Marooned

By Oliver Fox

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The man runs, stumbles, trips, falls through the underbrush away from the roar of the shore toward the roar of camp, his chest heaving with every catching breath. He dare not believe what he’s hearing, what he’s seeing.

He’s not met a human soul in weeks.

When he arrives he finds silhouetted figures– men and women and children– standing around his fire in a crescent moon. A low drone emanates from them. He draws closer to the crescent’s mouth, the firelight dyeing the crowd a sickly orange the color of spoiled meat.

He is about to speak but stops short.

They are all naked, hairless, without genitalia, glistening with sweat. They stand still as mannequins. 

His heart thrums.

They turn in unison to face him. All staring. Staring through him. Their faces are expressionless. In fact, once his eyes adjust to the light, he sees they have no faces, only blank slabs of pulsing pasty skin where their faces should be.

As he backs away, the one nearest him, a tall, spindly-limbed male, takes a stiff, clumsy step toward him, and reaches out with spider-leg fingers. The clammy hand enfolds his face, muffling his scream.

He awakens to the oppressive heat of the morning sun, face down next to the smoldering embers of his fire.

Had he been dreaming? 

There are no signs of the visitors from last night. He is once again alone. 

It is only once he staggers to his feet that he notices the footprints. Seven pairs of elongated impressions, scorched into the earth. All point at him. 

He gasps, only it makes no sound. Slowly, hand quivering, he touches the place where his mouth should be, and feels nothing but cold flesh as his eyes, too, swell shut.

About Oliver Fox

Oliver Fox was raised on myths, fairytales, and tall tales told around the dinner table. So, as you may imagine, he’s most interested in writing thrilling, imaginative stories. He received his BFA in Creative Writing from the University of Memphis and is currently working on his MFA at University of New Orleans. You can visit his Goodreads page here: https://www.goodreads.com/oliver_fox

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