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Fantasy Horror Mystery

I traced the letters with a shaking hand. I had to be sure my eyes were not lying to me. But that is what was spelled out.

Violet Marie Howell

There were no other words just numbers. No not numbers; dates. Dates that made no sense, I reached down and picked up one of the wilted flowers, pinching it in my fingers. I felt a prick and was actually glad to see the small spot of blood push to the surface. Okay, I was alive, not buried here in this lonely spot on this hill.

I sat back and took a big breath. If this was some kind of joke it wasn’t funny. I wasn’t sure if the slight tinge of anger was enough to dispel the fear. I would figure this out somehow. The problem was I didn’t know where to begin. I couldn’t remember anything beyond a few hours ago.

I woke up in a strange house. I was alone. The house was old, empty, full of cobwebs and dust. I felt heavy, confused; everything was out of sync. At first, I didn’t feel panic, just a bit of anxiety. When I took stock of myself, I felt disoriented, The clothes I was wearing were strange; not mine. I’m sure I had never worn anything like this before. I knew who I was but not where I was.

I managed to get outside and looked around. This old house was surrounded by trees with tall grass and short shrubs crowding close. There seemed to be a path leading away from the front steps heading towards a small rise.  It had made sense at the time to follow the path.

As I walked along I could hear the birds calling out to one another. The breeze rustled the leaves and even the buzzing of some flying bugs. I didn’t see them, not yet.

When I saw the first piece of clothing, I thought someone had just stripped off a shirt and dropped it by mistake. I was wrong. The flannel shirt was still trying to cover the tiny bones that no longer felt the cold. I choked as my mind registered what lay in front of me. It wasn’t a very big shirt. It hadn’t been used to cover a large body.

I didn’t know what to do. Should I stop here? Obviously, I couldn’t help, not anymore. But shouldn’t I find someone to tell? Except I didn’t know where I was, where to go for help. Swallowing hard, I walked on. Surely this path would lead somewhere.

When the buzzing of the insects became louder, I hesitated. If it was a nest of bees or hornets, I didn’t want to disturb them. I think deep down inside I knew that wasn’t the case. I’m sure I knew it was worse.

I saw a cloud of flies blanketing what must have seemed to them like a banquet. I wasn’t sure I wanted to get any closer but felt compelled to take another step. I almost sighed with relief when I discovered it was not a human body. It looked like it had been an animal of some sort. Maybe a calf or something like that.  The smell told me it had been dead for some time. I choose not to dwell and moved on.

The path curved and led into a wooded area. The shade felt good, and I realized I was sweaty and shaky. I found a spot to sit with my back up against a large tree. I tried to take stock of my situation. I was lost, alone, and had no memory of how I had arrived in this place. I seemed to be unharmed, even though I was dressed in unfamiliar clothing. Had I been kidnapped? Why? By who? My mind felt muggy and filled with whirling bits and pieces. Nothing stopped long enough to make any sense.

I searched my pockets. I had a piece of paper with faint markings on it. not words so much as symbols. I stuffed it back in my pocket. As I leaned over, I felt something against my chest. I reached up and discovered a long braided leather necklace around my neck with some sort of medallion on it. When I held it in my hand, I felt a faint tingle in my fingers. I didn’t recognize the medallion but felt reluctant to take it off. I tucked it back in my shirt and got up. I felt an urge to move on,

A bit further on I heard the faint sound of water moving over rocks. A stream must be up ahead. I realized I was thirsty and quickened my steps. It wasn’t much of a stream, but I was grateful for it. I didn’t give a second thought with getting down and scooping some handfuls of water up to let it slide down my throat.  For just a moment I had an idea this was unusual for me. I shook the feeling off.

Refreshed, I moved on up the path. It was now in a more open area and going gently uphill. At the top, there was one large tree whose shade lay over the ground almost in tenderness. I was immediately drawn to it. Now, in hindsight, I almost wish I hadn’t. Because that’s when I found the stone slab hidden in the tall grass.

When I sank down beside it, I felt a pain in my heart. As I traced the name, my name, on it, I felt tears sliding down my cheeks. I didn’t know the how or the why, but somehow I had been led to this place at this time for a reason. Was I starting a new life again? Would I remember any of the last one? Did I want to do that? Was there a lost love? Would there be a new one, only to lose once again?

I reached up and held the medallion in my fist. Was I brave enough to take it off and bury it here? Was I strong enough? Maybe I should try.

January 25, 2022 17:27

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2 comments

Hanae Livingston
16:35 Feb 04, 2022

This is an incredibly cool story. I was drawn into what I think is some kind of purgatory setting. You had a great buildup of tension as she approached the rotting smell, and your character's relief seeing the animal corpse was palpable. I'm thirsty for another hint about the medallion! Is it suppressing her memory, or is it tethering her to life in this moment? Beautiful delivery!

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Alice Richardson
06:53 Jan 30, 2022

Interesting story, good pace.

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