Looking out from the rural track, a single tree sat in the near centre of the field, bathed in sun and stretching a small shadow down across the scorched grass. Daisies populated frequently throughout and a light breeze deceived the passer-by into thinking the day was less warm than a British Summer should be. The boys left their bikes by the stone wall partitioning the field from the one over the road. Dodging cow excrement, fresh and old, Harry and Liam walked towards the tree and the shade. Their shirts swam in sweat from a day’s cycling and their water bottles sat half empty in their hands.
As they got nearer their steps began to slow, their smiles fled and they stopped all together.
The smell hit their noses like a rotten bin at the back of a restaurant, then they saw it. One, then two, then more.
Fingers, swimming in blue bottles on a bed of green.
Ashen-faced, the boys knew what must sit beneath the tree. The shade, masking a shadow that would extend across the field in the later hours.
The pair looked at each other, as if daring, yet not. They had to see, didn’t they? When the kids at school asked, fingers wouldn’t be enough. They’d need guts and entrails, limbs and sinew.
One step, then another. They encroached on the thing that had to live there, under the oak. The closer they got, the less they saw. The figure, its arms and legs splayed out revealed nothing.
The shadow of a being. As if cut from the flesh, along with the digits.
Liam turned to Harry and Harry to Liam alike. Their frantic, pumping legs led trainers to tread deep in cow faeces, yet they noticed not for a moment. Their water bottles fell and laid together. Leaping and scrambling over the wall and wrenching their bikes from their resting places the pair peddled as fast as seven-year-old legs could go. Down, down was easier. Down seemed better, nearer to somewhere and closer to safety.
The sun fled and the shade chased. Tarmac became darker behind them. The only sound to pierce their ears was the heavy breath that escaped each boy.
A house, there, not too far.
A few hundred more feet. A few hundred more breaths.
Neither boy so much as glanced at the other, nor did they look back. Had they…
Their tyres screeched and marked the driveway to the house, the bikes running free and the boys falling and fleeing fast. Their fists battered the oaken door, their sweat soaked the welcome mat.
Now they looked, now they saw.
Behind and in front, it fell upon them; a night and a shadow a shade and nothing.
Stubbed hands, reached out. Gripping.
And then the slam.
Deadman’s Tome is a growing horror zine that publishes horror short stories and horror flash fiction. The online magazine publishes dark and gritty content from professional horror writers, Bram Stoker award nominated horror authors, along with talented newcomers of the horror writing craft. Deadman’s Tome features chilling, terrifying horror shorts ranging from ghost stories, zombie invasions, bigfoot sightings, monster horror, and even horror erotica. Deadman’s Tome is one of the best online horror zines to publish horror short stories, horror flash fiction, and dark flash fiction. The darker the tale the better. If you enjoyed the story, or even if you didn’t, leave a comment below as it helps the horror authors.