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It's not so much a blood-and-guts horror as a psychological horror-A young and slightly disturbed girl is in danger of a hermit's wrath

Submitted:May 13, 2008    Reads: 216    Comments: 5    Likes: 5   

The first leaf
I always loved it, the first leaf of autumn.
The first to touch the lawn, I would always keep. When my dad was alive, he would say that every leaf was someone's summer memory that had faded away and fell onto the dry grass.
But Dad wasn't here anymore, and he was also a memory of mine that had faded. All I can truly remember is his red, purple and green Fremantle scarf.
I toss the same scarf over my shoulder as a breeze whistles over the pavement. In the chilly morning, the only noise is my slow puffs of air.
And someone's whirring gears of their bike.
Tracy does her trademark skid, leaves crackling beneath the worn tyres.
"Up so early?"
I looked at her. "I'm always up early."
She shrugs.
"Ah, well. There's Kate for you."
I smile and run inside to get my bike. A few minutes later, we are chatting like old friends.
Tracy and I are old friends.
She's like my Siamese twin, and she even claims that her first word was "Kate!" I told her that it must have been "Nail Polish!"
Today her nails are red, orange and yellow.
"To match the leaves." She explained.
We pull in to the swamp, and leave our bikes out the front. Even though the swamp is usually a stunning green, even the lush leaves that brushed against my face were slowly turning a golden brown.
The swamp was overgrown because only one person lived in it; the hermit.
He dwelled in a cobwebbed shack with a rusty tin roof, and no windows. Some kids say that he's a wizard. Some say he's a million years old. And some say there is no old man living in the swamp.
But I've seen him.
He's hobbled, and wears a sack, but it's the eye…the eye that scares me. It's a glass eye and it's so grey and cold that it's almost as though you can see deep, deep into his empty soul.
"Kate! Kate…come here…" Tracy called.
I stepped cautiously towards the pond where Tracy was.
I looked at it. "It's a lock. Here, you have it." I passed it to Tracy.
Her face shriveled up. "Eeew! It's rusty." She tossed it behind her shoulder. "Rubbish." She muttered.
As I turned around, an almighty crash shook through the shrubbery.
We turned around to see the hermit's tin shack destroyed.
I gasped. "Tracy! You knocked down the shack!"
"So what?" Tracy said, doubtfully. "It's just a shack."
"No, it isn't."
We turned to spot the old hermit, dressed in a sack. He took an aggressive stance, fists balled. And the glass eye, it glared at me, sending shivers down my spine.
"Tracy…" I whispered, moving back to the road, but Tracy stood frozen in fear. The hermit hobbled furiously towards us.
"It's my house! My House! You vandals! I'll kill you!" he roared hoarsely, as Tracy found her footing and tumbled after me.
"I will have your blood! Don't run!" the old man screeched as we ran.
We raced blindly forward. I don't know how many times I fell, or how many times Tracy fell. She's not as fast as me, and when the road was in sight, Tracy tumbled over her knees.
"Kate!" she sobbed. "I can't g-get up…Kate!"
She stretched one decorated hand out towards me, as the hermit closed in.
My world was crashing down.
I tried to find an answer; "When I fell over, dad said…"
"I don't care about your stupid dad!" Tracy screamed.
Everything paused.
At least I thought it did.
You see so many things when you're hurt. I could see Tracy's face fall as she realized that she had made a fatal mistake. I could see the cold look in the hermit's eye- a mixture of "Thankyou." and "Leave before I kill you." but mostly "I'm disgusted."
And that's when I ran.
As I rode my bike back up the hill, I saw Tracy's bike. It would be there for a long time.
And every window I passed seemed to be full of accusing eyes.
And then I saw it. The first leaf. It had Tracy's footprint on it.
But I suppose dad was right. She's just a summer memory now…The End?


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