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Rated: E · Fiction · Horror/Scary · #2292267
John explores the nearby Trench, against his mother's word.

Jamie Wallace about 1500 words

1234 Ash Lane

Smalltown, AR 74325

(620) 331-6329


Mother Knows

by Jamie Wallace

The day was bright and warm, considering it was the middle of November. John bounced out of bed, already planning his day. The Trenches. He was going to explore The Trenches. He mentally checked off the list of stuff he needed to cram in his backpack. What a better use for the bag. Instead of hauling around binders and books for 2nd grade, he was going to stuffing it with exploring gear.

Pawing through his dresser, he found his favorite camo pants. He poked a finger through a well-earned rip. He glanced down at the matching scar on his knee. It had been a gnarly bike wreck. I bet I'm gonna get some awesome rips today.

He was quiet at the breakfast table, intent on scarfing his food as fast as possible.

"John, you're going to choke. Slow down, bub. What's the rush?" John's mom set her spoon down, eyeing John with fake suspicion.

"I'm gonna go 'splore The Trenches today," mumbled John, through a mouthful of cereal.

"Oh, bub. You can't. It's too dangerous down there. You need to have Aan adult has to be with you."

John stopped chewing.

"Mom, you said I could go outside and exploreplay today. It's a free day."

"And you can. You have the whole yard to explore while I unpack boxes." She pushed back from the table.

"Moooomm." John's dramatic voice didn't mask his bitter disappointment.

"This is a new place for both of us. There are all kinds of dangerous animals and snakes. we know nothing about. The neighbor told me there's rattlers around here. What if you get bitten?"

She walked to the sink with her cereal bowl.

"Then I'll scream, and you can take me to the hospital," John stated, matter-of-factly.

She came over to John, leaning on the table beside him.

"Listen. I wasn't going to tell you this. When I was talking to the neighbor, he told me a monster lives in The Trenches. The whole neighborhood stays away from there. They don't want to make it angry."

She stood up and went back to the sink, glancing at him over her shoulder.

John leaned back in his chair, ; his eyebrows scrunched with deep thoughts. His mom half-smiled and began running dish water in the sink.

"There aren't any monsters down there." John sounded unsure.

"I'm just telling you what I was told. The Trenches are the home of a horrible, hungry monster. He eats kids and picks his teeth with their bones."

"Mom, I'm not 6. I don't believe in monsters anymore," he scoffed.

"Believe what you want. But no Trenches. You hear me?" She gave him the serious I-mean-it mom glare.

The mom glare meant anymore discussion equaled prime time spent cleaning his bedroom.

"Yes ma'am." He sank down in his chair.

Her gaze softened.

"How about you explore the back shed? There's bound to be treasures in there," she said.

"I guess." John sighed and pushed back from the table.

"Hey. Bring those dishes over here. I'm not your maid," she said with mock anger.

As John clunked his bowl into the sink, she leaned over and kissed the top of his unruly hair.

"Have fun. I'll call you when lunch' is ready."

"OK." John walked toward the backdoor. His backpack leaned against the frame, practically begging him to go out.

John ignored the bag and opened the door. Before shutting it, he looked back at his mom. She was still at the sink. Hee quickly looped his fingers througharound the bag's strap and darted outside, letting the door swing shut behind him.

John ran toward the back shed. He opened the door, but then darted behind the building. The Trenches lay beyond the shed. He ran to the edge and looked down. The sides were steep, the and he could barely make out the bottom barely visible. He sat down on the edge. Reaching across his chest, he pulled on the strap of his backpack, securing it tighter to his back. It would be a steep slide to the bottom. He pushed off.

Like a champion speed racer, John slid to the bottom in record time. He shrieked with triumph all the way down. Overgrown weeds and fallen tree branches tried, but failed, to slow his speed. He pushed up with his hands as he neared the bottom and popped up to his feet.

"What a ride!" He brushed some leaves off his rear, and pulled a tree branch out of his pant leg. He checked his pants for new rips. Nothing yet.

The Trench bottom was darker than he thought it would be. He looked up, squinting his eyes. Sunlight filtered in but seemed to stop about halfway down.

He glanced around, deciding weighing out which way he wanted to explore first. He turned to the left. The Trenches were as curvy as a snake, twisting out of site in both directions. Snakes, better watch out for those. He set off to the left, looking around for treasures. His feet made shuffling, crunchy noises as he walked through the fallen leaves. A squirrel darted from one branch to another, above him, dropping his acorn on the way. The acorn bounced off a stump near John. He picked it up and put it in his backpack. First treasure of the day.

A few yards down the way, he saw a weird shape in the fallen leaves. It was large, about half as big as him. He stopped and observed it. It didn't move. It wasn't a pile of leaves. A silver flash glinted in a stray ray of sunlight. He inched closer. He leaned over and brushed some leaves off. It was the skeleton of an old bike. Score. His mind flashed with all the stuff he could make from its parts. Looking up at both sides of The Trench, he noticed how steep it still was.

"I would hafta use some rope to haul it up," he thought out loud. He Uuncoveringed the rest of the frame, he and leaned it against The Trench wall and . He continued thehis search for treasure.

Before long, he had half a bag full. A smooth rock, perfect for his slingshot, a rusty old head of a hammer head, and an animal bone of some sort were the top finds of the morning. Sipping from a bottle of water he had remembered to throw in his bag, he rested on a fallen tree. His eyes wandered over the tree, on the lookout for more treasure. A brown piece of fur was caught in the gnarled roots at the end. He leaned closer. The clump of fur was about as big as his fist. He squinted. Streaks of red matted some of the fur. Is that blood? He scooted closer to the fur. As he was examining the new curiosity, his stomach growled. He sat up straight, eyes wide. Uh oh. It must be close to lunch.

The fur forgotten, he jumped up and threw the bottle back in his bag. He scrambled up the side of The Trench wall but slid back down when a root gave out under his foot. He looked at both walls. They were equally steep. He jumped up and grabbed another bunch of tree roots, boosting himself up. Hanging there, looking for another hand hold, he heard a loud rustling of leaves from around the bend. He slid down, slowly, to The Trench floor. The Trench had gone quiet. The only sound was the quick staccato of his heart. He strained his ears. No bird song or squirrel chatter.

An uneasy shiver tiptoed up his spine. Goose bumps grazedappeared on the flesh of his scrawny arms. As if it had been waiting for the most opportune moment, a garbled howl rose from the silence. John twirled in a full circle, frantically looking for the creature who let loose suchthe a howl. His mother's voice played in his head: Don't go in The Trenches. The Trenches are the home of a horrible, hungry monster. He eats kids and picks his teeth with their bones. John had decided there was no such things as monsters. But standing in the bottom of The Trenches, hearing the last of the howl echo off the walls, he realized he might have been mistaken.

From up around the bend, crunching of leaves alerted himJohn something big was moving his way. A low growl floated on the wind. as it rushed past him. Without thought or curiosity, John attempted to clambered up the Trench wall. Loose rocks and branches rained down on him as he tried to find sturdy hand and foot holds. A rock sent him sliding back down to The Trench floor. A deep snort from behind sent him in a terrorizing frenzy back up the wall. Without looking back, John reached the top rim of The Trench. With his body halfway teetering over the edge, he glanced from side to side, looking for his house. He spied the shed a good way off and heard his mother distantly calling for him. Struggling, he tried to heave his lower half up out of The Trench. A hot, searing pain ripped through his right calf. In horror, he looked down at his leg. From the calf down, there was nothing but blood dripping from the ripped shards of his pants. His leg had been bitten off below the knee. Shock numbed the pain center of his brain. His gaze dropped to the floor of The Trench. A ball of brown fur, streaked with red, hunched over his detached leg, gnawing on his foot. John choked out a distorted cry. The monster stopped chewing, . It raisinged its gaze to meet his. John swore it grinned at him, withIt was nothing but blood-soaked fur and fangs gnashing.. With two lifeless black eyes focused on him, Tthe monster dropped John's leg. In one flurried movement, the monster breached the distance between them and clamped onto John's bloodied stump.

John looked back up to see his mother running towards him. She stopped and dropped to her knees in front of him.

"John, how did you make it this far?"

John's eyes widened with disbelief.

His mom gently reached over and placed her hands on his elbows. "I did warn you."

With a gentle push, she sent him tumbling towards the gnashing mouth below.

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