Flumes Vol. 5: Issue 1, Summer 2020 - Page 39

noticed that she moved horizontally, extending her legs behind he as she glided, and began to do the same almost without realizing.

After several minutes, Matt followed beyond a hardware store wall, and out into the open, where the little girl waited.

“They can’t follow us here.” she said, drifting slowly down and away, over the rows of headstones.

Matt followed, as the girl settled in front of a small mound. There were stuffed animals and flowers surrounding the marker, where Matt could just read Our Beloved Maria in an ornate font.

The little girl stared intently at a small, red teddy bear, clutching a heart. Suddenly, she swiped her hand, grabbing the bear, and-

He wasn’t quite sure what had happened. As she grabbed with her hand, the bear leaned slightly to the side, while another, identical bear continued with her now-clenched fist. She clutched the new bear close, while the one still near the gravestone settled.

“Maria? How did you...?” Matt trailed off. He had felt that tinge of curiosity, but it faded. He was floating and dead, what did it matter?

After several moments of silence, Maria spoke, “Do you know how we can be alive again?

”Matt took a long time to respond. He didn’t know what to say. “I- ...don’t think we can be alive anymore.” then, after a beat, “I’m sorry.”

“Oh.” she said, quietly, holding the bear closer, “...oh.”

After another long silence, Maria spoke softly, “...I think I want to be done. I don’t feel- like I did before. I miss feeling.”

Matt could hear the high electric whine again. Over the distant fence of the cemetery, a glowing form came into view, suddenly stopping just above the iron bars. Two long, glowing pigtails hung on her shoulders. She waited.

“I’m not afraid. Don’t be afraid.” Maria said, letting go of the teddy bear as she rose. It faded before it hit the ground. “Bye.”

Maria drifted back over the nearest border of the cemetery. She stayed facing Matt as she did. Across the way, the glowing Maria reacted, following the edge quickly around to where she had left.

“Don’t be afraid.” she said again, as the light engulfed her.

Black flecks floated away from the radiant form of Maria, now so bright that Matt could not look directly at her. Then, with a blink, she was gone.

There was just a moment before he heard it again. The high whistle from the light, now coming from several points all around him. Near where Maria had disappeared, another light form zipped into view. This one, too, looked like Maria, though writhing in the air, clutching her stomach. Then another Maria, doing the same. And another. And another.

Within moments, the cemetery was surrounded by hundreds, thousands of Maria, all rolling, floating. One by one, they begin to burst, like small explosions of sparks. Even as they went, more flew in, some bursting before they even arrived. The cacophony of deafening, shrill whining and assault of bursting light overwhelmed Matt, as he buried his head in his arms.

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