Stories in under 500 words.
Overhead, the tree branches snapped. They cracked in the wind, shedding the skeletons of dry brown leaves on the ground below. A tangle of shrubs cluttered the forest floor. Berries were littered along the base of the bushes, several crushed underfoot.
Lindsey squished another handful as she trudged along the trail. Shivering against the wind, she zipped her jacket up all the way to her chin and held the flashlight out before her.
“Okay. You ready for this?” Maggie stepped up behind Lindsey and let the backpack fall to the ground. The leaves cleared the area with a hiss.
Lindsey rubbed her arms. “I don’t know. I just still keep getting this bad feeling about this.”
“For God’s sake, can you chill out? How many times do I have to tell you this’ll work?”
“I guess a few times more,” Lindsey mumbled.
Maggie squatted beside the backpack and ripped the zipper open. She pulled out a can of Boy Scout oil and shoved it towards Lindsey. “Hold this. Tonight, that freak gets what he deserves.”
Lindsey took the can like she was being asked to hold a Ziploc full of cockroaches. “You know, Maggie, I know he was mean to you and totally deserves to be punished, but couldn’t we just shave his eyebrows or something?”
Maggie took out the lighter and the pack of cigarettes. “No. It has to be this way. You’ve got to think about the wow factor, Lindsey.” Slinging the backpack over her shoulder, Maggie stood.
The girls crept forward until they came to the edge of the woods. The little ranch house sat on the edge of the trees, windows dark and porch lights glowing. Somewhere within, Eddie Bennett slept soundly, despite all the pain he’d caused, all the pain he was about to receive.
The girls tiptoed out of the trees and approached the house holding their breath. They moved swiftly, like two who had planned and practiced. Maggie grabbed the Boy Scout oil and circled the house dumped it along the edge of the wall. Lindsey followed behind, lighting cigarettes and dropping them in the grass. When their work was done, the girls stepped back into the trees and watched the first flames slither up the side of the house.
Maggie nodded in satisfaction. “Good. Now he’ll think twice before he insults me in front of the class again.”
Picking up their gear, they slipped away into the night. They wouldn’t hear about Eddie’s death until the next morning when the high school took a minute of silence in his memory.