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“Faux Decay” – FWG Flash Fiction for 5/19/2024

We all know that looks can be deceiving, especially when they are meant to be.

 

The prompt this week is:

 

 

 

FAUX DECAY

 

 

The scavenging party crept closer. The only signs of life were the birds their approach flushed from their roosts in one of the towers. Walls, balustrades, and even the wide bridge in front of the castle were overgrown, vines clinging to the stones like destitute cousins.

 

“Come on,” Ruiz, the leader of the group, urged. “It’ll be dark soon. I don’t want to have to use torches.”

 

Darlen saw the wisdom of the last. An angry red sunset burned the sky behind the castle, which sat on an island at the edge of a lake. Once the bloody sky faded to darkness, any light they lit would be a beacon for marauders, human or otherwise. Something about the place tickled the back of her mind, though, as she reluctantly followed Ruiz and the other three onto the bridge.

 

While the others continued forward, she stopped to examine the encroaching vegetation. It was a woven mat draped over the paving stones and the bridge’s low walls. What little mortar that was needed remained smooth and uncracked. Looking at the castle, she saw no signs of decay, only mats of vines covering the roofs and hanging from the well-maintained walls.

 

The warning whispers in her head became horrified howls.

 

“Ruiz! Wait!” she screamed.

 

But Darlen’s warning came too late as the entire bridge, hinged at the castle’s gaping, arched mouth, became a giant stone tongue lapping up her kinfolk like morsels of stew meat. The portcullis gate—the monster’s teeth—cut off their screams as it slammed shut.

 

Scrambling against the smooth surface, she grasped then climbed up the loose vines to stand on the tongue’s tip. Spitting, Darlen cursed the stone monster and leapt for the shore.

 

 

THE END

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