Today is brought to you by the letter A and the category of fiction.
Abigail had lost her way again. This was the third time she had walked past this same burned-out hunk of a tree stump. It's charred, jagged black skeletal remains stood out in sharp contrast to the slippery white bark of the Aspens and the silver diamond patterned bark of the Ash trees in this area of the forest. All around her towered magnificent trees cloaked in lush green leaves that whispered as the breeze blew through their boughs, rustling their leaves.
She slumped to the ground and began to weep. The tears trickled across her dirty cheeks leaving clean streaks on her dirt-smudged skin. Her soft whimpers drifted across the leaf litter searching for an ear to fall on without success.
If it wasn't for the beautiful butterflies she wouldn't be in this predicament. Chasing them through the forest, entranced by their flashing cobalt blue wings with yellow edges, she had strayed from the well-worn path and now found herself deep into unfamiliar territory.
Papa had told her to stay on the path and reminded her of the stories she had listened to around the campfires late into the night during their summer camping forays. The stories about the creatures that lived deep in the woods. Magical creatures that would steal her away into the night, never to return to Papa and Nana's cottage.
The stories had imprinted on her memory and they were so vivid she could recall every little detail. She had watched her Papa as he stood on the other side of the campfire. His arms weaving back and forth as he strutted and bowed and even fell to his knees while he told the stories over and over again. She saw his face and she saw the way the sparks from the fire drifted up and traced his features while the firelight cast his shadow far and long into the night.
He told the tale of the magical creatures who were too powerful to be named. He referred to them as Stumpies because they were nomadic creatures and everywhere they moved in the forest they would leave behind an area of stumps. The trunks and branches of the trees were never seen.
Papa had heard once that maybe they ate the trees, but he didn't believe it. He often said that the Stumpies would gnaw through the trees with their sharp, needle-like teeth until the tree fell over and then they would burrow their way into the stump. Tunneling down until they were deep into the earth. There they would make their home. What was left of the tree would be cut up and hauled back into the stump to build their homes underground. After a few years, the stump would rot out and the tunnels would collapse which forced the Stumpies to move on to a new section of the forest.
Papa had told me that the Stumpies were always on the lookout for anyone who strayed into their territory. They would snatch them up and haul them deep into their tunnels where they would be forced into slavery. Anyone so unlucky would never see the light of day again.
She shivered at the thought and goose pimples began to rise on her skin. She needed to find her way out of here and quick. She wiped the tears from her cheeks and stood up. She eyed the burned out stump and wondered how it had caught fire. There were no other burnt stumps in this area that would indicate a forest fire. She stepped closer to investigate and noticed that the stump was hollow. She peered into it, only to see a black maw of darkness. Picking up a long stick, she jabbed it into the emptiness. It went all the way in, up to her hand, without resistance. Could this be an old Stumpie hole she wondered?
As she began to pull the stick from the hole she heard a noise. A chittering noise, not unlike a squirrel, but different. It had an eerie quality and it sent chills up her spine. She dropped the stick into the stump hole and heard it hit the bottom some distance below. This must be an old burned out Stumpie home. The noise was getting closer and she could hear the brush moving in the distance. It was Stumpies, she was sure of it. She needed to hide and fast. Without a second thought, she jumped into the stump hole and landed with a thud at the bottom, knocking the wind out of her. As she lay there gasping for air she heard the creatures above her. They were at the top of the stump. Their chattering voices echoed down into the hole and she could smell their foul breath. She knew it was over. They began to crawl into the stump and she knew she was about to be ABDUCTED