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Tetanus Acres

Tetanus Acres

By Brendan Detzner

Elizabeth

17

It was getting darker now. Nightfall hadn't come yet, but if there were no interruptions it would be arriving within the hour. There was always a chance that the sun might reverse it's course, but it hadn't strayed all night, and Gregory knew he was never that lucky.

Gregory hung onto his horse with all of his strength. They were Elizabeth's horses, and they knew it, and they never treated other passengers with anything but disdain. Gregory had chosen the weakest horse of the four because it was the least likely to 'accidentally' send him flying onto the asphalt. Elizabeth was far ahead of Gregory, with the other two horses in between them. She glanced back occasionally to see how Gregory was doing, but otherwise kept her gaze straight ahead.

They rode until they reached a fork in the road. The road split off into three branches. There were wooden signs by each branch, with the places each road went to written in white letters. Elizabeth whispered into her horse's ear. It slowed to a walk, then stopped. The other horses lined up next to it. Gregory's horse was last.

Gregory hopped down from his horse and stepped away. He reached into his bag, pulled out a handful of notebooks, and laid them out on the ground. Finding a marked destination on the roads was as simple as following the signs. Finding an unmarked destination took more effort. Gregory considered the variables. The sun was almost down. It was about sixty degrees, with no wind. They had been on this road for two hours...

This particular intersection was surrounded by thick, dark woods. Somewhere in the woods, something moved. Gregory hardly noticed it. He was continuing with his work when he felt Elizabeth's hand on his shoulder.

"Get up, Gregory."

He began to straighten his notebooks so he could put them back in the bag.

"Leave them, Gregory. Get behind the horses."

He let the paperwork fall to the ground and looked back at the horses. They were lined up in a half circle facing the woods. He moved behind them.

Elizabeth stepped between the horses and the woods. The sun was setting, and the light was shining right into her eyes. She couldn't see anything at first, and there was no noise. Elizabeth kept her eyes steady. Her palms grew warm, then her arms, up to the elbow. The woods moved again. Elizabeth held back for a moment, just to be sure. A giant silhouette rose up from the horizon and stepped forward.

Elizabeth rose her hands, and the air in front of her was filled with orange light. Gregory ducked behind one of the horses to shield his eyes. He felt the heat wash over his body. It lasted for about a minute. Gregory waited a minute after that, then looked up. There was no more fire, except for a few stray tree branches that had not yet extinguished. The sun had almost disappeared. Gregory looked into the woods, but it was too dark, and he couldn't see anything.

Elizabeth was busy picking up Gregory's notebooks. Fireflies circled around her hands, so that she could see what she was handling. She put the papers into some kind of order and handed them to Gregory. Gregory took the notebooks and put them back into his bag. When the job was done Elizabeth waved her hand, and the fireflies disappeared.

Elizabeth hopped back onto one of the horses. Gregory did the same.

"Which way?" asked Elizabeth.

"Left," said Gregory.

They went left.

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