Straying From The Path
By Kennice Leisk
As a woman, I am constantly told never to walk alone at night. Now walking on an unlit trail, straying from the path, tiptoeing into the moaning trees? Definitely stupid, the stupidest thing I have ever done. But the wind was whipping at my hair and my fingers were tingling from the cold —I just wanted to feed the curiosity that had been gnawing at me since I was a little girl.
I strolled for a while with no excitement save the occasional scuttle of dry leaves that left my heart pounding. The moon gleamed overhead, its crescent grinning down at me beneath the canopy.
Suddenly, a crunching sound tore my gaze down. I strained my eyes to discover its source.
Two orange, glowing orbs materialized, floating towards me.
First, I smiled.
But then I discerned two slitted pupils, darker than the space between the stars. The glow flickered as the eyes blinked.
Now, within the puddle of moonlight appeared a figure with curling hair the autumnal shades of the leaves beneath my feet, a pale face sharpened by the shadows, and pursed lips. Its head was bent, shoulders stooped, glaring up at me, despite its towering frame. Though petrified in fear, the image of a cat stalking its prey distantly amused me.
I stepped back, “Who—What are you?”
Its eyes narrowed, approaching still, and a male voice rumbled, “What are you?”
My fleeing heels met with something hard. A spike of panic stabbed my chest, but before I could topple backward I was steadied by a firm grip.
His lips spread into a Cheshire grin, “Clumsy.”
I tried to pull away, “Where did you come from?”
He used my momentum to swing me closer. He leveled his glittering eyes with mine, “Would you like to find out?”