The Scenic Route

Reads: 72  | Likes: 3  | Shelves: 0  | Comments: 4

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Invite

Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Cover image: pixabay.com.

The Scenic Route

Greta began walking along the usual route home. The boring route where she kept to the tarmac. The safe route where she was always in with a chance of a car coming along; giving her a lift if it was someone from the village.

Big if, she laughed to herself. Who else would be using this road that didn’t lead anywhere but the village she had the misfortune to call home?

Greta’s footsteps slowed until she was moving at not much more than a dawdle. She felt an intense desire to leave the road and take the more scenic route through the forest. The steepness of the climb, up and over the mountain, was the same whichever way; at least off the road she could use the trees to pull herself along.

Climbing over the fence, Greta set off, heading straight towards the trees which towered in front of her. So long as she remembered the way, she might even cut a mile off the journey.

Greta...”

She shook her head, for she was almost certain that someone had called her name. It was just the wind in the trees. Had to be, because there was no one else around foolhardy enough to be wandering the forest.

Greta shook her head. What was she doing? She knew the dangers of the ‘scenic route’ as well as anyone else. What had possessed her to leave the road?

Turning back, Greta realized that she must have walked much further than she had thought. Already the trees behind her obscured any view of the road. If she tried to turn back Greta knew she could become lost just as easily as if she carried on.

Greta...”

There it was again. That voice that was barely even a whisper called her forwards, and soon she forgot to be worried.

The further she walked through the forest the darker it became. The place was old and the height of the trees reflected this, as they towered way up into the sky. From somewhere above she heard the call of a crow, the flap of wings beating as it took to the air. Greta shuddered, then grabbed the nearest tree and propelled herself forwards.

Step after step she took, breathing more deeply as the air seemed to thin. It never seemed to do that when she walked along the road, but inside the forest Greta began to feel light-headed. She stopped, leaned forward with her hands on her knees and tried to fill her lungs with oxygen.

Greta...”

Greta...”

The whispering of her name seemed to be coming from more than one direction now. Had someone dumped some kind of chemicals in the forest? Maybe that would explain her difficulty in breathing, her audio hallucinations.

Greta scanned the ground of the forest, looking for drums or barrels, but there was not so much as a bottle in sight. Stupid, she thought. There was no way that someone could have got there with a vehicle to dump anything even if they had wanted to. It was just her imagination, that was all.

Once again dragging herself forwards, Greta decided she would just ignore the wind. She was finding it increasingly hard to think straight and she needed to concentrate or she would lose her way completely.

The ground was becoming more uneven as huge tree roots pushed up from beneath the soil. There was no choice but to slow even more, to take care over every single step. In spite of that, Greta’s foot caught on a root and it sent her sprawling forward. As she hit the dirt path she turned her head to prevent it hitting the rugged surface and it was at that moment that she noticed the soil.

A few feet in from the path the earth looked as though it had been freshly dug. An animal, that’s what it had to be. But the expanse of fresh soil was quite large. And it wasn’t the only one either, for, once she had noticed one patch, Greta soon noticed more.

If an animal had been responsible for the digging it must have been a pretty large one. For the first time Greta felt her anxiety build into full-blown fear. Hauling herself back up to her feet, she began to run. How much longer before she was through the forest? Her spirits sank as she admitted to herself that she did not have a clue.

A branch snapped in the trees to her left. Greta froze for a moment, forced herself to hold her breath so that she could hear better. There was another crack, this time coming from her left, and Greta’s head whipped round.

The light was so dim she could not really see. Still, she was almost certain that there was movement. Greta took to her heals again, hoping that she could just keep moving.

Greta...”

Greta...”

No, she told herself. It was not her name she heard. Greta began to cry out, as much as a way of drowning out the whispers as anything else. Her heart thudded in time to the pulse in her head. She could scream and no one would hear her. Better to get a grip on herself, because a panic could prove to be fatal.

Suddenly the ground in front of her began to move. Barely managing to stop before she was on the rolling soil, Greta stared in horror as a hand emerged from below the earth. She took a step backwards as the earth continued to move.

An entire arm was visible now, one that looked human, or at least one that had been at one time. Now there were patches where there was no skin, just bone, and there was no blood either.

Stifling a scream, Greta turned off the path and pushed her way between the tree trunks. She needed to hide; better yet, to climb, but the forest trees had no branches low enough for her to pull herself up by.

Greta...”

The voices were louder now. They no longer sounded like the wind whispering her name but held threat, menace. She was going to die and no one would ever find her.

As a bony hand fastened around her right wrist and another gripped her by her left ankle, she knew. These... creatures... these... zombies... were the bodies of the already missing. They were the facts behind the warning to stay away from the ‘scenic route’. And now she, Greta, was about to join them.

 

 


Submitted: March 10, 2021

© Copyright 2021 hullabaloo22. All rights reserved.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Invite

Add Your Comments:

Comments

Mike S.

Perfectly captures a panic we've all felt, Hull, excellent

Wed, March 10th, 2021 8:14pm

JE Falcon aka JEF

Woo, good one Hul.

Wed, March 10th, 2021 9:28pm

AdamCarlton

You can imagine how an earthworm feels when the moles are about.

The ominous tension builds expertly here.

Thu, March 11th, 2021 9:30am

Mark A George

Great story, Hulla! You built momentum quickly leading to a terrifying culmination. Well done.

Fri, March 12th, 2021 3:44am

Facebook Comments

More Flash Fiction Short Stories