tales [ short-story seus ]


Sadie screamed for William as she held onto the rope, Jurassic creatures snapping their gore coated jaws below in anticipation. He reached from the ledge, trying to grasp her hand. “Grab my hand!” William shouted back.

She reached out, gripping her father’s hand tightly and pulling herself toward him. Just as she was close enough to join William his hand collapsed into dust in her hand. She staggered and the rope slipt through her hand. She fell, but the waiting teeth did not cut her.

William shouted to her as she dropped into the darkness below. The ground beneath his feet gave a mighty shake, sending him over the ledge to join her in the chasm.

The air whipped past as they fell through the void. William grabbed Sadie and hugged her, trying to calm her. “I’m right here Sadie.” She clasped him, sobbing into his shirt.

They plunged into the icy water. The current twisted around them, pulling them apart and away from the light of the water’s surface. Sadie attempted to swim against the flow as she watched the water tug William into the darkness, gasping at each of his desperate attempts.

She shouted to him and, taking air back into her lungs, came to a realization. “Dad,” she shouted to William through the torrent, “this isn’t real, you can breathe in!” As she spoke the words her legs crumbled into dust. The effect spread upward through her, sending the particles swirling into the depths.

William shouted, begging her to repeat herself. What had she said? He barely processed the though when the water evaporated into a heavy mist around him. Clothes soaked, he fell and burst from the mist and into the open blue sky. His heart jumped in his throat and his voice tightened into a pitiful squeak as he attempted to shout, free-falling through the clouds. He squeezed his eyes shut and hoped his next nightmare would be the last.

His eyes sprung open and he looked up at his daughter’s relieved face. She looked older than he remembered.

“Thank god, I’ve been looking for hours,” she said and helped him to his feet. Pods, each holding a person, lined the dim walls that surrounded them. “We’ve got to get out of here before it finds us,” she whispered and led him away from his pod.

William’s legs trembled as he tried to keep up, legs shaking from the sudden effort. “What’s going on?”

He heard cackling in the distance.

“That thing,” Sadie whispered. “It’s holding all these people hostage and subjecting them to endless nightmares. We don’t have much time before it finds us.”

The harsh laughter grew louder. William could hear the rushed clatter of movement echo as it searched.

“I only escaped when I realized it wasn’t real. I managed to find the exit but had to come back for you, we’re almost there.”

There was a mighty crash behind them. William turned and saw a hulking creature turn round the corner, knocking over a tower of pods in its rush. It wasn’t humanoid, but more crustacean in appearance. It let loose a shrieking cackle as its spider-like legs slammed into the wooden floor, causing the boards to moan underneath, and dragged itself toward them. William’s legs turned to jelly at the sight.

“Right here,” Sadie shouted and pulled William down the hall. She pushed open the large door and threw them each into the sunlight. They tumbled down the handful of steps and fell onto the cracked cement walkway leading up to the worn church house. Tall grass grew between the fractures in the path. William pulled at the greenery, hauling himself from the building. Turning back, he saw the creature crouch and peer at them from the entrance. For a moment it stared at them in silence, before slamming the door shut.

William peered around as his eyes adjusted to the sunlight. Trees had sprouted from the pavement around him and the vehicles in the parking lot were overgrown with plants. Sadie followed as he wandered through the long-discarded cars in silence. A nearby school bus lay on its side; its roof read “GOD HAS ABANDONED US” in faded red spray paint.

“This was ours, wasn’t it?” William asked as he approached a pink station wagon.

“Used to be. No good now,” she replied solemnly.

“How long were we in there, how many others are still there?”

“I don’t know,” she said. “Probably the whole town.”

William sat and leaned against the car, trying to collect his thoughts.

“What now?”

“I don’t know.”

He sighed, placing his head in his hands. “At least we have each other.”

Cody’s Choice on /r/WritingPrompts SEUS thread