Tramlines – a prompt flash fiction story

Romain Breget

It took Eva a few seconds to notice Lyle was no longer by her side. She should have noticed when she stopped hearing his disapproving noises. She stopped and turned back to see her about a hundred yards back on the path. No wonder he’d let her carry on talking this long. She marched back towards him, her shoes dragging at the leaves on the floor as she neglected to pick her feet up high enough.

“Boring you again am I?”

“Hmm?” His eyes were scanning the edges of the path, tracing their way up the banked sides.

“Care to let me in on what’s so interesting seeing as my ideas on Clark’s disappearance clearly are not engaging you?”

“I heard you. You think he’s left because he doesn’t want to face his business going under,” he waved a hand at her without actually looking in her direction. He was still fixated on the path. He moved forward, the sound of the twigs breaking under his step breaking the otherwise silent space. The thought lodged in Eva’s brain as she looked up. Odd, no birds?

“You’re wrong though,” he muttered.

“You always think that,” she stalked forward to see what he was peering at, wondering if anyone would hear his cries if she picked up a nearby discarded branch and started hitting him with it. She dismissed the thought, probably do more harm to the poor stick.

“This is where Clark was last seen yes?”

Eva nodded then realised he wasn’t looking. She crossed her eyes and puffed out her cheeks at the back of his head. Every single hair on his head was in perfect place. Even after wandering through the woods for over an hour looking for signs of Clark. It really wasn’t fair she knew she had a red face and looked less like she’d been dragged through a hedge backwards and more like the hedge. Self-consciously she patted her hair down, hoping it wouldn’t spring back up into a halo instantly.

She was still smoothing her hair when Lyle turned to her, an expectant eyebrow raised.

“Yes Boss,” she nodded emphatically. “Still don’t see what’s so fascinating about the muddy wall. Some nice moss but…”

“Look at this path Eva, it’s more like a tunnel, see how the sides curve,” he pointed down the path into the distance.

“Is it an old trench or something?”

“No, not from the war like you mean. This looks more like something dug it out, something big passed through here,” he ran his hand up the bank and dirt cascaded down.

“This is too old. No machine that could do this would have been made when this was formed. And the wood is too dense to get something in without taking out half the trees,” she shook her head.

“I don’t mean a machine,” his finger moved sideways, tracing something. Eva leaned in closer. His fingertip sat within a gouge that ran for over a metre in either direction. Above it was a parallel line and below it, another two. The line was not straight but flowed along, bobbing up and down in places. It was old though, moss had grown in the deep tramlines. Eva poked at one and half her finger disappeared into the groove.

“Are you seriously telling me a thing did this? How come all the weird cases find us?”

Finally, Lyle smiled, “Luck?”

“How does this help us with Clark? This was ages ago.”

“Come on Eva, I know you noticed.”

She paused not wanting to place his game again. Why he wouldn’t just come out and tell her things rather than play the annoying teacher making her guess what was in his head. Only her pause only highlighted what she already knew. What he knew she had caught.

“The birds?”

“Or lack thereof.”

“You telling me the thing that dug this out, is still in these woods. Are you saying Clark was taken by it?” Lyle didn’t reply. He just pointed. Eva followed the direction and turned to look at the bank behind her.

There were another set of tramlines: claw marks. She moved closer but could smell earth more strongly. The tramlines were darker, the wetter soil underneath revealed. These were new.

“Aw come on. Seriously?”

This was written in response to the mid-week flash challenge week 153.


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