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Damp Earth

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The gas lamp rose and fell as his arm swung back and forth. He carried a garden fork in his other hand. It was the only thing he could think to bring.

The moon hung low over the fields. The stalks of the linseed rustled in the breeze.

He moved into the woods, and held the lamp out in front of him.

To his right, an oak tree creaked.

He walked on down the slope, meandering carefully between the branches, trying not to stumble as he went. He paused, and looked around. The lamp gave off a slight hiss, but there was little else to be heard. He sniffed. He was sure he could smell it.

He turned the lamp off, and threw it on the ground. It wasn’t helping anymore.

Now he could hear. It was faint, but there was a soft buzzing in the air.

With his fork held out in front and his legs feeling each step in the dark, he carried on down the hill until the trees ended and he reached the next field.

The buzzing wasn’t too far away. He plunged the fork into the ground, and let it settle. Then, delicately, he ran his fingers across the surface of the wooden handle, feeling the fine vibrations. He listened carefully to the distant sound, turning his head from side to side to locate the right point. He sniffed again. There it was.

He untied his shoes and put them on the ground. Then he pulled off his socks and threw them into the mud, letting his feet wallow in the damp earth.

With a flash of excitement, he ran. He shot across the field, his feet whipping against the long grass. He threw his arms behind him and let his coat slide away. He stared at the moon, just above the horizon.

He almost tripped as he tried to pull off his sweater and t-shirt, but he stayed upright and threw them to the side.

Eventually he slowed down to a gentle jog, then stopped at the edge of a gully. He removed his jeans and his underwear, and left his watch with them in a heap. As bare as the sky above, he climbed down into the gully and stood in a stream in the middle.

The buzzing was intense here, but it had no obvious source. It seemed like the air itself was humming away.

He looked to the stars immediately above him. The buzzing grew louder. He could feel the vibrations shaking through his flesh, and growing ever stronger.

There was a brief flash.

He was gone.

Scattered across the field, his clothes shifted slightly as the wind blew past them.

Where he had stood, all that was left was just his outer layer of flesh, lying in a bedraggled pile on the ground where it had been shed.

Somewhere, far above the field, he travelled on.

End

Bio: J S Villiers grew up in Wiltshire, UK. In 2005 he graduated from Cardiff University with a degree in biotechnology. In 2007 he moved to France with no money and no plan, and with help from some friends managed to get a job as a teaching assistant in Nantes, where he stayed for eight months. Since then he's tried various jobs, but writing has always been the most exciting. He now lives in south west England with his wife and a small but rather charming cat. His first novel, "Welcome To Chaos", is available from Amazon.

 

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