This week's Flash Fiction prompt was to write about a random place - chosen by Google Street View. I got this location, a country road in Romania. I 'stood' there, looked around me, and turned on the imagination. I also threw in a few cliches. It's 904 words.
Walk on the Wild Side
Well, it looked like a pub, and certainly smelled like a pub. Davey paused as he stepped into the darkened room, eyes adjusting after the bright summer sunset. The air was heavy with beer, smoke, and sweat. And cooking—mostly cabbage. The dozen or so tables were all full. The men and women were equally short and heavyset, dressed in drab clothes, with thick dark hair and heavy eyebrows. The men were the ones with the beards, for the most part. As heads turned toward him, there was a lull in conversation.
He heard a muttered "Turist"—Romanian but close enough for him. He smiled, walked over to the bar, and leaned his compact frame against an empty spot.
"Beer, please. Something local."
That got a grunt and a nod from the bartender. And a tall stein of dark ale.
"Thanks, buddy. I’m staying down the road, just a short walk to my B&B. I'm here for some hiking but thought I’d drop in for a pint. Meet some locals, you know."
Nothing. Davey looked around as conversation picked up again. After their first curious glance, he’d been dismissed. He sipped his beer. Hoppy, but good.
He had picked this location almost at random. He'd wanted to go hiking, somewhere out of the way, and also explore the local culture. A friend of a friend had suggested the Maramures Mountains, in northern Romania, so he’d packed his gear, booked a place, and here he was. The mountains looked very promising, the local culture not so much. Even his landlady had recited a list of rules, then ignored him.
The door opened, and the room fell silent once more. There was a hiss from the bartender. "Pricolici". Several people crossed themselves.
Silhouetted against the dying light was a tall figure, a woman, dressed in jeans, high boots, and a dark cloak. She smiled as she walked toward Davey, baring her gleaming white teeth. .
"Finally, someone new for me," she said.
Her accent was local, but her appearance anything but. Tall, slim, with long black hair, red lips, a penetrating stare, and a rounded figure under her colourful peasant blouse. Davey looked up as she snapped a finger at the bartender,
"A beer, Andrei. And two shots of Tuica. I will stay and drink with my friend."
She extended a hand, her long nails painted red like her lips. "Mihaela. And you?"
Her grip was surprisingly strong.
"Davey. Nice to meet someone who will talk to me."
She barked out a quick laugh. "Ha, ignore them. They are afraid of everything, including strangers."
She turned to the quiet room. "Forget I am here, go back to your beer."
As conversation resumed, she sipped her beer, then delicately licked the foam from her top lip. "So, Davey, what brings you to Romania? Are you maybe a hunter of vampires and werewolves?"
He smiled. "No, I’m a climber. I’m here to explore the mountains."
She raised a dark eyebrow. "A brave man. Some say they can be dangerous. The locals—these peasants, not me—they talk of shadows and noises in there, things that stalk the unwary, of hikers that never come out. They only go there in groups, in broad daylight."
"And you?" he said.
"I love the mountains," she said. "It's all stories by superstitious fools. Maybe I will join you some time." She lifted her shot glass. "Noroc."
"Cheers," he said. The plum liqueur was smooth but potent.
After many more ‘Norocs’ and ‘Cheers’ Davey was ready to leave. They had really seemed to hit it off, laughing, sharing stories, even flirting, yet ignored by everyone. But, it was late, and he really wanted to at least hit the trails by noon the next day.
Mihaela gave him a quick kiss and a strong hug. "You go ahead to your bed, my friend. Sleep well. Maybe I will see you again."
The sun had set long ago, but the road was still lit by the moon, a silver saucer high in the sky. The few huts along the road were dark, as was the forest behind them. Everyone was likely still back at the pub, but their dogs were certainly at home, barking as he passed by.
Until the howling started, deep in the woods. Then the dogs were silent.
He quickened his pace, as the eerie noise continued. They’d probably stop once they got closer to the village, but he should have at least brought a walking stick.
He could hear someone, something, running behind him. Damn. He broke into a run, arms pumping, but the long strides got closer and closer. He was almost at his place when something gripped his shoulder. He twisted and fell.
"Davey, my friend. It’s me, Mihaela."
She turned to the forest and called, "Lineste! Linest! Quiet down, you fools. Be nice to our guest."
All was quiet, except for Davey’s heavy breathing. She seemed barely winded.
"Here, let me help you up. I’m sorry, I should have walked you home. Don’t worry, you will be safe as you explore my mountains."
She held up a bottle. "Nightcap?"
When Davey awoke, alone, it was mid-morning. He had vague memories of long nails, sharp teeth, a muscled body and passion. She certainly was something. He winced as he sat up. Damn, those scratches hurt. Luckily the sheets didn’t show anything, except a lot of dark coarse hair.