NOTE: A sequel to “The Flight Into Egypt,” a Monday Flash Fics story from a few weeks ago.
The Miracle of the Palm Tre
By Jeff Baker
I spent my seventeenth birthday on the road, walking across a railroad bridge with images of Bill Bixby running through my head. I’d gotten off the bus at the last town, not wanting to ride back the way I came. Fortunately it wasn’t too warm or cold and I was still headed west. But I was getting hungry. I’d bought lunch and a dinner roll in the little town and while I still had money stuffed away in my shoe and the money belt I’d bought there was no place to buy anything to eat. I was beginning to realize I’d made a big mistake not finding a bus that would just take me across country. I probably could have afforded that but I didn’t want to be broke again.
Besides, I really didn’t know where I wanted to go.
I hopped off the bridge and looked around. Then I saw what looked like a water tower in the distance. Worth a chance. I started to cut across a field of some growing stuff that was up to my hips. I didn’t know what it was, maybe tall grass, or if it was supposed to be growing this high this early. I was a city kid. I’d thought following the railroad tracks had been a good idea.
I’d walked a ways across the field when I saw the first man, just standing there. There was another man ahead to my right. I hadn’t noticed them before.
“Uh, hi!” I said. “I’m kinda lost. My name’s Bryce. Bryce Going.”
No reaction. I got closer. His eyes were closed. I reached out and touched him. He gave just a little. I squeezed his arm. No muscle. No firmness. I liked muscle and firmness in guys, but this wasn’t it. Somehow the man was hollow. Like the cardboard roll under the toilet paper. As if something had somehow taken out his insides. I heard a rustling behind me. I turned.
The grass was twitching and almost parting behind me as if something was burrowing or crawling behind me. The thing that had propped up the two now-hollow men. I had nowhere to go but forward. I ran.
I glanced back. It wasn’t the wind. It was coming after me just beneath the grass. Ahead I could see the distant water tower. I was breathing hard. I looked back again.
I tripped. I was sprawled in the grass. The thing was coming. Hungry.
I remembered. I felt in my jacket pocket. A dinner roll wrapped in a napkin. I threw it where the ripples in the grass were, where the thing was. It stopped moving. I heard a crunching.
I felt sick but I got up and ran. I didn’t look back. In another few minutes I was at the other edge of the field. I stood there on a gravel road and looked back, my lungs burning. No sign of movement. Maybe the thing couldn’t follow me outside the grass.
I saw a sign ahead, one of those green signs pointing towards a town. I was going to get there, find something to eat and find a way of getting away from here.
I could see the little town as I got closer. To me it looked like a refreshing oasis with the water tower as a palm tree.