September 7, 2018: Flash Reading at Social Grounds

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Last night I had the opportunity to participate in Flash Reading with Bridge Eight at Social Grounds, a coffee shop in the Historic Springfield neighborhood of Jacksonville, Florida. It was a packed house. I had three minutes to read a 300 word story. Here’s what I read:

 

“I’m lost,” Sam said, looking down at his compass.

By the sun’s position, it was about 3 o’clock.

Perspiration collected under his hat.

“Where am I?” he said, scanning the perimeter.

 

Sam was tracking animal prints when he got turned around.

The sand path snaked through the swamp.

Under a canopy of oaks stood a small dwelling.

Stowing his compass, he made his way to the structure.

Crushed coquina shell slabs formed its boundary.

Dipping his head in the frameless doorway, he checked for the all clear.

Sam entered the dim room.

“Empty,” Sam said.

His voice echoed back,” …m.ty.”

 

On the ground, an amulet refracted sun rays.

Bending, Sam retrieved the treasure.

The room shifted in hue and intensity.

Then, a form emerged.

A boy with ebony skin.

 

Sam could see through him.

Almost hollow.

No shirt.

No shoes.

Tattered shorts dangled from his protruding hips.

 

Alizarin eyes set ablaze.

Outlining his frame, a jaundiced glow.

 

Small hairs on Sam’s neck stood at attention.

Goose flesh percolated up his arms and back.

Sweat dampened his hands.

 

The phantom attempted speech.

His jaw cocked, but there was no report.

Gangrene lips peeled back.

Broken teeth fit inside the mouth like shattered glass.

 

A thin pointing finger arched towards Sam’s hand.

“This?” Sam said, and presented the talisman.

“Is this yours?”

 

The specter’s translucent hand pawed at it.

Uncut nails failed to connect with the artifact.

Sam shrank back, trembling.

Another swipe was attempted by the phantom, grazing pallid flesh.

 

The ghost boy fumbled into a heap.

His presence waned.

Two red eyes lingered.

 

Fear and adrenaline filled Sam’s body.

He stumbled out of the hovel.

 

Running with fervor, he carved a new path through the swamp.

There was no sense in consulting his compass.

The stolen amulet was still in hand.