A Cobweb in a Breeze
by Rick McQuiston
Jennifer’s attention kept swinging back to the young couple and their child. She couldn’t help herself; there was something odd about the way they walked along the small stone path, carefree and yet with purpose, as if they harbored a terrible secret.
Jennifer fidgeted with her purse. It was more to hide the fact that she was staring at them instead of needing anything.
She hoped the couple didn’t notice.
The man, a rather large fellow who sported pasty white skin and a bald head that reflected the early morning sunshine, seemed to be enjoying himself. He was smiling, revealing crooked teeth and an oversized tongue that lolled about in his mouth.
And the woman, similar in size to her supposed mate, was also happy. She meandered along, soaking up the fresh air and sunshine.
Between them was a young boy who appeared to be two, perhaps three years old. He was dressed nicely, wearing a pressed pair of slacks with matching button-up shirt and polished shoes. His thin black hair was combed over to the left side of his small head, framing his cherub-like face as if it were a Renaissance-era painting.
All in all, they appeared to be a perfectly normal and happy family who were taking a morning stroll through the park.
Jennifer forced herself to look away. It was rude to stare; she had no reason to. She herself was simply trying to relax on a beautiful morning.
But still, there was something about them, something…wrong?
The family continued strolling down the pathway. They weren’t talking with each other, instead merely smiling to nobody but themselves.
Don’t look at them. It’s rude. Just keep your head down.
Jennifer continued fumbling with her purse. She could sense the family getting closer, but still resisted the urge to look up.
She looked up.
They were not more than ten feet in front of her. The man was to her left; the woman to her right. And the boy…
He’s transparent! For the love of God, I can see right through him!
Jennifer opened her mouth to scream, but no sound came out. Fear paralyzed her body.
Is he a ghost?
The man and woman on either side of the boy suddenly stopped, holding their supposed son in place with them. They stared at Jennifer, their glassy eyes boring into her very soul, their mouths slack with milky drool that leaked down the fronts of their shirts.
However, the boy wasn’t looking at her. His semi-transparent gaze did not fall on the single woman passing the morning on a park bench. No, his hollow expression was one of indifference, almost as if he weren’t there at all.
The man and woman then began to move apart. They stepped away from each other, causing the boy to stretch between them. He seemed to be made of elastic, his whole body elongating between his parents like a cobweb in a breeze.
Jennifer bolted to her feet. Her purse fell off her lap. She started to run, turning away from the family, but only made it a few yards before the man and woman flanked her. Somehow they managed to catch up with her.
Jennifer ran as fast as she could. She screamed. Panic and fear ruled her thoughts.
And then she felt it. A strange sensation that only added to her panic: something was being pulled over her, like a blanket…or a net.
The man and woman rushed forward, each with a hand clasped firmly on the boy. They moved ahead of Jennifer, and in one swift motion ensnared her in their trap.
Looking up from her entanglements, Jennifer could still see the outline of the boy’s face. It was a surreal visage that was pressed against her own.
“Help! Somebody help me!” she screamed, but the park was empty so early in the morning. There was no one there to hear her.
The man and woman pulled their catch along the ground. Forked tongues darted in and out of their mouths, and an evil glint shown in their narrowed eyes. They were anxious to reach their lair in the woods and begin their grisly feast.
◊ ◊ ◊
Rick McQuiston is a forty-eight year old father of two who loves anything horror-related. He has well over 350 publications so far, written five novels, nine anthologies, one book of novellas, and edited an anthology of Michigan authors. He is also a guest author each year at Memphis Junior High School. Currently he is working on his sixth novel and more short stories than he cares to admit.
In case you haven’t noticed, there is a new addition to the menus above.