I promised a flash fiction story this week. When you read it, squint really hard and don't focus on how rough it is!
The original contest is on Chuck Wendig's blog terribleminds. Here's the link for the challenge; Fairy Tales, Remixed. I haven't read any of the other stories because I didn't want them to influence mine.
My subgenre was Slasher Film. Be aware there's a bit of blood, but no gore. I kept it as PG as possible.
Janna paced while checking her phone's clock. The tiny clicks of pebbles against her window alerted her to Adam's arrival. She slid out of her second floor window to the porch roof.
Adam called to her. "Be careful."
She barely resisted the urge to roll her eyes. "Will you catch me if I fall?"
He laughed. "Hardly. Hurry up."
She'd shimmied down the support post and landed easily on her feet.
Adam's hands wrapped possessively around her middle as kissed her. "You love it."
She slapped at him. "Stop playing, and let's go. Stacy texted me seventeen times."
They slipped into the line of trees where the woods met her back lawn. The Hole was located deep in the woods that surrounded Miller's Hollow. Her friends often teased Janna Miller saying that she was the original hollow Miller.
"It's about time, Janna!"
As they entered the small clearing, she saw their friends; Stacy and her boyfriend, Erik; Mandy and her guy of the week, Conner.
Janna had never liked the Hole. It often gave her the creeps. A ring of rocks surrounded a hole in the ground fifty feet across. It had wide steps that led down three landings to the bottom. It reminded Janna of a round auditorium where gladiators would fight for gold.
She grabbed a beer from the cooler and went to sit with her friends. Mandy and Stacy gossiped about girls in their school while Janna enjoyed the warmth and light from the fire.
She watched as Erik and Conner slipped between the rocks to head further into the woods. Adam shrugged as he turned and saw Janna's look. He knew how she felt about drugs.
Adam headed towards Janna, making it one level before they heard the shouting. At first nobody moved as conversation stopped. The guys were always clowning, trying to scare them.
Adam turned and yelled with a laugh. "You're not scaring anybody, losers!"
He started towards the rocks. A foot from them, his steps faltered, and he scanned the woods. He twitched as a scream rolled towards them and caused everyone to jump instantly to their feet.
Janna dropped her bottle to the dirt. She barely registered the foam coating her sneakers.
Adam staggered backwards on the step. The scream continued to a high-pitched peek that spoke of extreme pain and fright before being cut off abruptly. Janna stepped forward. Their friends were clearly in trouble. Maybe one of them had fallen, broken an ankle. Her mind refused to accept the volume and tone of the scream, or the way Adam seemed frozen in shock.
From Janna's angle at the bottom of the hole, she saw the rocks, not beyond them into the woods. The fire flicked shadow and light over the rock's rough surface, so when a hand grabbed the rock, it was in shadow. When light hit it, it still took a moment to register that the hand was drenched in blood.
What remained of Conner limped into the fire light. One eye was closed as blood flowed from his scalp. The left side of his body was missing completely; arm and shoulder sliced from him. Only empty air where he'd once had muscle and bone.
As they stood shocked, a whoosh and a clang rang out. The impact rang deep in her bones. Sparks flew from the rock as Conner's head separated from his body.
It broke the paralysis.
Adam turned and yelled. "Janna! Run!!"
Stacy and Mandy pushed each other as they raced to the top of the hole and were gone. Adam practically scooped her into his arms and ran her to the top.
It was a nightmare. A monster chased her, and she couldn't get her legs to move quickly enough. Beside her, Adam panted harshly. The air whistled in and out of his mouth as they crashed through the woods.
"Come on!" His voice was full of panic and anger.
"I-I can't." Her legs wobbled and refused to carry out her commands to run faster. They threatened to mutiny completely.
"I'll leave you, Janna, I swear."
Over the whistling of their breath and the crashing of branches and twigs, Janna heard a hissing. It sounded like a snake hissing, but not quite like a snake. It sounded as if a snake were trying to speak. The alien sound sent a shiver up her spine as if a cold breath had touched her sweaty neck.
When she couldn't pick up the pace, Adam let go of her arm and ran faster. He was leaving her behind. From her left, the hissing began to form more distinct words although she couldn't decipher them. "Rumpssssskinn" was what she thought she heard. It slipped in and out of her hearing, weaving its way around the trees as she ran.
When Adam screamed ahead of her, she darted quickly to the right. By chance, she found a path as the screams died behind her. It caused her to run faster.
Directly against her neck, she felt a whisper and hot breath. Hotter than her skin but colder than ice, the whisper turned into a hissed word drawn out by the s in it. Distinct because it felt like the thing was right behind her, about to grab her.
She could see the lights of town. Fingers slid into her hair, nails sliced across her scalp and as searing pain made her vision turn to black, she yelled the whispered word she'd first heard as a hiss.
As if it warded against evil, like a kid yelling BASE in a game of tag, she yelled, "Rumpelstiltskin!"
Crumpling to the ground in a heap of pain, exhaustion, blood and sweat, she heard a pained scream and finally, silence. She waited for the thing to fall upon her and slice her to death, but she heard nothing, felt nothing except relief as she let unconsciousness overtake her.