Escape

Escape

Flash Fiction

Theme: Prophecy

 

Feivele coughed, choking on the smoke gathering around her. Through stinging, burning tears, she tried to find a way out. A doorframe collapse ahead of her, its timber construction instantly swallowed by crimson flames. The fire roared with delight, extending its long, flickering fingers further into the room. Feivele backed away, covering her mouth and nose as best she could with her slender hands. The ceiling groaned as it fought to stay in place, even as its supporting structure was slowly devoured.

‘What a predicament,’ a woman’s voice taunted, silky smooth. A vaguely humanoid shadow unfurled itself in front of Feivele and gradually sharpened into focus. Its dark eyes gleamed and a wicked smile extended across its shifting face.

Feivele dashed to a nearby window, partially blocked by a fallen beam, and began kicking out the glass and iron frame with a bare foot. She tried desperately to ignore the shadow at her back.

‘There’s no need to be like that, Feivele. You and I are such good friends and so alike. Let’s talk for a while, hmm?’

‘No!’

Suddenly, a large section of ceiling fell away, depositing the contents of an upstairs dormitory directly onto Feivele. She rolled heavily against the wall, narrowly avoiding being crushed by a wooden chest. She coughed a mixture of dust and smoke out of her lungs and, bracing herself against the fallen chest, kicked the window frame and blackened glass free.

‘Leave the house if you must, Feivele,’ the shadow sang. ‘I am your prophecy. I know how it all ends for you. Nothing you do will change your fate now.’

Feivele took a deep breath and launched herself through the broken window onto the cool, dewy grass outside. She tried rolling to compensate for the impact but stumbled from exhaustion and instead collided headfirst with the ground, scraping her face in the dirt.

She quickly recovered and burst into a sprint, tearing through the night, trying desperately to lose the taunting creature that knew her so well. She vaulted a low fence and passed into the wilderness, her heart and head pounding in unison.

After some time, she found a hollow old oak and slumped down in its protective shell. She’d always felt safest when closed in. Even in her childhood, she could remember building barricades of stuffed toys around her bed, keeping her safe from the dark. If the tiniest gap existed then she couldn’t have been safe. To an adult it must have looked so ridiculous, seeing that wide-eyed girl surrounding herself with elephants, horses, bears and all manner of exotic, squishy species.

Ayma. That had been the name of her favourite toy, a midnight-blue tiger with dark, almost real, eyes. She’d told the creature all of her secrets, fears and dreams. Ayma had always just sat there and listened, without wanting to interrupt or argue her view whenever the chance arrived. Feivele peered through the trees and recognised the ruin of her childhood home, its once-proud structure now a twisted mockery of its former self. She remembered the fire that had ravaged it, the cries of her family and the shadowy creature that knew how she would die. It had been so long ago that she’d escaped her fate and jumped outside to safety, but it only felt like minutes.

Feivele got to her feet and started walking. Back through the tangled branches of the forest and the endless fields beyond. Back to face her past.

As she climbed gingerly back over the fence and approached the old ruin, she noticed the window that she’d leapt from as a little girl. The shattered glass still rested in the garden below, its once-perfect surface now scratched, weathered and filthy. Feivele stepped carefully around it and made her way inside the burnt-out house. The smell of rot and mould was unmistakable as she entered. She feared her presence might cause further collapse, but still she proceeded.

The front room was blocked off entirely, but she knew of a secret way in. She approached a tall painting of her father against one wall and carefully moved it aside to reveal a low, child-sized door secreted behind. Feivele hunched over painfully and shuffled through. Inside, clutching a dark blue, stuffed tiger to her chest, was a tiny girl wearing a grubby nightdress. She was crying and coughing in equal measure, but there was an unusual strength about her that surprised even Feivele.

‘What a predicament,’ a silky smooth voice said. A familiar shadow formed beside Feivele and grinned. The little girl dashed across to the broken window and started kicking at the empty air with a bare foot.

‘What is this?’ said Feivele. ‘I wanted to end all this, not to relive it!’

The shadowy being swirled and contorted. ‘There’s no need to be like that, Feivele. You and I are such good friends and so alike. Let’s talk for a while, hmm?’

‘No!’ cried Feivele. ‘I’ve had enough. I’ve run from the past for fifty years. I’m too old to be tortured by memories.’ She dashed over to her younger self, her arms outstretched and ready to take the trapped girl to safety.

But the shadow knew what was to come. A huge section of ceiling broke away and collapsed directly onto Feivele. The creature cringed as a heavy chest tumbled down from the floor above and fell onto the old woman, snuffing out her life in an instant.

The little girl stood in the frame of the window, her eyes determined and fixed on the distant forest far beyond her dying home. She took one final glance back at the shadow and held its gaze for an eternity.

‘Leave the house if you must, Feivele,’ the shadow sang. ‘I am your prophecy. I know how it all ends for you. Nothing you do will change your fate now.’

With one final breath, the girl jumped and vanished into the clutches of the night.

‘Goodbye,’ the shadow whispered. ‘For now.’

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