I’m in just under the wire for this week’s flash fiction challenge.
Chuck’s challenge for the week: The beginning of a story. With no further guidance than that, I foundered for a while before settling on this. I can only imagine that the challenge for this week will be to complete the story started by another writer, so I wanted to make sure there’s lots of room for interpretation while still setting a mood, should anybody end up finishing this one. This beginning certainly makes me uncomfortable, so I guess it’s a success, at that.
There Are Things in the Well
“Here she comes, Elvy.”
Elvert crunched on a handful of candy and shaded his eyes against the sun. “New girl?”
Trom kicked at a snail and nodded toward the twig of a girl walking down the dirt road about fifty yards distant. “Leza, I think.”
The stones of the well were cool against his back, and in the sweltering humidity he was reluctant to leave them behind. Still, she’d only be new in town for so long. He stood and stretched and spit his lime candy into the well, and jogged off to intercept her, with Trom following like a hungry cat in his wake.
“Leez!” Elvert called when he was close enough to make out the pattern on her backpack. The new girl said nothing, just quickened her pace.
“Hey, Leez!” Trom shouted.
She folded her arms and bowed her head, stringy blond hair falling in a curtain across her face. The boys fell into step beside her while she did her best to ignore them. They dogged her steps, staring at her, until she felt uncomfortable enough to speak. “It’s Leza.”
“You’re new here, ain’t ya?” Elvert spit a pink gob on the grass next to the road.
Leza gave the tiniest of nods. Trom stepped in front of her and she had to pull up short, hugging her notebook to her chest. He folded his arms and laughed. “You don’t know about the initiation, do you?”
She rolled her eyes and tried to step around Trom, but Elvert cut her off. “Of course she don’t know, Trom. We gotta show her.”
“I’m gonna be late for dinner,” Leza protested uselessly.
“Won’t take long. It’s right over there,” Elvert said, pointing over her shoulder.
“The well,” Trom said, drawing his lips into a silent “ooh” after he said it.
Leza turned to look. There was nothing in the field but the squat, dingy-looking well sticking up like a tombstone in the tall grass. Her stomach felt heavy looking at it. She thought to run, but Elvert’s sweaty arm wrapped around her shoulder and she felt herself being pulled toward the well.
“I can’t,” she wailed, but in a few seconds the boys pressed her belly against the grimy stones and she felt them leaning with her over the lip to peer down into the depths. Strands of hair wafted into her eyes and mouth in the sudden breeze that issued from the dark. The bottom of the well was eclipsed in blackness, but silvery reflections twisted and writhed far below. The faraway hissing she’d thought was the sound of water now seemed alive and excited at the three heads peeking over the edge.
But her head was the only one peeking over. The boys had disappeared behind her back. She lifted herself to find them, but just as she moved she felt strong hands on her back and then she was tumbling through space, the cold stones racing past her, the hissing growing louder.