Fox XI

Fox found an old, hollow tree where he could sleep for the night. The stars began to graze the sky, as the land settled into tranquility. Eventually, Fox fell asleep, forgetting his troubles ahead. It wasn’t until later, when he was awoken by something being dragged on the ground. He sniffed the air to pick up the scent of anybody nearby. It wasn’t that of a wolf, which his Father had reminded him that wolves eat foxes. It wasn’t the scent of another animal, but that of a human, though not quite human. A humanoid, perhaps. His Mother forewarned him of humans or anything that resembled a human, and their cruelty to foxes.

I have never seen a human before, he thought. I must  look to see what it is.

He wouldn’t have left his burrow if he deemed it unsafe, however, his curiosity of this human seemed appealing. How will he learn what a human is if he has never laid eyes on one.

I must be heuristic, thought Fox. How else will I learn?

The dragging stopped, and soon another noise replaced it. The smell of blood filled the air, and Fox became nervous.

Perhaps the human is injured, thought Fox. If he is, I must not get too close.

He hid behind a leafy bush, and carefully peaked through the other side to see. It was certainly a human, or at least Fox was certain he was. The human knelt over a corpse to which he was feeding on. Fox knew it wasn’t safe to approach him. Against the moonlight, the humans skin shone with a tinge of light blue color. He had no hair on his head, and his feet were not that of a human, but shaped like an ox’s hooves, large and thick. The human ate rather savagely, and a few times paused to listen.

“Fox,” the human said out loud. “I know your there. You shouldn’t sneak behind me. It’s impolite.”

Frightened, Fox ran from the scene, and hid back into his burrow. He wished he hadn’t follow the human. He closed his eyes tightly, and hoped the human wouldn’t find him.

Morning couldn’t come too soon when he was awoken by the clicking of insects. He had forgotten what he had witnessed the night before. He walked out of his burrow, and stretched and yawned. He looked up into the trees, and thought it odd he didn’t see or hear birds. They usually woke him up, but not today. Suddenly, the events from the previous night dawned on him.

This must be a bad omen, thought Fox.

He wanted to crawl back into his burrow, but his tummy rumbled. He recalled seeing a brambel of blackberries not far from the creek, and headed in that direction. When he reached the creek he was surprised to see the animals in the forest gather nearby. Up in a tree nearby, Fox saw the owl that had helped him before, perched up on a branch.

“Owl,” Fox approached him. “Why have the animals gathered by the creek?”

“Haven’t you heard,” Owl said somberly. “A Lauma was killed last night by a human, not just any human, but one possessed by a demon.”

“Pardon my ignorance,” Fox said. “What is a Lauma?”

“It’s a female spirit that protects these woodlands,” said Owl. “Without them, the forest will die, and be taken over by dark spirits. We would have to leave here if that happens.”

“I saw the human,” Fox said. “I think he was human. He certainly knew who I was.”

Owl perked up.

“How close did you get?” Owl asked.

“I hid behind him,” Fox admitted foolishly. “I became frightened when he spoke to me and I fled.”

“That was very foolish of you to do,” Owl admonished. “A human possessed by a demon are extremely treacherous. Then again, not many of us have seen one that close, but we know their scent.”

“Owl, Owl,” a stag called his attention. “What are we to do about this humanoid?”

“We’re all very frightened,” spoke a quail.

“What if he decided to move in?” asked a porcupine. “We would have to leave our home.”

A loud brouhaha of quibbles, and agreements stirred among the animals.

What were they to do, indeed?

Beyond The Woods 9

I passed by the cabin she resided in, hoping to see the chimney active, but it never was. Mrs. Darwin visited her a few times a week to make sure she was well, but, Lucy didn’t come out of her stupor. She sat in the dark while stared out the window.

“All she does is sit on her wheelchair,” Mrs. Darwin told me a few days later. “I tried to encourage her to get up from her chair, but she won’t. Poor girl. I feel for her. She has lost so much.”

“Does she say anything?” I ask her.

“Lately, she refuses to say much,” Mrs. Darwin said. “She’s been through a lot. She lost her fiancé to the war, you know. That’s why she moved out here to get away from the memories.”

“I didn’t know that,” I said, realizing I knew very little of Lucy’s past.

“Nevertheless, her eyes light up when I mention your name,” Mrs. Darwin said.

“She never wants to see me,” I said.

“I know,” sighed Mrs. Darwin. “She doesn’t want you to see her in such a state… without a leg. She’s ashamed. I tell her you wouldn’t care, but she doesn’t believe me… I try convincing her otherwise.”

I thanked Mrs. Darwin for helping Lucy and I go on my way. Days have passed that nobody has seen Muja. I worry his fate might be death if he is ever seen. However, another threat came to overshadow those of Muja and Samuel’s whereabouts when a stranger was seen about the woods. He was a rather tall, burly man, dressed in black boots and pants, a red shirt, wrapped in a leather cape. He wore a black slouch hat that masked his face, often revealing an unfriendly one with a patch on his left eye and red hair that hung unkkept to his shoulders. Mrs. Darwin had seen him a few times coming out of Lucy’s cabin.

“What did he want?” Mrs. Darwin would ask Lucy.

“A place to warm up,” Lucy would respond.

Mrs. Darwin was worried of Lucy that she informed me about the stranger.

“I didn’t think much about it,” Mrs. Darwin told me. “But, lately he’s been coming and going from her cabin. He has even refused to let me see her when he’s there. I only visit when I see him go.”

“I can’t really get involved if Lucy is welcoming him in,” I said.

“That man is menacing,” Mrs. Darwin continues. “Many times before he hides her wheelchair from her. I’m afraid he might hurt her.”

I promised I would look into it, but for now I had other pressing matters. I get a radio call that Samuel had been spotted by the river a mile to where Lucy’s cabin once stood. I quickly head over there and to my surprise I see him through a thicket of trees.

“Samuel,” I call out. “Everybody’s looking for you.”

Samuel doesn’t respond.

“I need to bring you in,” I say to him.

“No,” Samuel says. “No!”

Before I can say anything else, Samuel begins to run away. I go after him.

“Samuel, Stop,” I plead with him.