Excerpt/Singing Grass

Following, please find an excerpt from Edie’s short story, “Singing Grass”
The passage below is a short excerpt from my short story, which won first place in the creative writing journal, “Slippery Elm’s” annual writing contest. Many thanks to Professor Dave Essinger and the staff of Findlay University’s English Department for making this opportunity available; and to author David Poissant, who judged the 2014 prose entries, for selecting my short story. The full story will be published in “Slippery Elm,” Findlay University’s literary journal.

I’d love to hear from readers who may have comments, suggestions, and constructive criticism to offer. Please feel free to contact me at EdithAClark@gmail.com.

“Singing Grass”
… an excerpt

by Edith A. Clark

  It was Eleanor’s two youngest sons, Samuel and Jason, who eventually made the nightmarish discovery. When they let the cows into the barn for the milking, Jason noticed something unusual about three of them. Their backs were splattered with something – it resembled dried mud. Closer inspection revealed a reddish-brown substance that looked like dried blood; in places it was sticky and damp and it gave them both the creeps. They could think of no explanation for it. It wasn’t the sort of thing biting insects could do, and there were no marks to suggest the cows had been attacked or bitten.

 When they finished the milking the brothers opened the rolling doors to let the cows out, examining each one in turn. They spotted another cow with the same splatters. The brothers looked at one another strangely, and in those few quiet moments after the cows had been turned out, they heard something peculiar. Something that made their skin crawl.

  It was the buzzing of insects. It sounded like a swarm of flies, and it was coming from the hayloft immediately above the cow stanchions. It was a sickening sound, and it filled them with dread, but when they went to investigate they discovered that the ladder to the loft was missing.

  “Where’s the ladder?” asked Samuel, a small note of panic in his voice. “Isn’t this where…”

  “Yes,” interrupted Jason. “It’s always here. Someone’s moved it.”

   Frightened and suspicious, they searched for the missing ladder, only to notice another, even more dreadful sound – it raised the hair on their arms and made the backs of their necks tingle. It was the slow, rhythmic sound of dripping, and it came from the hayloft.

  Fetching another ladder from the toolshed the brothers climbed to the loft, knowing what they would probably find. Standing on a rung of the ladder, Jason raised his eyes over the edge of the hayloft, then recoiled instantly.

  “Oh my God, Samuel. Oh, sweet Jesus.”

  “Is it Father?” asked Samuel.

  “Yes. I think so. It’s someone anyway.”

 A ray of light streamed through the small round window in the point of the gable overlooking the hay-filled loft. This beam of light swirled with dust motes, cutting through the dark shadows and pointing straight at their father’s grotesquely bloated and discolored body. He was swarming with flies, and lying in a pool of blood. His open eyes – once a clear, icy blue – were crawling with insects. The missing ladder and a rifle rested in the straw beside him and his chest was an enormous, bloody wound. The body had started to decompose in the intense July heat, and the stench was overwhelming. The brothers gagged.

©Edie Clark 2014