Short Fiction: In the Forest

I crept along the forest floor, my fingers and toes propelled me along the roots and smaller plants. The scent was still fresh. This was the part of the hunt I loved. I paused and sniffed the air; the Elk had been by this way less than an hour ago. I stood, silent as a shadow, and titled my right ear up to the night sky.  The small creatures around me had fallen quiet at my passing, their instincts telling them a predator was about.

A soft shuffling of an herbivore chewing caught my attention. I turned toward the sound. The wind shifted, the intoxicating scent hit me full force. My mouth watered as I sprang forward. Hunger propelled me toward my target, my unholy gifts burned through the distance in moments.

The Elk had paused and looked up as I approached. Its eyes settled on the near-blur as I closed in. The mouth full of food forgotten, it tried to run, but I was too fast. I collided with it full force, knocking it flat. My fangs snapped into place as my mouth found the beasts neck. The Elk desperately kicked at me as we wrestled. Somewhere in its animal brain it knew this wasn’t how humans hunted. Warm, rich blood flooded my mouth. I drank three long, greedy gulps before I stood.

I looked down at the creature, it was bigger than I was, its rack was impressive, and it was still alive. One of the benefits from hunting large animals like this was that feeding rarely meant they died in the process. I knelt down and took in those wide, scared eyes.

“Shh.” I stroked the Elks neck as I made eye contact.

The Elk stopped struggling. A couple of drops of blood from my fangs closed the wound at its neck. I had escaped its sight before it was clear headed enough to stand. It shook its massive rack and took a couple of shaky steps away. I wasn’t exactly sure how hypnotism affected animals, but they seemed to recover fast enough.

I looked up at the sky, trying to place where I was in the big forest, and how to best get to my cabin. There were little markers I had placed in my usual hunting grounds, but this Elk had taken me farther than I had expected. It had taken all of the previous night to track it down. I had to sleep through the day to complete the hunt. After a moment I found the North Star and a constellation that I recognized and headed back toward my little shack.

With sunset only an hour prior I had time for the walk back to the cabin to be a leisurely pace.  I had owned this cabin for nearly twenty years now. It was one of the first properties I had ‘acquired’ when I became a vampire. Nice, remote, and with plenty of possibilities. I still hunted humans back then, but the peace was something I enjoyed. I hadn’t quite got the handle on my budding abilities so being surrounded by the living was rather loud.

I tensed as the familiar shape of the cabin came into view. The unmistakable scent of car exhaust and, more importantly, that of a human lingered in the air. I looked down at my blood soaked torso, dirt stained jeans, and bare feet. This wouldn’t end well if my visitor was still around. I circled wide around the back of the cabin, only one other person knew of this place, and she was the vampire that made me. A single dirt road led to my little wooden lodge and it was purposely in disrepair.

I found fresh tire tracks as I came around the front of the house. That and a small white envelope on the doorstep were the only signs of my mysterious visitor. I doubted that a mailman would be so dedicated to drive up a two mile dirt road in the middle of an overgrown forest. This was something special.

Just to be safe I circled the cabin once more, this time from higher up in the trees. Again, aside from the tracks and the envelope everything was the same as when I had left. As I strode up to my doorstep to examine the letter a familiar scent tickled at my memory. I held the letter up to my nose and took a deep breath.

Egyptian Goddess. It was from her. I slid a finger along the edge. A handwritten letter and a small business card fell into my hand:

My Darling Benjamin,

You have been gone too long. I need you here with me. Please, something is wrong.

Love

I read the words again. Then a third time. It was her, I could tell by her script, but it still confused me. Counting my life as a man, I was sixty-one years old, with thirty of those being human. I wasn’t nearly the oldest of her creations, and most likely I wasn’t the youngest either, but she had sent this to me. There was only one way to find out why. I looked at the address on the business card.

It looked like I was going back to civilization.

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Filed under Short Fiction, Urban Fantasy

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