Saturday, October 15, 2011

Haunted Halloween: "Walking Home"

Over at Confessions of a Bookaholic and A Life Bound by Books, they are hosting a spooky short story contest as a part of their month-long "Haunted Halloween" extravaganza. (Notice the button in the left sidebar of my blog?) The deadline for entry was October 15th and I just barely made it in time. The judging round starts Sunday October 16, so click here for details and if you enjoy my "spooky tale", please give me a vote. And now...story time!

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"Walking Home"

Nana always warned me there were trolls under bridges…

Wolves lurked in shadows of the woods, faeries lingered in household gardens, and mermaids waited to drown unsuspecting swimmers. She never meant to give me nightmares; she was just passing along her heritage.

Though I stopped believing in her “fairy-tales” long ago, an eerie chill still ran down my spine as I approached the old bridge.

Had this bridge always been here?  

It looked like something out of a history book with its gothic architect and detailed stone work. The hairs on the back of my neck started to rise.

In the shadows near the entrance hunched a sleeping figure, face hidden. The money jar beside him made me think he was a homeless vagrant using the park as shelter that night. The police usually shooed them away, but sometimes they didn’t check the more secluded spots.

Nana had always taught me to be kind to strangers. Her family had been nearly penniless after immigrating to this country, so she knew well of the kindness of strangers. I pulled a few bills from my pocket, a portion of my day’s tips, and silently placed them in the jar.

His intense eyes glared at me from beneath his dark hood. I froze under his glaze, unable to move. The shadows made it impossible to discern his reaction, but he simply nodded his head and gestured for me to pass. He muttered something in a heavy accent, but my racing steps drowned it out.

I shuttered a sigh of relief as I passed through the bridge. My apartment was only a block away.

Almost home...

Strong arms wrapped around my waist and mouth before I could scream. I felt the attacker’s hot breath on my neck as he told me not to move. The cool metal of a gun pressed my stomach as he pulled me from the path. Hidden from view, he threw me to the ground and climbed on top of me.

I fought back, trying to scream or even breathe. I squeezed my eyes shut as his pale eyes glared at me with a wicked gleam.

Suddenly his hand slipped from my shrieking mouth; his body fell limply against mine. My eyes opened to a looming shadow standing over us. A giant hand reached out, pulling the attacker off of me, and flinging him aside.

“Are you hurt?” the heavy accented voice asked me.

The distorted face leaned over me, concern in the intense glaze. My screams stopped but my mouth still hung open as I stared back at the troll. His greenish flesh glowed in the dim moonlight.

I shook my head in stunned response.

He set down a blood-stained club on the ground and lifted me to my shaky feet. “Be careful of the wolves and stay on the path, little girl.”

The troll grabbed his club, then my attacker’s leg. Both dragged behind him as he slowly lurched towards the shadowy bridge.

“Why?” my unsteady voice called out. “Why did you save me?”

The massive figure slowly shrank to his original scrawny form as the bridges’ shadows engulfed him. He turned one last time to face me, his intense eyes the only visible part of him.

“You paid the toll. My duty is to honor those who pay the toll.”

In a blink, the bridge faded into the night, leaving me standing alone in the moonlight.

I ran the rest of the way home and called the only person who would believe my strange ordeal.

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You can read the other 8 entries and vote by leaving a comment on the post over at A Life Bound by Books. (Please read for full voting details on the site.)

(Elvish Farewell)

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