Daisy was shaking. It was cold, but that wasn’t why. She was wild-eyed and shivering with fright. The nice woman had offered her hand, and Daisy had taken it. She hadn’t seen any other option. The woman was tall and slender with a warm, comforting smile. She was a stranger, and her parents had always told her not to talk to strangers, but Daisy needed a little comforting, so she accepted the woman’s hand.
The woman asked her what her name was, but Daisy, as diligent at listening about not talking to strangers as she was lax regarding her father’s warning about wandering off, firmly shook her head. A wind kicked up in a swirl of red and orange leaves around the woman. “Well, I’m Katherine,” she had said. “You shouldn’t be out and about all by yourself,” Kathrine said.
Daisy shook her head again, this time in agreement. She hadn’t meant to wander off; it was just that stupid sound had turned her head. Daisy didn’t know where it had come from or what it was. It was the strangest sound she had ever heard. Its pitch and tone were indescribable for a six-year-old, especially since Daisy didn’t know what the words, “pitch” and “tone” meant. All little Daisy knew was she turned to find the source of the odd sound and found herself alone in the dimming light of an autumn evening.
The wind continued to swirl around Katherine and Daisy. The leaves, big and fat and dry and crunchy, flopped about on the breeze. Under normal circumstances, Daisy would have chased every one of them down and stomped on them, giggling to herself at the satisfying crackle. It was her game, and she liked games a lot. Lost and terrified little Daisy wasn’t thinking of games now.
“How about we go find your family?” Katherine suggested. Daisy shrugged. The woman appeared friendly enough, and she was offering to help, but her parents’ earlier warning rang loud in her ears. “You have really pretty hair,” she said, brushing a strand out of Daisy’s face with her free hand. “It looks just like the bark on a sapling. Do you know what a sapling is?” Little Daisy shook her head. “It’s a baby tree,” Katherine said.
“Look, there’s one right over there,” the woman added and pointed to a small tree on the slope of a hill a little ways off. “How about we go look for your family from the hill. I bet we can see a lot farther from up there, and I promise to tell you all about saplings on the way.”
Daisy was still shaking. She was still wild-eyed and fiddled with the heart necklace her mother had given her. Looking for her mom and dad from the top of the hill did make sense. Daisy slowly came around to the idea. Gradually, she gave a hesitant nod.
Together, the tall woman and the little girl walked towards the hill. On the way, the light continued to fall towards the horizon. Daisy looked at the hill, which seemed so close before, and felt like they were never going to get there. Her legs were so tired from her hike with her parents, and all this extra walking had drained her.
Eventually, the ground began to ascend, and Daisy’s legs grew even more exhausted from carrying her up the incline. It was much steeper than it had looked from where Katherine had found her. The woman had fulfilled her promise and told Daisy all about how saplings were trees that just hadn’t quite gotten big enough yet. She had talked and talked about the young trees were still thin and flexible enough for their trunks to flow in the wind. All the talk and hiking made Daisy’s tired mind drift. She wished she hadn’t gone on the stupid hike. She would have much preferred staying at home watching TV or drawing pictures on the driveway with colorful chalk.
After a thousand more steps, the pair finally crested the top of the hill and looked down. Daisy was too tired to even think, but Katherine, who had been so nice and so helpful, agreed to look for Daisy’s parents if Daisy wanted to lean against a boulder and rest. The initial shock of being lost had worn off and with it the adrenaline. Unable to keep her eyes open, Daisy leaned her head on the smooth surface of the boulder and fell asleep.
Once Katherine was sure the child was breathing calmly and evenly, she licked her lips with a wicked sense of glee. Slowly, she let her disguise fall, and she slithered out of the clothes. The children had been harder to come by as of late, but tonight the monstrous Lamia would finally have her dinner.
There are many things that go bump in the night
I hope you enjoyed this flash fiction short story. I'm right in the throes of writing up Mortis Maledictum and this didn't quite fit into the story direction we are taking it, so instead of letting it take up space on my hard drive for eternity, I figured to let you guys in on the story.
This special episode is absolutely free for anyone to read so please share it with your friends.