UNEARTHLY UPCHUCK

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
A couple of Berkeley foodies become the target of an unearthly epicurean.

Submitted: June 07, 2016

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Submitted: June 07, 2016

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UNEARTHLY UPCHUCK

Flash Fiction

Nicholas Cochran

 

A ragged thunder tumbled through the hills toward Angela and Alex while they scrambled for shelter from the imminent downpour.

“Here, Angie, see,” pointing to the series of small cave openings that were barely visible in the cliff face above them, “there’s a path over here.” Alex reached back for her gloved hand and pulled her to him.”

 “Thanks,” panting, “hope it isn’t too much farther; I’m getting a cramp in my stomach again; maybe acid reflux.”

“No; it’s not bad; here’s the path,” and he pulled her to his left where a thin trail had been worn in the stony earth, “here we are; just grab the back of my belt; and watch your footing.”

Angela Mason later realized that not being able to see past the forest-green-clad rump of Alex Martell was the only way she could have reached that first cave.

Even after sitting down just inside the cavity, when she looked back along the route to their roost, she felt a rush of vertigo.

The storm had broken as they reached their shelter; lightning cracked from every point in the roiling sky; wind-driven rain slapped the park with vicious power; thunder boomed from directly above their position, convulsing both of them as well as rocking the cave.

They instinctively grabbed for each other and held one another with a flinty tenacity.

Angela and Alex had been to Tilden Park many times before; walking; running; sometimes picnicking.

They had often taken the Stream Trail and wondered about the cave openings high on the western cliff.

The cliffs overlooked the trail as well as the tops of the huge cedars that lifted their crowns from streamside to just below the mouths of the caves.

“Wow!” Angie blurted and pulled herself closer to Alex.

“Yeah; man that was really close; sounded like it was right over us, don’t you think” and he returned Angie’s extra pull.

Angela was a sophomore at Cal majoring in English with a minor in Agri-Food Systems with the thought of entering the food-job market.

Angie was an extremely lovable person: medium height; desired weight; a soft shade of dark hair that went very well with her medium coloring. However, Angie’s allure was solidly centered in the shape and color of her eyes.

They were slightly slanted in form, with the irises featuring simmering sparkles of green.

Alex had only to look into her eyes at that first meeting, and he was hers.

Alex was that unusual person who came across as a well-rounded young man who was taking time out from real life to get an education while enjoying his neighborhood in the universe.

 He was taller than most, with a full head of thick black hair, dark eyes and a strong chin. With him, it was his voice that you noticed first.

Alex’s voice was the type that gets your attention; not in a negative way, nor in a haranguing way; but in a warm comforting way.

Alex had decided to pursue a graduate degree in Agri-Systems once his undergrad days had finished.

Alex had met Angie at one of the undergrad food seminars: cooking.

They were dedicated foodies, tasters, and gourmets.

In conversation, when asked the question about his future plans, Alex would smile and say that he wasn’t quite to that point in life where a decision could be based on anything solid. He was waiting for some signs pointing out his direction in life, but was determined to settle somewhere in the food community.  

 

Abruptly, the wind changed direction and was now blowing curtains of rain against, as well as into, the mouth of the cave.

Angie and Alex instinctively scooted back a good ten feet from the opening; and from that point of relative comfort and safety, they moved back another twenty feet.

From their new vantage point, they both remarked that the opening resembled a huge gaping mouth.

Silently, they also experienced the spine-freezing sensation that somehow this stone cavity was alive; and that they were up for its next meal.

Then Alex said this aloud because he wanted Angie to realize that she was all right and that it was silly to think of caves as being anthropomorphic.

Nevertheless, he added that he had no plans to begin exploring the murky space behind them.

At that particular moment, Alex’s preference was truly the best decision, for if he had turned around and peered into the eerie gloom of their enclosure, his dark hair may well have turned white.

Moments later, Angie did turn and looked over her shoulder but immediately turned forward.

Although the deep murk had revealed nothing to her eyes, she did feel almost a stabbing pain in her stomach, and her stuttered breathing drew a concerned question from Alex.

“Are you okay, Angie; you don’t look so good; is it something you ate; are you sick?” and he put a large arm around her thin shoulders. Angie could only shudder.

Without warning, the outline of the cavity was revealed by a jagged dagger of lightning.

Suddenly, from far behind them, a rapidly-rising roar raced right up to their backs; the mouth of the cave began to close; thunder boomed; the walls of the cave quickly clamped to within a foot of their position; Angie and Alex screamed in terror.

 

Only a few of their very closest friends believed Angie and Alex when they swore that:

“We thought we were going to be eaten; by the cave. Instead; it spit us out; or barfed us out.

“We landed on the tops of the cedars by the stream on the Stream Trail. Then, after the storm passed, the Rangers got us down.”

Yeah, right . . .

However a friend, Kreig Kroot, did nod his head, in either disbelief or belief, before he announced:

“Well, I ran that trail this morning—the Stream Trail—and there is definitely one less cave there; or opening; something; whatever. Not there. Gone.”


© Copyright 2017 Nicholas Cochran. All rights reserved.

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