I’m posting this story for a Halloween flash fiction contest orchestrated by Scale it Simple. They were kind enough to invite me to participate and I hope I’ve risen to the challenge. Follow the link above to view other submissions. If you’d like to vote for your favorite submission, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Voting closes on November 4th.
Comments and likes are much obliged.
Please read and enjoy my story entitled, “Into The Yew Wood.”
It was one of those nights on cemetery lane that made you feel electric with energy and somber with thought all at the same time. The air was crisp, dead leaves scattered as they ran underfoot and glided overhead, filling the night with noise. The moon was full and luminous casting an eerie light on the scene below. Halloween was in full swing, the streets were abuzz with hooded figures and lively children enjoying their annual candy hunt.
Hidden from the action at the end of the long lane of perfectly decorated houses stood the towering and dark-windowed number 13 cemetery lane. Behind it, the forest stood lifeless and desolate, a depressing shadow on a lively scene. It was in this very house at this very moment that
Sinister things were afoot, and only three young individuals knew about it. Sam stood with one foot in the gutter. His other foot twitched on cracked black asphalt. His dark eyes sought through the shadows and trees to the house beyond.
“She’s in there. I know it.” His words cut through the chill night. Next to Sam stood Julian. His mop of black hair shifted in the wind as he too stared into the dark. He stood tall above his companions.
Resolve glinted in Julian’s eyes. “We’ll get her out. There’s nothing they can do to stop us.”
“Remember what the Seer said.” Spoke up Lawrence, pushing horn rimmed glasses up his nose as he clutched at a tattered backpack. “Together the Shadow will fall, Apart it can only grow stronger.”
A lone howl grew from the twisted trees behind number 13. It echoed down the moonlit street. Goosebumps broke out over Sam’s body and he shivered. Both Julian and Lawrence sensed their friend’s trepidation and reached out to Sam. Their touch gave one another hope.
Where despair had filled Sam’s heart earlier, a strength grew within his chest. They were but thirteen years old. Yet as legend would say with generations to come, it would be those three who held back the tide of Hell.
Sam raised his chin. “Then let’s get in there and get Lucy.”
Lucy. Sam’s only thoughts for the past 48 hours had been for her. He’d never really appreciated her presence before now. She had loved him so much, even when he had teased her to the point of tears. Now there was a chance he would never see her again. Because of them.
Each boy shouldered their packs. Clutching iron charms, they crossed the street.
Before them Number 13 Cemetery lane leered, watching their every move. Where the star dusted night should have reflected in large glass windows, only an abyss stood. Solid eaves yawned in the far flung light of a lamp post.
“They say this house has been haunted for generations. Something to do with the sacrifice of unholy apostates and disobedient children.” Stated Lawrence. His voice taking on a rehearsed note. Julian and Sam looked at each other, then to Lawrence. The boy paused. “What? I did my homework on the place, come on.”
Julian shook his head,”You sure know when to say the right thing, ya know that?”
Trying to not take in the whole house at once the boys walked through the gutter. Their eyes roved up and down the street, up to the house and to the woods beyond. Loose shingles flapped in the evening air. The house itself was set back away from the street. A tangled mass of bushes and grasses guarding the front porch. Vines clung to porch rails and up onto an uneven balcony. The house disappeared into the limbed shadows of the forest. Vast hanging branches rested on roof and wall. Unchecked growth sought its way into nooks and crannies. The trees appeared to be drawing in the house, consuming it whole.
“Those are yew trees back their. They’re said to be the symbols of death in some cultures.” Lawrence’s voice faltered as he saw the look on his friend’s faces. “. . . It’s probably just myth . . . legend . . . You know.”
“Lawrence.” Cut in Julian.
“Guys.” Said Sam as he stopped walking. Lawrence shot a resentful look at Julian as they focused their attention onto Sam. He rested his hands on the twisted front gate. Only a short wood picket fence stood between them and it now.
Something waited within, they all could feel it.
Fear wormed inside Lawrence’s resolve. His eyes roved over those all-to-blank windows.”Guys are you sure about this? Shouldn’t we wait for the adults?”
Sam gritted his teeth. “We don’t have time, Lucy’s in there and who knows what they’ve already done to her. Besides were you not there when we tried to tell my parents? Do you not remember how they reacted to us?”
Sam tried to control his anger and bitterness, but his emotions were to close to the surface. He saw the hurt on Lawrence’s face, but there wasn’t time to care.
“No I’m going in and if you two can’t handle this I’ll do it myself.” Sam opened the wood gate and stomped up the cracked front walk. Julian looked at Lawrence with measured eyes and then followed Sam through.
Lawrence was left on the sidewalk, exposed to the night. His faced burned at his friend’s words. He looked up at the house and trees, gulped and then scampered after his friends.
The three crossed through the dead shrubs. Each one careful to not snag their bags or clothes on the naked branches. Julian glanced back and smiled at Lawrence.
“Glad to see you’re making yourself useful at last.”
Nerves getting the best of him, Lawrence snapped back. “Useful? Useful? Next time we have to rescue someone from a Coven, you can do the research in the library with Mrs. Ketcheren. I’ll pack the food.”
Thunder crashed through the empty sky as Lawrence clapped a hand over his mouth. Sam and Julian all but jumped out of their skins at the sound. The only light on the street crackled and went out. A peel of weird green light flashed through the house. Windows illuminated, exhibiting antique furniture, bookshelves, lamps and the like. Voices screamed out into the night, scratching their way through worn wood siding.
They had heard their name spoken.
“Run!” Screamed Julian. He grabbed Lawrence by the shoulder and pushed him headlong into the shrubs.
Sam froze, panic clouding his mind. Viridescent radiance washed over his body. For an instant that felt more like a year, a yearning to lay down and sleep took hold of him. Something was coming. It was hunting him, but that didn’t matter. What mattered was that he needed to lay down his charms and weapons.
Sleep. Whistled a soothing voice. Sleeeeeeep.
The voice increased in presence, echoing within his mind.
Listen to the Yew Witch, put down your guards, Child.
A second voice grew as Sam closed his eyes. He felt his body shift to the ground.
“Sam!” It was familiar, as if he’d heard it in a dream.
Listen to the silence. Sleep.
“Sam!” It grew louder than the whispers of the Yew Witch.
Listen to meeeee Samuel. Listen to the Yew Witch.
“SAMUEL!” Screamed Julian as he slapped his friend across the face. Next to him Lawrence fumbled with a charm of iron attached to his belt. All around, naked bushes scratched at their faces tearing at their clothing.
You will now die.
A wave of energy lashed out from the house as wicked shrieks rose from within it ghost lit depths.
Leather snapped as Lawrence held up his iron charm to the light. Flames exploded from the house as Lawrence screamed in surprise. Windows shattered and wood blackened as Number 13’s front porch and door exploded outwards. Flames licked up under its eves and onto the roof.
“Lawrence don’t let go of it!” Yelled Julian over the roar. He pulled Sam closer to him as fire raged around all three. Sam’s eyes rolled back into his head and his body crumpled.
THEY ARE NOTHING! TO THE WOOD SISTERS! BRING THE GIRL!
Panicking Julian yelled right into his friend’s ear.”Sam, stop it! Sam come on! We’ve got to get Lucy! LUCY!”
Sam sat bolt upright, almost flinging himself into the heat and flames. Julian pulled with all his might against Sam until his friend relented. Instantly the flames around them vanished.
“What’s happening?” Screamed Lawrence as he dropped the still smoking iron. He looked at his unburnt hand in awe. Before them Number 13 crackled and sagged as fire ravaged through shattered windows.
“They know we’re here, she was talking to me.” Sam got to his feet looking all around. Embers flashed down around them as smoke plumed into the sky.
Lawrence shook his head, looking at the circle of unburnt ground beneath them. “Who’s she?”
“The Yew Witch. The one who has Lucy!” Sam was now running through the bushes, towards the already burning garage.
Julian grabbed his bag and ran after Sam shouting, “But the house! The house, Lucy’s in there-”
Sam waved off his words as he hopped what was left of the low fence and shot around the corner of the garage. Julian glanced back to see Lawrence stumbling into the driveway. His face blackened with soot, iron charm in hand.
“Where does he think he’s going?” Lawrence called after Julian.
“I don’t know! The woods I think!”
They both disappeared around the garage, giving it a wide berth. Something rumbled deep within the house as a section of the roof collapsed in on itself.
An echo of piercing laughter made the boys run faster. It was coming from the forest beyond the house. Before them, darkness stretched from gnarled root to undulating branches. Light from the house danced across sagging limbs and twisting scrub oak.
Julian and Lawrence caught up to Sam as he stood silhouetted before an aged yew tree. Its shadow bent around him, as a spider would to its prey. Chest heaving he turned to his friends, tears running down his face. He pointed past the tree, where dark forms disappeared into the night.
“They’ve taken her.” Sam’s voice shook with fear. “They’ve taken her into the Yew Wood.”