In this flash fiction, beyond the hedge: there is a world. A world containing a choice, a boy, and something…off.
I call it:
A New Place
Benjamin Nosh, age thirteen, stared at the gap in the wall of hedges. He was sure he’d never seen it there before, not in all the days he’d walked home from school.
He leaned forward, peering inside, but only found a second, further away wall of hedges stretching in either direction. Benjamin, back when he lived in Illinois, had spent some time in a corn maze at a festival, and this looked much the same. Like a hallway made of foliage.
With a bristle on his neck, he glanced back, pulling his head out of the strange new place, and found none of the other kids walking home paying him any mind.
He debated calling out to one of them, but a cold wind hit him as the thought made its way to his head. He sputtered, shivering, and hugged himself through his yellowish, dull coat.
The wind had a wetness to it, and he blinked as a squelching sound went off by his ears.
But not much else happened. The hedge wavered in the wind, and he waited until it stopped, before staring inside again. After some deliberation, he stepped into the space fully.
As soon as he did this, the wind shifted again, but milder than it was before, and a bit of sunlight hit his head—warming him.
A quick peek revealed that the path back out looked the same as well. And Benjamin breathed a sigh of relief. In the moment of entry, he’d become so sure that, as soon as he stepped inside, the path back out would seal shut.
Calming himself further, he noticed the hallway path curved off to somewhere on his left, while the right lead to only an alcove of sorts, with just its furthest corner as a blind spot.
He took a step toward the obvious way to go when a whisper that was not actually quieter than normal speech ruptured the air behind him.
“I would not do that.”
Benjamin spun toward the source of the sound, and found a boy looking like his own age—if much lankier than anyone he knew—sitting on the ground with his legs crossed.
“I would not do that,” he said, voice normal now, “It does not tend to go well for those who do.”