Sunday, January 20, 2013

Flash Fiction #7

This week, I'm participating in the Flash Fiction Project founded by +Becket Moorby. Each day, there's an image for inspiration and we all write a piece.

I've haven't quite succeeded in "a piece a day," but I'm getting there! It really has been fun to create all these short pieces.

Today's image is:

Image courtesy of jam343 via Flickr Creative Commons (Attribution Link)

Hannah was the first to scent the child outside the cabin. The others told her that she was imagining things, that there was nothing that succulent for miles around. Besides, they'd already had the snack. The bones were still stacked neatly beside the fire. 

Nan, who acted as caretaker of the cabin, living in the abandoned mining town most of the year, reminded them that she had personally chased off the last backwoods homesteaders three winters ago. It had been pretty dull since then.  Dull, but safe. After what happened to Eloise, you couldn't be too careful.

The coven gathered back around the fire, chanting and tossing small items into it.  Hannah's senses settled back down and she had just pulled her concentration back to the work at hand, when they all  stopped. Hannah chanted alone a second or two before she noticed the silence. "What?" she asked, annoyed.

Nan raised a finger to her lips. Hannah cocked her head, waiting.  Then she heard it too, a soft snuffling sound. Sad child. It was unmistakable. It was delicious. She cackled, then covered her mouth. How embarrassing--to actually cackle. The others were listening intently to the sobbing outside the cabin. Maybe they hadn't heard. 

Nan gestured with her head at the door. She was right. What were they waiting for? From the sound, the child was practically on their doorstep. Hannah could almost taste it. She grabbed her broom from the rack as they stepped into the night. 

The child was huddled under a tree, a beam of moonlight shining on her long golden hair.  She wore a white gown and no shoes. Her feet were filthy and the gown was streaked with mud. She looked up at them with big blue eyes full of tears and said, "I can't find my Mommy!"

Hannah concentrated a moment and cast a glamor over herself, something mom-ish she hoped, though not like her own mother, of course. That would send the child screaming into the night. "Oh, you poor dear. Come inside, honey. We'll get you some nice cocoa and see if we can get a message to your mother." The child hesitated. "Come on, love, you'll catch your death out here!" The girl stood on wobbly legs that still bulged at the ankles in rolls of baby fat. Hannah licked her lips. 

Once inside, the coven circled around the girl and began the incantation to bind her to the spot. The child looked around the room quickly, but there would be no exit for her. The women brought the circle in tighter.  Hannah's stomach growled in anticipation.

Hannah was the first to sense it when the change began to happen. She stopped in mid-syllable, eyes darting wildly to the door. The child smiled, and with the smallest gesture of her hand slammed the door closed from the center of the room.  There was a kind of bulge in the air around the girl and the glamor fell away from her. A tall thin woman with black eyes stood where the child had been. Eloise?

"Well met, Sisters," she said, her hair blowing in a wind that affected no other part of the room. "You worked so hard to save me, didn't you?" The accusation was clear. All of them bowed their heads.  "Well, I'm home now. No thanks to you." Eloise spread her arms wide and grinned, the grin you didn't want to be on the receiving end of.  And then cabin was alight in flame. 

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