Children's Games

Children's Games

A homeless man has a supernatural encounter.


Flash fiction

Author Image

Alyson Faye (United Kingdom)

I've lost track of how long they've been out there; waiting. I can't run any longer. My chest burns, the cuts on my legs and arms throb. One of them is infected I am sure, I just don't look at it anymore. There is no point.

'Horsey horsey don't you stop.'

The voices whisper, cry out, taunt. From over there in those scrubby bushes, from high up on the wire fence, from behind me. They are all around me. I can see black shapes flitting, like ravens. Only ravens leave you alone.

'Come out, come out wherever you are.' Laughter trickling, like waves undulating.

The first stone hits my right cheek. I feel warmth as the blood trickles down. It's just another cut to add to the long list of my injuries. A coke can lands at my feet, a bottle splinters over my shoulder smacking down on the concrete. I am in their playground.

I wrap my tatty mac around me, shiver and wish I had not come here this evening. I had been to all the usual spots, but I was too late and they had been occupied. I'd had a couple of nights in hospital last month when I'd cut myself so badly I'd passed out and someone had called an ambulance. Best two nights I'd had in ages they were too. Warm bed, clean sheets, food and drink. Bliss.

We all know the old Schoolhouse and its yard are best avoided. But I'd run out of choices. I'd hoped they wouldn't be there that night. I had got it wrong.

'Ring a ring a roses.'

The shadows leap and dance in a circle, overlapping. Fluttering like scraps of paper.

'All fall down.'

Screams of laughter. The shadows slip into the ground and slide away.

I start to recite the only protection I can think of, which I learnt as a child from my mother, long gone now. God rest her soul. She did her best.

'Our father who art in Heaven...'

Another missile hits me, a glancing blow. I shrug it off. Try and act tough. I want to make myself as small as possible so I curl up in a ball.

'Bloody little monsters,' I whisper. 'Go away!' Each breath hurts. My teeth ache profoundly. My vision blurs then clears. I pray not to pass out. Not here, in this place.

'Jack be nimble, Jack be quick.' They are urging me on. They want me to play with them.

They are a solid mass approaching me. Slowly they take shape. Some are dressed in jeans, others in pinafores, some in nightdresses. The youngest is sucking a grubby thumb. She's just a toddler. She seems so innocent. Their laughing dies. Silence falls. They all watch me. Will I run? Or am I done?

'Run rabbit run.'

They sing with such hope shining out of their faces. Their eyes glinting in the moonlight. I shake my head. I smell the spark in the air, before I see it, crackling out from their midst. They all gasp and watch it snake its way towards me in my newspaper lined coat. The air is thick with smoke and glee. My prayers turn to ashes.

'Boys and girls come out to play....' The voices fade away. The shapes retreat in to the Schoolhouse, with its boarded up windows and signs reading 'Beware-Trespassers!'

Competition: Friendly feedback, Round 2



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