Guest Post: Into The Web – Written By Sarah Shackleford

I made a friend the other day, my fellow followers. Her  name Sarah Shackleford and in within such an Insane amount of time we have become blogging-buddies. I twisted her arm and made her send me a short story (The one you are about to read and like.) So she will forever go down in history within my writing. Read, subscribe to me and subscribe to her; time for something different to read. Here she is


Into The Web – Written By Sarah Shackleford

“It’s not aliens, Brian. Jesus.” I said. I could feel the heat of judgmental stares bore into my skull as soon as the word left my mouth. My cheeks burned with the same intense heat. “You don’t take the lords name in vain,” my mother’s voice echoed through my head. Especially when you’re in the company of several Peruvian missionaries.I closed my eyes and sent a tiny prayer- for a language barrier- upward.

“Well what do you s’pose made that… that…” Brian Fulbright fluttered his hand in the air, hoping to pull a word out of it.

“It’s a web. Can’t you see that? I’d bet a spider made it. Maybe a worm. Oh- maybe a caterpillar!”

With his hands placed firmly on his hips, Brian announced to the world that he believed that I was a know-it-all. “Rachel T. Everest, professional jungle explorer and resident expert Entomologist, apparently.”

I turned my back and knelt down in front of the little webby creation as Brian gossiped with the missionaries in Spanish.

I had seen the design before, but never as a web. I didn’t tell anyone, though. Not a soul on earth knew this was why I was here, why I flew halfway across the world, why I was so persistent about traipsing through the jungle.

Yes, I’d seen it many times. In the brush strokes of a painting in the Louvre. The symbol in advertisements. In my dreams. I knew it was meant for me.

I studied it carefully, counting each of the tiny posts that made up a perfect circle. There were thirty. There were always thirty. They were woven together by a tiny but mighty thread, like a microscopic fence. In the middle, a spire, like an upside down ice cream cone, completely spun of silk. Definitely not a Spider. And not aliens.

I pushed closer, inching my face forward, trying to see the tiniest of details when the voices behind me were suddenly quiet. Again, I could feel holes being drilled through my back as if they had laser vision. I quickly turned to shoot them a look back, but fell over and landed in a bush. My feet flew straight up in the air and my arms became stuck in a tangle of branches and sharp, stinging leaves. My pride was long lost to the Gods of the jungle.

I flailed my arms and kicked and bucked waiting for someone, for anyone, to come rip me from the brush. But the voices became smaller and more muffled and the bright green light of the jungle became sallow. I started to drift into blackness and felt the pull of gravity release me. I was free and floating amongst the stars for a moment, then came crashing back to Earth in a flurry of puffed skirts and billowing petticoats.

Skirts? Petticoats?!

My head felt bloated as if my brain was swelling and pushing out from my ears and nose. The whoosh of blood pumping in and out of capillaries and veins overwhelmed me. I couldn’t orient myself. I called out to Brian. To anyone.

“Help me, dammit!” There was only silence, though. Brian wasn’t there, the missionaries weren’t there. I wasn’t in Peru anymore, not in a vast and dying jungle of the modern world. Instead, I was slumped over on the jagged cobblestones of an alley, and just beyond my little corner, a bustling street full of people dressed the same as me.

I stood too quickly and wretched the lunch I had eaten in Peru just hours before into the wooden bin beside me. People walked up and down my little alley, but as hard as I tried to call out, they seemed not to hear me. Doorways leading out to the alley opened and shut and people bustled in and out, but no one helped me. No on heard me.

Like a ghost. A ghost stuck in the eighteenth century.I couldn’t process it, didn’t understand what was happening.

I was quickly losing track of time. Am I dead? But then a child stepped out from the shadows, dirty and afraid. She wore a ragged dress with no shoes.

She could see me.

She sniffled and wiped a grimy hand across her nostrils as she came near. Her tiny hands were shaking. She didn’t say a word, but took my hand in her own and I followed her, without question, out of the alley and through the streets to a small pub. And there, etched into the glass, was my symbol. Thirty perfect posts surrounding a conical spire.

I turned to speak to my tiny guide, but she was gone. All the people in the street began disappearing around me, fading into the smog of the city. The universe began its work on me and the pull let go, my body became fluid, my head emptied of all fears. I fell to the ground and hugged my knees to brace myself. I shut my eyes tight. My mind went blank. When I opened my eyes again I was gone from the alley, the skirts were gone, replaced with an airy silk robe tied at the waist with a fragile gold chain.

It didn’t take long for the child to appear to me again. She was older this time, but with the same chubby face of a child. She took my hand and silently guided me to a vast wall. It stretched as far as I could see on either side of me, around the entire city. A mountain rose up in the background, casting a shadow across the valley.

Carved into the mighty gray stones were pictures, stories, from a civilization that would be gone one day, but would leave their great legacy etched in stone. The carving the girl traced with her small fingers now was my symbol, an exact replica of all the others.

“Who are you?” I asked. But gravity released me again, quicker this time, and I smiled at her as my body was pulled from her place. She smiled back and shed a single tear as I left.

Again and again I was claimed and released by the Universe, traveling through the web of time and space. Each time I was met by the child, and then the young woman, who led me to my symbol. She never spoke, she never faltered, she never failed me.

But then she didn’t come.

For what seemed like days I walked alone through the woods, dark as night, never seen by the creatures who roamed. Never heard by the beasts that stalked. Although my guide was not with me, I was being drawn to her. I felt her inside of me, her thoughts overlapping my own. So I searched for her, never stopping, never faltering.

When I entered the clearing I immediately recognized the spire. My symbol, although incomplete, was real. Unlike the etched, carved, drawn, and painted versions I’d seen before, in a hundred lives, over hundreds of years, this was real. Here it was, larger than life, rising up into the skies like a gift to the Gods.

I walked straight to it and ran my hand around the large, flattened stones that made up its foundation. They were blackened with soot. As I touched them I felt the heat of fire, although it was damp and dark. Reaching up from the stones were tree limbs leaning into one another forming a tee-pee. Intricate carvings adorned the newly cut wood. I could smell the resin wafting through the gentle breeze.

I felt them behind me, but knew they would not see me, could not hear me. I turned to watch as they began circling the spire. Thirty altogether. They were robed in black. Hoods covered their faces and ornate sleeves drooped to the ground. A soft chant, in a language I’d never heard, echoed through the clearing. The music seized me, chilled my blood, and sent me to my knees.

When I turned back to the spire, the girl was there. Her hair was wild and whipping around her face as the wind picked up. The chanting grew louder as they circled around us, completing my symbol in the ancient woods of this ancient Earth.

She was tied to the tree but did not squirm to be let free, did not cry out for mercy.

“Who are you?” I asked her again. I reached up to touch her and flames began to lick at her feet, reaching up from the blackness in the center of the stones which held her prison. She began to scream and writhe as the fire grew and spread upwards, scorching her naked flesh.

I ran toward one of the hooded beings, hoping one of them would hear me, would spare her. But when I touched them they vanished. I turned and was back at the spire. All I could do was watch my guide, the woman who had been a little girl, as she was consumed by fire.

Her screams faded, her body went slack, and then she was gone from my head and I was alone with my thoughts.

I stood watching, did not take my eyes from her as flames inched upward. Fire replaced her flowing black hair, and for a moment she could have been a fire goddess with glowing ember eyes and a head full of flaming tendrils.

When the fire finally enveloped the spire entirely, the hooded ones began to leave and their chanting faded with them, back into the woods. The only sound was the crackling fire. But then the girl opened her eyes and looked at me, a hint of a smile on her cracked and blackened face.

“I am you.” She said. Her voice was smooth, calm. She was at peace.

“How?” I asked. I sobbed for the girl.

“Follow the symbol. It will always lead you home.” As she spoke she transformed into a body of fire herself, reborn from her ashes.

“What does it mean?” I asked. I watched in awe as she pulled the fire into her body and was reborn from it. She reached for me with her hand like lava, but I did not burn. I let her take my hand, let the warmth spread throughout my body. Floating above me, outside of her burned body, she was no longer the sacrifice. She was a God.

“I died for it. You will fight for it. Always follow it. It will never fail you.” She said.

“The little girl, in all those places. Do you remember?” I stepped closer.

“You are the little girl. I am you.”

“I don’t understand!” I screamed.

“The symbol is your destiny.” Her eyes fluttered; the magic that kept her with me was fading.

“Don’t leave me. Tell me what it means. Tell me what I have to do.”

“You will save us all. You were chosen. To be our hope. To live a thousand lives. To never forget. To keep the symbol. To obey it. Always follow it.” She was fading, the fire was going out.

“Why didn’t I remember?”

“They symbol will always tell you what you need to know.”

“What do I need to know now?” Her flaming ghost fell back into its blackened corpse. I knew it would not be long before she was gone forever.

“It’s coming. You will save us as I saved you. As I saved them. It’s coming. Follow the symbol. It will show you the end.” Then the light was gone. Her eyes closed and the wind picked up, sending her ashes billowing through the wind.

I walked out of the clearing, into the unknown, without my guide or any knowledge of who I was, where I was going, or what I might face. But I would follow the symbol. As I reached the edge of the clearing I turned back to see the spire, glowing blue and white under the black sky. Embers still spiraled upward to join with the ashes of the one who saved me. And as I looked upward, I felt her, in my mind, her thoughts overlapping mine.

Follow the symbol.



Sarah Shackleford’s blog

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Filed under 2013, Articles, Author, Guest Posts, Wordpress, Writer, Writing, Writing #2

9 responses to “Guest Post: Into The Web – Written By Sarah Shackleford

  1. agirlwhowrites

    How exciting!! Thank you for letting me hijack your space for a little while! I hope everyone likes it. 😀


  2. Pingback: Short Story: Into The Web | A Girl Who Writes

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  5. Big thanks for following…may you write more and more books in the years to come….


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