I'm not well-read in Horror, but not too long ago some ( Horror ) writer friends of mine and I had some fun writing flash fiction; 1000 words or less to tell the story. It's about as close to actual horror writing as I've come, though maybe it's in me to reach a bit further. There's also maybe a touch of paranormal, if you'd like. Anyway, here goes...
“What’s your name?”
I brushed the hair from her eyes, as we lay together. “Shep.”
“Shep?” Her eyes focused, searched for mine, and found them. “Short for… ‘Shepherd’?”
“Yes. Finder of lambs gone lost, apparently.”
“I knew that because my father was named 'Shepherd',” Her smile just then almost broke my heart.
“No. Not really.” She laughed. Her laugh came out wrong. Wet, and a little harsh. I barely noticed.
I just held her close, and started rocking slowly back and forth. I’ve done that all my life, tuning in to some silent rhythm, knowing somehow if I was going too fast or slow. This time, this moment, I was just right. We moved ever so gently back and forth.
“I’m always teasing people like that, Shepherd. Saying stuff I don’t really mean, just to see what I can get away with. I like seeing people afterwards, when I tell ‘em true.”
“So you lie to people. That’s what you’re telling me?” I was smiling, looking down at her, embracing her. Warmth flowing from me, into her, replenishing.
“No!” She convulsed in some coughing for a moment, almost laughing. Her hair fell forward again, and automatically I brushed it away, again. “No,” she repeated, in barely a whisper. “It’s more like, conforming to people’s expectations, then surprising them. But I think I’m gonna stop that. I gotta say, I’m not very good at sticking to my resolutions, Shepherd. I always drift back to my deceitful, harlot ways. But I think I’ll be able to stick to this one this time. Do you mind if I call you Shepherd?”
“Not at all. And I have faith in you. Deep down you’re strong, and this time you’ll pull it off.”
She smiled, looking down to my arms around her, settling in, and then looking back up at me.
“I know you’re not going to believe this, but I swear on the sweet Baby Jesus it’s true. That’s my name: ‘Faith.’ Really. I know you’re thinking to yourself that I’m just fibbing again, back to my wicked ways in a second, seeing how you’ll react. But it’s the honest truth, Shepherd.”
“I believe you, Faith.” I moved a little, adjusting. My leg had been aching, but I didn’t feel it at all now. Funny.
“I noticed you, back at the rest stop, looking at me. You didn’t stare or anything like lots of guys do, but our eyes just met for that moment, like something in a movie. Right before you banged your leg.” She laughed, and it was wrong, again. Worse. I let it pass.
“I thought you were very pretty.”
“Youuuuu wanted to get into my pants.”
“I did not. Well, not really. Okay, maybe it crossed my mind. But not at that exact moment. Right then I wasn’t really thinking anything, Faith. Just sort of… opening up, to a connection, maybe."
“I know. I felt it too. Isn’t it strange? A thousand people look at you, but every now and then you make that connection. Maybe in a bar, or in a mall. Maybe at a rest stop on a lonely stretch of I-74. But when it happens, it’s important, and you know it, deep in your bones."
I nodded. I’d felt it. Destined to connect.
“So why didn’t you come talk to me? I wouldn’ta bitten you. Not right there, anyway. Maybe in that van of yours, though.” She gave me the look that had gotten her a thousand drinks, ten thousand held doors.
“I… can be sort of shy sometimes, Faith. Silly, but true.”
“I don’t know how you can find lost lambs, and still be shy.” She looked up at the moon, and my eyes followed. I felt her move, and try to hold me tighter, but to no avail. So I squeezed, so she could feel the intimacy between us. More coughing.
“Where do you live, Shepherd?”
“You know that van, where you might have bitten me?” Her mouth fell open, then into a small smile.
“Not homeless. Houselss. I live in that van.”
“That’s homeless, Shepherd.”
“It’s complicated, maybe. But not homeless. I just… bring my home with me wherever I wander.”
“Finding lost lambs?”
“Exactly.” She seemed to consider this, with effort.
“Do you think you were meant to find me?”
“How do you know that?”
“Faith,” I said, smiling, and again brushing errant hair that the night breeze kept at. I saw that she was crying now, and my heart tore wide open. Former Marine, grown man, occasional finder of lost lambs. I would not cry. At least not right then and there. “Why so sad, little lamb?”
“I wish we had talked, Shepherd. Back at the rest stop. Even if just for a little while. We wouldn’t have had to go into your van or anything, although that mighta been nice,” She coughed, deep, convulsing for a moment. “Even just a few seconds one way or the other mighta made a difference, you know? For me, anyway.” More coughing, more tears. I wiped those away, and bent down to kiss her forehead.
“I’m here now, and I’m not going anywhere. I promise.”
“How do I know you’ll keep your promise?”
“Faith, of course.” My smile was crooked, and my tears had started, despite Herculean effort.
“Shepherd, I gotta tell you something.” Her voice was quiet now, and I had to bend to hear. I was cradling her now, gathering her up in my arms.
“My real name ain’t ‘Faith’. It’s 'Donna'.”
I nodded, and held her, my tears now spilling on her face.
“I guess I couldn’t change my wicked ways, huh?”
“I still have faith in you, Donna. You’ll be just fine.”
We were quiet then, like that. Under the moon, in the breeze, at the side of the road.
In time there were flashing red and blue lights, though I barely noticed, and I was still rocking her gently when two paramedics gently pulled me away from her.