A Creepy Little Tale

Suspense-filled, weird, or off beat story for those who seek the unexpected.


Dodger bounded through the poppies, his sleek body, like a bouncing black beach ball, contrasted with vibrant orange blooms.


Calvin smiled from his perch on the cliff sixty feet above the placid meadow. Gloria would have loved Dodger’s playful excitement. But like Gloria, the poppy blossoms only last a few days and he will be left hunting for a new thrill.


Calvin hopped from rock to rock down the familiar passage to the trail. He jammed his shovel into a mound of freshly turned soil, and slapped his leg. “Come on, boy. It’s time to head back.”


The Doberman’s ears pricked, and he halted amidst the gregarious flowers. Pouncing back through the poppy field, he raced to meet Calvin, stopping briefly to sniff the shovel before running down the trail.


Dodger arrived at camp first, just in time to greet two new candidates. A pair of teenage girls. Both dressed for a day at the mall; Flip-flops, tank tops, tote bags and short shorts.


Calvin leaned against a tree and struck a pose. The same relaxed beach-bum pose he’d used on his website. A tanned hand pushed bleached blond locks away from ocean-blue eyes. He didn’t need a bot profile pic. His chiseled jaw and engaging smile were as natural as his six-foot four stature and rock-hard abs.


Bailey giggled, peering from behind a mass of long-blonde hair. She clamped her knees together and leaned forward slightly as if peeing her pants was imminent. Calvin sucked mountain air across pearly white, perfectly straight teeth and muttered, “Glorious.”


Amelia, the taller of the two, stood straight, one hand on a hip, the other twisting a dyed strand of violent-red hair. Calvin’s jaw tensed. “What the hell! Your hair was blonde on your profile.”


Her chin jutted forward, and she shook her head, swaying tresses that skimmed her narrow waistline. “That was last week. Blonde is boring.”


Calvin clenched his teeth, pulled a phone from his hip pocket and opened the Uber app. He submitted a request for a pick up for one. “I made it very clear I was looking for blonde models. Your ride will be waiting at the trailhead where you were dropped off.”


“What! I’ve wasted half a day coming up here.” Amelia’s face blushed as red as her hair. “Don’t expect me to refund your two-hundred dollars.”


“No worries.” Calvin flashed the phone’s screen toward her. “I just canceled the payment.” He stepped forward and stared at her heart-shaped face. Her green eyes and sprinkling of freckles were perfect. Damn! She could’ve been the one.


He leaned in, towering over the tarnished redhead. “Get the hell out of here.” The curve of her hips and her long shapely legs as she walked down the trail stirred a memory that burned in Calvin’s gut. Dodger sat beside him, whimpering and shifting nervously.


“Mister. Um, Calvin.” Bailey whispered his name. “Where’s the bathroom?”


His broad chest expanded with a seething breath. “Pick a tree.” He turned and studied the contours of her face; oval with a cherubic nose and dimples. Cute in a childish way. He stared at her pouty lips. “How long have you two been friends?”


Bailey glanced down the trail to where Amelia’s red hair was fading into the distance. “We met in the Uber.”


Calvin’s head nodded imperceptibly. Perfect. He pointed at a roll of toilet paper on a low-hanging branch. “Take care of business and meet me on the trail.”


The candidate did not have Gloria’s face, but Dodger was antsy to play. Calvin slung his photography backpack over his shoulder and guzzled half a bottle of water. The chase always made him thirsty.


Bailey’s unrestrained grin faded as Amelia disappeared from sight. “Are we going to take pictures now? Where do you want me to pose?”


“The light is good right here.” He withdrew a camera from the backpack. “I want some shots of you and Dodger running the trail. Nature Magazine is always asking for forest activities.”


He aimed the lens at her. “Start with a few stretches. Show me those firm legs.” He began clicking as she performed some rather awkward moves. “That’s great.” Her moves became more natural as she relaxed. “Yes, the magazine will love these.”


“Now, start at a slow run, so I can get shots of just you. Then, I’ll send Dodger after you.” He coughed to hide the chuckle that almost escaped.


Bailey ran her fingers through her hair and blew kisses at the camera as she trotted down the trail. Calvin flashed a thumbs up. “Okay, start jogging.” He signaled Dodger, who bolted after her in a loping gallop, his head low.


Long muscular strides closed the gap between dog and candidate.


“Run faster! Don’t let him catch you.” Calvin continued snapping shots. A twisted grin crossed his face as her sultry, lash-batting expression became a look of wide-eyed terror.


Dodger nipped at her heels, his tongue slinging slobber in a joyous romp.


A dislodged pink flip-flop slapped the Doberman before tumbling to the side of the path. He snapped at the second sandal, sinking his fangs into the soft rubber. Bailey stumbled and screamed. She scraped a knee, but regained her balance and lunged forward, barefoot.


Dodger stopped to chomp and shred the pink toy, then loped up the trail to herd Bailey toward the destination of his training.


Calvin jogged along behind until the chase rounded a bend in the trail. He slowed to a walk, in no hurry to catch up. He knew exactly where the trail ended, and he would know when the dog’s mission was accomplished.


The trees rustled as he walked. A reminder of a wisping breeze that swirled natural blonde tresses around a heart-shaped face. A face he would never forget. An image flashed in his mind. He grimaced, recalling red hair framing green eyes. Gloria’s eyes.


Dodger barked, and Bailey’s scream echoed through the passageway from the cliff’s edge. Calvin’s nostrils flared. “Glorious! The poppies will thrive.”


The Doberman lay waiting at the rim of the bluff, his front paws and snout pointing at the poppies. Calvin grinned and stepped forward to praise Dodger. He halted mid step. Blood pumping from a perforation between the dog’s ribs pooled on the stone surface. “What the hell!”


He spun toward a maniacal snicker and froze. Staring down the bore of a silencer, Calvin stepped backwards, teetering on the ridge. His arms flailed, and he shuffled forward, his boots gripping the ledge. “How did you get here?”


“Thanks to your Uber, I hiked from the upper trailhead. And I run faster than you pretend to take pictures.” Amelia’s lungs pumped with each labored breath, but the gun in her hands did not waver. “And without your beast to run me over, I did not fertilize the poppies.”


Calvin glanced over his shoulder at the field. His eyebrows arched and his mouth twisted. In a song of lamentation he chanted, “Ah, my glorious poppies. Every blood-orange petal flitting in the wind, waiting to take flight. Like a field of social butterflies. My social butterflies. Unlike Gloria their wings—”


Amelia spat the words as she drowned out his rant. “How dare you speak of my sister! Your evil lips should burn at the utterance.” She stepped forward. “Gloria’s wings are those of an angel. Your butterflies will carry you to hell.”


Smoke spiraled from the muzzle as Calvin, his eyes wide open and his mouth agape, plummeted backwards until the poppies consumed his soul.



Bailey stepped out of the shadows. “What…” Her voice quivered. “What happened to your sister?”


Amelia wrapped an arm around the girl’s trembling shoulders. “Gloria is in an asylum where she spends her days painting poppies.”


They followed a path to the bottom of the cliff, and there, among Calvin’s social butterflies, they dug a hole for fresh fertilizer.


With the shovel swung over her shoulder, Amelia peeled the red wig from her head, and tossed it across the fresh turned soil. She ruffled fingers through a short crop of natural-blonde hair. “Come on Bailey. Let’s go home.”


Wisping across the meadow, a breeze swirled through the poppies. A host of blood-orange petals flitted and took flight.


Amelia raised her gaze to the swarm. “Off to hell with you!”

“HIDDEN” a suspense novel.

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HIDDEN – Available on Amazon.