Hey, it’s a writing challenge piece! This one is for Chuck Wendig’s writing challenge, which is the fifth in a five-part challenge. Participants write 200 words as the start of the story. Each round you grab another story and add another 200 words. We’re up to 1,000 words this week, so this will be a “complete” flash fiction piece!
As this is the fourth of five parts, I’ll be continuing this story by David Kearney, started by Adrienne, then j and Smoph. I’ve added the last 200 words of my own (each “entry” is designated by a break). It was previously untitled, so I’ve added one above…but feel free to change it, of course.
Feedback always appreciated.
The trio looked at the fence in front of them. It was a simple chain link, but it had to be about ten feet high, and the razor wire on top added another two feet. He was expecting this, but he was not expecting to have two girls on his coat tails. He could take care of himself, now he was pretty sure they would all die.
Except for his heavy breathing and the muffled sobs from the girls, it was silent. The setting sun was hidden by an ominous sky, promising rain at any moment. He knew what happened when the rain came, so he needed to move fast. He surveyed the barrier one more time, but froze as the wind brought an all too familiar smell. He turned to face the direction they were running from. The trees edging the clearing began to sway as the wind picked up. He could hear the soft pattering of rain on the leaves. The air rushed out of his lungs as the storm descended upon them, bringing with it more than just wind and rain. The three had to move now or accept certain death.
They were coming.
He picked up one of the girls and hung her on the fence as high as he could reach. Then he did the same with the other. Knowing what was coming, he had to take a steadying breath before he started up. A lost moment was better than panic.
At the top, he threw his coat over the razor wire. It would help, a little.
He flipped himself over the fence. He’d taken some damage but it wouldn’t kill him. For a moment, he thought about leaving the girls. The things coming out of the woods would find the girls first, give him a bigger head start.
Shit. When had he gone soft?
He hung himself back over the fence. The wire tore into him but it was that or what was left of his soul.
He stayed as still as possible while the girls climbed over him. They were slow. The sun was probably already down but it was hard to tell with the storm moving in.
Where were they? Shouldn’t the damn things be on top of them already?
Finally, the girls were over the top.
He pulled himself off, ignoring what he left behind. Then he dropped down and pulled the girls off the fence.
What they had to do was find shelter, and fast. He didn’t fancy being out in inclement weather with these young girls and they were better off hidden from their pursuers. He could see a barn, edges blurred in the falling dark. Shelter and a hayloft to hide in were too appealing to pass up.
He set off at a slow jog, the girls struggling to keep pace, their tired feet dragging in the dirt. He made them go around the barn, through a stand of trees behind, and in through a smaller back entrance with a door that squeaked traitorously.
They waited until it was dark before slowly edging the huge barn doors closed. With a penlight that grew ever weaker, he showed them the way up to the hayloft, tucked them into some canvas and took watch. He would wake one to take his place so he could catch a few hours later. As a precaution, he pulled up the ladder.
An urgent tug on his arm and he was sitting bolt upright, straight from sleep. Wide blue eyes looked to him out of a terrified face. Beyond her, there was the squeal of a door on its hinges. Their hiding place had been discovered.
He looked at the girls intently, raising a finger to his lips before peering over the edge of the hayloft. The barn door opened out into the rain-soaked night. A flash of lightning lit up the space, casting an ominous shadow across the dirt floor. The malevolent form shambled into the room, sniffing hungrily at the air.
He’d hoped the rain might cover their scent.
Heavy, salivating breaths cut through the sound of falling rain as the monster surveyed the darkness.
Strange there was only one of them.
A muffled sneeze sounded behind him.
The creature leaped up to the loft, training its gaze directly at him. Scrambling to his feet, he grabbed a rusty pitchfork and raised the makeshift weapon as the creature fell upon him. The ferocity of the impact sent him tumbling to the ground below.
He braced for the end, but it didn’t come. Tentatively, he opened his eyes and saw the lifeless beast on the ground next to him, pitchfork protruding from its throat.
A grim smile crossed his lips. If they could make it to the checkpoint before nightfall tomorrow they’d be safe. At least the girls would be. He regarded their tear-streaked faces staring down at the fallen creature.
An all too familiar smell blew in through the open barn door.
It was the smell of death, and rage, and fear. It was life rotting away under old, grimy skin.
There was another beast out there, possibly more. He heard a scratching sound against the far wall, and then scratching all around them as creatures clawed the walls.
A trap, then.
He pulled the girls down from the loft and yanked the pitchfork from the beast’s throat. It released with bloody resistance.
“Tap against the floorboards. Listen for a hollow sound. Quickly!” He said.
The smallest found the handle first, pointing with her finger and staring at him with large, frightened eyes. He pulled up the trapdoor, thrilled to find a small wooden ladder. The girls climbed down, and the beasts entered as he began to descend. They ran over, forcing him to jump down and slam the trapdoor shut overhead. There were wails and clawing against wood; he had a sprained ankle, but also the pitchfork.
“How did you know?” The older one asked in the darkness.
“An exceptional interest in nineteenth-century regional history and a fair amount of luck,” he said. “Now, link arms and find the walls. We’ll follow the passage until it ends. If my luck holds out, they won’t figure it out.”