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Flash Fiction: Faces in the Woods

This is adapted from the first chapter of a novel I wrote called "Dreams and Monsters," the original works was nearly 5,000 words, this gets pretty much the same point at 600.



The barn was in the same state of decay as the house. Trees had burst through its windows and roof, straining against the confines of the structure to capture their share of the sunlight. A rich, sour odor filled the air and that more than anything made me call out for my brother. 
He had his back to me and he didn’t even turn around as I sloshed through dry leaves towards him. He was staring into a copse beyond the barn, not moving. I almost followed his gaze, I swear I almost did. Even after everything Mom and Dad told me, I almost looked at it too.
"Don't you take him!" I screamed. My feet kicked up leaves behind me. The leaves were everywhere, falling, tumbling in the dappled sunlight. Spinning around my brother where he stood frozen. His mouth was open, and drool ran from the corner of his lips.
I pushed him, hard, and he fell like an old dead tree. Through the swirling leaves I caught sight of it in the grove, a trick of branches and shadows that wanted to be a face. I squeezed my eyes shut until the dark flashed red. When you saw faces in the woods you didn’t stop seeing them.
  "You get out of here." A wind buffeted me with leaves. "You aren't supposed to be around here."
  I grabbed Jessie’s ankle and dug in. Every tendon in my brother's body stuck out as he strained against my grip. The leaves switched direction and now they were all rushing in towards the grove. A moan came through the woods. The winds had shifted, so strong now they were bending the trees in the clearing. Everything was bowing towards the thing in the grove. My grip was slipping and I knew that I was going to lose Jessie. I knew it to the center of my being, that the pull was too strong and that he was going to go to the thing and that I would never see him again. My brother was mine; he didn’t belong to something in the woods. He belonged to me. 
Throwing myself backwards I got him loose of the rock he was clinging to. We both rolled on the ground but I got up on top. There was no help for it. I pressed down on his face with my left hand and struck him half way up the thigh with my right. I made sure I got my knuckles in it to really raise a welt. Jessie yelled and clutched his leg. I sprang back, slipped on some leaves, fell on my butt. My brother was up, but the charlie horse I gave him put him right back down. There was a final gust of leaves and I made ready to spring for him but the crazy dead look had left his eyes. He was just Jessie again.
                 "Did you see it?" he asked. Neither of us could look at the grove. It was around, I felt the hairs on the back of my neck standing up so I knew it was still there but I also knew it was safe to look around.
   The clearing was empty. The trees were swaying and creaking and the last of the leaves settled to the ground.
“No,” I said, breathing hard. “I didn’t see it and neither did you.”
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