Heartland – Flash Fiction – Mark E. Deloy

The boy trudged across the blood-splattered, waist high wheat field, moving toward the decrepit farmhouse in the east corner of the property. He wore grungy overalls with no shirt underneath. His boots had bone chips embedded in the soles. The wind blew his maple colored hair across his delicate face. He had been lovely once, fragile and androgynous in his adolescence. Now he felt old beyond his years, spoiled by things that he had seen, things that he had done.

The night was descending on this lost plot of Kansas land like a blanket of velvety darkness. The boy knew how dangerous it was to be out after dark, especially so close to this house, but he had already seen lovely fear today, faced her, and then killed her. He had once called her little Sissy. He used to let her hold his hand when they crossed the street. Now she was a pile of bloody ruined skin, her heart punctured like a ripe tomato, her head torn off and buried in the churchyard to save her fragile soul. They had sent her, the ones who slept by day and hunted at night. They had stolen her, fed on her and then turned her into a demon, like them.

Bats circled the house’s apex, looking for a way in, bouncing off sun bleached shingles and chimney bricks.. Termite eaten wooden siding, once white but now the color of dust, covered the structure like rotten armor, shielding the slumbering undead within from the sun.

There was a graveyard in the back yard. It had no stones, no crosses, just mounds of worm-ridden soil in which the unnamed dead bathed. All who were buried there were victims, played with, tortured then discarded, covered with earth and rock to filter their stink and hide their rot from anyone who came around looking for them.

A shortwave radio antenna had been lashed to the porch with barbed wire. It was rumored that the vampires talked with their brothers in Hungary, Russia and Italy. Late at night, lonely truckers driving past this stretch of hellish heartland would sometimes hear boisterous tales of slaughter and bloodletting, stories of hunger and need.

A warm, foul smelling breeze flowed past the boy as he emerged from the fields and stepped into the dusty dooryard. A dead dog, still chained to the porch was being picked clean by two blood matted vultures.

As the boy put his foot on the first splintery porch step, he knew this was his last chance to turn back. Instead, he gripped the rough wooden stake even tighter in his small smooth hands, took the last two steps in one stride, and pushed open the rusty screen door, letting in a puff of warm Kansas air. To the boy, it smelled like vengeance.

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