Each week you'll find a new 666-words-or-less story from MicroHorror showcased here on Hermitosis. Hopefully this mysterious vignette by D. Hall will cast a shadow over any lakeside holiday plans you're entertaining:
by D. Hall
Sun high and warm, cicadas hum and hiss. The heavy, heavy air is stirred by light breeze like a breath between two pages, like air inside a bottle. The surface of a pond reflects a bird’s eye reflecting ripples, reflecting flitting shadows. Below the surface dead leaves and pond-weed and mud. Only insects and birds are here, only empty nests and the threat of other voices.
He’s not here, says nothing, watching the forest watch you. Behind branches and leaves, needles and old, dry rot–he could be there. Step, step, the stones cry out for stepping, for slipping, for scratching and for gashes. Again, the breeze comes and its hand along with it, pushing trees aside and they bend and curve. Branches part, another branch appears, the tunnel opening and shutting like an eye with too many lids. Did you see him there, his hands up to you and white?
Your hands now, not the wind and not his, and they push aside branches and briars and other things that grab and other eyes that peer. Who should lay their legs across the trail, knobby knees upturned and scabbed and hard as wood? Your feet protest. He’s there again. His back is to you, and his neck is smeared with dirt. Bugs hum now, and the wind hums as well. Your blood hums in your veins. Birds’ eyes or your eyes now push on the inside of your skull. Can you see it now? His step turn step turn, arms up, fingers wide, eyes closed mouth open and spilling, and hot heavy heat on you and sweat too. He is there now, by the pond. You can see the mud on his neck, and the hair there too, and the points of shoulder blades through his shirt.
An insect’s wings by your ear, the rigid vibration of papery lift. Wind and hands and voices and hard black eyes. His breath again, the smell of pond water. Limp leaves give way to an empty bank and no footprints in the mud. Only you by the pond and the shimmering heat of summer, while beneath the surface fingers of white-green flit.