Sunday, April 2, 2017

Daily Drafts: Turnpike

I'm trying, once again, to write 300 words of fiction a day. I don't know why I'm posting this one. But I am.

What the hell?

Jane stopped at the end of the alley. What was that? There was movement, just barely, in the darkness. An alley and movement would make a person think of rats, or cats, or raccoons, or some similar unpleasantry—well, not that cats are unpleasantries, but alley cats often are—but anyway, that’s not what the movement looked like. It looked upright. It looked like people. Tiny tiny people.

What the hell?

After another moment of peering, she dug into her purse and extracted her phone. After some fumbling she had the flashlight-whatsit working, and she aimed it at the alley. It barely illuminated ahead of her feet, so she cautiously entered the alley for a better view.

The movement all but stopped as soon as she cleared the pool of light from the streetlight. As she moved forward, she heard the occasional skitter and caught a flash of movement in her peripheral, but her light illuminated nothing. Step, skitter, nothing. Step, skitter, nothing. She was halfway down the alley when she became suddenly aware of skittering behind her. Her heart thumped and she sped up, fast-walking to the other end of the alley, emerging rather quickly into a startled-looking post-theater crowd.

The man that she bumped touched her shoulder briefly and gingerly, saying, “You all right?” He glanced past her to the alley, then looked back to her eyes.

“Yeah.” She looked back too. “Yeah. Fine. Just fleeing the elves.” She smiled at him to make it clear that she was joking. She wasn’t.

“Sure.” He grinned, looking relieved. “Did you leave them a gift?”

“A gift?” She frowned and she smiled and she still shook a little.

“Yeah.” The grin weakened. Maybe he could see the shaking. “That’s what my granny said, anyway. It’s like a toll road; you go through the little people’s country, you leave a gift, or they’ll come get one, and you won’t like it.”

“Oh.” She still looked at him, her banter failing her.

Disconcerted, he offered, “They love tobacco, Granny always said. I could leave them a cigarette on your behalf.”

“Yeah.” She nodded. “Yeah. Thanks. I’d appreciate that.”

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