In the Upside Down


( Send Me A Number and Some Characters )

This one ended up well outside my usual fare. Mostly because once my brain decided to associate Dark with the Upside Down, there was no going back. So here, have some cracky Stranger Things fanfic.

“Jacob?” Bowman called. He hated the way his voice wavered.

He couldn’t help it. Wood sprites thrived in the sun with light spreading over their wings. Bowman’s eyes, adjusted to the brightest summer days or the stark winter ones, were not ready for this. Even the moon was nowhere to be seen.

Leaves and grass rustled. Bowman’s eyes were wide, but he could barely see silhouettes.

Long branches reached out overhead, spindly and gnarled. Their shapes against the sky reminded Bowman of a thornbush, and their leaves were sparse and dry.

Those were no Wellwood trees.

“Jacob, where are you,” Bowman muttered. His voice refused to come at full strength. His heart pounded and a feeling of longing and loss both bloomed in his chest, but he didn’t know why. His wings were frozen and he stood rigidly on a … fallen tree? The moss beneath his boots gave it away.

He couldn’t blasted see enough to be sure.

A flutter behind him, like large crow’s wings, sent a jolt of fear through Bowman’s middle. For a terrifying moment, his limbs were jelly and he almost collapse. He couldn’t even turn to see what the source of the noise actually was.

Then, his adrenaline caught up, and he bolted into the air.

Behind him, the mossy stump groaned and then splintered as something settled its weight on it. Bowman’s wings moved frantically as something–a large something–tore into his erstwhile perch. Another spike of fear jittered through his wings and he went on until those violent sounds were far behind him.

Then, he crashed into something.

It was softer than running into a tree. A layer of cloth cushioned the blow even more. Even as it dazed him, Bowman recovered enough for recognition to spark in his eyes.

Right when he looked up to search for the human’s face in the foggy dark, a giant hand rushed up from beneath. Bowman was no match for the thick fingers that twined around him, forcing his wings close to his body and forming a cage that he couldn’t squirm out of. Not that he didn’t try.

Before he could assess who grabbed him, Bowman chomped down on the finger closest to his face.

“Dude. Bowman,” a familiar voice hissed. The hand didn’t let go or tighten around him, only lifted up to what must be eye level.

Bowman let go in surprise. He was starting to adjust to the dark at last. That was Jacob’s face looming in his vision. “I, I, uh,” he stammered. The recent scare pounded in his heart.

Jacob held a finger to his lips.

Once Bowman quieted, they both turned to look back the way he’d come. Bowman’s vision had adjusted enough to see the thick fog crawling along the ground and motes of dust floating in the air. Both reflected what meager light there was in an ethereal glow faint as starlight.

It was quiet, save for the thing tearing apart the stump. Bowman shuddered.

“We gotta find a way out of here,” Jacob whispered. He didn’t even wait for Bowman’s answer before he tucked his hand close to his chest. For once, Bowman didn’t fight being in his grasp.

Dead leaves and grass rustled under Jacob’s boots as he retreated away from the other sound. No matter how carefully he placed his steps, that dry rustling broke the muggy silence. Bowman flinched every time. It could be something else approaching for all they knew.

“How did we even get here?” Bowman muttered. His wings twitched restlessly.

“Dunno,” Jacob whispered back. “But we aren’t staying.”

He finally deemed it safe to turn away from whatever was causing a ruckus. Bowman clung to Jacob’s knuckles as the stale air whipped past him. He squinted around them until Jacob’s about-face halted.

Bowman felt the pulse around him quicken. When he followed Jacob’s gaze, his own heart raced to catch up.

In the dark, it looked like a tree at first. Something at least ten feet tall swayed in a gentle rhythm against the breeze. Its pale, flabby skin was shiny with something coating it. Too-long arms hung crooked at its sides with spidery fingers twitching at the ends. Thick legs held it up where it stood facing them.

It had no eyes, so Bowman couldn’t assume it saw them.

He didn’t get many more thoughts through his head before the thing’s head split open into four and it unleashed an otherworldly shriek that hummed right in Bowman’s bones.

The long arms extended forward and both Bowman and Jacob uttered terrified cries of their own. Bowman writhed in Jacob’s grip even as the human stumbled backwards and toppled. Those claws advanced on them nonetheless.

And landed next to where Jacob had fallen. The thing let out another scream before lunging forward past them. Jacob had to pin Bowman to his chest as he rolled out of the way of a careless stomp.

He pushed up to a crouch and Bowman twisted around to watch the thing lope towards the other sound. Soon, another creature’s yells filled the dark.

“Time to go?” Bowman prompted, slapping Jacob’s hand with a wing.

“Yep,” Jacob agreed, pushing to a stand so he could bolt in the opposite direction.

There had to be a way out.

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