Short Story: The Far Beyond

The ground is thirty-feet below. If I mess up this jump, I’ll snap my ankles for sure. The pain won’t be the worst of it, either. They will catch me and lock me away for being a nutcase and believing in worlds their eyes could never see. But I have seen them. I have dreamt of the wildest and most beautiful places this human world could never imagine.

I have longed to go there for years. I’ve searched far and wide, losing those I once held dear because they failed to see the wonders of this place beyond the stars. The land that is far away from time and space, where human life can be transformed into something mystifyingly beautiful. Every day will be an adventure and have a purpose that will only be meant for me.

After ten years, I finally found the portal to the land in the far beyond and I haven’t much time to make the leap.

The tree is dying and it will take the powers of that land straight to the gates of heaven. I will forever lose the opportunity to discover the true meaning of my existence.

How can I go on with my life if that life is dull and relentless?

I need to make this jump and stick the landing with perfection. It is the only way to escape the madness chasing after me through the woods. I hear them shouting my name and ordering me to return. They threaten and curse, claiming me insane for having visions they could never fathom.

They will never understand the dreams I have.

A dog barks; low and terrifying. They’re getting closer by the second. The sunlight casts their shadows over the grass and heavy boots trudge through fallen leaves of an early autumn. Men, women, and even children are hunting down me—the wild girl standing on the highest branch in the tallest tree.

I inch to the edge, nervously clutching the strap to my satchel. I packed only what I may need to survive whatever lives in the land far beyond. Clothes, water, a loaf of bread, and the only photo I have left of my parents. They disappeared when I was seven and left me with dreams of the place I seek. It’s a longshot, but my gut is telling that I will find them there. That they will be waiting with arms wide open for the daughter they love.

I can’t mess this up.

I take a deep breath. The voices grow louder. One of them shouts that they’ve spotted me and startles me. I nearly fall off the branch before I’m ready. The limb wavers and creaks beneath my wobbling legs. I stretch my arms out wide to obtain my balance. Down below, I see them. They’re running toward my tree now. They carry torches and pitchforks as if I am some type of monster. If only they could see the monsters in themselves before destroying the dreams I hold dear.

The tree begins to quake and I glance to the lowest branches. Two, strong men with thick beards and axes are hacking away at the trunk. I shake my head and breathe a faint no.

I’m out of time now. If they succeed and the tree falls, I will die right along with the land I love so much. My heart pounds wildly and I let my right foot dangle over the branch.

This is it; I think with a smile crossing my face, this is the start of something wonderful.

I step over the branch and shrieks of terror erupt from the hunters below. The wind whips through my hair as warmth wraps around my soul. I bask in a light that blinds me and slip into the land of the far beyond.

Pirates of Hardwood

Chapter 32

Silence flooded the ship. Pirates stood in awe, their mouths agape and curiosity in their eyes. Instead of jumping into a rage-filled battle or fighting to kill the girl who pulled the trigger, they stayed at bay.

Blood pooled around the feet of the men standing closest to her body. All life has been drained from her face in a matter of seconds when the bullet crashed into her chest. She dropped with a thud to the wooden deck and no one came to her aide. Not a single one of her crew stepped up to check on her or even see if she was still alive.

As thunder boomed in the sky, the eyes of many turned to Sam. They lowered their weapons, sheathed whatever sword they carried. Flint quickly got to his feet and wiped the blood from the corner of his mouth.

The gun fell from her fingertips. The only sound to echo amongst the ship. Sam slowly stepped backwards, her eyes wide open in fear of what just happened. She clenched her shaking hands to fists and crept backward until she bumped against the railing.

“I can’t believe she’s dead.” A raspy voice broke through the silence as a thin man knelt by Alyssa’s corpse. “The bitch is finally dead!” He shouted.

Cheers erupted from the dead captain’s crew. They jumped for joy and slapped each other on the back. Their cheers were soon joined by the rest of the pirates on the ship in a joyous outburst.

Flint limped toward Sam, his eyes were bloodshot and bruised. He got within a few feet of her before Darrick rushed to stand in his way. He didn’t have a weapon but would do whatever it took to protect her.

“You killed her.” Flint managed to say.

Sam nodded, “I didn’t mean to. I just wanted to stop her from killing you.”

“Why?” He asked.

“I don’t know.” Sam replied.

Flint nodded and glanced to each face belonging to his prisoners. Sarah and Rusty held each other by the life boat. Jonah waited by the pulleys, ready to lower the small vessel to their freedom.

Flint turned back to Sam and looked between her and Darrick. He saw the caring determination in his eyes and realized he no longer wanted to be in the way.

“Take the boat and go. The lightning won’t last for long and you’ll need it to get back to where you came from.” Flint ordered, then turned away and headed back to his men.

Pirates of Hardwood

Chapter 27

Darrick raised the sword over his head just in time to stop the blow coming from Flint’s blade. The steel clanked together, the sound echoed through the air all around them. His heart was pounding harder than he’d ever felt as he stared into the eyes of a man wanting to kill him.

It took all of his strength to push Flint away. The man stammered back a pace or two then laughed at the fear he saw on the boy’s face. He brought the sword up and sliced it through the air once more.

Darrick saw the move coming and jumped backwards to get out of range. He heard the sword cutting the air mere inches from his chest. He tightened his grip on his weapon and swallowed the fear rising in his throat. He took an angry step forward and swung the sword like a baseball bat.

Flint blocked the hit with his sword and threw a return. The blade struck Darrick’s arm, slicing a long gash into his skin. He grunted from the pain, but fought through it. He glanced at his arm and saw the blood, then his eyes drifted to Sam.

There were tears in her eyes as she struggled against the pirates grip. She pried at his fingertips but to no avail. Darrick knew he had to win for her.

Lightning lit up the clouds in the sky, scattering across the heavens like a spider web. Sam looked up and saw the familiarities between that lightning and what they saw the night before the pirates showed up. She had a feeling that they might be connected. She struggled harder against the grip of the giant man while Flint and Darrick fought for their lives.

“I have to stop this.” Sam whispered to herself and her mind jumped into action.

Beauty and the What?!

Installment #25

Sally has no time to react. The men standing before her, led by Anson’s father, shove past her and enter the house. One of them even goes so far as to push her out of the way and she falls to the creaky floor. She bangs her elbow on the hardwood flooring and winces from the pain. She clutches her arm, trying to rub the pain away. She expects Anson to help her to her feet, but he just walks by, ignoring her completely.

“Where is the damn thing?” one of the men shouts when he realizes the monster isn’t in the room with them.

Sally hears him and she searches the room for him. He’s not standing where she left him and he’s not hiding in one of the corners of the room. She could only hope that he was smart enough to run away instead of staying back, getting himself killed for her. She cared about him too much to let someone like him die for her.

Anson’s father marches over to her and stands over her. His glare meets her eyes and he quickly bends down, grabs both her arms, and forces her to her feet. Fear surges through her as she stares into his angry, hate-filled eyes.

“Where is it?” he seethes, his hot breath caressing her cheek.

Her lips quiver, “I don’t know.”

He lets go of her arms and backhands her across the face. She lets out a gasp and catches herself on the wall behind her before falling to the floor once more.

“You think that thing cares about you?” he screams at her. “Then let’s see if I can coax it out.”

Beauty and the What?!

Installment #5

Her jaw drops. Her heart races. She can feel her hands shaking as she grips the edge of the curtains at the window. Fear has taken her over and she knows she should turn away. That creature standing on her front lawn is nothing but evil. The darkness of its eyes, the tangled mess of fur covering its body. The light glimmers off its sharp claws and even sharper teeth.

Yet, Sally cannot turn away. Her mind isn’t even telling her legs to move or her body to react to this monster staring back at her. Instead, her heart calms and her breathing returns to normal. The monster moves closer to the window, she can see the raggedy shorts covering its body. They are so old and worn and caked with grime. Its fur so matted and dirty, it must have been years since this thing has been clean.

It gets up to the porch on the house and jumps over the banister in one swift movement. She jumps when it lands right outside the window. It moves its face closer to the pane and she stares into its dark eyes. Evil is not what she sees staring back at her. There is sadness in those big, brown eyes that doesn’t appear to be a monster at all. It presses a paw-like hand to the window and she hears the claws clicking against the glass.

Her eyes glance to the hand on the window. Hair sticks out between each finger and the palm looks rough and callused. She lets go of the curtain in her right hand and slowly presses it against the glass, matching up with the creature’s paw. It lets out a low growl when their eyes meet again and she shakes her head.

“I’m not afraid of you.” She says, not know if it can hear her or not.

The light at the end of the pathway goes out and the porch goes black. She’s left alone to hear the creatures heavy footsteps dash across the porch and away from the house.