ABOUT THE ARTIST
Neilan Thunblom is a 4th grader at Meadow Point Elementary. He enjoys listening to music, playing on his computer, and playing the piano. He also enjoys taking photographs and drawing pictures of nature. For the above picture, Neilan used the fall leaves to set the background for his dad’s art pieces. The brain piece looks like it comes out of a skull as a Halloween theme.
Neilan created this photo for a book cover for W. J. Howard’s first release of Grand Scares, a collection of her #fridayflash stories. He’s also helping his Dad with future covers.
Neilan is pictured below
with his father Chris.
This was an extra special week to write #fridayflash for the Horrific Visions theme over on the Vamplit Blog. This week I’ve written another young adult story featuring the photograph to the right, taken by my young friend Neilan Thunblom of his father, Chris’s pieces of art. You may have noticed that I plan to use this picture as a cover for my first six months of #fridayflash. Please leave a comment for Neilan if you like his picture.
Jack stood on the front porch of his home, sipping a box of orange juice his mother insisted he drink before heading to school. He stared next door, waiting for his best friend Lea to emerge from her house like she did every morning at exactly the same time. This morning she was late according to his Spiderman watch. Ten more minutes and they would have to run to school to make it before the bell rang.
Two more houses down the screen door opened with a screeching whine then slammed back against the doorframe. The boy who exited the house turned and yelled a word Jack was not allowed to say through the screen then stomped down the stairs.
Jack twitched and his heart skipped a beat but not because of the commotion the boy was making. Fudgy was double trouble: both neighborhood and grade-school bully.
Every morning, Jack and Lea made sure they left for school early enough to avoid Fudgy. This morning it was too late for him to escape the bully’s wrath. Fudgy had already seen him. Any attempt to flee would result in worse punished later.
Just as predicted, Fudgy stopped at the bottom of Jack’s front porch steps and leaned casually against the railing. Fudgy skipped his usual insulting greeting and instead pointed at his black t-shirt. It read, “Your lunch money or your life.”
Jack sighed and reached into his pocket for both the dollar bills his mother had placed beside his cereal bowl that morning. He held it out but Fudgy didn’t move, expecting Jack to come to him. With his arm far reaching, Jack descended the stairs as if approaching a hungry tiger, then retracted with a jerk when the bully snatched the money from his hand.
Out of the corner of one eye, Jack caught sight of a reddish-yellow leaf, falling from the maple tree that shaded the porch in the afternoons. It landed behind Fudgy, covering the head of his sister’s doll where it sat on the lawn. She never picks up her toys, he thought.
The leaf appeared to grasp the doll’s face then turned black and shriveled in an instant. Beneath it the ground collapsed into a swirling softball-sized hole. A root burst from the hole and lashed at the neck of the doll until only the head was swallowed down into the ground.
Jack stood by, his mouth gaping open, not sure what to think or do.
“Hey, retard,” Fudgy said while mashing his fist into his palm. “What’s your malfunction?”
The sound of Fudgy’s voice distracted Jack from the unbelievable sight. He was about to point down at the hole when Lea walked out of her front door.
Lea happily skipped down the stairs and approached Fudgy without fear. “Hi, Fudgy,” she said. In her opinion, being nice to Fudgy would somehow transform him into a good person.
Fudgy replied by pointing at his shirt.
Lea held up a brown lunch sack.
Fudgy repeated his demand by pounding twice on his chest.
“I’m not thirsty today anyways,” she said and pulled fifty cents her mother had given her for milk from her pocket. She handed it to Fudgy with a grin.
Jack leaned to the side when he noticed the swirling black hole had again widened. He pointed his finger at it this time.
Lea’s eyes followed his lead. “What is that?”
All at once, the doll’s head shot out of the hole. It hit Fudgy in the center of his back with enough force to send him stumbling forward.
Jack jerked backward and lifted his arm up for protection, sure the bully would take the strike out on his face.
Instead, Fudgy reached down and picked up the head and stroked the surface. “Funny looking rock,” he said then threw it down onto the sidewalk. It shattered into white powdery chunks like chalk and released a potent stench of rotting garden mulch.
All three of the children backed away, Lea holding her nose closed and Jack tripping as he retreated up the stairs.
Fudgy was sure they were playing a practical joke on him. He held up his fist from where he now stood over the closed hole. “You did that on purpose.”
Time seemed to stop as Jack and Lea waited for the bully’s next move. At the same time, the wind rustled through the old maple, loosening a dozen or so leaves that floated in slow motion down upon Fudgy’s head. He swatted at them as if shooing away flies, but they clung to his hair and face. “Get them off,” Fudgy tried to holler.
Jack and Lea rushed to help out, but it was too late.
Again, a gap opened up and tree roots emerged like king cobras snakes, dancing upward and wrapping around Fudgy like threads on a screw. In unison they spun the bully, drilling him into the ground until the earth sealed over his head.
Frozen from fright, both Jack and Lea stared down at the spot where Fudgy had disappeared for nearly a minute before Jack said, “Should get a shovel?”
“No, we should tell his mother!”
They were about to run down the street when the hole reappeared. This time it launched Fudgy’s brain at the sidewalk where it shattered beside the crushed doll’s head.
Jack and Lea looked at each other but didn’t say a word. They were, however, thinking the same thing. The hungry abyss must be sickened by the taste of plastic as well as the thoughts of foul boys.