Fiction that explores the monsters and strangers among us.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Hill Country – Six Months Later


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***
Mary’s face reddened, her eyes flared, but she kept her voice polite, submissive and with a hint of sarcasm. “Yes, Mother. I will, Mother.” She pushed the vegetable skins, leftover scraps of bones and the crumbs of bread from the new wooden eating table onto a plate. She took them into the yard in back of the family cottage and dumped them on the ground.

“Big Ears! Come eat your supper.” Mary listened. Her skin crawled. Her eyes widened. She hunched her shoulders withdrawing into herself as she took in the gathering darkness. The burning stench of rotting fear crept up her nose dragging panic close behind.

“Big Ears!” A loud whoosh passed close behind her, rustling her skirt. She suppressed an urge to cry out, speaking instead a soft, “Oh.”

She turned around. In the distance beyond the village, the hills disappeared into the blackness of night.

“Big Ears!” she cried again, this time toward the hills behind her village home.

The response made her shake and almost lose her balance. It must be the roar of a lion, but no lions roam the hills nowadays. A wolf or a leopard? But wolves do not roar, do they? Must be a leopard. Or a jackal. She straightened her tiny back and shivered.

Her face, which had been smiling when she came out of the house, now bore a frown. A huge dark shadow passed along a stone wall in the yard in front of her. She opened her mouth while holding back the urge to scream as long as she could. When the roar came again, she released a suppressed huh and dropped the plate on top of Big Ears’ supper. She ran inside to the safety of the glowing oil lamp and the lingering warmth radiating from a fading cooking fire.

***
To Dwell Among Us continues Monday, November 19, 2012.

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