An Odd Side Adventure

First short story of February! Another lighter tone story, just two travelers who go off on their own little adventure and it’s a fine tranquil walk, nothing bad happens. Nothing bad!

The artist is Frappe7 and you can find them on Deviantart.

I want to give special thanks to the patrons who’ve supported me thus far:

Hypermice, Sean Young, and Mister Artorias

Check back on Friday for more news, with another short to follow on Monday!

An Odd Side Adventure

She stared up at the pristine clear blue above, not a cloud in the sky. White doves flying overhead caught her attention as she followed their ascent through the air before vanishing behind a church tower where the bronze bell shone in the sun.

“This is dreadfully boring, and you know it.” Max waved his hand towards the plain beige house a lonely bed of flowers by its doorstep. The tour guide standing before the house droned on about the historical value of the structure, barely keeping the attention of the crowd standing before him.

Danielle pushed Max lightly. “Oh, stop and just enjoy the sights,” she said, trying to turn her attention back to the tour guide.

“Woah, careful.” He hissed, nearly dropping the cup of coffee he held. “Honestly, why are we following this group? We should go off on our own.”

“Because you’d get us lost, like in the last town,” she replied before taking a sip of her own coffee.

“Oh, come on, it wasn’t that bad, and we did get to see that group of deer, thank you very much!” He laughed, wrapping his arm around her shoulder, and began to guide her away from the group. “Trust me, it’s gonna be fun. Just a little detour, see if there is anything worth checking out here.”

She dug her feet into the ground and pushed away to meet his brown eyes. “We’re going to get in trouble with the locals if we wander around.”

Max ran a finger along her cheek, brushing a strand of black hair behind her ear. “Just a little adventure, no big deal,” he said and offered his hand to her. “Ready?”

“Stubborn, but fine,” she said, shoulders lowering in defeat. “As long as it’s fun!” Danielle quickly finished her coffee and handed it to him. After waiting for him to dispose of both cups, she turned on her heel. “Alright, lead the way and let’s try to be careful?”

“Careful is my middle name,” he grinned, taking her hand and led her down a side path. The cobblestone road twisted through a tangle of buildings. Bridges and balconies full of drying clothes, rose gardens, and the occasional perched cat or bird cast shadows over their steps.

Entering a small courtyard with a flowing fountain, Danielle paused by the water to stare at her reflection. Her eyes brightened at the sight of the red and orange fish swimming near the surface. “Come look.”

Max peeked over her shoulder and smiled. “See, the adventure is already off to a good start. We found some beautiful fish.” He said reaching his hand into the cool touch of the water, a gentle nibble at his fingertips. “Much better than listening to that boring guide.” Max grinned, looking over to Danielle.

A shiver ran through Danielle as she pulled away from the fountain. “Don’t touch my hand like that. It felt creepy!”

“What are you talking about?” Max asked, straightening himself and raised a quizzical eyebrow.

Danielle studied him hard before jumping at another shiver running up her arm. “Woah!” She exclaimed.

“What is it?”

“I don’t know, Max. Maybe it’s just this courtyard; it is a bit chilly.” Danielle said.

“Sure, let’s go to the next sight!” He laughed, guiding her along the path that led deeper into the town. The twisting path weaved through a maze of stone and brick, only broken up by the small bridges crossing thin rivers and gardens flourishing in front of houses. The descending sun’s rays peeked along rooftops. The echoes of distant voices in conversation always present. A brush of a curtain moving behind a window or a door closing shut up ahead was the only movement they noticed.

Walking down a series of steps, Danielle came to a halt before a large tree in a wide space between various three-story buildings. Its thick trunk rose up into dozens of branches filled with dark green leaves. Around the tree and lining the paths leading up to it were bright yellow flowers in full bloom, giving the whole area a strong, sweet smell.

“Let’s get close, Danielle.” He said, pulling her close and leading her over to a waiting bench by the foot of the tree.

Placing her backpack on the bench next to his, she sat down and leaned against him, resting her head on his shoulders. “It’s calm here.”

“Sure is.” He replied, running his hand through her soft, black hair.

Closing her eyes, she took a deep breath. “You have no idea how to get us back do you?”

“Not a clue.”

“Figures,” she sighed, taking another deep breath of the rich aroma so that it filled her lungs. Her heart slowed to a calm beat. A low, comfortable buzz in the air. She opened her eyes and smiled at the sight of the sparks of yellow fireflies that darted through the air. The sun finished its descent and was now replaced by a bright full moon.

A shiver ran up her legs as she sat up straight. Rubbing her thighs down to her knees, she felt the shiver run through her again. “Did it get cold suddenly?” she asked, adjusting her short skirt.

“No, why? Are you cold?” He asked.

“I’m not sure,” she stammered, trying to pull her sweater tight around her as another shiver ran through her. Her eyes widened at the air distorting before her very eyes. “What is that!?” she exclaimed, nearly falling over the back of the bench, only saved by Max grabbing her shoulder.

“What are you doing?” He asked, pulling her back from the edge.

“Look!” Danielle yelled, pointing towards the tree where another distortion fluttered through the air.

Max squinted his eyes, leaning forward before reeling back in surprise.

Crouched at the base of the tree was a transparent humanoid creature, covered in a cloak. A single white eye stared at the two of them.

“What is that?” Danielle whispered, unable to take her eyes off the strange ghost.

“I don’t know, but I think it’s time to leave,” Max said, slowly standing up, taking his backpack and handing the other to Danielle.

“Agreed,” she said, pulling the backpack onto her shoulders and taking Max’s hand, followed him away from the tree. Looking over her shoulders, she paused at seeing the white eye gone. Bumping into Max, she looked over his shoulder to see the white eye now blocking their path with two more behind it.

“Other way it seems.” Max laughed, trying to hide the fear creeping into his voice. Max pulled Danielle towards another exit of the courtyard before he stopped at the appearance of more of the white-eyed ghosts.

Danielle spotted the spark of fireflies across the garden of yellow flowers and pointed. “Over there!”

“As good as any path!” Max laughed, rushing towards the fireflies, Danielle right behind.

A howl caused her to glance back, eyes widening at the white eyes giving chase. In the glow of the moonlight, she could make out the shape of arms and legs extending, spider-like, across the floor. “They’re chasing us!” she eked.

Sprinting past the fireflies, they entered a tight passageway, their shoes pitter patter across the cobblestone. The yellow bodies of the fireflies flapped beside them as they twisted back and forth through the tight path. The howl echoed up and down the path in a menacing tone, the walls themselves beginning to crush all around.

Dashing out the tight corridor, Max nearly slid into more of the white-eyed ghosts. He turned on his heel and dragged Danielle who shrieked at the multitudes of white eyes staring at them. Spotting more of the fireflies along the wide road, he chased after them before pausing. “Damn, more of them,” he said at the sight of the white eyes filling the bridge they had been heading towards.

“Over there!” Danielle cried, pointing out a staircase going up the side of a slanted building.

“Good idea!” Max ran for it, stopping at the staircase to let Danielle ascend them first. He squeaked at the dozens of ghosts slamming end over end to get towards him.

Reaching the top of the building, Danielle froze at the edge and looked back to see Max sprinting up. “What now?”

“Jump!” he yelled, picking her up in one smooth motion and leaped for the next building over.

“Are you crazy?” she yelled, closing her eyes with fear of the ground far below.

Landing with a quick step, Max took two steps before leaping for the next building. Slowing down, he lowered her. “A little, but we got ahead of them for the moment.”

Danielle looked past to see the ghosts filling up the roof of the building they had been on a moment before, falling off the edge in a desperate attempt to reach them. “Wow, that was close.”

“Yeah!” Max said, taking a deep breath before turning away. “Looks like this building connects to the next with another stairway.”

“Alright,” Danielle said following him along the stone roof towards the path heading back down. The two of them followed its spiraling path between various buildings. Beneath them, they spotted more of the ghosts trying to reach up to no avail. “When is this nightmare going to end?”

“I don’t know, we’ve just got to keep moving!”

The path turned abruptly, and both of them froze up at the giant eye waiting for them. The giant ghost moved its hand up, and the entire pathway splintered down the center as sections began to crumble and fall.

“Damn it,” Max cursed, pulling Danielle to his side of the walkway and looked over the edge. “Jump for the garden below.”

“Wait!” Danielle squeaked suddenly finding herself hauled up over the edge and forced to jump. Landing heavily in the garden, she rolled out of the way as Max landed right behind her. Standing up with shaking legs, she saw more of the eye ghosts coming towards them. The larger eyed ghost was walking from the opposite direction.

“Come on!”

Turning, Danielle saw Max waiting down another side path, fireflies fluttering around his head and shoulders. Nodding her head, she followed him.

Their heavy breathing and steps along the cobblestone echoed along the tight path before it opened again into a large garden full of more of the yellow flowers.

“Over there!” Max said pointing towards a fountain at the center where a swarm of the fireflies filled the air.

Rushing over, Danielle turned at the sound of crashing to see the giant-eyed ghost smashing through the path they had come from. “Where to now?” she asked, seeing the smaller ghosts swarming past the large one. Scanning the large garden, she saw more of the ghosts coming from other paths.

“I don’t know…” Max said between heavy breaths.

Danielle backed up more until her heels bumped into the edge of the fountain. Its peaceful flowing water with the buzz of the fireflies took over her senses from the howling and crashing of the single-eyed ghosts. Turning around she saw the red and orange fish in the fountain.

“The fish again…” Danielle said memorized by their movements. Reaching out, Danielle placed her hand in the water, feeling the nibble at her fingertips. A smile crossed her lips.

A warmth against her back caught her attention as she pulled away from the fountain to see the bright, blue sky with the sun high above. “What happened?”

“I don’t know,” Max said, looking around in confusion.

“Was it all a dream?” Danielle asked, looking around to only see a garden at peace. Several people scattered around, talking or simply relaxing in the calm garden.

Max collapsed into a bed of grass with a heavy sight, wiping his brow of sweat. “It felt real; that’s for certain!

Danielle crossed her arms and turned to Max. “Yeah, well real or not you got us lost! And if it was real, then nearly killed!” She said with a kick to his leg.

He chuckled, “I did give us an adventure though!”

Shrugging the backpack off, Danielle sat beside him, and smiled. “I suppose you’re right.” She said. “Quite the adventure, think I could sleep the rest of the day.” She rested her head on his shoulder and closed her eyes.

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Author of the on-going serial "Perpetual War"

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