The Leaves

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
Sometimes horror lurks just outside your door.

Submitted: April 16, 2013

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Submitted: April 16, 2013

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It began on a Sunday. The Fall winds brought a chill to the afternoon air, as rust colored leaves sporadically fell from near barren trees scattered throughout the neighborhood. For sixteen-year-old Bailey Truce, this time of season only brought a list of chores and she had been stalling ever since she drew one from the job jar over a week ago. Bailey hated work in general and yard work in particular but this time her mom had had enough.

“Get up off your lazy butt, Bail” she had blatantly ordered, just before heading to the store with Bailey’s dad and younger sister in tow, “and get out and start raking that yard or you’ll be grounded not only this Saturday but the next as well!”

So on this crisp sunny afternoon, Bailey found herself in the front yard of her modest home with rake in hand. She surveyed the ground before her. What had been an evenly cut wide swatch of living green grass just over a month ago was now a yellowish stretch covered by a thick carpet of dead leaves.

I’m bored

, Bailey lazily thought before she even placed the end of the rake onto the ground.

Suddenly, the putt-putt sounds of a gas engine got her attention. Mr. Wheaton from across the street was using a leaf blower to try and corral his fallen leaves into several manageable piles. He momentarily glanced her way and waved before returning to his blowing.

Bailey half heartedly waved back. Wheaton gave her the creeps. He was always watching out his large front window whenever she and her sister would ride around the neighborhood on their bikes and last summer, she swore she saw him sneaking down the alley and trying to peek over the fence into their backyard while she was out sunning herself.

Pervert!

She decidedly and satisfactorily thought then reluctantly redirected her attention back to the task at hand. She swore the layers of leaves before her had tripled within the last few minutes but shrugged it off as she began to casually scrape at the decaying debris. She had just managed to rake together a small pile when a weak whirlwind wasted her efforts by re-scattering the leaves back across the yard.

Dammit!!!

She glanced once more towards Wheaton. It looked as if the old guy was winning the war against his leaves, as most of his yard was now clean and clear with a half dozen piles already stacked neatly across his driveway.

Bailey let out a loud sigh of frustration just before she found herself in the middle of yet another whirlwind. This one much stronger.

Her long black and pink streaked hair swirled wildly about. She closed her eyes to avoid any dust and stifled a girlish scream until the wind had dissipated. She then started to giggle over her bout with wimpiness when her right cheek suddenly throbbed with pain. She reached up then mildly freaked when some drops of blood dripped onto her finger. She knew about paper cuts but was there such a thing as a leaf cut?

Bailey guessed the cut wasn’t really life threatening, so she decided not to panic and run back inside to find a band aid. Instead, she made another attempt and was finally able to gradually rake together a small pile when she noticed the leaves were beginning to swirl around her once again, but this time she couldn’t detect the slightest suggestion of a breeze.

Weirdorama!!!

She was just about ready to give up and put the rake away when all of a sudden an ungodly scream pierced the air.

A burst of fear shivered down Bailey’s spine. The scream had come from across the street and she quickly glanced over just in time to see old man Wheaton engulfed by a thick cloud of leaves. He still had a hold of the gas blower, its engine threatening to stall, but now it seemed as if he was trying to use it as a weapon, recklessly jabbing it into the air at some invisible attacker.

Bailey giggled at the clownishness of it all, thinking he was playing some type of sick trick to get her attention, when he suddenly fell down and disappeared within a giant pile of leaves. What seemed strange wasn’t so much that Wheaton had fallen into the pile but that the leaves seemed to have piled on top of him right after he fell. Bailey immediately dropped her rake and ran across the street. She thought Wheaton had probably only stumbled or at worst passed out. She reached into her pocket for her cell to dial 911 but as she approached the exact spot where he had collapsed, the leaves began to disperse just before a second scream pierced the air. This scream, however, came from Bailey herself.

Bailey Truce screamed and screamed again, as the leaves parted to reveal the skeletonized remains of the now late Mr. Wheaton. Bailey stood frozen in fear, her muscles in a perpetual lock down. Leaves, some covered in what appeared to Bailey to be small chunks of bloodied human flesh, began to encircle her. They swirled faster and faster, around and around in a clockwise motion closing in tighter and tighter.

Bailey couldn’t catch her breath. It was as if the oxygen was being sucked out of her lungs. The leaves continued to swirl, brushing her face and neck creating a fresh series of slashes across her cheeks and chin. Intense pain quickly followed along with blood that began to drip onto her denim shirt forming randomly spotted patterns of brightly jagged hues.

What the hell is happening?!!! This is just too off the chain!!!!

Bailey, however, did know one thing; if she remained standing still, she would definitely die.

So you’d better haul your ass outta here right now, girlie!!!!

So she hauled ass, running as fast as she could back across the street and towards her front door. She didn’t glance back to see if any of the leaves had followed; she didn’t have to for there were plenty that rushed at her from all angles.

Some spun and twirled, others lashed out at her hands and arms. A few stuck to her face where they would instantly tighten down like some soggy vise. Bailey reached up and managed to peel some away but felt her skin start to painfully peel away as well. Meanwhile, the leaves on the ground reached out to wrap themselves around her feet and ankles in an attempt to trip her up and bring her down. In desperation, Bailey spastically kicked and lashed out. She knew if she should fall it would be all over, just like it had been for old man Wheaton.

As she approached her front door, a leaf found its way into her mouth. Bailey choked and gagged as it began to slowly slide down her windpipe. She opened her mouth wide and jammed her finger down her throat in an effort to throw up the intruder. She finally managed to gag herself just enough to vomit up the leaf along with some other yellowish regurgitation that thickly dripped down off her bloody chin.

One leaf flew at her and attached itself directly over her right eye, temporarily blinding her while another attempted to cover up her left before she managed to swat it away with a quick flip of her blood caked hand.

Although the front door was now only ten feet away, to Bailey it could have been ten miles. It was as if she suddenly found herself stuck in molasses, trying to run in a some slo-mo video loop.

Five feet to the door, Bailey hopped over the first short stair step onto the porch but tripped over the second. She fell hard against the front door slamming it open, then somersaulted across the threshold and fell face first onto the floor of her living room. She quickly flipped herself over and used her feet to kick the front door shut but not before a dozen or so leaves made it through the entranceway behind her.

“GET THE FUCK AWAY FROM ME!!!” Bailey screamed in utter terror as she wearily tried to crawl away. These leaves slowly began to tumble over and over eerily crawling along the carpet, inching closer and closer towards Bailey in an attempt to encircle her.

Her tears of fear began to mix with the blood on her face to create a mini river of red that trickled down her cheeks. Suddenly, overtaken by an intense anger, Bailey sat up, leaned over, and began to pound her fists wildly across the spread until the leaves had been beaten into a pulp.

She then collapsed back onto the floor in total exhaustion just as her body began to convulse and shake violently; a result of the intense stress. Eventually, she managed to calm herself down long enough to force herself back up onto her feet. She reached up and ripped the leaf off her eye and stomped on it until it was just dust, then laughed a laugh that bordered on insanity.

Meanwhile, the winds howled across the roof. Bailey then gingerly limped over to the living room window to glance outside. The leaves were still swirling about but they now seemed to be gathering along the windowsills as well. Some even frantically smashed themselves against the window glass. Bailey guessed leaves weren’t strong enough to break glass, at least she hoped they weren’t.

 

Bailey frantically searched her jeans pocket for her cell to try and call her parents but it was gone. Apparently lost during the first attack.

She knew her family had their own phones and since there were no land lines installed at her house, she had no way to call or text. She also remembered she had left her laptop in her locker back at school, so she knew she was basically screwed. Bailey began to shake uncontrollably once again, as her thoughts ran rapid.

This all must be a nightmare!!!! Just some fuckin nightmare that I’m gonna wake from any moment!!!!

She took a deep breath in an effort to clear her thoughts.

“Settle down!!” She scolded herself out loud, “Get your shit together, Bitch!!!”

Bailey tried to calmly access what she had to do next and decided she’d better check out the rest of the house. After making sure all the windows and doors were safely secured, she turned on the TV. The channels loudly hissed with dead static. She turned to the radio. Nothing. She wondered if the world had ended or she had gone mad….or both.

She set the radio’s scanner. Suddenly, a distant voice. She pressed her ear close to the speaker, as the voice drifted in and out. Bailey could only make out every other word that was being announced in a tone bordering between fear and panic.

“Seek… shelter… …immediately….authorities aware….no explanation… Military… called… plan… in… process…Again…stay… …until…… instructed…. tune… to frequency… updates… as received…. Declared… emergency… martial law….”

The voice eventually faded back into the static, so Bailey switched off the radio. The rustling and scratching at the windows of the leaves trying to get in could still clearly be heard. She closed the drapes, as if that would make the problem go away but it did make her feel a little better; at least for now.

To the bathroom she went to get the first aid kit to try and clean up her wounds. She slipped off her bloody denim shirt and dusty blue jeans, while slipping out of some slouch boots that were covered in hardened chunks of rusted mud. She now stood before a full length mirror in her Tinker Bell underwear and stared in disbelief at her pitiful reflection. A girl she no longer recognized stared back at her with pale blue hollowed eyes and a still pretty face covered in bloody bruises and zig zaged cuts. Bailey thought she looked like she had just been through hell. She quickly realized she had.

As Bailey opened the cabinet to retrieve the kit, she felt a cold draft lightly brush the back of her neck causing her to slightly shiver, just as she heard a subtle rustling sound that seemed to come from directly behind. She slowly turned about and inadvertently let out a gasp when she caught a glimpse of some leaves plastered across the back bathroom wall. She also noticed that the bathroom window was slightly ajar and silently cussed herself out, as she remembered she was the one who had accidentally left it open.

Bailey had always left it slightly cracked when she would lock herself in the bathroom to smoke a little weed in order to calm herself from the daily stress of school, family, friends, and even Aaron, her latest part time temporary boyfriend. With the help of some incense, an open window, and fresh air, the sweet pungent odor could be masked from the prying nostrils of her nosy family.

Bailey remained statue still. She attempted to slowly back out, figuring if she could just make it past the entrance she should be able to quickly slam the door shut. Step by step she inched back. She swore the leaves seemed to creep and crawl along the wall as if they were sizing her up before making their move. She had just about made it out when one of the leaves suddenly flew off the wall and tightly wrapped itself around Bailey’s throat.

She attempted to pull it off but it held fast as it tried to squeeze the very life out of her. Her face began to turn blue as she desperately gasped for air. The leaf continued to harshly grip her neck and Bailey began to feel lightheaded as her brain starved for oxygen. She knew she had to do something for it was only a matter of seconds before she would loose not only consciousness but her life.

 

The light in the bathroom grew dimmer. Bailey knew it wasn’t the bulbs but her senses that were beginning to shut down. She was teetering at the edge of unconsciousness as the leaf maintained its deadly embrace. Bailey continued to claw at it with every bit of strength she had left.

What a dumb way to die,

she stupidly realized, chocked to death by a maple leaf!

As she began to slowly subside, Bailey’s head weakly tilted down just far enough for her to catch a glimpse of her peace symbol lighter that she forgotten she had left by the bathroom sink. Then she spotted a can of aerosol deodorant. In her fading consciousness, she tried to link the two items together from some scene, in some movie, she saw sometime, somewhere with someone. She also knew this line of thinking was somehow linked to her last and only chance to survive.

So with what remaining strength she could muster, Bailey reached out and retrieved the lighter then grabbed the aerosol can. She then made a clumsy attempt to light the lighter

Flip! No flame.

Flip! Flip! A slight spark.

The leaf continued its choke hold. The other leaves stirred around excitedly before this growingly macabre scene.

Flip! Flip! Flip!

God… Damn…. lighter….!!!

Bailey weakly thought.

Flip! Flip!…...Flame!!!!

She immediately held the aerosol up by her neck and pressed the can’s plunger.

Then, as she brought the brightly flickering flame directly into the spray’s path…….FIRE FLASH!!!!!!

Ignited by the aerosol, a slim line of fire streamed out. Bailey felt the heat tingle her neck and slightly singe her hair but the leaf immediately released it grip around her throat in a desperate attempt to escape the flame.

Bailey gasped, took one deep refreshing breath, then immediately followed the leaf’s attempted path of escape. She caught it in mid-trajectory as the flame burned it into oblivion.

An instant sense of relief and revenge rushed through her body, as she laughed hysterically then quickly turned and using the aerosol can in a zigzag pattern, blasted the remaining leaves off the wall.

“BURN IN HELL!!!!!!!” she screamed, as a look of intense insanity rapidly spread across her face.

Bailey swore she could hear eerie subtle screams as, one by one, the burning leaves dropped off the wall, curled up, then rapidly evaporated into the air in a dusty mist. She released the can’s plunger and let it and the lighter fall to the bathroom floor. She quickly grabbed her toothbrush cup, filled it with tap water, then dowsed the back wall to extinguish the collateral fire.

She then calmly reached over and slammed the window shut and exhaustedly leaned back against the wall and slowly slid down onto the floor. She then gently held her bloodied face in her bloodied hands and dryly cried tears of relief.

After cleaning and bandaging her wounds, Bailey Truce slipped into some clean jeans, a new blouse, and running rides, then went into the family room to break into her Dad’s locked liquor cabinet to help herself to a swig of Jackie D. She gagged, as she fought to keep from coughing. Along the way down the booze burned, but helped steady her already frazzled nerves.

Bailey knew she still had some weed hidden in her room but decided she would save it for later. She just wished she could somehow get in contact with her parents.

Where are they? Do they know what’s happening??!! Why aren’t they back yet??!! Did the leaves get them??!!

She realized she couldn’t keep thinking thoughts like that or she would definitely go bonkola.

Bailey’s stomach ached, not from the booze but from the hunger. She knew she needed to eat but wasn’t hungry. She knew she needed sleep but couldn’t, even though she was zonked.

So she went back into the living room and flopped down onto the couch and stared into space while she silently wimpered. The hours crawled by.

Outside, the leaves continued to gather. Bailey could hear them crashing hard against the doors and scraping deeply across the windows like fingernails on an old school chalkboard. The wind continued howling. It was enough to drive a nearly insane girl… insane. She grabbed her I-Pod on the coffee table, pushed the buds deep into her ears and began to listen to a recent download of Chevelle. She punched the volume to 25. The song Sleep Apnea blasted out.

She wanted to drown out the world around her. It was the only way she had to keep from totally going over the zone.

She lay on the couch and managed to drift off to an uneasy sleep. When she finally awoke, the sun had set and her I-Pod was silent. For a second she thought it all had been a nightmare. Unfortunately, her parents and sister were still missing and the rustling continued. Bailey reached over to flip the lamp on only to discover there was now no electricity.

Oh, this is so not trope!

Cautiously feeling her way around in the dark, she made it to the kitchen and to a drawer where she found a flashlight. She tried the faucet. Only residual water eeked out.

Well, this just keep getting crunkier by the minute,

she frustratingly thought.

She flashed the light out the kitchen window to find the glass entirely plastered by hordes of leaves that reacted violently to the beam. Bailey rushed from window to window but it was all the same. The entire house seemed to be covered in a blanket of restless homicidal leaves. Her heart raced within her chest as panic, once more, began to slowly fester itself within her head.

When will this ever end?!

Bailey Truce weighed her options.

Do I stay put or do I take a chance and try to make a run for it?

She quickly decided that trying to make a run for it was pointless. She couldn’t outrun the leaves. As Bailey started to become even more depressed, she headed back into the living room for another swig of ol’Jack. This time she managed to chug down three big gulps without coughing, but began to feel light headed as the alcohol quickly took affect on her empty stomach. She plopped back down onto the couch.

It had now been over twelve hours since she had barely made it back inside her house after her first encounter with the demonic debris, and her family had yet to return.

Where in the hell are they?

She wondered, Are they dead? Their skin ripped off just like Wheaton?

That vivid memory of the old man’s fate made her almost throw up the whiskey. Quickly, she tried to refocus her mind not on what she didn’t know but on what she did.

She did know all connections to the outside world were gone. She figured she had enough canned food and bottled water to last a week, maybe two at the outside. The outside? More than likely, Bailey guessed she would never see the outside again.

She also knew that even though she had a few swallows of her Dad’s whiskey, she wasn’t totally drunk. In fact, she had never felt more clear headed in her life, which allowed her to start considering what was possible and what was probable.

 

First, the probable.

Her family was probably dead. All the neighbors, like old man Wheaton, were either dead or at least trapped inside their homes like she was. The Police? Fire Rescue? She remembered the static laden radio report that indicated this was happening everywhere, so anyone with any authority was too busy to come to her lame neighborhood to rescue some lanky little teenage girl.

Next, the possible.

Not a whole hell of a lot,

she decided.

Then the questions. The inevitable questions that began to gnaw around the edges of her consciousness.

What happens when the food and water run out? How long before I starve to death? Before I die of thirst? How cold will it get in here overnight? How long before I freeze to death?

Bailey also thought of the loneliness, both physical and psychological.

She had never been alone, really alone. Her Mom and Dad had always been around. Yeah, they had had many disagreements over the years, which resulted in some pretty intense arguments and the more than occasional grounding, but Bailey knew they loved her and she loved them. Even her little “pain in the ass” sister was always around, but not now. They were gone. All gone. Really gone. Like, in not ever coming back gone. Ever.

Bailey broke down. She missed them all so much that she began to think the unthinkable.

She knew no matter how hard she tried to conserve, she would eventually run out of food and would starve to death. She knew if she left the house, the leaves would guarantee her a horrible fate. She knew when death finally came, she would have to face it all alone. However, Bailey guessed it didn’t really matter because she no longer had anything to live for anyway.

Suddenly, with that realization she no longer felt the fear. Her depression slowly lifted, replaced by an inner peace. She finally understood that there was really only one option readily available for her and it was her only ticket out. The question was…now that she had inner peace, could she find the inner strength to do it?

 

Bailey used the flashlight to find her way into her parent’s room. In the upper closet was a box located in the back shelf. She reached up, found it, then brought the box down.

Back into the living room, she set the box down upon the coffee table, opened it and took out her Dad’s 9MM hand gun along with a loaded clip. It felt heavy in her small hands. She remembered he had once taught her how to use it if ever a life threatening situation arose. Bailey figured this definitely was one of those situations. She slowly inserted the clip and pulled back the lever. A loud “Click” indicated the first round had automatically injected itself into the chamber. She then flipped off the safety.

She sat quietly on the couch with the whiskey bottle in one hand and the gun in the other. So much liquid courage in that bottle of dark glass; so much psychological power in that piece of polymer and steel. The power of both life and death. Bailey took one more swig.

She wondered what it would feel like when you pulled the trigger, if you felt anything. Maybe, as the bullet first entered your skull but that was it. Then the nothingness of death. Although the gun frightened her, the only other option was to step outside with the leaves.

Maybe that would be the quicker death.

Outside the rustling sounds grew louder and louder.

She prayed God would understand her drastic actions and would still let her into Heaven.

She thought of leaving a note explaining her decision and let someone know how much she did love her parents and her sister and how much she would miss them and to apologize to them for sometimes being such a smart ass lazy little wanksta bitch, but decided it was all so pointless. No one would ever read it anyway, at least anyone that really mattered.

So she held the barrel up to her temple and swallowed hard. Her hand began to shake. She hoped she could hold the gun still enough to make a clean shot. She didn’t want any more pain than necessary. She hated pain.

Yes, for once everything was crystal clear. The leaves were still rustling to remind her nothing had changed.

However, she also heard something else. A low rumbling, whooshing sound from somewhere outside. Whatever it was, it was getting louder, which meant it was getting closer. Bailey also thought she heard voices in the distance. She slowly and carefully placed the gun back down on the coffee table and rushed to a window.

The leaves still blocked most of the view but she could see some shadows dance across the window glass that had been created by the flickering of fire. She could still hear whooshing, as those mysterious voices grew louder into the sound of someone shouting orders.

Bailey rushed into her sister’s room which had a window that faced the direction from where the voices seem to come. She peered out. Only a few leaves were plastered onto this glass and even those barely obstructed her view. She suddenly let out a yelp of joy at what she saw coming down the street.

Soldiers, dressed in hazmat suits and carrying flame throwers, were walking along and randomly taking aim at the leaves.

Fire whooshed out from the flame thrower’s barrels, engulfing the leaves in a swirling blaze. Bailey still swore she could hear the leaves screech out in terror as they shriveled up within the blazing heat. She quickly ran to the front door but hesitated.

Should I take a chance and open it?

Another whoosh echoed down the street.

Duh, yeah!!!

Bailey slowly opened the door to happily discover that most of the leaves were gone, burned to a crisp by the thrower’s wicked flames. Now, only a few charred pieces remained scattered and smoldering across the front yard. She hesitatingly walked out onto the steps, just as the first wave of soldiers passed by. Following close behind were some fire trucks ready to extinguish any of the wayward flames.

Exhaustedly, Bailey stepped out into the yard. She weakly waved and tried to yell for help but her voice again went silent. Instead, she just fell into the arms of two approaching firefighters, who lifted her up and carried her back to a waiting ambulance.

As she was placed onto a stretcher, a paramedic asked her name.

“Bailey….Truce,” she managed to hoarsely reply.

The paramedic turned to a cop standing nearby.

“Bailey Truce,” he repeated, as the cop glanced through a black notebook then nodded.

“Everything’s going to be okay, sweetie,” the medic reassuringly smiled, “we’re going to take you to a temporary shelter where your family is waiting.”

“They’re……. alive?” Bailey softly asked.

“Yeah,” the medic replied, “and they’re going to be thrilled to find out you are too.”

Bailey numbly nodded, as she was placed into the back of the ambulance. Glancing out the ambulance window, she spotted an almost barren oak. At the very top of this majestic tree was a solitary leaf desperately clinging on to a branch in the late night breeze.

She smiled, as she defiantly whispered, “Hang on till I get back, you little fucker, then I’ll take care of you too!!”

Bailey Truce slowly closed her eyes and tried to cry tears of joy only to discover she had no more tears to spare.

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© Copyright 2018 Mandy Tyler. All rights reserved.

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