“Come on Alex, Grandad’s waiting.” Alex’s mum pulled him through the hospital corridor by his hand as he looked around and tried to see what was going on. They had taken a wrong turn and Alex’s mum was stressing about the whole situation.

“I don’t see why they had to move him Harold. It’ll only agitate him more.” Alex was struggling to keep up as they rushed down the small corridors.

“You know fine well he should have his own room Claire.” Harold, Alex’s dad, was huffing at their rush to Alex’s grandad’s new room.

“Well I’ll be making sure to question Dr Lawrence about this.” Claire turned on her heel and entered a small room. The boys followed her inside to be met by Dr Lawrence, a tall jolly man, and a small foreign nurse. She smiled at Alex when he saw her and gestured him over to the bed.

“Your Grandad has been asking for you all morning! Talks about you a lot. Says you two have a special secret.” The nurse gave Alex’s grandad a ‘I should be disapproving but I’m really finding this quite funny’ look and poured him some water.

Alex bounced on the side of his grandad’s bed. The old man had grown paler since Alex had last been in and seemed to be sleepy.

“Grandad? Guess what? I won that football game I was telling you about. You should’ve seen me, Mum said I was definitely the best there and she doesn’t even understand football.” Alex blabbered on about his winning goal and his teammates as his grandad listened intently.

“Who would’ve thought eh? Tripped over the ball more times than he could kick it,” Grandad grinned even though his eyes showed his exhaustion.

Alex giggled and his grandad laughed whole heartedly. Alex’s parents were talking to Dr Lawrence, concerned looks on their faces.

Alex’s grandad beckoned him to come closer. A mischievous look covered his face. “I’ll tell you something for nothing son, your parents think I’m losing my head. More fool them, I’m as sharp as I’ve ever been. They won’t get rid of me this time!” Alex’s grandad placed his hand firmly on Alex’s shoulder and pretended to the rest of the room that they’d just shared a joke.

“Alex, your Dad and I have to go sign some paper work with Dr Lawrence. Will you be okay here with Grandad for a while?” His mum was bent over looking Alex in the face, her hand on his back.

“Of course he will!” Alex’s grandad answered for him and Alex nodded.

His parents left the room and Alex’s grandad paused for a moment as he watched the door. Once the coast was clear Alex’s grandad unleashed his cunning plan.

“Alex, they want to off me here, think I’m ill and I’m delusional. We’ve got to get out of here son, they’ll off me if we don’t.” He spoke quickly and his eyes darted around. Alex’s puzzled look reflected his understanding.

His grandad sighed. “Okay. Let’s make it a game then. Let’s see if we can get out of here without your parents noticing, yeah?”

This option appealed to Alex much more and he nodded with excitement. Alex bounced onto the bed and looked at his Grandad expectantly.

“I want you to go have a peek out the door and tell me if you see anyone.” His grandad gestured towards the door with his finger. Alex galloped over and slowly opened the door. He stuck his head out a little and looked both ways down the hallway. He could see one nurse sitting at a reception desk typing away to his left and a hallway with double doors at the end to his right.

Alex shut the door and turned to his grandad. “We can go that way Grandad,” Alex’s excited tone was met with his grandad nodding assertively. He grumbled as he got into a seated position and Alex ran across to help him move feet to meet the floor.

“Okay son, we’ve got this. Just don’t let your parents see us.” He was close to Alex’s face and looking him straight in the eyes. He paused as his gaze flickered from Alex’s left to his right eye quickly.

He smiled and stood up tall.

“Time to go.”

Alex tiptoed towards the door and his grandad shuffled closely behind him.

“Shhh!” Alex turned to his grandad with his hand on the door. Alex’s grandad mirrored Alex with his finger on his lips and tried to look smaller.

The pair crept into the hallway and started towards the double doors. Alex peered over his shoulder towards the nurse’s desk. She was on the phone making large gestures, pen in hand. Alex nudged his grandad to hurry up. He hobbled forward a huge smile on his face.

As they reached the double doors Alex’s grandad pinned himself against the wall, out of sight through the doors windows. Alex looked at him and giggled. He approached the door and stood on his tiptoes to peer through.

“I can’t see anyone Grandad,” Alex whispered.

“Excuse me?” The nurse had noticed them.

Alex froze in his place and his grandad looked at the floor searching for an excuse.

She came around the reception desk and walked towards them.

“I just need some air, the lads taking me outside.” His grandad smiled at her and walked through the doors before she could reply, pushing Alex through.

Alex’s grandad picked up his pace once through the door and quickly took the first hallway to the left. Alex giggled.

“I like this game. Do you think Mum will be mad at us?”

His grandad didn’t answer as he peered around the corner to see if the nurse was following them. After the coast was clear he turned to Alex and grinned.

“No,” he blew air out of his mouth as he spoke, “she’ll find it funny too.”

They continued down the hallway towards the exit.

“…so we’re looking at surgery?”

Alex’s grandad halted in his tracks and placed his hand on Alex to stop him. Alex could hear his Dad’s voice coming from a room in front of them.

“Unfortunately it’s his only option. At his age there’s always a risk but we do need to operate and soon.”

Alex looked up at his grandad, confused. His grandad’s face had a dark and worried look cast over it.

“Grandad?”

He shook himself and a determined look appeared on his face. “Let’s go Alex.”

There was a straight pathway to the exit and Alex could see cars passing by. He was close to running now with the speed his grandad was going. Hospital staff were passing by them not paying much attention. Alex turned around to see if his parents had noticed them. When he turned back around Alex walked into someone. Upon looking up, Alex was faced with a tall young doctor.

“Oh, hello there little guy,” he smiled at Alex. Looking to his grandad for approval, Alex was met with a ‘play along’ look. He smiled back at the doctor and turned to walk away.

“Are you two alright?” His question was directed more to Alex’s grandad.

“Yes, yes, fine son. Best be off.” He grabbed Alex’s hand and they strode towards the exit. They were almost out the door when a voice called out to Alex.

“Alex! Get back here!” Alex’s parents were racing down the corridor towards them. Immediately Alex’s grandad dropped his hand and raced out the door to a nearby bus shelter. The bus was preparing to leave and his grandad leapt aboard using his hand to encourage the driver to shut the door.

Alex’s parents ran past him and he wanted them try to catch the bus. His grandad grinned and waved from his seat and turned to face forward.

Alex’s dad through his hands in the air in defeat. “It was an appendix surgery, that’s it! Silly old man.” His mum was ranting and raving on the phone. Alex watched the chaos and sat on the beach opposite the bus shelter. He smiled smugly to himself.

Clay dragged his feet along the gravel path. The road that sat parallel to it was now home to his old beaten up Jeep.

“Stupid piece of crap,” he muttered to himself as he looked over his shoulder with a scowl. Clay focused straight forward towards the nearest town, remaining completely ignorant to his scenic surroundings.

He should’ve guessed that today of all days his car would break town; it was the tip of the iceberg. His work was becoming unbearable with his horrible boss and suck-up co-workers and today Clay had really let them know how he felt. At the morning meeting Clay listened to all of the business jargon about targets and sales and so on and sat in his chair, deflated. It wasn’t until the topic of bonuses was brought up did Clay start to take interest. His boss, Mr Ramsay, had ‘regretfully’ told his staff that their bonus may need to be cut. Ramsay had acted torn up about it but Clay could see through his fake sincerity. Clay exploded and threw some harsh words around in the heat of the moment. He’d stormed out and headed home and this was how he now found himself storming away from his car.

Clay ran his hand through his sandy blonde hair and blew air out his mouth. He dreaded to think about his next step in life.

His literal next step was echoed with wail. Clay whipped his head around towards woods which lay beyond a grassy field to his right hand side. Clay could faintly make out a female figure with long bright auburn hair and a dark green cloak. He turned his body towards her and squinted, his full attention captured. She began to wave him in a beckoning way towards her. Without thinking Clay started walking.

Clay passed through the long green grass of the field and stumbled towards the woman. The closer he got the more he could see of her. She was tall and slender and her pale skin contrasted to her fiery hair. Clay was now within twenty feet of her and as he walked he was trying to understand what was happening. She kept looking behind her into the wood and then back to Clay. He picked up his pace and called over to her.

“You alright?” He immediately scolded himself for the uninventive greeting.

Clay was now face to face with her. Her deep green eyes were wide and dominated the soft features on her face.

“My dog, I’ve lost him in the forest,” her voice was earthy and cracked as she spoke. She looked down to the ground and back up at Clay a sense of desperation in her eyes. “Could you possibly help me look?”

He was memorised by her raw beauty. That, and he was a sucker for a damsel in distress.

“Of course, lead the way.” He gestured into the forest and she spun around and headed in.

“So, what kind of dog is he?” Clay walked beside the woman and turned his head towards her as he waited for an answer.

“He’s a Jack Russell,” she smiled having quickly calmed down, “I think he saw a rabbit or something.”

Clay let out a small smile. He was pleased with how his day had turned around to his current situation.

“I’m Clay by the way,” he extended a hand towards her. She touched his hand and shook it in a fashion that was soft yet firm like a warm evening wind.

“I’m Summer.” Before she’d finished speaking a huge grin spread across her face, a mysterious flicker in her eyes. Clay found himself smiling back.

They continued into the forest, looking all around for the small dog. All around them were bright green bushes and old oak trees. Clay looked up towards the treetops. They allowed for some of the warm sunshine and heat of the day to creep through and the shadows that were created danced along the forest floor. Summer caught him looking up and down.

“Beautiful isn’t it?” Clay moved from looking at the ground to meeting her eyes. She was searching his face as she waited for an answer.

“Yeah, it really is.” She smirked and pointed in front of them.

“I think I saw something there.” She was indicating towards a denser area of the wood in the distance. They both picked up their pace.

“Is it normally like him to run off?” Clay asked, faking interest. Summer chuckled.

“Yeah, I guess it is.”

As they walked further into the forest their surroundings grew darker and the greenery that once surrounded them turned brown. Clay eyed up Summer while they walked. She really was exquisite. The dark green cloak floated around her while her hair bounced off her back. Clay was conscious that his work attire was pretty standard and unimpressive. He hoped she wasn’t too judgmental.

They reached a clearing in the forest. The ground around them was dirt and dead branches. Clay looked around searching for the dog. Perhaps if he could find it Summer would be grateful and would offer to see him again. Clay’s eyes were drawn to a fallen over large tree. The roots were exposed to him and in their shadow he saw movement.

“I think that’s him over here,” Clay stated in a masculine deep voice. He jogged over while Summer glided behind him silently.

The hole in which the roots used to be was deep and Clay placed a hand on the trunk steadying himself as he peered in. He saw dark shapes move but couldn’t make out the dog.

“Come over,” he called over to Summer while still looking, “I can see something but I’m not sure it’s him.” As Clay turned to Summer her hand reached out and grabbed his shoulder. She seemed larger as he crouched next to the hole. A breeze had picked up around them and dead leaves swirled around Summer. She smiled at Clay as she stared in his eyes, the deep green looked electrified with colour.

“The forest must feed.”

Clay stared at her bewildered and confused by what she was saying to him. He opened his mouth to say something and as he did so Summer switched her hand on his shoulder to a kick in the ribs.

Clay was sent tumbling downwards into the hole. He landed on his back looking up at the distant sky. Summer was standing on the edge above him. Her hair was whirling manically with the wind and he could see her wicked grin from metres below. The ground around him began to move. Branches and soil whipped around him covering his body and pinning him down, unable to move. Clay watched as the wicked grin that had thrown him in here disappeared from sight and darkness took over.

9:23pm.

Where was she?

I knew her schedule now. She’d finish work at nine and be here about ten past. Every Sunday without fail.

I’d worked the Sunday shift for about eight months now and had grown accustomed to some of the regulars but Sophie was my favourite.

She’d sometimes be rushing in or sometimes she’d take her time. She always made time to chat though.

I’d seen her ridiculously hungover laughing about the night before and I’d seen her down, stressed about work.

It was about three months after I had started before I met Sophie. Her long brown hair and striking green eyes had left me infatuated.

But where was she tonight?

I paced behind the counter and pretended to fix a display as I stared longingly out the window. It wasn’t like Sophie not to visit me on a Sunday night.

Bright lights poured into the window and I impulsively jumped up to check. It was only a young guy. He began using the pump and opted to pay at there.

I sighed.

I always got strangely excited when it got close to the time she came in. I could tell she enjoyed our chats too because she would give me a big smile when she walked in.

9:34pm.

I tidied some of the shelves, trying to distract myself. A screech of wheels braking immediately captured my attention. My eyes flew to the petrol pumps.

Sophie.

Adrenaline kicked in as I caught a glimpse of her messy brown hair and I attempted to turn away and look busy. She had gotten out the car and started to fill up.

I waited eagerly for her to enter.

I dared to look again without trying to look to keen. They younger guy was approaching Sophie. I clenched my teeth, uncomfortable with my perception of his intentions.

They spoke for what felt like a long while and I fixated my gaze on them.

He was irritably handsome and dressed casually. His whole body language indicated he was very comfortable with himself. I placed my hands on the counter, taking a deep breath. I could feel myself getting annoyed. Sophie was here to see me.

The guy leaned on her car and talked away. I could see her laughing. She was clearly being nice – I could tell.

They finished up chatting and she walked in to pay.

“Hi! How are you?”

I blushed, unable to control myself.

“Yeah, good.” She smiled in return and picked up mints. I stared at them as she placed them on the counter, trying not to make the connection.

“You’re late.” I stated, rather more abruptly than intended.

Sophie’s face flashed to a ‘doe in the headlights’ look. She quickly changed to an eye roll and explained her tardiness.

“I had to stay late tonight, there’s so much going on at work. Honestly, I think they think I’ve not got anything better to do!”

She laughed in a goofy manner and I smiled.

I smiled until my attention was drawn to outside. The guy was waiting beside his car.

Sophie was paying on the pin pad and I turned back to her.

“So how’s it been this week then? Any stories for me?” She was looking at me expectantly and I completely ignored her.

“Why’s that guy just waiting there?”

Sophie followed my gaze and ended when she found the creep who was standing outside.

“Oh he’s waiting for me.”

She was trying to brush it off.

“That’s a bit strange is it not?” I really hoped this was completely innocent.

Sophie placed her bag back in her purse and shook her head.

“No no no, it’s all good.”

She turned and walked towards the door. I leaned forward over the counter in an attempt to not allow this guy any chance with Sophie.

“I could walk you back to your car if you want? I wouldn’t want anything to happen to you.”

She looked over her shoulder and waved bye.

My stomach dropped.

Impulse kicked in and I closed the shop so quickly I managed to see their tail lights still in the distance.

I jumped into my car and started the old battered engine. I had to speed to keep up with her car.

I had to see Sophie. Show her that he wasn’t the guy she wanted to spend time with.

Her car was stopped at the lights I was pulling up to and I could see his in front. My heart was pounding but I had to see her.

I followed them a while longer and they eventually pulled into an apartment car park. I parked at the side of the road, not wanting to follow them straight in.

I could see Sophie leave her car with a bag and meet the guy at his car. His arm placed itself on her shoulder leading her to his door.

An overwhelming anger flared up in me. How on earth did this happen?

Sophie wasn’t like this.

I had to see her.

They had reached the door by now and he had turned to face her. He cupped her face and leaned in to kiss her.

Everything seemed to stop at this point and I was paralysed in my car, watching them kiss.

I saw red.

Grabbing my baseball bat from the backseat of my car I flew out my car, bounding towards them.

They hadn’t noticed me until I was right behind them. By that point it was too late.

Lachlan sat on the cold sand and watched the calm waves lapse over one another. The evening was brisk and a light breeze blew in from his right side bringing a welcome salty scent. The beach was almost empty as the last sunlight began to fade to darkness.

He looked over his shoulder back to the house. Lachlan had rented the coastal property to focus on getting back to normal again. His drug abuse had caused him to withdraw from his family and friends and he knew it was time to change. The secluded nature of the beach house has enticed Lachlan as he forced himself to deal with his thoughts and emotions.

Pulling his black hood over his head, Lachlan watched as the last people on the beach headed back home. The man pushed the woman in a playful manner as their dog ran around them. They were almost silhouetted in the evenings light, their happiness radiant. Lachlan followed their route until they left the beach.

He returned his attention to the sea. The blue of the water had dissolved into darkness. Lachlan decided to head back to the house. As he turned to pick up his bag a white light captured his attention. A flashlight? No, it couldn’t be. It had come from the direction of the sea. Lachlan stood up and searched the waterline as he placed his rucksack over his shoulder. He shrugged it off and attempted to turn away.

Curious, he turned back around. Lachlan sank down into the sand and looked around. He was the only one on the beach. His eyes were drawn to a movement in the water. It’s light contrasted with the black water.

The object seemed to appear and disappear with the breaking of the waves. Rising up as the wave took momentum. Lachlan watched in awe, ignorant to the rest of his surroundings. He couldn’t make out distinct features only it’s shimmering silver colour.

Lachlan studied the object, trying to discover more. After a few moments he realising it wasn’t alone. This one was larger and closer. A creature of some sort.

The two swam around one another in a sort of greeting. He edged closer to the water and as he did he realised what they were: horses. Lachlan could barely tear his eyes away. It wasn’t until he questioned how and why they were there until he looked away. He scanned the beach. Perhaps a local farmer had taken the horses to the water? But then how would they be so far out?

Lachlan moved forward, intrigued. As he did so, he began to notice more and more horses. They seemed to be materialising from the waves. Lachlan’s eyes widened in wonder.

The horses swam around one another, communicating. Lachlan mesmerised by this performance, watched as five horses took to the middle and formed a line. They faced out towards the beach. Lachlan couldn’t put his finger on it but these five were more than the others. Bigger. More mysterious. Powerful.

The rest of the team of horses took their place behind the five. The waves began to gain force and the wind battered Lachlan’s face. The horses began forward.

Lachlan was captivated by the situation. His body was frozen in place, his mind trying to seize every detail.

They proceeded onwards towards the beach, the waves accelerating their path. As they came into better focus Lachlan could see their whole body was the same shade of silver all over including their mane. By the time they had galloped to the shallows he could see that only their hoofs differed in colour.

Though the lighting was not ideal, Lachlan decided to take a picture on his phone. He wanted to remember the transcendent feeling the experience had given him. A feeling he’d only ever felt when he was high.

Lachlan reached into his bag to retrieve his phone, the first movement he’d made. As he was looking down setting up his camera Lachlan became aware that the wind had stopped. Lachlan looked up to take his picture. Only a metre in front of him stood the five horses.

Lachlan’s adrenaline was pumping. Now that they were closer he could see their eyes. They were black, surrounded by a deep red and seemed to contain more than just animalistic intelligence. One of the five on the flank stamped their hoof and grunted producing mist in the air. The others began to get agitated, all focused on Lachlan.

He nervously lifted his phone, eager to remember this moment. That was when an enormous force sent the phone flying out of his hand. Lachlan eyes followed the phone and then back to the horses. The middle of the five stood almost on top of him. He edged backwards up the beach, unable to turn away and run. His hand caught a ditch and hindered his momentum. Looking behind him Lachlan attempted to navigate the fastest route to the house. When he turned back around the last thing Lachlan saw was a black hoof headed towards him and then darkness.

Continue reading

Alyssa bounced into the passenger seat and swiftly clicked her seatbelt. She turned addressing her partner in the driver’s seat and grinned.

“Ready to go!” She beamed, moving her shoulders eagerly as she spoke each word. Her partner, Amy, rolled her eyes. Starting the engine, they began on their way.

Alyssa had missed the call out whilst arranging her belongings in her new locker and had jumped at the chance to be out in the field. She adjusted her hat and wiped some lint from her shoulder.

“So, where we headed?”

“Old man hasn’t been heard from in a few days. Owes some rent money. Got to check up on him.” Amy’s abrupt replies were intended to make it clear to Alyssa she wouldn’t entertain her newbie enthusiasm.

“Ooh how exciting!”

They drove in silence for a minute or so as Amy navigated their route. Alyssa persisted to ask Amy questions, gaining all of one word answers. Amy had been in the job for over two years now and was well aware of the positive and negative aspects.

“So how we going to go about this? Get the keys from the landlord? Break down the door?” Alyssa listed the options with her fingers and looked to Amy intently.

“We’ll get the keys.” Amy replied flatly.

As the approached a large grey block of flats Amy parked. Alyssa made an excited squeal as she released the seatbelt. She marched towards the front door, and Amy followed.

“Might want to actually get those keys.” She stated sarcastically and gestured towards an old red car. There was a old grumpy looking man leaning against the side of it looking into the distance.

“Harry!” Amy beckoned him over and he hobbled with them towards the door.

“Oh that’s just shocking Harry. Of course we’ll get this sorted for you. Oh it’s not a problem for us at all!” Alyssa reassured as Harry grumped about his tenants and their payment issues.

The corridor to the flat was dimly lit and gloomy. Rows of black doors lined their path as they made their way towards the end.

“Mr Forsyth? Mr Forsyth?” Harry growled as he banged on the door. Alyssa stood there attentive but blissfully ignorant as to what her next direction should be. Amy gestured to Harry to unlock the door and it hit them.

The stench was overwhelming and sent the three of them stepping backwards into the hallway. Harry made a gagging noise and Alyssa stood frozen in her place, her face an ashy grey and her eyes wide. Amy, after the initial repulsion reaction, looked at her companions.

“Harry wait outside. We’ll be down to speak with you soon.” She forced eye contact with Alyssa and pointed inside. Alyssa followed her inside, posture still rigid.

The front lead to a hallway which had four doors leading off from it.

“Alyssa, you check those two. Remember don’t touch anything.” Alyssa, still in shock, was trying to cover her nose with the side of her index finger. She nodded in response and walked towards the first door to their right. Amy took the other two rooms and checked for Mr Forsyth.

Amy first entered the bathroom. The place was a busy with healthcare bottles and was evidently unclean. Unable to find Mr Forsyth, Amy moved to the next room.

She caught a glimpse of Alyssa in the hallway as she attempted a small brave smile. Amy scoffed to herself. Her hand was still on the door handle when she heard Alyssa.

“Amy”, her voice was shaking, “I found him.” Amy turned swiftly and barged into the living room. Alyssa was facing her and looked up from the chair in front of her, face grey. Amy walked around to see a lifeless Mr Forsyth.

His eyes were glazed and fixated downward. His body was stiff and pigmented green. The sweet stench that Mr Forsyth’s cadaver was emitting caused Alyssa to cough. Amy eyed her.

“Well?”

“Well what?” Alyssa spluttered, eyes wide.

“Call it in for god’s sake.”

Alyssa fumbled with her radio and took herself out of the room to make the call. Amy could hear her trying to describe the situation and already knew she’d be the one doing the paperwork on this one.

Morbid curiosity overtook Amy and she bent down to knee level to look at Mr Forsyth. His skin appeared to be stretched and bloated. His right arm lay on the arm rest and his body was slumped towards it. Amy tilted her head.

“What’re you doing?” Alyssa exclaimed.

Amy, still focused on Mr Forsyth, replied with a shrug and pressed the exposed skin of his arm. Immediately, the crevice of his elbow was exposed and the maggots that had been buried in there had been dislodged.

Alyssa shrieked and ran out of the apartment. Amy reluctantly followed and found her crouched next to some sick in the hallway. Alyssa looked up, embarrassed. Amy laughed and turned around back into the flat.

“Great first day, huh?”