I have a confession. First and foremost, I wrote long this week. Yep, the story I wrote for this week’s Indies Unlimited Flash Fiction Challenge is longer than 250 words. This means it is not eligible for voting. Not the first time I have done this, probably won’t be the last.
But for me the vote isn’t necessarily the importance of the story. If you haven’t figured it out by now, I don’t always win but I keep writing anyway. The importance for me is the weekly deadline (I am a procrastinator otherwise) and the fun of writing something based on set criteria. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t but I will continue to write a story and share it either way.
And the second confession for the week. I am a horrible speller. When it comes to spelling words many times I have no idea what I am doing and just hope for the best. Case in point, this week’s story as submitted to the Indies Unlimited posting is riddled with spelling errors. Most of the time I can catch the mistakes because the words I have issue with tend to be ones that require some thought to spell. This time a big mistake was the word forest. Seems simple right, well until you double the letter r. If you spell the word phonetically a case can be made for the second r.
That’s my story and I am sticking with it…
The Shrouded Forest
The Shrouded Forest was no place for a mortal man. Giacomo Berrien had fought and prevailed against man and beast alike in a hundred battles. Yet, he was filled with dread as he advanced into the otherworld.
They called this place the graveyard of heroes. Giacomo could smell death in the air, he could feel the tortured souls of the fallen clinging to him with every silent footfall on the damp forest floor. Had the beast not taken his son, even brave Giacomo would never have ventured here…
His heart beat faster, faster, as he fought against the underbrush that clung to his pants. Giacomo hacked with his machete but more of the demon weeds rose up to constrain his progress. The stories he heard of the forest said nothing of the very plants rising up against you. Still he pushed himself forward. The life of his son, his prize to win if he could find and defeat the hell beast, Blaktoon Kray.
After hours he came upon a clearing, the forest heart. Legends spoke of the clear lake that stole a man’s soul at its center. Water flowed into this lake, with no paths out to feed other water ways.
He followed a small stream as it wound its way through the trees. Though the lake was large, he found himself unimpressed. Giacomo had been a sailor in the past, a fisherman on the vast ocean. This lake, this forest heart body of water, was little more than a kiddie pool, a thimble in the vastness of the ocean.
But like many stories, the pool was much more than it seems on the surface. As he traveled further into the clearing the water in the pool bubbled and spewed. A violent storm of the small sea, a tsunami of waves that crashed out from the center. At the eye of this storm he rose from the depths of the bottomless pool of water.
Blaktoon Kray, creature of nightmares, the head of a man, body with thick carapace shell. It had hooked claws similar to that of a crawfish and a double set of hands and harms. A giant beast of great evil, Giacomo prayed for strength to bring down this monster.
Then the thing spoke, a voiced that boomed against Giacomo’s eardrums. “You trespass,” it said. “The law is the law mortal.”
“I come for my child,” Giacomo yelled. He felt small and insignificant. “You have taken him unfairly.”
The beast reached into the pool and pulled a boy, surrounded by a bubble of air from its depths. “He trespassed. He pays the price for his crime.”
“Take me,” Giacomo said. “Take me in his stead. He is but a boy and did not know.” Tears trailed his cheeks. He had yelled at Tavio, had chased him away.
“What difference does your sacrifice make? You have crossed into forbidden land already, I could take you as I please.”
Giacomo stood tall as he pulled a leather scroll case from a pouch at his side. He cleared his throat as he unrolled the old parchment. “The law is clear,” he said. “When one offers an exchange of their own free will, the exchange can not be denied.”
The beast growled a piercing thunder from deep within its thorax. “I know the law, mortal,” it said. It pushed the back of the bubble and his son bounced across the water to the shore. “Caress the sphere and be done with it.” Its voice cut at him, deep and low, a slice deep into his core.
Giacomo waded into the pool, chill, black water bit at his flesh. He leaned close to the translucent shell but avoided touching it. “Run Tavio. Run for your life.”
The boy’s eyes were wide as he shook his head no at his father. In a blinding flash of light, he looked back on Giacomo now trapped inside the sphere. He backed away tripping in the waste deep water in an effort to pull away from the bubble as it sunk back into the depths.
“Be gone child,” the Blaktoon Kray’s voice rang out. “Do not come to my lair again.”
A path through the forest opened before him as Tavio ran, ran for his life.