I honestly, and sincerely, can’t believe it’s December already. Wasn’t it just September? And don’t even start with me about how Christmas is like, what… a couple of weeks away. I can’t begin to say how unprepared I am. But I digress. So, it’s another flash fiction. I’ve missed a few, but trying to jump back in this week. Here’s the inspirational pic…and a tale spun from it.
“Damn it, Zeke. It’s darker than ass in here.”
Zeke Reddings gave his buddy a punch in the arm. “Seriously, Declan? Drama queen, much?”
Zeke flicked a lighter, holding the tiny flame over the wick. The oil in the old lantern sputtered to life, casting a soft glow off the surrounding trees. Long finger-like shadows danced across the ground, moving with him as he started forward. A narrow path appeared amidst the swaying branches, the thin tunnel limiting his vision to only a few feet.
Declan followed behind him, one hand resting on his shoulder, matching his steps as they wove their way along the corridor. Coyotes yipped somewhere in the distance, the dim outline of a porch appearing out of the darkness. Zeke stumbled to a halt, tripping forward when Declan walked into him.
“Shit. A little head’s up would be appreciated, dude.” Declan shifted to Zeke’s side, his hand sliding down to rest on the small of Zeke’s back. “So…you sure this is the place?”
“Right. Because there are so many deserted cabins in the middle of the forest.”
Declan gave him a shove. “You don’t have to be an ass about it. We both know what’s in there. Might be wise to be absolutely sure.”
Zeke pulled out a compass, holding it in the small circle of light. The arrow spun clockwise before finally settling, the head pointing toward the doorway. An eerie blue glow illuminated the face then winked out.
Zeke arched a brow, glancing at the man—his true soul—as he motioned to the compass. “Proof enough for you?”
Declan sighed. “Is it wrong that I was secretly hoping we’d screwed up somewhere along the way? That this would be nothing more than an empty shack in the woods?” He chuckled, though it sounded forced. “A place to create a different kind of memory.”
Zeke palmed Declan’s chest, the steady beat of the man’s heart soothing his own fears. “Not wrong. And I wish we were here for that kind of encounter, too.” He glanced back at the door. “Can’t help but wonder what’s inside.”
Declan placed his hand over Zeke’s, squeezing Zeke’s fingers. “Guess there’s only one way to find out. I just hope that damn gypsy wasn’t shitting us. Hell of a long-ass way to come only to discover we’ve been played.”
“She gave us the damn compass on her death bed. Hell, these instructions were her dying words. I don’t think people make that kind of shit up for giggles.” He reached behind him, removing a silver blade from his pocket. He held up the shiny metal, watching the light glint off the edge. “But on the off-chance I’m wrong…”
Zeke huffed. “We know all too well that werewolves and faeries are real.”
“Yeah, and so is freaking bigfoot, but none of those are waiting inside.”
“We’re talking about the missing tomes of Atlantis. You think they won’t be guarded?”
Declan gave him a weary smile. “By wards. Barriers. Not creatures we can slay.”
“When’s the last time you shanked a werewolf, buddy? Because I’m pretty damn sure the answer is never.”
“I didn’t…” Declan raked a hand through his hair. “What I mean is…creatures can be killed. Spells…spells take skill. Knowledge. A certain breed of warrior.”
“My Enotian is pretty damn rusty.”
“Doesn’t matter. It’s our birth tongue. We’ll remember what we need.” He nodded toward the door. “You ready?”
Declan didn’t wait for Zeke to answer, choosing to climb the first step. He extended his hand, clasping Zeke’s fingers in his as they ascended the four stairs to the porch. A blue door gleamed in the lamplight, the silver handle shiny as if fuelled by some inner power. Zeke nodded when Declan reached for it, staying beside his lover as the other man twisted the knob. The hinges groaned in protest as the slab swung inward, revealing nothing but more shadows.
They crossed the threshold, not surprised when the door shut behind them on its own, locking out any hope of escape. Zeke held up the lantern, chasing away the darkness. Barren walls stared back at them, not a single piece of furniture within the walls.
“God damn it.” Declan took a couple of heavy steps inside. “It’s all empty.”
Zeke grabbed his arm, yanking him back to his side. “No. It’s warded to appear that way. Can’t you feel it?” He inhaled, the steady thrum of the energy field vibrating through his chest. “There’s a barrier.”
“Well, I’ll be damned. Guess my emotions are clouding my other senses.” He winked at Zeke. “Your fault, entirely. You’re far too much of a distraction.”
“Jackass.” Zeke handed Declan the lamp. “Guess it’s time to see how much I’ve forgotten.”
Zeke drew a deep breath, slowing reciting the words he hoped would counter the spell. Blue specks erupted in the darkness, cascading along an invisible plane until the entire width of the cabin had been joined by a thousand tiny pinpoints of light. Zeke repeated the chant, knowing it’d take three incantations to fully activate the ritual—each reading giving the sparks more energy until he had to shield his eyes against the glare. There was a moment of strumming power as the last word seemed to hang in the air before the barrier exploded in a hiss of fire, raining down crystallized light on the wooden floor.
Zeke waved his hand in the air, clearing the lingering hint of smoke before his breath simply stalled in his chest. A single table stood in the centre of the room, the top illuminated from some hidden source.
Declan slapped his chest, his face beaming with pride before he grabbed Zeke’s hand—leading them both over to the table. Three old, weathered books had been stacked on the surface, some of the pages already starting to curl along the edge. Declan placed the lantern off to one side as he leaned down, gently blowing off a layer of dust. A series of symbols adorned the cover of the top volume, the intricate patterns embossed into the leather.
Declan ran his fingers across the markings, glancing at Zeke. “Holy shit. You did it. You actually broke the enchantment.” He swallowed noisily, his rough breath sounding loud in the stillness. “Do you know what this means?”
“Easy, Dec, there’s no guarantee we’ll find what we’re looking for. That these books hold the answers we need. The maps.”
“Oh, they’re in here. I can feel it.” He shook his head, the tension easing from his shoulders. “After over a century stuck in the human realm, we actually have a chance at going—”
“Home.” Zeke gave the other man a genuine smile. “We might actually go home.”
And that’s all for me… now check out the other ladies. Always amazing to see what they create.
Bronwyn Green | Jessica Jarman | Jessica De La Rosa