I was a little surprised at the (lack of) distribution of votes. Some stories I though would pick up at least a few stray votes didn’t get a one. The upside of not winning is that I’m free to post my story here for Fiction Friday! Two birds with one stone makes me very happy.
If you missed it, this week’s prompt was “The Shrouded Forest” which was accompanied by this picture:
And this prompt:
“The Shrouded Forest was no place for a mortal man. Giacomo Berrien had fought and prevailed against man and beast alike in a hundred battles. Yet, he was filled with dread as he advanced into the otherworld.
They called this place the graveyard of heroes. Giacomo could smell death in the air, he could feel the tortured souls of the fallen clinging to him with every silent footfall on the damp forest floor. Had the beast not taken his son, even brave Giacomo would never have ventured here.”
We were required to incorporate the picture and/or the text in our 250-word stories. Here’s mine:
The moon-crusted mist caresses my face, alerting me to the woman—an aberration in my forest. The mothers of the dead never come.
The fallen are mine, my children folded into the fog, drooping from the crippled trees. Their howls fill the silence, their shivering light animates the night, their tears become the haze that softens the edges of my isolation. My family.
Most nights, we’re enough. Other nights, I dream I follow one of the warriors into the unbearable daylight.
When my mother vanished, I was yet slick with my first skin, every breath flush with her scent, my only sun the greenish glow of her eyes. Once she was gone, my spawn-mates surrendered to the emptiness. Not me—I’ve filled it with my pets.
Despite her age and girth, the woman strides easily through the bracken, like she expects audience, like she knows I won’t consume her.
On her, I smell the son I’d taken. “I won’t relinquish him.” I reveal myself.
She smiles. “I know. I’m sorry.” Her smile dissolves. I ready for her attack, but she only adds, “My husband is coming for him. Please, take him too.”
“I take whomever I wish,” I snarl, “even you.”
She shakes her head sadly. “Just take Giacomo.”
Above us, palsied branches rake against each other. Fingers of fog stroke my wings.
“Don’t follow him.” Her voice trembles. “As I did.”
I start to argue, but the mists peel back and the moonlight illuminates her viridescent gaze.