The ground was painted red.
Red autumn leaves greeted Jennie as she looked over the yard. She sighed as she got out of the house to clean it. She stood and took in the air; the smell of rotting leaves, the scent of the coffee from the neighbor’s, the whiff of cotton candy in the distance. Autumn was here. It was right around the time when her work boomed. Jennie was a gunsmith and people were starting to flock to her as the hunting season began and everyone, either wanted to fix their guns or get a new one. Yesterday, she completed yet another gun which was to be gifted to a kid as a birthday present. The kid’s father was delighted and even paid her extra.
After cleaning, she went to her workbench in the basement. Beside it was an unkempt forge. She stared at the contents of the bench. Two pistols which needed to be fixed, a rifle with a rusty barrel and a letter she received two days back. She had forgotten about the letter until now. She picked it up, opened it and started reading it aloud as if she were narrating it to someone,
Anne still misses you, she longs to see you before she dies. Need a favor, if you find it in your heart to oblige me one last time; my bones are too old for this one. Greatsword - the complete details are behind the letter. Eric will be there to pick it up in 10 days. Remember to get it done in time.
She let a deep sigh as she finished the letter. She didn’t know how to feel. "Love, Father" - those two words brought back memories she had kept in the deep recesses of her mind. Her relationship with her father was pretty much non-existent. The love displayed in the letter enraged her. Her father was a brilliant bladesmith. But that was all he cared about. When he wasn’t in his smith hammering at the metal, he was in the tavern, drowning himself in liquor and then he returned home to abuse his family. As years went on and people started to move on from swords, the time in the tavern increased and so did the abuse.
The letter came out of the blue. He hadn’t reached out to her in years and the first thing he does is ask her a favor; and a sword at that! Outrageous!
"Who does he think he is?!", she screamed as she came out of the basement and threw the letter on the table. She didn’t wish to ‘oblige’ her father. While she was trying to control her anger, there came a knock on the door. Visibly pissed, she went to get the door. She opened the door to her neighbor, Travis.
"Hey! Can I come in?", he asked.
"Um..yeah, sure. Come on in", letting Travis inside the house. As Travis made his way to the couch, he picked up the letter kept on the table.
"What’s this?", he asked.
"Nothing. It’s just a letter from my father", Jennie replied, trying to hide her rage.
"Wow. He finally wrote to you, huh?", Travis shook his head as he started to pore over the letter.
He turned the letter around and his eyes, now filled with curiosity, shot up at Jennie, "Did you see this? Looks very interesting", showing the other side of the letter. In her rage, she had forgotten to turn over the letter even once. As she took the letter in her hands, she carefully studied the ‘details’ in the letter. It was a sketch of the sword, with details about what it should be made of. The design itself was interesting. The mention of Obsidian intrigued her the most. Obsidian was sharp but there were only a few instances in history of Obsidian being used in swords. The more she looked at it, the more she became interested. This looked like a challenge she could not back from.
"Hmm... I guess so. Will you help me in making it?", she asked as she looked at Travis, burning with passion he hadn’t seen in a long time.
"Yes! Of course.", he replied matching her passion, not wanting to let it die. After all, he liked her.
"But, do you know how to make swords?", he asked.
Jennie winked and smiled as she went to the basement to start cleaning up the forge.
Tomorrow would be a different day.
"Father, father! Look what I made!", Jennie jumped with excitement, eager to show the knife she had made.
"What is it, Jen?", her father asked, turning to see her newest work.
"Aha", he said as held up the knife, closely examining it. It wasn’t perfect but it was good work for a kid.
"Good work, Jen! Keep at it and someday you’ll be better than me", he said filled with pride.
Jennie smiled her biggest smile and ran to show her mother the knife.
A knock on the door woke her. She sat up on her bed, thinking back on her dream. She didn’t realize how deep she had hidden her memories of the past. Another knock. She got out of the bed and rushed to the door.
Travis stood there in his 'time-for-an-adventure' outfit. Jennie laughed.
"What? I’m just ready for anything", he replied, defending his outfit.
"Sure. Sure", Jennie replied.
"So, I looked up the map. There’s a lake nearby and there are obsidian rocks near it. We’ll have to cross the woods to reach the rocks", Travis explained the plan.
"Fine, we’ll get going then", Jennie replied.
As she stood in the yard, she took in the air. It smelled different today. "This will be fun", she thought. Oh, how wrong she was.
It was mid-noon by the time they arrived at the woods. As they moved through the woods, they noticed it was rather empty. Occasionally, they would spot a bird or two but otherwise it was eerily silent. "Must be the season", Travis said, trying to explain the situation. They shed those thoughts once they reached the rocks.
"You said there were rocks. These are boulders", Jennie looked at Travis.
"Well, a boulder is a huge rock after all", Travis replied sheepishly.
"Whatever. Let’s start our work", Jennie replied as she took out two rock picks from her bag and handed one to Travis.
The sun was coming down by the time they were done. The bag was full and they were ready to return.
"It’s getting dark, we should head back soon or we’ll get lost", Jennie said as they started moving through the woods.
"Don’t worry, I’ve got just the right thing", Travis said and took out a tube with a lens on one end. He pressed on the side and light came out of the lens.
He explained, "They call this a flashlight. Fascinating, isn’t it? Somebody in my father’s shop left it this morning", as he used it to light up the path in front of them.
"You stole it?", Jennie asked.
"Nobody came to claim it, so...", Travis trying to avoid the moral consequence of what he did.
A grumbling noise interrupted their conversation. It filled the air, reverberating through the woods. Jennie and Travis turned to each other. A primal feeling took over them. Fear. The noise, which sounded like a muffle and roar combined, struck again, louder this time. There was some movement in the woods behind them.
Fear has a way of overwhelming your body. Nothing but the most primal thoughts remain. Right now, it was to survive. Jennie and Travis moved rapidly through the woods, with the flashlight’s help. They now felt something approaching them from the front swiftly. They turned left and kept on going for a while before they stopped.
"Looks like...it stopped", Travis, panting, not wanting to know what ‘it’ was.
"Are you fine?", he asked, turning to Jennie. But Jennie wasn’t listening to him. She was staring at something. Travis turned to see what it was.
Two red dots greeted them. But those weren’t dots. Travis pointed the flashlight at them. Eyes. Those were eyes of a monster. The light illuminated its face. Grotesque. It resembled a human, in that, it had two eyes and a hole resembling a mouth. Travis felt his hands go limp as the flashlight fell. The light illuminated much of the monster now. It was huge. Its arms were as broad as Travis’ waist, with nails, the size of a flashlight and a body covered in fur.
Time stood still for a moment. Jennie and Travis looked at each other and nodded. One of them must come out alive. As the monster lunged, both broke into a run in opposite directions.
Jennie kept on running. She didn’t know how long she did that. A silence wrapped around her as she stood for a while. When she turned, it stood in front of her. Monstrous than before. The monster raised its arm and brought it down on Jennie. She closed her eyes.
A pistol clocked in the distance.
The ground was painted red.