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Two Brothers and a Leash MAG
Two brothers and their dog walked through the woods. The faint, yet unambiguous smell that rose from the moist ground after the sky had hurled bullets, sprawled like roots throughout the wet air, wafting every which way. The rain had annihilated the night's crispness, molding it into a murky haze. The haze seemed to slip time, twist it and wring it, sucking out perception, so that minutes seemed like seconds.
The taller of the two peered at his wrist. “We're late,” he said. He twisted the dog's leash tighter with a note of resistance at the other end. He tried pulling it tighter, the blood throbbing in his fingers.
“Yeah,” declared the other.
The night creeped, deepening shadows into seething figures that hissed curses. No stars shone; the sky was bare and dark. It was as if the looming shadows had sucked the sparkling jewels down, so night could spill its inky blackness throughout the day, whose capacity would soon expire, and then the night would seep down, pouring on the earth, so the brothers were surrounded in infinite darkness. To this, the shadows laughed heartily, knowing that the brothers had entered a world that was not their own.
“I think we're close.” The voice shook, as if he wasn't sure if the haunting air, built of lurking shadows, would admit two whose presence was foreign. His hot, sputtering breath mixed with the darkness like water and oil, so that one would not dissolve into the other. So it swirled aimlessly, attempting to melt but instead leaving a conspicuous path, like a slug.
The bleak, shaggy figure that tugged at the end of the red leash began to whine: at first barely perceptibly, then mounting in volume. The boys tried to calm him, coaxing him softly and stroking his tense muscles, but the shaggy form bolted from their hands. The boy with the leash continued to feel the comforting tug, knowing that there was something familiar in this menacing ambiance.
There was a sound, a brief moment where trepidation consumed each brother and they looked to each other in hope that one would shed light upon the silence. Nothing – save the tremor that rambled through each and shook down the leash all the way to the shaggy outline of the dog, until the slight tugging that had preoccupied the boy quivered to a halt and the leash slapped to the damp forest floor. The dog was gone, as if what it had seen was so horrific that it had sucked itself into a pine needle upon the dirt.
Adrenaline pumped through the boys, yet only their insides showed the fierce light of vitality; they could not move a muscle. They could hear each other's heartbeats but could not reach out to hold the other. Seconds passed, shadows chuckled a deep, guttural laugh.
“Where are we?” the smaller one asked in a whisper, so the treacherous opaque masses that moved and breathed their heaving breath on the frightened boys might, in some odd erroneous manner, misinterpret his fear for bravery. As if his trembling purple lips were instead his courage and his face wrought with fear was perhaps a flaming strength.
“Is that … is that a light up ahead? Yeah, it is. It is!”
“Oh, thank you, thank you! I'm so scared. Let's go.”
Their spindly legs raced ahead, the red leash swishing behind them. They sped past the skulking shadows that hung about the sinister pines that seemed to creep in as the boys continued further and further. The light began to grow: dripping down and shining upon the dirt path.
Laboriously breathing and still clutching the leash, they drew near. Standing on the edge of the wood, both exultant smiles vanished as they stared at the source of the brilliant light, their faces molding into pure dread and horror.
The simplicity of the night had twisted itself into a horrific nightmare; a simple walk in the woods, with expectant parents awaiting their children, in which their safe comings would cease to exist: their children would never return home.