If only I’d never found the mossy shrine behind the waterfall. It wasn’t wet rocks that made me slip, but that malign will. It is too horrible to believe that I fell by mere chance, smearing blood across the altar.
This modern world is not equipped to stop them. What saint makes miracles today? Twisting flesh writhes at the edges of my vision. They won’t let me sleep.
Why won’t they let me sleep?
My actual entry for the weird fiction prompt. I originally titled it Release, but I think Shrine is better. I kept the “waterfall veiling evil” imagery from the Dionead story (although you could argue a dionead isn’t evil, just hungry), but tried to steer more explicitly Lovecraftian.
Old Eggy lived with his son in a smuggler’s cottage, with a brick front and the back carved out of the cliff face. It was little enough space for the two of them, especially as they were crammed into only half the house. The other half was taken by the old man’s egg collection. That’s why we called him Eggy. That and one other thing: Eggy was famed for being able to hatch any egg you brought him.
I brought him a mermaid’s purse once, when I was little. He saw the fish inside when he held it up to the light. He grumbled, but sent me back to the sea with a bucket. Soon enough he hatched a baby shark.
We all thought his boy was simple. He never spoke, had no name beyond “Boy” that I ever heard, but he loved to dance in the rain. Boy was never allowed to go down the short track to the cove, probably for fear that he’d see the biggest puddle in the world and jump right in.
Eggy never told a soul where Boy came from. One day, after a big storm, Eggy had a baby. Boy lived with him silently for 10 years, then vanished as suddenly – and stormily – as he’d arrived.
Eggy still never breathed a word until the policeman came, threatening murder charges. Then he shuffled into a dusty corner and pulled out the biggest eggshell the policeman had ever seen. And he’d seen ostrich eggs at the museum in Bodmin. It was hard, leathery and clearly glued back together.
“I hatched my boy when I was given this egg,” he said. “Then his family come up and took him back.”
Whoever they were, it was cruel. Eggy never hatched another egg after losing his boy.
Pete parted the waterfall like silk, hoping to sit on a rock and let nature massage his aching shoulders. He didn’t expect this.
“I thought dryads lived in trees. There can’t be a tree back here.”
“Plants, darling,” her fingers interlocked behind his back and pulled him close. “Look lower.”
He looked over her shoulder past green hair, a bare back, to see red leaves with trigger hairs waiting for insects’ caresses.
Her embrace tightened.
This was written for a 75 worder with the prompt “veil” and the genre “weird fiction”. I didn’t think it was weird enough though, so I wrote another one instead.
Technically dryads were the nymphs for oak trees (drys) specifically, but these days we tend to mean tree spirits in general. So I did some bad greek and assumed dionead would work for a plant spirit of Dionaea muscipula (aka the venus flytrap).