Short Story Contest # 179 Theme: "Run the Jewels" courtesy of @Hubardo Congratulations @BookLover for your second gold medal with an eerie story in time for Halloween, Reflected Light. My further apologies for the delayed threads, my busy season at work has begun continues. ____________________________________ Reflected Light [1741 words] “No, he threw a beer bottle into a campfire twenty-five years ago. That's how he lost his eye. The bottle exploded and a shard of glass got jammed into his eyeball.” Chuck made exaggerated, drunken movements with his arms which cast large shadows onto the trees behind him. “But how? Like, glass melts, man. It doesn't explode.” Jimmy drained the last of his beer. “I don't know. It just exploded. Maybe it had beer still in it. I wasn't there. I wasn't even born yet, but that's how he lost his eye. My mom told me.” “But that doesn't make any sense -” “Why don't you guys just go ask him?” said Lucy. Her red hair sparkled in the light coming from the flames, making her look as bright as the fire. “His camp site is only about a football field away. You can see his campfire from here. Just go over there, and say, 'Hey, Dubs, how'd you lose your eye?'” “We're not going to ask him. He's fucking creepy.” Jimmy threw his beer bottle into the blaze. Chuck jumped. “Fuck! Jim!” “See? It didn't explode. We've all still got our eyes. I'm telling you, that creeper lost his eye when he was stabbed peeking through a hole in the women's dressing room at that old ladies dress store downtown.” “No, that's all wrong.” Chuck clumsily sat back down onto the oak tree stump he'd claimed when they first set up camp. “Some woman stabbed him in the eye because he was looking at her change? Come on.” “Serves him right,” mumbled Lucy. “Women scream when they catch you peeping. They don't stab you.” “Sounds like you have some first hand creeper experience there, Chuckie-boy.” Jimmy popped the top off another longneck. “I don't need experience. I just know from common sense that no woman has ever been stripping naked and then said to herself, 'Oh, I see an eyeball looking at me through that hole. I'm gonna stab it. Let me just take my hunting knife out of my secret bra pocket, or better yet, I'll use the shiv I keep in my thong.'” Lucy fell off her log, laughing. A snapping and rustling sound came from a dark corner of their campsite. Everyone hushed and stared out at the inky blackness. “The hell was that?” asked Jimmy, glancing to his right where the glow of Dub's fire could still be faintly seen in the distance. “That, my friend, was the shining monster.” Chuck grinned. “You're just full of stories tonight, aren't you? Please tell us about this monster.” Lucy righted herself on her log and winked at Jim. Jimmy shook his head at her, his blue eyes glittering with the reflection of the fire. “Don't encourage him.” “You never heard of the shining monster?” Chuck started his exaggerated hand gestures again. “It's like the Chupacabra.” Jim continued to shake his head. “Not a real thing.” “I know. I said like the Chupacabra, except instead of eating animals, it eats shiny things. It lives right here, in these woods, and it is responsible for eating -” “Shiny things?” Lucy gave into the giggles once more. “Yeah, like fish. It eats a lot of fish because their scales are shiny and shit, but it also will eat other shiny things like women's jewelry. Pots and pans. Aluminum. Me and my dad camped out here just last month. Brought and drank two six packs. We had all these aluminum cans piled up at the edge of our camp. The next morning, gone. The shining monster ate them all.” Jimmy rolled his eyes up at the stars. “This is your stupidest story yet.” “It's true! It's true man! But I haven't even got to the worst part. One time, a few years back, this young girl, she put lotion all over her skin and it had glitter and shit in it. So she was just this shimmering mess when she went to sleep that night.” “She put glitter lotion, all over her, while camping?” Lucy tried to keep a straight face. “So was she like a stripper? A stripper for campers?” “That could be a profitable endeavor for you, Luce. Fishermen, hunters, they all need entertainment while they're sitting out here on their asses. You should look into that.” Jimmy promptly shielded his face with his arms as Lucy's beer bottle came flying over the fire. “Stop throwing beer bottles, damn it! Someone's going to lose an eye.” As he spoke, Chuck's own beer bottle slipped from his fingers and crashed into the flaming logs. Both his hands flew up and pressed into his eye. “Oh my god! Oh my god!” “Chuckie!” Jimmy rushed to his side and grabbed Chuck's arm. Chuck let go of his eye. “Ha ha ha. Gotchya.” “Oh, you're an asshole.” “That's what you get. Stop throwing bottles. Both of you. Now where was I? So I don't know why this chick wanted to be all glittery while in the woods. You think I understand girls? But she did. She went to bed a shining goddess and woke up-” He paused and lowered his voice. “A bloody carcass. They found her dead with all her skin peeled off. Police never found the guy who did it, or her skin, but legend has it, it was the shining monster.” “This story makes no sense. None of your stories make sense. They're full of plot holes. Why would an animal only eat shiny things, especially inedible shiny things like aluminum? This is beyond stupid.” “Fine, don't believe me. All I'm saying is that Lucy better cover that shiny hair of hers before she goes to bed or it will be stolen from her in the night.” Chuck made a scalping motion with his hand. Lucy grabbed her hair and stroked the length of it, her brown eyes wide. “Don't believe him Luce. He's just trying to scare you. He's an idiot.” “Yeah, but maybe I'll just put a hat on.” She dug into her hiking pack and pulled out a knit cap. Jimmy wrinkled his brow at her. “It's cold! Don't you be giving me nasty looks with those pretty eyes of yours.” Chuck laughed. “You two need to get a room or your own tent or something.” “I wasn't hitting on him!” Chuck stood up, wavering a bit, and said in a mocking tone, “Your pretty eyes. Oh, you're so pretty Jimmy. I'm not hitting on you, but I just want you to know I think you're a pretty man. I'm drunk. I'm going to bed. You two try not to shine brighter than the stars tonight, okay?” Lucy and Jim exchanged quizzical looks as Chuck stumbled his way to the tent. Lucy started laughing when another abrupt rustling sound came from the trees behind Jimmy. She jerked forward and pulled the cap tight over her ears, stuffing bits of hair into the flaps on both sides of her head. “Luce! Come on. It's just an animal.” Jimmy walked around the fire and plopped down beside her on her log. “Yeah, the shining animal.” “You must be drunk for that story to be getting to you. That was the worst scary camp story I have ever heard.” She laughed softly and nestled her face into Jimmy's shirt. “Besides, I'll protect you. I'll keep an eye out for any monsters and make sure no one touches that fiery hair of yours. I'll stay up all night if I have to.” He nuzzled his nose into her ear. A lock of red tumbled down from under her cap, and Jim slid it between his fingers, watching it shine like a ruby in the light from the flames. # “Where's Jimmy?” asked Chuck as he poked a stick at the dead fire. He turned his ashen face toward the light of the morning sun and squinted. “You look like hell.” Lucy sat up and rubbed away the dirt sticking to her arms. “I don't know. He was here last night. Did he go to the tent?” “No.” Chuck slowly spun in a circle before letting out a hoarse yell. “Jim!” No answer. “Jimmy!” yelled Lucy. The forest was still and quiet. “Well let's go look for the idiot.” They dismantled the campsite, and began walking in opposite directions. “This way,” urged Lucy. “No, I want to ask Dubs if he's seen him.” “He wouldn't have gone that way. He thinks Dubs is creepy, remember? He wouldn't go near that guy's campsite.” “But he's the only other person out here. He might have seen something. Come on.” Lucy sighed and fell in step behind Chuck. His massive shoulders blocked out the sunlight and left her following in his shadow. As they moved closer toward the torn, dirt smeared tent they could see the stooped figure of a man as he knelt over a flopping fish with a knife in one hand. “Hey, Dubs. Remember me?” asked Chuck. The man didn't look up. He chopped the head off the fish. “You knew my mother way back when. I'm Chuckie. Little Chuckie. Remember?” Silence. “Well, anyway, have you seen our friend pass by here? Tall, skinny, dark hair, doesn't believe in anything. Kind of stupid. Throws beer bottles into- I mean... dark hair.” The man looked up with two different colored eyes and said gruffly, “I ain't seen shit.” “Okay. Thanks. Just thought we'd ask. Hey, nice new eye, by the way. Is it glass?” Dubs stared back down at the fish, sliced it open, and pulled out a handful of wet guts. “Well, nice talking to you.” Chuck screwed up his face at Lucy as they backed away. # They trudged through the woods all morning and into the afternoon, occasionally yelling Jimmy's name, until they had circled back toward their original campsite. A dark haired figure could be seen sitting on Chuck's oak stump. “Oh, man! He's been playing with us. I'm going to kill him.” Chuck's steps quickened. “Thank God!” exhaled Lucy, rushing past Chuck toward the slumped outline of Jim. “We've been looking all over for you, you dumbass.” She placed her hand on Jimmy's shoulder, and he fell to one side, his head rolling back into the grass. One gaping black hole stared up at them with cherry red blood oozing out of the socket and down his red stained cheek. His other eye was still in place, clean, crystal clear, a blue jewel sparkling in the sunlight.