Bright as daylight yet lacking color. The trees, the pleasing smells of pine, and of the cool night air. The night air that tastes metallic and reeks of dead men lying in a battlefield. The pads of my feet gently collide with the soft dirt as I trod along through these familiar woods. Bathed in moonlight I am unafraid. My hearing is kene and I am well aware of what lurks in these woods. I hear all, see all. My vision is a tunnel moving in one direction, but I am still aware. Aware of the other creatures in the trees and in the bush. I am even aware of the human hunters that stalk these woods with their guns and knives, and other sharp instruments of death. Metal on metal clangs as they move through the night. I am unafraid. My fur glistens with the evening mist, but It still does not reveal me. Not to anyone or anything except for the others. The spirits that walk by my side. Other souls in the form of animals. We are all on a journey that is ours and ours alone. Each walking side by side but our destinations are not the same.
I am looking for a man. Not a man of my ilk but a man nonetheless. My snout perks up as the scent becomes stronger, more pungent. It reminds me of rotting flesh, of death. I move slowly now. I can see the man I have been searching for. He is not moving, but still breathing. I approach with caution, with purpose.
He is still in the uniform of his garrison. A general of some repute I believe, his rifle laid across his chest. Slowly his left eye moved to meet my gaze. My growl stirred him from his journey to death’s embrace. He could do no harm so I sat beside him. Now I take the shape of a man. My dark skin makes his eyes go wide, but I paid it no mind. My gaze was as stone, as was my expression. The general’s leg was severed at the knee. Most likely from a cannon ball volley. Blood was pouring out like a stream. Like a calm stream of water returning to the earth. The hunters I spoke of were still approaching. They were not hunters of beasts. Not tonight at least.
He could hear them coming and he was afraid. Do you remember me? He looked upon me for a moment and mustered the strength to nod ever so slightly. Do you remember my tribe, my people? Again he nodded then looked to the ground. Not in shame but in understanding. Understanding of what will happen next.
My form morphed back into a beast, a grey wolf. I bit deep into the general’s shoulder but he did not bleed. With my jaws snapped shut I pulled hard. With each pull more light escaped this living flesh. The light took the form of a man that did not struggle or complain. When the last of him had emerged the living flesh grew cold. The general’s eyes were transfixed on his old husk as I dragged him through the trees and bush. The hunters approached and opened fire on the lifeless flesh. They drew a noose around its neck, flung the rope around a branch, and raised it high into the air for all to see, as a warning. I need not fear this warning for it is not for me. It is for other men of his ilk. Men like the soul I am now dragging in the dark.
The night is long and full of terrors. What do you fear? What is in the dark, or what is beating in your own heart? Discuss amongst yourselves, or with me if you prefer. @HtvImmortal