I haven't posted any stories here in quite a while, not since our Flickr Fiction group more or less petered out. But when Tanita drew my attention to the anniversary writing contest put on by the Merry Sisters of Fate, I thought it would be a good excuse to stretch the ol' writing muscles in a different direction. So here you go: a (very) short piece of fiction inspired by the image below (Princess Tuvstarr by John Bauer).
Wild One Waiting
It isn't a path as others might define such things. It is really more of a track, a slight tamping down of brush and bracken that animals might use, wending past trees into the Deep Dark. But if you followed it, you would find no sign of wildlife, no scratches of bear claws on tree trunks or chirping of unseen birds. Not even the remains of small dead things that might have been left behind by a predator. Not even that.
But it leads from somewhere, to somewhere. If you follow it you might find out. Don't be afraid. The Deep Dark won't hurt you, at least not in ways you can see. Look: see how spindly and skeletal the tree trunks are. How sparse the leaves on the branches. There is nothing keeping you from the darkness, not really. You can step past the dry brown brambles and over the mounded tree roots. The fallen leaves are more grey than anything else; no longer green and not quite the rich brown of decomposing living matter. They pose no threat.
Oh, but you won't be alone. Make no mistake. No animals will you see, nor people. Yet you won't be alone. You will feel that someone else is there, feel them as if they were softly stroking the back of your neck, yet when you look back you will see nothing, and dismiss it as an invisible breeze. The shadows will shift as if a cloud moved over the sun, high above in his chariot, too high to send more than a few wan beams down through the latticed branches. Do not make the mistake of thinking you are alone.
And finally, if you walk long enough, endlessly enough, you will find where the path leads. Or rather: the path will lead you where it goes, allow you to the end of the track where the hillocks descend with treacherous angle and frequency to the clear reflecting pool where She sits. She saw you coming. She stroked your neck. She spied on you from the shadows. And now she will have you.
© Sarah Stevenson 2009
Thanks to the Merry Sisters of Fate for the fun prompt. Let me know if you decide to play too!