A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words (give or take) is a monthly feature. The image changes, and so does my response to them.
Standing on the rickety dock, Alphie peered through the darkness at the figure in the middle of the Teche. When lightning flashed, he could see it in the middle of the bayou. Shit. There’s no solid ground there. He thought he saw a faint glow emanating from either side as thunder rolled.
The dock swayed and he felt Leona’s approach.
“What the hell is that out there?” she said as she wrapped her arms around him from behind and rested her chin on his shoulder.
“I’m not exactly sure. What do you think?”
She shuddered against his back. “I don’t think I want to know.”
He nodded. “Maybe we should get out of here. Head back to the shop and see if we can get some sleep before the storm starts in earnest.”
Lightning flashed again before Alphie had a chance to turn. The figure–the thing in the water–was closer.
“Wait. What the hell? Did you see that?” he said.
“It was– It was closer to this dock.” His heart raced as he peered into the darkness, willing another bout of sizzling brilliance to illuminate the night.
She tugged on his arm. “Let’s get the fuck out of here. The faster, the better.”
Alphie was certain the figure was getting closer, but he felt drawn to it–like it was familiar. It was the same feeling he got when the presence was in the dive shop. He wasn’t wholly afraid of the specter, but he definitely knew it wasn’t a fan of Leona.
Light slashed across the night sky. The figure was maybe a few yards from the end of the dock.
“Alphie. Let’s go. Now.” Leona’s voice was insistent but laced with fear. He heard the shakiness and a tremor rippled through her, shaking his arm.
He backed his way toward land, keeping himself between Leona and the thing heading toward them.
Leona pulled him toward the safety of the SUV parked at the dock’s edge.
Thunder boomed and lightning flashed, creating a brilliant backdrop for the figure. Her hair was whipping wildly from wind he couldn’t feel. Balls of light gathered in her palms and intensified as the lightning continued to crackle in the atmosphere.
“Alphie? Is that her? Is that the thing from the shop? Did it follow us out here?” Leona’s words were rushed, frantic, and pitched higher than normal.
“Yeah.” He grasped Leona’s hand firmly and started to run, pulling her along with him. “Let’s get the fuck out of here.”
Hail pelted them, becoming larger and hitting harder as they ran the short distance to the vehicle. Whipping open the driver’s side door, he tossed Leona inside and followed her. He slammed the door closed and punched the lock button.
“Closed doors won’t keep her out. Let’s go,” Leona said as she fastened her seat belt.
He put the keys in the ignition. “What do you think she is?”
“Who gives a fuck? She’s not happy, and I don’t want to find out why.” Leona stared past him, out into the murky darkness. Her eyes grew wide. “Shit, drive now. Drive. Drive. Drive!”
He tried to start the SUV, but it wouldn’t turn over. Nothing. “We’ve got a problem.”
Blue-white light flooded the interior. Silhouetted just past the hood was a lithe figure with pale skin and dark, wild hair. Her dark clothing billowed in a breeze that didn’t disturb the still branches of the trees. She spread her arms out to her sides and balls of light grew there. Swirling, brilliant masses she seemed to draw out of thin air.
“This can’t be good,” Leona murmured.
“Got that right.” Alphie tried the key again without results. “Should we stay here or does it make us sitting ducks?”
“How the hell am I supposed to know?” Leona said, rife with annoyance.
“Think. What would Nana say? What would she do?”
Leona settled and exhaled a slow breath. “We need to stand together against her. She’s trying to drive us apart. Separate us. If she does that, she wins.” Her voice was more crackly, aged, than normal.
He put his hand on her arm. Her skin was cold. “You okay? Where did you go?”
“It’s nothing. But I think I know how to beat her now.”
“By proving to her she can’t have you.”
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