Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Lilly's Nightmare - A short story in progress

In case you haven't heard...on the JLB Creatives website I've started writing "add libbed" short stories. When I have a few spare moments, I add something to the current story. This particular story I started on May 6, 2011. To continue following the progression of Lilly's Nightmare and other future add libbed short stories, you may wish to follow me on Twitter as that's where I normally post that there's "More to the Story..." Follow Janet on Twitter

Lilly's Nightmare
(started May 6, 2011)

      Lilly thought that the cheerful morning birds and the sight of the brilliant sunrise would certainly take her mind off of what had happened during the night, but much to her dismay it was not helping one bit. The only sound she was privey to was the bottoms of her shoes meeting with the hard dirt and small rocks as she jogged to forget the nightmare she'd had. The scenario kept playing over and over in her mind. She could still smell the sour breath as it slugged across her face. She could vividly remember the touch of the clammy finger stroking her cheek causing her to make the biggest mistake she'd ever made: opening her eyes. The clammy finger gathered with three other fingers and a thumb and covered her mouth so she could not scream. She could still feel the other hand pulling her forehead up so hard she couldn't close her eyes. The only thing in her view was a silhouette towering over her. She was trapped. The silhouette's top half began to lean down toward her face. She heard it lick its lips, and she waited for the stinging pain of death. Everything went black as the silhouette finally consumed what little light was left. 
     The alarm went off and Lilly's eyes flew open for real and she nervously looked around the room. She took the covers in her hand. "Oh, not agan." Yet another nightmare had caused a breaking sweat to soak her sheets. "When will these ever end? It's been years since I escaped from that wretched place." Lilly wasn't sure just how much longer she could withstand the tormenting visuals. 
     When Lilly was just a girl she would spend most of her time playing outside. Her great imagination allowed her to pretend, and make things up out of whatever she could find to entertain herself.
     Lilly's mother and father were always fascinated by Lilly's taste in decorating, or perhaps the lack of. Lilly's bookshelves were filled with sticks, rocks, feathers, bones, shells, and dried flowers. Her parents decided to stop patching and repainting the walls until she outgrew the childhood phase. Pictures of animals, garlands of leaves, miniature lights on strands, tulle, stickers, and posters were haphazardly dotted about from floor to ceiling. Lilly had even cut out enormous door hinges from a cardboard box and taped them to her closet door which boasted a sign that read "DUNGEON." Daily, her mother would clear the stuffed animals from the closet who apparently had "done something deserving" of being thrown into the dungeon.
     Lilly had bunkbeds. It wasn't for the fact that she had sibblings (she was an only child), but because when they went to buy her a canopy bed, she voiced her opinion that she needed to have the choice of sleeping "up in the tree tops" or "inside a cave." 
     One day when Lilly was out playing she found a curly stick lying on the ground and her imagination took off. She whispered to the stick, "You look like a baby serpent...where is your mommy?" In her mind, the serpent happily answered her. "I am a baby sssserpent, but I lossssst mommy, but a mommy sssssoundssss nicccce. Would you be my mommy?" Being the kind little person she was, and wanting to make certain everyone in the world had a mommy, Lilly answered, "Yesssss," then giggled. She bent down, carefully picked up the imaginary baby serpent and took it home.
     A few blocks over lived an old man named Tank. He was a coarse man in both physical appearance and speech. Lilly had tried several times to be his friend, but he always shooed her away. On this particular day, Lilly thought she would take her new imaginary friend, the stick snake, to visit Tank.
     Lilly climbed the numerous crumbling stairs up to Tank's well-weathered porch. As usual, he had moved the chair a little bit further over than last time; Lilly thought someday it probably would not even be on the porch but rather in the bushes far below. She pulled the chair to the door, climbed up on it so she could reach the door knocker, and wrapped two or three times. She held her ear to the door and listened for Tank's heavy steps. When she did not hear his feet moving, she wrapped again. After a third and what she considered to be her final attempt and there was still no response she climbed down from the chair, pushed it just to the side of the door, and was going to go tell someone that oddly, Tank wasn't home.
     "Lilly! Thank goodness! Go for help!" Tank's somewhat muffeld voice came from the corner of the wrap around porch. Lilly turned only to see him in the tight grip of another man. The stranger was holding one of Tank's arms behind his back, and covering Tank's mouth with his hand. 
     "No! You stay put." The stranger's voice was alarming.
     "But I'd rather go for help." Lilly began to back up.
     If you so much as look like you're gonna head down those stairs for help I'll...I'll..." The stranger had inched closer to her with every word, Lilly did not move.
     "You'll what mister?" 
     The look in Lilly's big brown eyes changed the man's mind. "Ah forget it! Just open the door and get inside." 
     She saw Tank's head nod so she opened the door. The stranger tried to push Lilly with his foot, but she scooted out of reach just ahead of him. She wasn't too elated when he hard-kicked the door shut behind them.
     "Now sit down. Over there on the couch. Both of you!" Lilly was already running for the sofa when the stranger released Tank and pushed him in that direction. 
     "What are you going to do to us?" asked Lilly.
     "Never mind us, what are you going to do to me? Because if you so much as touch my little friend Lilly..."
     "You'll what mister?" The stranger mocked. Tank barely raised a fist and mouthed a few words. Lilly moved in closer to Tank, and the stranger continued. "You'd better be here when I get back. I'm going to go right there, into the kitchen, and see what you have to drink. DON'T MOVE!" When he leaned in fast at his last words, Lilly and Tank jumped.  
     As soon as the stranger was out of sight, Tank took action. "I know I've always shooed you away Lilly, but trust me today. Stay quiet and take my hand." Lilly did just what Tank had asked. He could feel her little fingers trembling from fright. "Now close your eyes and count to ten. 
     Before Lilly got to three she felt Tank pick her up and take off running. When they came to a sudden stop, she snuck a peek with her head buried in his chest. What she saw Tank do was not what she was expecting. He pulled on a brick in the fireplace hearth and the bookcase slid to the left. He carried her through the opening, touched a brick on the other side and the bookcase slid back with no noise. 
     "Where are we? Where are we going?" asked Lilly.
     "Some place I should have taken you a long time ago."
     When the bookcase had slid back sealing the opening, all had gone dark. Lilly felt her hair flying in the breeze as Tank leapt, ducked, and circled in the dark. "Slow down! It's dark! You might drop me!"
     "Nothing to worry about little one, I know this path like the back of my hand."
     Lilly was not too certain about trusting the man who had never accepted her friendship. But what he had spoken to the stranger kept changing her mind; he had told the stranger to do nothing to her.
     Tank took one last hop into the air and ended in an abrupt landing. The darkness broke into extreme light. Lilly shut her eyes even tighter from the glare. Tank set her down, took her hand, and waited for her eyes to creep open, then spoke. "Welcome to Skotchbees."
     "Skotchbees? I've never heard of Skotchbees." Her eyes were still adjusting to the light.
     "That's because Skotchbees is another world, far different from the one you know." Tank's heart melted at the sight of Lilly.
     Finally, her full sight had returned. "It's so pretty."
     "For the most part."
     "So why did you bring me here? And what did you mean you should have brought me here a long time ago?"
     Tank cleared his throat. "I brought you here because there's someone you need to meet. And as far as why I should have brought you here a long time ago...well...I'll let the one you're going to meet tell you that story. Now c'mon, we need to get moving."
     Lilly's short legs made three steps to one of Tank's. She hardly had time to take in the scenery. The buildings lining the sidewalk were so colorful and welcoming, and the residents seemed friendly enough, waving and nodding as they passed. Tank lead her off the sidewalk and onto a path that lead into a forest. They passed over a babbling stream, using large stones as steps. Just over the stream they turned and follwed its bank for a few hundred yards.
     Tank lifted Lilly back into his arms and put one finger to her mouth. "Shhh. Don't make a sound." He carried her to a nearby Lummery tree with branches abundant from top to bottom. With Lilly in his arms he climbed the tree using the branches as stairs. When they were very high up, Tank reached into his pocket, brought out a handful of dusty dirt, and tossed it. When it met with the branches below them, the branches became invisible. This time he put a finger to his own lips. "Shhh. We'll wait here for them to pass."
     Lilly did not hear anything, but could see man-size figures floating by beneath them. She noticed where ever they swarmed, the light soaked into them, leaving a temporary trail of darkness. "I'm scared Tank."
     "As well you should be." 

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