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The Hours #8

June 29, 2016 Leave a comment

When I came too, it was very dark. I was lying on Mark’s jacket amongst tall grass. Beside me, Samantha sat with her knees pulled up to her chest. She was pressed against me, though I don’t know if she was seeking warmth or providing it.

In front of us, I could just make out Mark’s outline. His arms were moving furiously and I soon discerned that he was attempting to make a fire by rubbing sticks together. I sat still, watching for a moment, letting the oddity of our current reality set in before I asked, “Is there any way I can help you with that?”

Samantha jumped and Marked turned to face me. In the darkness of the fading sun set, I could see his face shining and pale from stress and exertion. “If you think you can get this bloody fire going, then by all means.”

I moved forward and leaned close to examine the little pile of grass and sticks that Mark had gathered. “I am sure of it,” I said. “I have matches in my pocket.”

Mark huffed and fell backwards. “I didn’t think to check.”

Samantha snorted softly and I hoped that Mark had not noticed. The two seemed constantly at odds, though I had no idea why, and I did not want to deal with their fighting on top of being lost in some god forsaken nightmare countryside.

The matches brought warmth and, most importantly, light back into our world. We sat there, each on our own side of the little campfire, and stared at the crackling flames in silence for a long time. The night was not quiet, but none of the forest sounds led me to believe that we were in immediate danger. I believe that the same could said for what remained of my companions. Despite the hardships of our day; the insanity of our situation and the weight of our losses, they both seemed to relax a little as the evening wore on. Time passed and we all settled in.

“Can we build the fire up a little higher?” Samantha asked. She was sitting up straighter and rubbing her upper arms where the short summer sleeves of her dress did not cover her.

“No,” Mark said. “We are out of wood.”

I turned my face to the sky and then looked at Mark. “Do you mean we don’t have a lot of wood to make it through the night or that we are truly out of our store?”

“I put the last of it on the fire a while ago,” he said.

“I think we might need to get some more,” I said. “I don’t believe we should let the fire go out tonight.”

“I thought we would have enough,” Mark said.  “We can’t let it burn all night. What if it gets away from us? Carl told me you never keep a fire burning while you sleep.”

“Carl was talking about a hunting trip,” Samantha said. Her voice was low and the words almost dripped with condescension.  “We are lost and in danger. It isn’t the same thing.”

“Carl knew more about being outdoors than I did,” Mark said. “I simply listened to him.”

“Carl knew a lot more about a lot of things that what you do and if he were here he would be rolling his eyes at the stupidity of not gathering enough wood to make it through the night.”

Mark stared at Samantha for a moment and I watched his jaw clench in rage. I tried to think of anything I could say that would diffuse the situation but as I opened my mouth Mark jumped to his feet.

“How dare you,” he said. “You poisonous toad. Carl would no more roll his eyes at me for making a mistake than he would have said a harsh word to anyone. He was a great man and you have no idea…”

“Anyone can see how much more of a man he was than what you are,” she said. “But what you don’t know is what he thought of you.”

“I know exactly what he thought of me.”

Samantha snorted, raising her hand to cover her mouth in a lady like gesture that did nothing to hide her disdain. “Oh no you don’t. You never heard him complain about how you would whine and fuss. You never saw him roll his eyes when a mutual friend would refer to you and your effeminate ways.”

“You vapid little beast. You might have been his fiance but you did not know Carl.” Mark stepped towards her and I wondered if he meant to strike her. “He didn’t confide in you as you seem to believe. All he ever showed you was his mask.”

The girl stepped right up to Mark with her fists balled at her hips. Although Mark was a bit taller and heavier, Samantha seemed to be filled with a passion and power that added to her stature. For a moment, she seemed to tower over him despite the reality of their physiques. “I am his betrothed,” she said in a snarl. “I did more for him than you will ever know and I would do anything for him still. You were the same as the ugly puppy he took pity on. He allowed you to follow him around, nothing more.”

“You are so wrong.” Mark placed his hands on his hips and bent at the waist so that their eyes were level. “I was the one he truly confided in. I was the one who attempted to sooth his mind and I was the only one who accepted him for what he was. ”

“You might have acepted him but he only tolerated you.”

Mark let out a soft chuckle and I saw his shoulders relax. “Oh really? And after he would supp with you and your parasitic family, after he had his fill of the pandering because they want his family’s title, he would come to me.”

Samantha’s tilted her head up and shoved her jaw forward. Seh raised on hand, a finger extended to point it at Mark, but he just raised his voice and rolled over any protest she had been about to make.

“Did you know that we would sit, drinking and playing cards, until he had finished venting his spleen about, and these were his words, those foul leeches. He would rant about them, and then about his parents for squandering their fortune so that they needed a wedding to commoners with money. Finally, he would talk about you and your chaste kisses. About your cold hands and stern expression.”

“He had no cause to complain about my behavior,” she said.

“He was a real man, through and through. He had hungers and needs that you refused to discuss until your wedding night.” Marc lowered his voice. “I listened. I fell to my knees and worshiped the man that he was. I gave him comfort and cherished the opportunity to let him vent his frustrations.”

Samantha lifted her hand to her mouth, seeming to gasp, but she didn’t say anything else.

“He wanted to care about you. He tried at first but you were such a prude that you couldn’t even manage to keep your feet in his presence.”

This time, I heard the strangled sound that she made.

“You saw him in a state of undress one night after dinner, and you were so flustered that you managed to spill ink and wax on your night dress. He replaced it for you so that you wouldn’t have to explain it to your parents, but you had such a fit that you sent him home. Did you ever wonder what happened to the old one?” Mark threw his head back and maniac peels of laughter flew into the night. “I wore it, along with that bonnet you gave him as a keepsake. I wore those things on evenings when he felt the need to replace you.”

The sound of Samantha’s palm hitting Mark’s face was as crisp as a gunshot. Her motion was so smooth, that neither of us reacted before she had turned and run off into the darkness. I sat still, watching Mark rub his cheek.

After a few minutes, he picked up a burning brand and held it up as a torch. “I guess I should go get more wood. You can wait here, someone should stay to be sure the fire doesn’t get away.”

He took a few steps in the opposite direction from where Samantha had ran, then turned around. “I know what you thought of me. I don’t care, but I won’t tolerate it if you speak ill of Carl. Especially after you sat in the boat without trying to rescue him.”

And I watched the torch move away into the night.

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Categories: Horror, serial, Uncategorized Tags:

The Hours #7

June 22, 2016 Leave a comment

Mark and I ran back to the ladies. I cursed myself for stepping away from them in this alien place, praying in between self recriminations that my Mary was okay.

We burst into the small circle of trees and found them both standing on top of the log they had previously been sitting on. Just in front of them, on the bed of dry brown leaves, was a bright blue spot.

“What?” Mark said. He wasn’t a man of action, so even this short run left him gasping for breath.

Mary squeezed Samantha tight to her chest, pointing at the blue spot. She trembled, and refused to speak. Samantha seemed to be convulsing and I realized that a sound which resembled a cross between a giggle and cry of pain was worbbling through the air in time with her breathing.

Mark stepped closer and I made my place at his heel. The girls tensed, Samantha squeaking in the process, but neither left their spot on the log.

The spot was bright, like a glob of new paint dropped on an old cloth. It was no larger than a half crown and if it had not been blue, I would have believe that it might be a coin. It reflected light like a bit of foil as the sun peeked at it through the canopy. It did not move until Mark was no more than two long strides away. When his foot crunched on a dry leaf, the spot lifted up, revealing eight spindly legs.

“A spider,” he said with a sigh of relief. “It is just a spider.”

“Just a spider,” Samantha said. Her voice could not be described as a shriek, but only because it lacked the necessary volume. “That thing is a monster!”

Mark chuckled and looked back at me. “At least some of life’s constants are still in effect.” He moved closer, easing his way towards it. “No matter how odd this forest is, at least we can count on a spider to scare Miss Muffet off of her tuffet.” Mark jumped forward, stomping the little brute and ending its reign of terror with a little crunching sound.

I watched the tension ease out of Mary as her shoulders relaxed. Samantha still clung to her, but she had stopped making the mewling sounds of fear that had filled the clearing when we arrived.

“Why don’t we find ourselves another spot to camp for the night?” I said.

Mary walked Samantha over and put her into my arms. “Hold her while I grab our parasols,” She said.

I wrapped one arm around Samantha’s shoulders and the poor woman sagged against me, forcing me to hold her tight just to keep her on her feet. Mark looked at her with a sneer on his face, but thankfully he didn’t say anything. I attempted to give him a look of gratitude, hoping that my expression displayed my sentiment without revealing how much fear I carried. We were well and truly lost. Neither of us were experienced outdoors men and we had no real supplies. I worried at what would happen if we were to spend more than a single night out.

There was a huff and a crack which caused me to look up. Mary was standing with one of the parasols in her hand, but the crack had been her smacking the end upon the ground. She had just smashed another of the blue spiders.

“I thought you killed it.” She said.

“I did,” Mark said.

Mary opened her mouth to retort, but she was cut short as another spider landed on her arm. Herr words changed to a startled gasp and she dropped her weapon to attempt to brush the arachnid off. It flew free, but another landed on her shoulder.

I looked above us and felt my blood freeze as I watched a cloud of bright blue spots lowering themselves down from the canopy. I released Samantha and she landed on the ground in a sound like that of an old rug dropped into storage. Mark and I both took a step towards Mary, but he jerked away to swat at a spider on his arm and I stopped moving as one of the little bastards fell right in front of my face.

Mary screamed and a red spot appeared beneath one of the blue ones that decorated her dress. I swatted the bug away from my face and smashed one on the ground in front of my shoe, but I only managed another step. In the second that I had hesitated, my darling’s beautiful white sun dress had been splattered with a mix of red and blue spots. One of the little vermin had landed on her cheek and where it bit her before she managed to brush it away, blue lines spread over her skin as if drawn on there in ink. She swung her arms once more, then stiffened and looked at me with wide eyes. She mumbled a slurred and unintelligible word before slumping to the ground. More spiders landed on the ground between us, some scuttled toward me, others rushed to join their fellows as they swarmed over my fiance.

I stomped the ground, spinning to try and keep them away as I considered jumping over the remaining steps to attempt Mary’s rescue. Something hit my back and before I could turn, I was being drug backwards.

“Mary!”

“No.” Mark screamed the word, dragging me off my heels as he pulled me away. “It’s too late. Stop!”

I regained my feet and whirled around. I had my fist drawn back with every intention of laying the womanly man on his ass so that I could resume my efforts to save my beloved. When I took aim, I saw a spider on his shoulder and changed my target. Mark staggered with the force of my strike, but his attacker burst, splattering his top coat with its brownish guts.

I turned back with every intention of running to Mary, but the sight of her, lying on the ground, covered with bright blue spiders, stopped me. She already looked withered. Her eyes were wide and her lips moved as if she were trying to say something. I wanted to walk forward, but everything seemed to shift to one side and I fell to the ground. The last thing I saw before a wave of black rolled over my vision was one of the spiders crawling out of her mouth.

 

Categories: Horror, serial, Uncategorized Tags:

The Hours #6

June 8, 2016 Leave a comment

The reduction of our band from five to four left us silent for hours. I led us away from the water, and whatever it had been that dragged my friend below the surface, at a brisk pace. The other three were nearly catatonic, which is probably the only reason we managed as we did. Had we stopped to discuss this disaster, then we might have fallen to the same horrors as poor Carl.

The sun was flirting with the horizon before Samantha collapsed. The ladies had been troopers but it was obvious that we would travel no further without a long break.

Mark looked at me, then up into the canopy. He stared for a moment before extending his hand to help me up. “I think perhaps we should attempt to get a better account of our surroundings while the ladies rest.”

Samantha’s lip curled in a snarl as she glared at her hands, though she didn’t make a sound. Mary wrapped her arm around Samantha, pulling her friend close, and nodded.

We moved a short ways away before Mark stopped walking. He placed his hands on his hips and stared at me for a long moment. “I don’t know if you realize it or not, but we have far more problems than is readily apparent.”

“Oh.”

“What time would you estimate it to be?”

I looked at him, confused by his question. “With the sun so low, I would guess it is about seven in the evening.”

“Right,” Mark said. “We are not far from night, lost in some god forsaken forest that doesn’t resemble any place any of us have ever been, and we have no shelter.”

I nodded. “I would be worried if it were not for the face that roads follow the river on both side. We should be upon one any moment.”

Mark shook his head. “You do realize that we are not where we thought? You do realize that we have walked for hours and we should have hit the road in less than one? We are more than lost.”

“Just relax,” I said, putting a hand on his shoulder. “We will all be home soon and then we can …”

A scream cut my words in half.

Categories: serial, Uncategorized Tags: