Final part of fantastic story prompt from Chuck Wendig - Flash Fiction Challenge - 200 words at a time - part five
Part 1 by murgatroid-98 Part 2 - LC Hu Part 3 - Jeremy Podolski
Part 4 (and story title) - Meagan Wilson
Part 4 (and story title) - Meagan Wilson
The Jacksons, Ed and Marnie, had been away for two months and no one in the neighborhood had heard from them. Everyone assumed they were still traveling across the country to celebrate Marnie’s retirement. Lena held her breath as she approached the driveway. She had noticed the stench during her morning walk. Something dead. An animal perhaps, a large one by the smell. Plenty of feral cats lived and died in the area. Coyotes, too. Burying the poor thing, whatever it was, seemed kinder than leaving it to rot and stink.
A glistening wetness oozed from under the door as the odor became almost tangible. She gagged. Maggots. Her stomach roiled as she backed away, stumbling onto the lawn. She bent over and heaved onto the grass, gasping for an untainted breath. As she stood back up, she noticed that the front door was slightly ajar.
Lena moved slowly to the door to peek through the crack and listen. Dim light filtered through the curtains into the living room. She pushed the door open and froze, stench and maggots forgotten. Horror and relief fought for dominance, because what lay on the carpeted floor was not one of the Jacksons.
It was a dog. A huge dog, a (wolf) husky, maybe, in such a state of decay Lena guessed it must have died around the time the Jacksons had disappeared. Lena strained to remember if the Jacksons had ever had a dog. She didn’t think she’d ever seen one; but she’d never been very close to the Jacksons. They could have kept a dog inside, or in the backyard. Maybe it was—had been—a good dog. A quiet dog.
Lena knew moving closer was a bad idea, but her curiosity refused to take no for an answer. She leaned towards the corpse and immediately had to fight the hot acid rise at the back of her throat. The dog’s belly had been torn open. The ragged wound gaped blackly, more black slime pooling from the wound. Farther back in the dark wound, there was the hint of movement. More maggots.
Staggering back towards the door, Lena sucked in great breaths of fresh air.
She glanced back over her shoulder and immediately regretted it. From the dark interior of the house, the yellowed fangs of the dog smiled back at her, lips drawn back by rot and dehydration.
But there was something more, an interesting scrap of fabric impaled on the animal’s right incisor. She almost missed it in an effort to shield her eyes from the gore, but the pattern caught her attention as much as anything else.
She steeled herself for a closer look. The swatch was blue silk, adorned with a repeating design of a samurai locked in battle with a serpent, all in gold. It looked expensive, and it certainly didn’t look like it came from something that the Jacksons – who by all accounts were more likely to frequent the Ripley’s Museum than one of art or natural history – would own.
Lena could tell easily by the frayed edges and jagged outline that the scrap had been torn from something larger: A scarf? A babushka? A kimono? The eviscerated beast had put up a fight, but against what? It was hard to picture the animal locked in combat against a wealthy, well-dressed dowager.
She felt the urge to take the fabric, as if this was her mystery to solve and her clue to commandeer. The thoughts spinning in her mind distracted Lena from her nausea, but they also prevented her from recognizing the presence of another in the foyer.
Lena gasped, and whirled to see a figure emerge from the late afternoon shadows. He was tall, at least by Lena’s standards. His black hair was swept up in a topknot, similar to the samurai that chased a serpent across his blue silk jacket. Sure enough, the jacket, which looked like a short kimono, had a piece torn from the bottom edge. But what really held Lena’s interest, and set her heart thudding, was the sword at the man’s side. A sword he began to unsheathe as he took another step toward her.
Lena swallowed, hard. If the wound in the dog’s belly was any indication, the sword was not for show. She should run. Call the police.
But instead, she heard herself ask, “Why did you kill the dog?” as she inched toward the door.
“He was in my way. As are you,” his voice was deep, and hard as the four-foot length of steel in his hand. Uh-oh. She’d read somewhere that a samurai never drew his sword unless he intended to use it. She tore her eyes from the blade, forced herself to meet his dark eyes.
“So you’re going to slaughter me, like the dog?”
The dark eyes flashed and she shrank back when he strode up to her.
"Go. Before the Jacksons get here." He gripped her arm and pulled her towards the back door. "They'll kill you if they find you here now."
Okay. Obviously a nut case here, in need of medication. Better to just leave quickly.
A noise from the lounge room brought crazy samurai guy to a stop. He turned and ran back to the lounge, sword raised, with Lena right behind.
Ed and Marnie stood wide-eyed in the door-way. Dear God. The poor darlings must be terrified.
But the Jacksons stood their ground, even seemed to swell in size. What the . . . ? Still swelling up. Shedding clothes.
Her neighbours. Transformed into giant green serpents. As tall as the ceiling now, they hissed and and screeched as the sword slashed and cut and hacked. Crimson fountains of serpent blood splattered walls, windows, furniture.
When the samurai finally straightened, both the monsters were dead. And then in a sudden burst of gold light, warrior and serpents vanished.
Leaving Lena in a pool of blood.
Wondering how she could explain everything to the cops without sounding like a nut case.