever they are. My brother can’t stay here much longer. He’s worse than my parents, now.”
I thought of Sam, Sarah’s younger brother, and how his skin was ashen and turning grey. How his gaze wilted, and his eyes seemed to only hold in place by the dark purple circles beneath them. He was thin and would not eat. He sat only in the corner of his room, snarling at anyone who tried to come near.
“They are looking for something, Sarah. And now, so are we. We’ll find a way to save Sam. Save them all.”
I was in the cave now, the darkness pressing in on me, weighing in my lungs. “Sarah?”
I pulled out my flashlight, the beam illuminating the rock walls entombing me. “Sarah?” I said again.
I caught the sight of a black leather bag laying on the stone floor, the contents scattered next to it. Then, somewhere deep in the cave, I heard a scream. It reverberated off the walls and echoed in my skull.
I took a step back. “Sarah!” I heard nothing beyond that initial scream. I turned around, but the entrance was gone. Only stone and rock surrounded me.
I smelled it before I heard it. A sour, dampness attacking my senses. I gulped a breath and it made me dizzy, that foul stench now squatting in my lungs.
The light in my hand flickered, then died out.
My whole body shook. My bones clattered against one another.
Something cold and damp and heavy slid over my shoulder, tightening into a desperate grasp. Then, something sharp and so cold it burned. I screamed. Screamed until it was the only thing left in the world.