Scheherazade

 

cabin in woods

 

Marilyn heard the hiss as the air left the tire. Oh, great. Here she was on the road to nowhere, her cell phone had no bars, and now she had a flat tire. Coming to a stop, she peered out into the darkness. The only thing that could possibly make this trip any better would be running out of gas, she thought, remembering that she’d passed the last opportunity to fill up a long time ago. As if on cue, the engine coughed and died. She turned the key again and again, but no reassuring thrum responded. Darn it, how could she have been so stupid!

She’d been on the way to a writers’ conference to receive an award for the latest book in her best-selling Fluffy Bunny series. It was ironic, everyone agreed, that she was so good at writing children’s books when she had no kids of her own. Beside her on the seat was a box of autographed copies of Fluffy Bunny Finds a Friend. 

It had obviously been a mistake to assume her GPS was her friend. Listening to the crisp British voice she called Queen Liz, she’d obeyed directions to turn onto this road even though it looked spooky and deserted. Now she was stranded. Okay, she’d just have to walk. She reached for the handle as the door was yanked open.

Marilyn felt herself propelled forcefully from the car. She opened her mouth to scream, but no sound came out. As she’d always feared, she wasn’t able to produce a peep in a crisis, let alone a full-throated movie scream. Struggling against the iron grip on her arm did no good at all. Eyes straining, she tried to see her assailant, but it was too dark to make out anything but a shadowy figure in a hoodie.

“Let me go,” she managed to squeak. “Who are you? Let go of me.”

The hand on her arm tightened. She was half-carried, half-dragged into the bushes that lined the road. He’s going to kill me, she thought, and nobody will ever know what happened to me because no one knows I’m here.

But they kept going. As they scrambled through the woods a faint light appeared, too dim to be powered by electricity. It was coming from the window of a cabin. Maybe somebody would hear her if she yelled.

“Help!” She managed a good, strong shout.

The figure beside her snorted a laugh. He dragged her to the door of the cabin, opened it and threw her inside. She lay stunned on the floor, seeing her captor at last by the light of a single, guttering candle.

Why, he was a kid – big, strong and obviously dangerous, but something in his eyes told her a child lived within. He covered his mouth with his hand and looked away.  Like the dog that catches a car, he didn’t seem to know what to do with her now that he had her.

Marilyn sensed what happened next was up to her. Fighting back the fear that made her legs feel like noodles, she got to her feet slowly and sat on the only chair in the room. Her captor hunkered down with his back against the door, eliminating any hope of her making a run for it.

She tried a shaky smile that felt like a grimace. “What’s your name?”

He shook his head.

“I have a son about your age,” she lied. “Do you have a mom?”

He shook his head again.

She took in their surroundings: dirt floor and log walls, straight wooden chair on which she sat, rickety table, and a pile of filthy blankets in the corner. She saw a life of isolation, a life of aching loneliness. Hunger came off him in waves, but she had a hunch it wasn’t for food. Here was a person starved for human contact.

Then, like Scheherazade, she began to save her own life. She sat up straight, smiled genuinely at the little boy she knew was there, and spoke in her own mother’s voice.

“My name is Marilyn. I’m going to tell you a story.”

12 thoughts on “Scheherazade

  1. Another charming bit of flash, and much enjoyed. Thank you! My only quibble, if it even rises to that level is the title. I’d have gone with “Shhh, Hairy Shade.” Then I’d sit back and wait to see who got it. [Grin]

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  2. I like how you didn’t go where I thought you might. I’m curious why he grabbed her. Was it a rescue? Is he an elective mute? What happens when the sun comes up? So many places to go. Or not. Its good and tight the way it is right now, too.

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    • I give myself a little pat if people want to know more about a flash fiction story. This must be one of those pieces that begs for another chapter. Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. You can’t leave this one here Ms. Reidy, there is a full-grown story looming just behind this beginning and to borrow Marylyn’s vernacular, it’s a darn good one.

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  4. Wow, Wow, Wow…and yes, you do need a sequel. I’m sure you hooked a lot of people with this story. I’ll be looking for the next chapter or book — whichever it becomes.

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