It's Three Word Wednesday!
The Glass Alligator
The glass alligator had survived two hundred years in the basement, broken crystal eyes staring gray into the void above the highest shelf. King of petrified apples and preserved raspberries a hundred generations removed from the bitter, crooked weeds growing in the yard, it sat cloaked in dust, alone, waiting for Reese's hand to find it.
We'd removed our masks a day past, the air being an utter disgrace of smells but, according to the read-out, fine to breathe. This house, alone on a high hill, was dark when we came, but our lanterns flashed over its flaking bones and showed us a veritable bounty. Metal, nails and cans and spoons and knives. My pack was full. Reese went into the basement looking for "treasure," his pack sagging. He'd put items in his shoes, beneath his cap. He'd carried a ring once inside his mask, pressed into the skin below his left eye. Three days it had been there. He said he could still feel it.
We'd dabbled long enough, I thought. Night falling fast, and a strange, floating dust blew out from the forest. I checked my gauge. Read-out said within parameters. I called to him in the basement.
He came up slow, the alligator in his hand. He told me where he'd found it, and he took off his other glove so that he could run a finger down its grimy glass side.
"It's not metal," I said.
"I think I want it."
"We won't get any money for it."
And he put a finger in the open jaws of the glass alligator, sighed, and the alligator shattered. He screamed, and I stood frozen. The alligator was gone. Glittering glass dust littered the floor, and Reese's hand was covered with it, mingling with the blood.
"Stop," I said, dropping my pack and rummaging until I found a threadbare towel. Purified water from my own supplies to wash his hand off, and I wrapped the hand and helped him gingerly place it back in the glove.
"Oh god, oh god," he said.
"Stop," I said. "Let's get out of here."
It was dark then, dark on a terribly lonely hill in a region which had been inhabited by men once. Now we were visitors here, and I thought I tasted their loneliness, their terror, on that night wind, a breath of our ancestors. A warning. I hurried Reese away from that house, and by morning, we were back across the line. Reese gave me his pack and went to bed, locking his door.
It has been two days since the glass alligator and the house on the hill. The money from the metal is in my pocket, and Reese is just now rising from his bed. I hear him in there. I hear his feet, dragging across the floorboards. Scraping. I hear the heavy swish of something else, something I know is not a tail. It is not a tail. I imagine his lean body, rested, strong. His hand, healed.
The door opens. I leave the comforting flicker of the vid to say, "Reese? Are you all right?"
In the dim light, I see him smile. "I am just fine, Max." It is a croak, a growl.
His teeth are made of glass.
Thank you to everyone from 3WW for stopping by and reading. Con-crit welcome. For some reason, I think I used "dabble" incorrectly, but I can't put my finger on it. Pfft. Brain dead. Tis the season.