Archive | April, 2013

“J” – A Short Story

8 Apr


 Written by Jessie Robbins

Thirty-three minutes ago I brushed my hair back into a tight ponytail, changed into track pants and a t-shirt and put on my running shoes.  I took a bottle of water out of the fridge and my keys from the bowl on the table, kissed my dog Max and ruffled his fur.  After taking a quick look around my new, small apartment I locked the front door behind me and tucked the key into a zippered pocket on my pants.

Twenty-five minutes ago I eased my bicycle from the storage space in the basement of the apartment building and brought it outside.  I dropped the bottle of water into the basket in the front of the bike and started to ride.

I live on the outskirts of a small town by a county road and I recently started riding my bike further down the road every day to explore the area in which I have just moved.  But yesterday I turned down a small dirt road off of the highway and eventually I came across something very strange.  Today, I needed to come back to be sure I had seen what I thought I did.

Eighteen minutes ago I rounded the bend onto the county road and passed the Peters family farm.  I waved to him as I rode by, like yesterday, and he waved back, smiling.  Mrs. Peters runs the vegetable stand in the front of the house by the main road.  I’ve only ever met her once and she seemed quite rude, and although I’ve never formally met Mr. Peters I see him outside quite frequently puttering around the property, working on this or that and he always has a smile on his face.

Fifteen minutes ago I passed the Peters’ property line and continued riding past unsold territory.  Trees sprung up all around me and shaded me from the hot sun.  Thirteen minutes ago I turned down the dirt road.

Eight minutes ago the clouds started to form over the sun like a bad omen.  I wiped the sweat from my forehead and pushed on.  Over the hill was the tree, the tree with the little grey mark on it.  I don’t know how I even saw it yesterday, such a small mark; the letter “J” with a circle around it written in dark grey ink on a birch tree.  If I had been driving in a car I wouldn’t have noticed it but because I was so close to the shoulder on a bicycle, not moving as fast, my eye just happened to catch it.  It was written there for the person who wrote it, to remember, and not to be noticed by anyone else.

I got off the bicycle six minutes ago and walked up to the tree, like yesterday.  I touched the ink on the tree and looked to the next tree behind it and further into the forest, I noticed the little grey “J” on that one as well.  Yesterday I heard someone coming and the feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach forced me to turn around and ride home.

Three minutes ago and unlike yesterday, I kept going.  I followed tree after tree until I came into a little clearing in the forest.  It was a natural clearing as far as I could tell, but it seemed unnatural.  The grass was short but not cut and the clearing was a perfect circle.

One minute ago, I walked through the forest and into the center where at my feet was a wooden door.

The wind is whistling through the trees and if I close my eyes, it almost sounds like someone screaming far away.

My blood is pumping in my ears and the sweat is pouring from my face.

I bend and unhook the little latch keeping the door shut and notice three little lines marked in dark grey ink on the door.

I stand back up straight for a moment and stare down at the unlocked door.

Suddenly the door flips open with a roaring BOOM and the sound of the wind is no longer the wind but actual screams.

The air around me takes on the pungent aroma of rotting flesh and I feel myself being pulled into the gaping black hole in front of me.

The screams become deafening and are more easily understood now.

It is a woman, sobbing and screaming and groaning simultaneously and gutturally and unnaturally and now I realize it is my own voice echoing back to me from this hell below but I am not making a sound.

I turn to run and feel hands grab me at the shoulders and I see that it’s Jacob, Old Man Peters, come to save me.

He is smiling again just like yesterday.

Without taking his eyes off of me, and for the first time I realize just how pitch black they are, his smile unrelenting and a little too wide, he pushes me backwards into the hole, I hit my head on the way down and my consciousness ceases.

Mr. Peters will turn his smiling face down to the door, lean, and slam it shut like always.  He will take out a knife and cut his hand.  He will pull a feather quill from his overalls and dip it in his dark grey blood and then mark the door with a tally mark, like always.

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