Time for our favorite Halloween bloghop with the writers at Write, Edit, Publish. A big thank you to Denise Covey for starting this group and to those who act as hosts. Nila, Laura, Jemi, Renee and Olga. Applauding.
To read what others have written go here.
Tagline: While mourning the loss of her beautiful neighborhood, Becca discovers something terrifying.
Becca collected her gardening tools in the garage and opened the automatic door to the front of her home. She stopped in the driveway to gaze across the street. The beautiful neighborhood that she and Charlie had moved into five years ago was gone. They’d chosen this small development because each house was well cared for and had beautiful landscaping. Now, not a single neighbor’s house remained except a few several blocks away.
First came the fires a little over a year ago, replacing the scent of fragrant blooms with billowing hot smoke that threatened to suffocate her. Everyone had been evacuated, and the news played twenty-four hours in the shelter where they’d stayed so they could keep an eye on the fire.
Once the fire was out, they returned home. Every home in the neighborhood was spared, but the high California hills behind her neighbor’s houses were burned barren. Heartbroken, she’d reminisced about peering through her binoculars at the top of those lush hills and viewing all the wildlife, now gone.
Then, last spring, the rains came. A record downpour lasting several days and ended when a mudslide crashed down on those homes across the street from hers. All in the middle of the night. She and Charlie woke to sirens and hurried to their large double-pane front window. The mud had almost crossed the street to their own front lawn. Not one of her neighbors had survived. She’d helped the rescuers as much as possible, but they refused to let her dig in the mud, so she opted to feed them breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And like the shelter, she served donuts, but hers were homemade. She loved cooking, and her home carried the scent of her many creations. Charlie bought beer to go with the dinners at the end of the day. And by the time she’d done all those dishes and was relaxing with her feet up, that beer was a welcome thirst quencher.
Now, as she gazed across at the once beautiful homes and gardens of her neighbors, she saw only devastation. Mounds of mud had buried the homes. The rescuers had dug it out, leaving behind part of the house, sticking up in broken boards, plywood, shingles, and glass. The smell was of earth and a kind of mold, if you could believe it. Becca had never smelled anything like it before. Rancid and full of decay. Because of it, she didn’t open her windows, even when evening brought a cool breeze to cleanse the world of the summer heat.
She knelt, rolled up the pink sleeves of her blouse, and began to weed. There were always weeds. It was a constant struggle, but since she loved gardening, she didn’t mind. The bees were busy moving from her purple phlox to the daisies and coneflowers. Each flower reaching toward the sun, displaying a delicate dance when the breeze rustled their petals, releasing their scent and surrounding Becca with joy.
She struggled with the roots of a stubborn weed when she heard a strange kind of sucking noise followed by a swish plop. She sat back on her heels and stared at her reflection in the window. Suck, swish, plop again. The air brought the toxic muddy scent to her. Becca turned. Coming across the street toward her were creatures, unlike anything she’d ever seen before. Their arms and legs were double-jointed and pushed out like spiders. Their round heads wobbled back and forth, and their yellow eyes stared at her. Globs of mud dripped from their bodies resulting in the plopping noise when it hit the pavement.
She dropped the gardening tool and stood, turning to fully face them. One, two, three, she counted. Like giant spiders, they advanced. Their movements were slow. Four, five, six…eleven. She stopped counting and backed up toward the open garage door. All the while, she heard the swish and plop and then the sucking noise as they lifted their feet from the pavement. As she stared, one of them stood like a human, and its front legs became arms with long fingers and no hand. It dripped mud from its long digits. They all dripped mud leaving behind blotches of sludge where they’d been. The goo oozed with popping bubbles, and then she saw the patches of mud spread out to rise up as another monster.
Her heart made a staccato rhythm that hurt her chest. The air was filled with choking decay. Finally, she turned and fled to the garage door that led inside the house. A roar was added to the clamor of their movement, and she turned, pressing the garage door’s button to lower it. When she did, they were all stood, their mouths open to issue yet another howl.
Becca was a practical person. She’d never screamed in her life. But she screamed now as the mud spiders launched themselves and landed on her body. Her scream was hushed when one of them slid its head into her open mouth.
Word count 840
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N. R. Williams
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The Beginning of a Legend, A Chronicles of Gil-Lael Novella
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