From the Mist

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic

A short story inspired by a picture prompt from Hullabaloo22.

Into the forest, Seras stared. Numerous orbs, large and robust, floated on the breeze between the trees, and a veiled haze grazed along underneath. She wondered what the haze was and watched as a few super orbs ruptured one by one, releasing the misty substance like a coating of thick fog. She donned her mask; this mist would not faze her if she could help it.

A small cry echoed from the darkness ahead, and the rustling of leaves carried on the air to her ears. 'Twas a rabbit. Its furry and loveable body rolled down the hill bumping her foot. Presumably, it had been on its way to its burrow, but the misty substance had claimed the creature as a victim. Seras leaned down to check its body. The rabbit's heart raced under its fur, thumping like a concerto on steroids. She prayed it would survive.

Seras pulled her bow from its harness. She knew it wouldn't destroy the haze, but she could create an air current by swinging it ahead of her—touching the mist could be as harmful as breathing it. She couldn't chance it, and guessing the ill effects of the substance wasn't something she'd trust politicians to do much less herself.

Moving forward, she kept an eye on the orbs. I wonder if they have sentience. None seemed to follow her, but the thought remained present in her mind. If they were, they played at being dumb extremely well. Most of the orbs floated along like mold spores riding the breeze, but some showed erratic behavior, bobbing and weaving as if controlled and losing power. A crosswind, maybe, she thought. Nah, it couldn't be that obvious, right? She passed the thought from her mind. Thinking like this always boosted her fear factor and made her react badly in situations like this.

Several smaller orbs began bumping into each other, growing in size. Oh, God, they can get bigger! Her eyes widened. Seras swung her bow in front of her. The motion swept the air into currents that floated the nearer orbs away, but she saw the shift in the motion of others further up as they drew her way. She searched for a different path, but trees blocked her flank. She whirled her bow ahead of her in small circles. The air from it pushed against the orbs closing in directly ahead. Many were the size of her fists. Her heart raced.

Seras knew she needed to move faster. Being trapped in the haze of killer spores wasn't a lovely idea at all. Her bow fanned as she shifted her wrists to make the motion. Several spores got sucked into a whirl of air and began to move into the space she had created. She almost froze, yet swiftly stepped toward the current and slid through it beyond the reach of the spore squadron moving in.

She glanced back as she plodded up the hill. The orbs collided, merging and coalescing into a huge globular mass, then they reformed into their original shape, only larger, and with their spiky, surface tendrils. They all had them—the spikes. It made them look wicked and sinister. The haze floating around just added more atmosphere. She shivered at the thought of it all. The humongous orb bumped into a tree, erupting and joining the haze.

The haze thin as she moved up the hill, yet she still fanned the bow in front of her. A few stray bits of haze had layered her boots. I'll have to wash that off if I can find a river or something, she thought.

The leaves under her feet crunched from her weight, and some small twigs snapped as she stepped across the top of the hill. What was that? Her head spun. Her eyes noticed a shaded streak darting through the mist beyond her range. The hilltop was strangely barren of the mist and orbs, but its presence still hung in the air a good fifty feet around her. She nocked an arrow. The strange shadow still shifted from time to time. Seras followed it with her bow, her breath increasing at the added level of uncertainty.

Being hunted wasn't what she had wanted when she agreed to do this expedition for her father. His failing health had made it impossible for him to explore anymore, but he implored his youngest daughter to retrieve a certain item for him—one that might bring back his health and vigor. It was known to exist but only in one place—the Isle of Beasts—Bangalor. The item—a rare bloom of rose known as the Fire Spark. Seras wanted more than anything to see her father vibrant and moving again, but he hadn't mentioned the different monsters she'd have to face just to get to the location of the bloom.

This creature, whatever it was, wasn't known to anyone. The others had been easy, almost nonsensical. Salamander Squirrels, Boorish Bulls, and the infamous Giant Jackrabbit with orange-red fur were all just mutations of normal critters that roamed all over the land of Aramos. They were larger, of course, and intimidating, especially the Salamander Squirrels. Their ferocious barking was more than enough to frighten the crap out of anyone. Being as big as a dog was also a major factor. She had wondered why they even called them Salamander Squirrels until one spit a fiery nut her way, causing a small explosion behind her as she walked by.

Now, she was facing something new. This beast wasn't on the list of monsters to face; neither was the mist and the spores. Her bow remained in front of her taut and ready to fire. The hair on her neck rose with her tension. The shadow skirted the edge of the mist, moving with great speed but never causing it to part or break. Seras was getting agitated.

"Come on out, you bastard!" She yelled as a bead of sweat ran down her forehead. The shadow stirred again. Seras fired the arrow she had ready, letting it fly into the mist, quickly pulling another out and readying it for another volley. The shadow paused long enough for her to see its outline. She wished she hadn't seen it.

A gleam of red sparkled through the mist—two little gleams, actually, like the eyeshine of some animals. Seras' skin erupted in goosebumps. But, it wasn't the eyeshine that had caused it but the actual shape of the creature. Skeletal, sinewy, and moving a bit erratically, it looked like a rabbit standing on its hind legs. But, that couldn't be, she thought. There are no creatures like that in all of Paramore. Not even in the myths and legends.

Her heart skipped a beat. The bow she held started to shake from uncertainty and fear. The entity emerged from the eerie glow of the mist. Slowly, it glanced around. Small jerky motions accompanied its limbs and head as if it was dead but still trying to move. Seras nearly screamed but held her tongue. Her lips trembled from terror. Her fingers released the string, letting a whistling arrow soar forth and find its mark.

Thwack! The arrow embedded itself into the chest of the darkened skin monstrosity. It jerked forward. Its eyes focused on her thin frame standing in the clearing. Its jaws opened, releasing a howl that shrieked and pierced her eardrums with an unexpected shrill. Her blood pounded through her veins, and she froze as it began to move toward her. Her eyes closed, expecting death instantly.

A heavy breathing vapor floated across her face. It reeked of fish and milk, and the wet rough feel of sandpaper streaked across her nose. Suddenly, a thump from something swatted her forehead. Seras cautiously opened her eyes. Her cat sat next to her, staring at her face.

"Meowr," he greeted her with his usual good morning, seemingly unaware of his master's night terror.

"Great Scot, Magnus, you saved me from a horrible one this time." Seras reached up, scratching him behind the ear. Then, the light from a passing car rolled across her window, and her nightmare's shadow appeared on the wall. Magnus hissed.

 

 

 

 


Submitted: May 06, 2020

© Copyright 2022 A.K.Taylor. All rights reserved.

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Comments

hullabaloo22

This was a brilliant tale of sci-fi/fantasy. You gave it a steady build-up of intensity with some really excellent descriptions. I liked the way you managed to include the rabbit!
A great use of the picture!

Wed, May 6th, 2020 10:01am

Author
Reply

Thanks, Hully. Given the fact that this image is a concept artwork of Lara Croft from the Tomb Raider game series, I started to go with that aspect of it but chose to give her a different persona based on a Skyrim character I created. I think it worked out pretty well.
Aside from my Nightmare Bunny incorporation, this could be the start of a decent short story that I might pursue one day.

Sat, May 9th, 2020 3:21am

Celtic-Scribe63

Great attention to detail and letting us know how our protagonist was feeling, brought this alive. nice work.

Thu, May 7th, 2020 7:25pm

Author
Reply

Celtic-Scribe63, I seriously appreciate the read on this. Your comment is praise, my friend. Completing a novel and editing it has helped develop my skill for detail and story-telling. I'm still trying to finish editing that novel but I've gotten a lot faster and better with all aspects of writing thanks to it.

Sat, May 9th, 2020 3:30am

Sharief Hendricks

I did not see the photo that inspired this little awesome adventure Seras found herself in A K Taylor, but I absolutely loved the intensity and the thrilling atmosphere with the amazing images you conjured up in my head that lead to the ultimate climactic confrontation with the foul beast...than Magnus saved the day ...or did he...

Loved it !!!

Tue, October 13th, 2020 11:55am

Author
Reply

Thanks, Sharief. I tried to hunt down the picture prompt it came from in the Imaginarium forum, but apparently, it was deleted. The foul beast as you mentioned has origins in a set of short stories on my portfolio if you want to read more entries with its likeness depicted. This link will direct you toward the bulk of them I collected into one book. More may be added later but for now, this is the first 6 or 7 stories with the entity known as The Nightmare Bunny.

He is my coolest character so far I've created, in short stories that is.

Tue, October 13th, 2020 5:03pm

Archia

I was not expecting that twist at the end. It makes me wish my cat would be nice instead of tearing holes in the sheets until he gets fed. I really like the tension you built up in this, it was very strong. I liked that all the creatures mentioned are like normal animals but exaggerated. I think it makes it very dream-like because we're more likely to dream about things we know than things we don't.
The last line did feel a little off, it was almost not shocking enough. The idea of it is shocking, but the words didn't relay that feeling, the comment was too offhand.
Anyway, I really enjoyed your story, it was very thrilling and built up well to the point where I expected her to get torn to shreds but didn't. And the end has that anticipation that maybe it wasn't just a simple dream.

Sat, October 17th, 2020 3:01am

Author
Reply

The twist at the end is something I've done with almost all the stories featuring this creature. I'm afraid I've probably overdone that particular aspect with this type of setting. Having read back over this story, I realize now I can bring the intensity up a few more levels with an awesome rewrite.

Magnus was only doing what most cats do. Or at least that's how I was intending it to feel. It was just his timing of his interaction with Seras being perfect to rouse her from the dream. Or did it?

Thanks for the review, Archia. Your feedback on the last part and some tense issues I saw when reading back over it have spurred me to re-do it. The Remastered Version will be out shortly. Hehe

Fri, October 16th, 2020 8:33pm

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