a flash fiction piece by Varun
The fire crackled as all of us were sitting on logs. Aryam pushed some of the wood that may have fallen out. I looked up toward the night sky. The majestic, glittering Orion shone above. The heat felt good on our cold bodies. Trees loomed around us.
As you may have guessed, whomever you are, we were on a camping trip, but not in the right place.
“It looks like someone forgot the GPS,” Bhardwaj said.
“I told you, it wasn’t my fault,” Manoj said. ”I thought you had it in your ’awesome’ phone.”
I looked at Aryam. His same frown had plastered his face which I last saw a year ago. Leon may have followed my eyes. I resumed trying to charge Mario’s battery.
“Let’s start a story-telling competition,” Leon said.
“I don’t mind,” I said. Aryam looked up at me.
“I know what you’re up to, Celestino,” Aryam said.
NOOO! Why did I write my name. Yeah… my name is Celestino. Actually it is my chosen Spanish name. I picked it because it relates to my interest in stars.
“Oh, come on, Aryam! You’ve had that frozen frown face for over a year now. We know that there was something in that park that disturbed you. Something that you didn’t want to tell. But you need to break the ice. Someday or the other you need to drop the raisins.”
“Spill the beans,” Manoj said.
“Yeah, and that day is today,” I said.
Aryam gave a smirk. I feared this incident. Before it happened, Aryam was one of the strongest people I ever knew. And anything that could shake him…. The warm heat from the fire didn’t feel so warm after all.
“I am going to go in and get some s’mores. I’ll be back in a sec.” I went in thinking about the story. What did Aryam fear ?Aliens? Rabbits? Furry alien rabbits?
In my own world, I picked up some chocolates. I took the rest and started out. I was inside for 15 minutes, I thought. I went outside. Everyone had weird frozen faces. I looked at Aryam. He, like all the rest, was staring at me. I felt a little uncomfortable.
I walked toward them.
”Are you ready to hear this story?” Manoj asked. I didn’t want to hear it, but curiosity won out. I slowly nodded my head. The radio sang cautionary songs. So Aryam started.
Aryam said, ”Once I was a happy person. I used to enjoy my life. When you called me to visit you at the park, I readily agreed since my favorite show wasn’t on.” Aryam wiped a small tear off his eye. ”I went where you were throwing the ball. You passed it to me, but I didn’t catch it. I went to a bush where it was. That’s when I saw…saw….”
He began repeating like a tape recorder. The radio played “Dangerous.” The heat from the fire didn’t affect me. I felt something lurch in my stomach. I looked at the surrounding trees. The smell of melted chocolate eased me.Then he tried a different tactic.
“You know how you don’t believe in supernatural things?”
“Yeah. I believe that they are just made up stories to impress others,” I said.
“I moved aside some bushes and found an alley below me. I was on a tiny cliff. It started from nowhere and ended at nowhere. I saw the ball in the middle of the road. And surrounding it where…. I am not making this up….like you, Bhardwaj.”
“Hey!” Bhardwaj yelled. He angrily walked toward Aryam but was held back by Leon.
“I saw ghosts. Five of them. Wherewolves stopped walking and stared at the balls. Clowns randomly peered out of buildings. It was a ghost town. Big dinosaur footprints dug the cracked path. One really creepy clown traced the ball back to where it came and looked at me. A chill went through my spine. He stared at me and then called everyone. Everyone looked toward him. He signaled me to get the ball I ran and picked it up. When I looked up, everyone slowly turned and saw me. I looked up to the clown and realised he was…my brother.”
It was the one from jail. Aryam’s bro was given the death penalty for murders. The exact number I don’t remember. But he really hated Aryam. Like an enemy.
Aryam continued, ”The clown flew toward me. Closer, closer, closer, closer, closer. I decided to make a run for it, but my feet were stuck. He came so close that I could only see the upper part of his body. Then he touched me on my shoulder. It went numb. I picked the ball and ran as fast as my feet could carry me. I threw the ball up. Then, I climbed over the cliff. My bro came closer and closer and closer. I reached the top and ran. I looked behind.The clown peeked from behind the bushes waving his hand. He slowly then made a fist. I took off. Since then, that clown appears everywhere.”
“AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!” I yelled out. I became really creeped out by the story. I hugged myself. And then everything turned black.
SPLASH! When I woke up, a bucket of water hit my face. Bhardwaj smiled with his empty bucket.
“I am awake,” I told Bhardwaj with an angry expression. Aryam was besides me, laughing his head off. I was in the campervan, confused.
“You should have seen the look on your face, man,” Aryam laughed. Everyone else way smiling. Next thing I knew, I also started laughing. Then, I remembered his running away.
“So, what were you afraid of that day? Aliens, bunny rabbits?” I asked, laughing.
His expression suddenly became normal.