Crawlers by Darryl Foster

The prompt: fireworks in a wheelbarrow.

Horror Bite Challenge #16: write a piece of nano-fiction (200-350 words) inspired by an image supplied by Laura Jamez on the Office Mango blog. Here’s the image and my story:

Crawlers

by Darryl Foster

Hide-and-seek, and my daughter Jamie was nowhere to be found in the house. I walked into the kitchen, called her, and my eyes shot wide. A guttural fear surged. “No…no…no!” The patio door which lead to the garden was unlatched. She’d known about the threat of the Crawlers, and I never imagined our most guarded house-rule being broken: never go outside at night.

Day was our time, and the night belonged to the Crawlers—but tell that to a five year old, who can open the door on their own. They simply don’t understand the lurking danger.

I opened the patio door and peered into the garden. The night was cold and the darkness seemed both alive and bottomless. I called for Jamie. No answer—right, we were playing hide-and-seek—and now the clock was ticking. The Crawlers would latch onto her scent and gather.

I shut the patio door and sprang from the kitchen. I careened through the house, opened a door and entered the garage. I had never used the wheelbarrow trick—taught to save wandering children at night—but I was prepared: a wheelbarrow, a lighter and fireworks. A Burning Schoolhouse would keep the Crawlers away while I searched for Jamie.

I opened the garage’s back door and lit the Schoolhouse. The firework sparked and hissed. Light radiated, sulfur clouds billowed, and I pushed the wheelbarrow into the middle of the garden. Beyond the boundary of my protective light-dome: a dark curtain studded with the diamond glints of many eyes.

“Daddy!” Jamie’s cry seemed muffled in my ears.

Crack!

“Jamie!”

No reply, just the wet smacking of many mouths in the dark beyond. A suffocating shock dropped me to my knees. Tears flowed. “I love you Jamie!” If she was alive, I hoped she’d heard.

The Schoolhouse fizzled. Dark.

Sour breath, and sharp twig like fingers crept over my clothes. Rails of teeth clamped the meaty parts of my appendages. I shrieked as my limbs were pulled, and in the kitchen window I saw Jamie inside. I barely heard her scream through the glass, “Daddy!”

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