Last year I entered a lot of competitions. Many were flash fiction. Lost was entered for an anthology with the theme of twisted – under 500 words.
by Karen J Carlisle (c) 2013
The one thing that mother had said was to stay close. If only she had not stopped to pick up her beloved doll. If only she had not lagged behind. Their light had faded up ahead, long ago. Amelia only had the faint glimmer of the cave’s famous moss to guide her now. It had not helped. She stumbled over the now uneven ground. With the end of the man-made pathway, went all hope.
Amelia’s legs trembled and collapsed beneath her. The ground was cold. The chill of the thick air enveloped her, chilling her to the bone.
Maybe if she stayed put? Eventually they would find her. She sobbed. Her numbing fingers clung tightly to her doll. At least she had company.
The cave filled with the echoes of Amelia’s cries. Each one rebounded, lamenting the other growing quieter. Soon only faint, forlorn whispers remained, forming an eerie serenade that wafted through the endless tunnels.
Jack Bartel’s passion was caving. He had spent most of the morning exploring the caves. He stood in the main cavern, listening to the calming water as it dripped down the walls and marvelled at the faintly glowing mosses. A cool breeze caressed his face, breaking the stillness. On it rode a faint, sorrowful whisper bringing with it, heartache.
Some poor creature is lost.
Jack re-lit his headlamp and followed the sound along one of the cave’s passages. As he delved deeper, the air grew thicker. The cold crept closer. The cries grew louder until it was recognisable.
A child’s cry.
Jack’s gloved hands fumbled with his phone. He still had a signal and dialed for assistance. He pressed further on.
“Hello?” His call echoed back, becoming garbled as it ricocheted in the narrowing crevice. The cries stopped.
“Don’t be scared. I am here to help,” he said.
Up ahead, Jack saw something reflecting in his light. A few steps more and he found her.
The white bones were cold, loosely held within the tattered remains of a pale blue linen shift. Beside them lay a porcelain doll, its eye glinting in the torchlight.
*Flash fiction is a short story of less than 800 words (definitions vary from 500-1000 words)