Whispers Beneath the Surface

With deep fascination, the five-year-old boy traced his fingers over the mummified mass that lay before him in the overgrown grass. It probably had been a cat. Evidence of what must have been a pelt stuck to the bones, but it looked more like a dried sheet of dull greyish fibers now. The boy sighed softly, a sense of calm falling over him. With utter care, he took a triangular shaped bone in his hand.

A bird shrieked, drawing his attention toward the riverside. The water murmured, but a shudder went through the boy as he remembered his last encounter with the river and its black current. His stomach churned. Part of last night’s dream came back to him, and he tried to block the thoughts and renew the earlier feeling of peace that had emanated from the cat’s bone still clutched in his hand.

“Yuk, what are you doing Greg?” The boy jumped and tried to hide the bone behind his back.

His older brother William stood behind him. William turned thirteen about five months ago, and he had since developed his gift. Gregory hadn’t quite adjusted yet to the way it had changed his brother. William didn’t play as much with Gregory as he used to do. At times he became grumpy and irritable. Their mother said having a teenager with the gift of the wolf was double the pain of having a normal teenager. William’s mood changed with the phases of the moon, making him more agitated and extroverted as the full moon approached, while introspective and withdrawn nearer to a new moon. William also acquired the light-footedness of a wolf; a new skill Gregory particularly disliked.

William softly took his wrist and made him drop the bone. Gregory dipped his chin to his chest and blushed a deep red, but William touched his cheek and made him look up again.

“Greg, you shouldn’t play with things like that, you get ill so easily. And mum wouldn’t like it if she saw you. What were you doing here anyway?” William gave a nervous chuckle. “Looking for another swim?”

Gregory bit his lip. On the day he nearly drowned, William had dragged his body out of the river and revived him. After the accident, Gregory developed a high fever and nearly died. Ever since William kept a close eye on him.

Gregory whispered, “I wanted to get away from the stinky smell.”

William sniffed. “Which smell?”

Gregory frowned and toed the ground, avoiding William’s gaze. “It’s nothing…” He clutched his wrist, a gesture of self-reassurance. Why doesn’t Will smell the stinky smell? Something is really, really wrong.

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Rowan F. Harlow

Rowan is a novice writer from the Belgian Flanders. She is currently working on a novel related to her short story. This is the first short story she ever submitted.

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