Trigger Warning: Spiders.
This fun little story came as a result of the first prompt from Amanda McCormick‘s Blog Challenge.
Prompt: Write a story including the following three elements: A stolen ring, fear of spiders, and a sinister stranger.
The ring glistened from inside the dark blue velvet bag. Scarlet fingered it through the material. Her grandmother had always said it was precious and had magical powers. As a kid, she had eaten those stories up like they were the most delectable treat in the world. As a grown woman though, she knew better than to believe in magic rings or an old woman’s stories.
Snorting, she cinched the ribbon and closed the bag before tossing it back into her purse. It had been a moment of fanciful foolishness that had even prompted her to grab the little bag and ring. Technically it was hers, promised to her when her gran had died. Still, she had never had any desire to collect the thing.
“Did you get it? The ring, where’s the ring?”
She approached the edge of her family’s land where a man leaned against a black Cadillac and waited for her. He was well dressed, but the fedora and sunglasses made it hard to get a good look at his face. Even his hands were hidden, black leather gloves fit him well, obscuring any skin that might have shown. She nodded and reached into her purse, she hesitated before pulling out the little bag though. Something felt wrong, a niggling feeling deep in the recesses of her guts pulled at her, keeping her hand buried in her bag.
“Do you have it or not? A deal is a deal!”
“I have it, but first a question. Why the urgency, what is so special about this ring?”
He shifted his weight and stood up straight. She couldn’t see his eyes through the sunglasses, but she could feel the intensity of his stare all the same.
“Questions weren’t part of the deal. Hand it over. I don’t have time for games.”
He stepped toward her, his body tense and his movements wooden. His lips curled up as he snarled softly.
“I said give it here.”
Scarlet started to pull it out of her purse, he grabbed her arm before she could finish pulling it out and jerked her arm upward. The bag came flying out. He made a grab for it. So did she. Neither of them caught it. Instead, from the tall grasses near them, a flurry of fur rushed toward them and jumped into the air, catching the bag and scurrying off. Scarlett didn’t see what it was, but whatever it was, it was faster than any creature had a right to be.
“What the hell!?! Come back here, you little thief! That’s mine. You hear me, mine!”
The man ran after the furry blur, his jacket flapping behind him and his fedora flying off his head. Scarlett stood rooted in place as she watched it all unfold. The man’s hair was a glistening black, but what caught her attention was the other glistening thing on his head. Horns, he had two curved low sitting horns almost hidden by his long hair.
Scarlet gasped as the man pounced at the creature, his body flying briefly through the air before landing on the ground with a loud thump and cloud of dandelion seeds flying up around him. A soft giggle followed his fall.
“Stop, please. That ring… it’s my Grans!”
The creature paused a moment before thumping toward her, keeping to the shadows and tall grasses so she couldn’t get a good luck at it.
“Then why give it to that creep? No, it’s safer with me!”
With that declaration, the creature bounced away from her and into the nearby copse of trees.
The man had managed to right himself and was stalking toward the forest. His hair was disheveled and flopped in the air until he snatched his hat from the ground and practically slammed it on his head.
“I will have that ring, I don’t care who I have to take it from. Get in my way and you will suffer just as much as that creature.”
His voice, more a snarl than actual voice, was low enough that she barely heard him. He turned and stalked toward the copse of the trees before she had a chance to respond. A moment later she took after him, having convinced her body and mind it was worth the risk.
He chased the creature. She chased him. The creature ran deeper into the trees, only the occasional flash of fur or long ear above the brush evidence that they were still on the right path.
Without warning a wall appeared before them. She had never seen the wall before, but then she realized they were far off her family’s land and she couldn’t have said where they were if pressed.
“Got you, you furry little bastard. Give me the ring and I won’t skin you!”
The creepy man stalked toward the creature who stood with its back against the wall. It looked curious more than scared though, Scarlett wanted to yell at it to run, but instead, she held still mere feet away. It stood nearly a meter tall when it stood on its hind legs as it did now. It reminded her of a dog and yet also a horse at the same time. The head was elongated and the ears stood tall and proud, but when it opened its mouth teeth glistened in what little sunlight found its way through the dense foliage above.
As the man drew near to the creature, the creature’s eyes began to swirl with shapes of black, blue, and purple. Before her eyes the creature burst into a shower of spiders, mere moments before the man’s hand would have snatched it and captured it.
“Aaaaaaaaah! Get them off of me. Get them off!”
The man stumbled back swatting at the spiders as they crawled over his entire body. Several clung to his hair, his clothes, a couple even crawled into his ears. He screamed as he swatted at them, then fell to the ground and began to roll back and forth. Scarlett backed away slowly. Usually, spiders didn’t bother her, but seeing such a large and determined collection of them unsettled even her usually steel nerves.
After what seemed an eternity the man stopped his rolling, flailing and screaming. Instead, he laid there motionless, his eyes closed tight and his mouth opened wide. The spiders left him at once in a single, cohesive wave as if by some unspoken command. They scurried back to the wall where they climbed on top of one another before twinkling and in a blink, the creature from before stood before her.
“He will not bother us again. Now then, you and I have much to discuss. This is not the place though. Come.”
It held out a paw, which she took hesitantly. It gave a soft, masculine sounding chuckle.
“I wish you no harm, Scarlett O’Connor. Your Gran sent me. More of that later.”
He held up a paw and stalled her questions before they could even be voiced. Instead, he led her to the wall. With a single knock, he summoned a door through which they stepped. The other side was a wall of mist. It cleared quickly to reveal a house that looked much like the home her Gran had when Scarlett was a little girl.
She could do little else but follow.
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