You walk this route every day on your way home from work. It’s a nice walk at first. You get farther away from the cafe and town though and things change. It’s pretty much the intersection where Bloom Street crosses with Elmbranch View. The sidewalk cracks and weeds grow high in the yards of each house you pass. There’s this one dog--it’s at 237 Bloom Street--it always tries to jump the fence to get you, barking and gnashing vicious teeth. You’ve never seen a more hellish looking hound. That’s about the point where you hasten your step. If there was a sidewalk on the other side of the road you’d be over there.
After a solid twenty in the sun, you arrive at your apartment complex. It’s a very simple place. Twelve units, spread across two separate buildings that don’t really look much alike save for all the doors and awkwardly small windows. The place could use a new coat of paint. And a dedicated landscaping service--and not just Frank from B5 who has a lawn mower in storage and a deal with the landlord. Actually, this place could use a few other things, too.
Like a new landlord.
Speaking of which.
Mr. Boliard stands right at the bottom of the stairs leading up to your unit. Great. You paid rent on time, right? Was it the loud music a few nights ago that Mrs. Douglas in A6 complained about? No. He would’ve been here sooner if it was about that.
“Mr. Boliard,” you address him politely with pursed lips and a nod. Your forehead is dripping sweat and you’re pretty sure you’re sunburned already.
“Charlie,” your name on his tongue sounds like an insult and you struggle past to get to your unit without scowling in fury.
Nothing more is said and with a quick look back you see he’s still standing at the bottom of the stairs, his back turned. That stupid suit he always wears. So gray and dumb. Who wears a suit out in the sun in this kind of weather?
Jerks. That’s who.
Your apartment is unsurprisingly warm, possibly just a few degrees cooler than outside in the sun or maybe even the surface of the sun. Give or take.
A meow escapes the cushions of your raggedy couch and you hurry over to free Donut, your trusty, fluffy little sidekick who has a knack for getting trapped in the couch itself.
“Donut, you dweeb,” you tell her with the utmost adoration. “I’m gonna sit on you one day and then that’s it.” It’s not really a threat, more of a sad fact. Donut gets it. After a good petting and cuddle session with the cat you decide that a nice, cool beer is in your very near future. And so is heart shattering disappointment.
Your refrigerator is off. And everything inside has that very mild level of coolness to it that tells you it’s been off for at least the entire day. A hasty, precursory glance around your apartment tells you that there’s actually no power running to anything. Excellent. Maybe this is why Mr. Boliard is here standing around doing nothing.
Or maybe his jerky-jerk presence just shut off power to the building.
Well, you decide on an almost lukewarm beer anyway and choose to ignore the fact that what few groceries you had purchased and placed in your fridge yesterday are now all ruined. Leave that thought for your second beer.
The bus stop near your apartment is always the sketchiest place to be no matter what time of day it is. But it’s a necessary evil to stand and wait for the bus when torrential rains would otherwise turn your 20 minute walk to work into 22 minutes of total, drenched hell.
Like most days, the creepy bus stop hermit is there. You think his name is Gavin. And you think he’s been lurking at this bus stop since the beginning of time. Or at least when the town got public transit back in the late 70s.
You stand awkwardly far from Gavin with your umbrella half-covering you. You don’t know it yet, but your backpack is going to get more wet than you had planned on. Sucks. Gavin nods at you from the bench, soaked to the bones. He never has any stuff with him and this bothers you because at any given time, he seems to be here on the bench at the bus stop. But with only the clothes on his body. Once he did have a packet of cigarettes sitting next to him though but he didn’t interact with them at all. For all you know they had climbed up there and were waiting on a bus too.
“It’s gonna keep raining,” Gavin croaks, not diverting his deep set eyes from your shady form. You shake your head in reply. It’s somewhere between agreement and please-don’t-talk-to-me. Gavin presses on, “This is it. From now on. Just rain.” His statement is so cryptic and wrong that you want to reply by showing him the weather app on your phone.
9 a.m. - 2 p.m. SCATTERED THUNDERSTORMS,’ -- which means end-of-times rain here. 3 p.m. and on till… Tuesday… CLEAR.
So, get a grip, Gavin.
But you don’t show him your phone. It would get wet probably, you’d have to engage with him, and he might eat your arm.
Still though, Gavin continues, “Ya’ll pissed off the Moon Queen... “
“What the fuck are you talking about, Gavin?” You snap, immediately realizing you have broken your silence to this man that you’ve maintained for.. What, eight-plus years now?
The old hermit quirks a brow--comically--and croaks back, “Who the hell is Gavin?”
You shake your head in what is now a mix of disagreement and please-stop-interacting-with-me-in-any-and-every-way-shape-and-form. Gavin was only pausing though, “The twenty-second. That was her birthday. Someone from your town was supposed to bring her a sacrifice.”
You promptly spin on your heel and walk to work. This bus is never coming. And by the time it does, you will have been devoured by this crazy old man. And then no one is gonna get their damn coffee from their least favorite barista. You don’t look back, but you do hear the trailing, cryptic words of the hermit, “It’s not too late…” This is when you begin to remind yourself that drugs are very bad and $7.50 plus tips is enough for you to stay on the straight and narrow somehow.
Your least favorite sound on earth is the jingling bell of the door into King Java Cafe. It’s also the door of King Java Cafe. But you’re using the door to walk in and you’re eight minutes late and Randy is pitching a gods-damned fit that makes you wish you had slipped on the sidewalk and drowned in one of the shallow streams that flows down every single road on this side of town. The sewer system here is just the worst. Maybe $7.50 plus tips isn’t enough. Not when your boss is barking--you swear he sounds just like that dog at 237 Bloom Street--at you and all over you. And your bag is soaked. Which is great in a kind of “Oh hey everything they say about Mondays is true!” way.
You empty your bag and try to dry your book, journal and other possessions with a dish rag before attempting to dry yourself off. The door jingles and your head hangs low.
Stupid, pointless, weird mockery of a crown--King Java Cafe, get it?--donned atop your thankfully dry and perfect hair.
And then you’re clocked in and ready to bow to King Randy for the next seven hours and forty-five minutes.
“Hi,” you say with zero interest, hope or humanity to your first customer of the day. It doesn’t matter. It’s Gary. And he hates you. And he hates King Java Cafe. You literally cannot win, even if you harvested the beans of his coffee for him and forged a cup for him out of your own bones. Gary only comes here because he works next door at the guitar and amp shop called “Amped Up,” and because he’s too fat to walk much farther than that. Sorry, that was mean.
“Double mocha cappuccino,” Gary replies in greeting.
“Oh wow. Spicing it up today,” you say as sarcastically as possible. Gary usually gets a caramel latte. So, this is quite a turn of events. Gary says nothing but his heavy breathing becomes more strained, a sign of inner-wrath boiling up inside.
You go about doing what you do best--making coffee drinks in their various forms. And that’s not to say you’re good at it. Because you’re not. You’re just fine. Acceptable. And that’s perfectly okay. You’re fine at a bunch of things and that’s possibly the real key to success. You’re not sure. Anyway, focus.
Within a couple minutes you finish with your barista witchcraft and place a double mocha cappuccino in front of Gary. He pays, you say something witty and he then leaves with a grunt. That was a goodbye grunt, you’re sure. His exit spawns the entrance of another customer. And you help them. And when they leave a third enters, and a fourth, and believe it or not it continues in this way until what Randy lovingly calls ‘THE MORNING RUSH’ ends. That’s the signal for your well-deserved break and you take it by the horns. That break is your bitch. You own it. And then ten minutes later Randy is barking out the back door for you to come back in for another ‘RUSH OF CUSTOMERS.’
At least you managed to finish an energy drink and count six rats scurrying around the dumpsters in those ten minutes. So, you really did make the most of it.
When you make your way back inside you’re quite startled to see an unfortunately familiar face in the crowd of upcoming customers. It’s Gavin. Yeah, the crazy hermit Gavin. The same Gavin you’ve only ever seen at the bus stop near your house.
The shock of seeing him here, in an establishment--dare you think, your establishment--is enough to freeze you in place long enough for Randy to veritably snap, jamming an elbow (the pointiest elbow you’ve ever met) into your side. That’s going to bruise. A minor curse of annoyance escapes you and stokes the enraged fires of Randy’s King Java soul and you stumble up to the counter and begin taking orders. And it’s weird--you’ve never taken orders from so many people and managed to give absolutely zero eye contact before. Well, now you know it can be done. But you don’t even think of it. Your only thought, racing and screaming and quaking and resounding in your mind, is “Why are you here?” And you gain the smallest shred of peace and satisfaction when you manage to finally ask Gavin that to his wrinkled, leather face. That face breaks into what you interpret as a smile. How does this man eat, you wonder. He has so few teeth. But he does have his canines and they’re particularly sharp you notice. Oh shit, he said something and you didn’t even notice.
“Wait, what?” you ask, a bead of sweat rolling down your forehead. Suddenly you have this palpable fear. He says something else and you watch his crusty, paper-thin lips move but not a sound moves past them. That smile returns, all five or something teeth on display.
In a weird panic unlike anything you’ve experienced before, you wheel around and turn to Randy--heroic, brave Randy, one worthy of the title of king. With your back facing Gavin you say loudly and more for your boss to hear, “You’ll have to speak to a manager about that.” Randy meets your eyes with what appears to be equal levels of confusion.
“Who the hell are you talking to, Charlie?” he asks with a flavor of annoyance that you’ve grown used to, but savor in this moment. You aren’t spontaneously deaf afterall! Congratulations! You chance a look back to Gavin and feel your heart sink (literally, it hits your feet and draws every bit of heat and color out of your body with you, splattering and dispersing onto the floor. Randy’s gonna make you mop that shit up.)
Gavin is gone. And that bell--the stupid, fucking jingling bell--it didn’t make a sound. The customers are all still here, all seated and chatting and docile and dumb.
“Where’d the old hermit go?” You ask in a panic, again loud enough for everyone at this point to hear. A couple customers look up from their espresso drinks with interested looks as if it’s now trivia night and they’ve just heard the prize is a vacation to a certain hotly-desired exotic beach locale. Randy chimes in, “What old hermit? Are you trying to get those last five minutes of your break by pretending to be overworked? Because if you are, it’s working,” Randy steps closer and you can feel his hot, managerial breath linger on your face, “You know those five minutes are yours, Charlie. I wouldn’t keep them to myself. I’m not that kind of manager.” The sincerity in his voice makes you want to turn inside out. Your lack of reply drives the man to somehow move closer, whispering, “Charlie. Are you high right now?”
You blink probably four times and then give what is likely the dirtiest look you’ve ever created. Randy steps back, “Okay, okay. Just.. Just go take your last five. Hell. Have six. Not six more, not eleven. Just six total,” he stumbles over his words for a moment and sighs in frustration, “I mean have a free minute, Charlie. Just. Go on. It’s fine.” Perplexed, Randy goes and refills something and then wipes some stuff down, his eyes watching with a hunger for new customers.
You don’t bother wrestling out of your apron, or take your King Java crown off. You just walk to the back and look out the window, waiting for those rats. But there are no rats by the dumpster. They left. You want to leave. You wish so hard that there was a back door, and it’s weird that there isn't one. Shouldn’t that be a state law or something? Your mind trails off and by the time those six minutes are up, somehow you’ve distracted yourself completely. Old hermit possibly named Gavin who? Never heard of him.
Randy looks pleased as a peach when he sees you return to work not only on time but somehow more determined and focused. And your shift passes by with relative normalcy and a relatively mind-numbingly slow pace. You do get a reassuring and genuine pat on the back from Randy at the end of your shift, something that evokes deeper confusion in fellow employee Erin as she takes your place. “Looks like you guys bonded,” she says in a stinky, jealous tone. You frown. And then leave with your damp backpack.
You had hoped just maybe that the rain would have passed by now. But it continues to pour and you wait patiently at the bus stop with your umbrella hiding the top one-fifth of your body. The bus comes eventually, you board, slide your pass and take a seat alone. Allowing yourself to look around you realize that you are in fact alone. Except the bus driver, Harrold. He’s there and even drives the bus. No ghost bus here. Harrold hates you too, you’re pretty sure. He’s like Gary but with the opposite amount of body weight. That is to say he looks like if he were to fall he would shatter into a million pieces and then turn to dust on the spot. It must be scary being Harrold, you think with a tinge of sad thoughtfulness that you’re not very well acquainted with.
That twenty minute walk is a deceptively brief five minutes thanks to Harrold’s lack of interest in stop signs or stop lights. No one else got on the bus, but you’re pretty sure you saw someone waiting to get on at a stop a ways back but Harrold didn’t notice. Not your problem. You’re a barista. Not a bus driver.
Thankfully Harrold remembers your stop, but you wish he hadn’t when you notice Gavin waiting in the shadows nearby. And it’s not like he’s trying to hide. It just looks like, had there been sun, he would’ve been trying to stay out of it. Instead, the crazed old hermit soaks up the torrential rain like a sponge that longs for the ocean again.
Your exit from the bus is uneventful and quiet. Neither you nor the driver acknowledge each other, your eyes and thoughts instead directed to the wry grin on the leather old hermit’s face. You pass by, umbrella covering you, hastily making your way home. No looking back. You don’t need to. Gavin is watching. You feel his eyes.
That night you sit in the dark of your apartment drinking a deliciously warm beer, wrapped in the biggest--and only--towel you own. Donut, your trusty sidekick cat, sits beside you on her own cushion on the couch, watching you wallow in your confused state of misery. She understands, but she chooses not to console you or offer help. To do so would be to break her agreement of being a cat. A solo candle (the real hero of the story here) lights your coffee table and a surprising radius around the room. Your phone died half an hour ago and it needs electricity like you need beer. You sip idly, eyes drawn to the lightning outside your window. For that brief second your living room goes white. Then your eyes have to readjust to the gentle flicker of the candle. That’s when you notice that your candle has plans of giving up on you soon. Just like your Mom and Dad. Ouch. They suck.
You put the candle out early, voluntarily, muttering obscenities about your parents that shouldn’t be written and that Donut honestly shouldn’t have to hear. But Donut has grown cold and calloused to your anger towards your parents, so you continue in this way until you realize you’re screaming, on your feet naked with the giant towel on the floor. And Donut is inside the depths of the couch again.
There’s a brief pause when you realize you’re throwing a tantrum, but the play button is mashed again when all your rage wells back up to the surface and you throw the last third of your beer against the wall, then a lamp, then a bowl that your sister made you in her ceramics class in college, and then your phone, and then you realize you threw your phone and it’s dark and you drop to your knees (you’re still naked) and you cry and scream into the dirty carpet until your throat hurts and then that’s it. Just gentle, pathetic sobs. What the hell is the point?
You curled up on your side and at some point in the middle of the night you pulled the towel over your cold form, or Donut became especially considerate and tucked you in. Not sure.
You wake up to a thunderous, dark morning. There was no alarm, so Donut’s pleading reminders for breakfast would suffice. You’re full of regret as you scoop up your broken phone and passively acknowledge the broken lamp, ceramic bowl and a new dent on the wall, all products of your stupid emotions. Fuck emotions, you think to yourself before you instinctively check the refrigerator for some cold brew you made, forgetting about the lack of elec--oh hey, look, the power is back on. And it’s not until that weird stench that now belongs to the fridge hits your nose that you remember you had no power and wasted all your money on groceries.
This is why everyone eats out at restaurants or gets fast food.
And something about this makes the broken phone in your hand feel heavier. Oh like maybe you overreacted or something? Those tears begin to well back up in your eyes but you shut the refrigerator and opt for a cold shower instead.
Thanks to the wonders of low-paying jobs and their schedules, your shift for work isn’t until this evening, because some people like decaf coffee or don’t like sleeping. It’s not like King Java Cafe has anything else--anything good, anyway. Their pie is abysmal (it’s frozen (well, no, it’s baked… but it’s previously frozen)). Their other confectionary ‘treats’ aren’t even worth mentioning. So, why the damn place stays open till 9 P.M. is a big dumb mystery.
You stand at a window, freshly showered, swaddled in your big towel, sipping fresh hot coffee, all while watching the thunder continue to usher in torrential rains. Everything is so damn dark. We’re past ‘eerie’ and now feeling firmly planted in ‘ominous’ territory.
It’s a second after an especially harsh, booming thunderclap and accompanying lightning strike that you notice the old hermit. He stands across the street--that is to say, he stands about a tenth of a mile up from the bus stop--and he stares directly up at your window. Eye contact has been made. Horrible, spine-tingling, skin-crawling eye contact.
That toothy-but-toothless grin breaks.
You want to die.
You can’t step away from the window.
You certainly try.
Your coffee drops to the floor.
And the only thing that pulls you out of this bone-frozen trance is that hot coffee has splashed all over your freshly cleaned leg and your toes are cooked now.
But you don’t scream.
In fact, you don’t react in the way that any normal, living being would.
Instead, you watch. You watch the hermit. He’s on the move. He’s turned--so very slowly, as if to show you the full capabilities of his rotational ability--and he scampers off.
Scamper seems like the right way to describe his erratic, short but quick gait.
The damn old man.
Whoever he is. Whatever he is. Damn him. He’s a creep and a menace.
And you hate him.
And you want to see where he goes.
Somehow you’re dressed as quick as the lightning. You don’t look good. You’re not dressed to impress with your plaid shirt and baggy, cashmere polka dot sweatpants that your sister got you as a joke. Damn these things are sweat-inducing.
You throw on a jacket and grab your umbrella and your apartment keys and you race off down the street.
No sign of old Gavin. And you certainly look. You straight up peer down the road.
There are trees. There’s the woods…
On the edge of the town…
And they’re just right there.
The bus stop is so close to the woods. You’ve never noticed. And for the first time you realize how big the trees are as you’re standing there, looking up at them like they’re imposing titans--basketball players, even. Professional basketball players.
Whatever sick sense of curiosity has led you this far continues to tug at your reins, guiding you into the woods. You step past a tree, then another, and another. Under a low branch. Over some lower foliage. Over some even lower rocks (they’re just on the ground, so to be lower would be a hole in the earth). And by this point you’re in the woods, in this forest, in the deep of it. You pause in your strange, mad rush and realize where you are and simultaneously realize it is not raining. The canopy above is thick but not thick enough to block the odd stray rain drop. Especially in such an end-times downpour as this.
“Oh shit,” you mutter to the closest tree. It says nothing in reply, indifferent and rude. A real stomach-churning sense of panic and fear settles in. You’ve done it now, you dumb, reckless adult child. First your phone and now you’re dressed like that in the middle of the wilderness.
And yet you’re quite sure you took ten or fifteen steps in. But looking back tells you otherwise. No, you are quite lost. That straight line barely past the bus stop has placed you in another realm. A realm where the sounds of nature are overwhelming. And everything is just a little brighter than out there. And it smells nice: fresh, you could say. You like it and you take a deep breath, part to try to calm your nerves, and part to see what fresh air like this tastes like again. Tastes fine.
“Thank you for accepting my invitation,” a voice croaks. The voice of the old hermit, no less. You spin around and see him perched on a rock, though he looks a little different. Gone are his clothes (wait, calm down), and in their place… fur. So much fur. Cloven hooves for feet. A bare chest, scarred up and rotund. Mangled, sharp, pointy talons extend from what are his hands. His scraggly beard is longer, more colorful--you’d say like the colors of a warm fire--and his eyes glow a faint blue. But, to top all of that off with something even weirder, Gavin the hermit now dons a set of jagged, murderously sharp horns.
“What are you?” you ask in your rudest tone.
Gavin laughs. Still got those teeth. All five of ‘em.
“Where am I?” you follow up with after Gavin neglects to give you a real answer to your first inquiry.
“The Woods,” the horned hermit replies, eyes twinkling. No, glowing. Well, they do twinkle for a second too.
You feel like ‘the woods’ is a dumb, obvious response and your fear mingles with anger. And your stomach growls. You’re hungry.
But your primary emotion and driving thought is how terrified you are in this moment. This is all very wrong. Gavin’s new look makes you want to piss yourself and take off running, but you stand still, likely in terror. Or maybe because you feel he would give chase if you took off.
“So, you wish to meet the Moon Queen, yes? That is why you’re here I imagine.” Gavin asks in a hoarse, excited voice, stepping down from his perch to come closer to you. Too late to run now. You swallow hard in your throat and you know that Gavin is eating up your fear. Another few steps and he’s about two feet away from you, close enough for you to detect the smell of honey and maybe lavender? Smells you were definitely not expecting to come from a goat-man hermit creep. You get an involuntary big whiff as he speaks to you again, “Righting the wrongs of your leaders.. Tsk tsk.. That they send a child to sort out the sacrifice.”
First of all, you’re no fucking child. But you tremble like one.
“I don’t know what’s going on,” you manage at last, eliciting a look of mock sympathy from Gavin. He chuckles, spewing honey air on you. Gross?
“Good. That’s how she’d prefer it,” and then… and then… there’s nothing. You feel woozy for a second and taste honey on your tongue. So sweet. And everything goes sideways as you fall.
A gentle ray of evening light falls on you through a clearing in the trees above. You stare at it for a moment and wipe at your eyes. Have you been asleep? You think yes. You feel rested. And you have that taste--that particular, nappy taste that comes with dozing off in the middle of the day for an hour or so. You sit up and realize you lay on a comfy bed of moss in a little grove. A tranquil stream of the purest water circles around you like a moat circles a castle. Beyond that is forest, dense and dark, though little flickers of light seem to fall like water droplets just beyond.
A voice, sincere and matronly, speaks to you, resonates in your heart, mind, body and soul, “It’s so nice of you to enter my realm, dear child.” You swivel this way and that. No one else is here. A chill comes over you and you grit your teeth. You say nothing, but do rise to your feet. This is when you realize you’re barefoot and dressed in the flowiest of robes. It does nothing for your figure and it shimmers in a way that hurts your eyes. Your Aunt Martha used to wear shit like this.
Again, you are spoken to from nowhere, “There is much to do for the sacrifice,” finally a pair of glimmering eyes appear from the trees and a bright form steps out. She is tall, curvaceous and you feel a comforting heat come over you as the most stunning, gray-blue eyes meet yours. She looks like the ocean, yet she’s as pale as the moon. In her hair are millions of diamonds, and her voice lilts in a way that begins to put you at ease in a way unexplainable.
“My first question, that leads to more: who will be the one? Do you offer your own life? Or someone else’s?” And something about this doesn’t set you off the wrong way. You’re swooning. You process it all so slowly but in a way that shows you don’t think what she just asked was the most ludicrous shit you’ve ever been asked.
“Do you want my life?” you ask, surprising yourself yet totally at peace with your words.
The shining woman smiles and you feel your heart rise to your throat.
“I want you to be happy. I want you to decide. It is your choice,” she pauses, looking thoughtful, “But I do demand a sacrifice.” To this you nod, completely understanding. But there is a tinge of self-serving reason within you and you finally make a decision, “I will bring you someone…”
She smiles again, positively glowing, “Perfect, my dear.” And she steps towards you, each step like a ripple in water, but on the mossy earth, as if the ground itself gently bends in submission and respect to her. She takes your face, her hands warm, and she kisses you on the lips.
In this moment, you die.
All things come to an end.
And what happens after this, when your lips part, is indescribable.
So it won’t be told.
But at some point, you do rise from the ashes.
But you are not yourself.
You are not you.
You are hers, in all ways and aspects.
So there is no internal conflict or qualm as you return home, back to town, to your apartment and knock on apartment 6B--Mr. Frederickson--and you bludgeon him with something heavy, something you found and picked up along the way with the intent of knocking him out in this very moment, and you drag him away, down the stairs, through the parking lot, past the bus stop and into the woods.
And it rains the whole damn time.
You are drenched. Mr. Frederickson’s limp, heavy body is drenched. And your eyes don’t look back. They don’t look ahead. You just drag him. Further, deeper, to a place where you don’t know where to find.
But you find it. And you, with a small group of goat-like individuals who look just like Gavin come to meet you and they easily lift old Mr. Frederickson up and delicately place his body on the moss bed where you met the Moon Queen.
And she shows up, timely and beautiful, shimmering and wavering in light.
You’ve never been more in love.
Which is why you excuse the Moon Queen for what she does next.
Radiating and thoughtfully poised over the unconscious form of Mr. Frederickson, the Moon Queen lowers herself and her jaw unhinges, and in the back of your mind you are reminded of an anaconda or whatever snake it is that can swallow cows. You don’t understand, but in this case, you don’t need to. Just like her horn-headed men on the sidelines, you stare on in total adoration of the Moon Queen.
Mr. Frederickson is gone.
The Moon Queen licks her full lips then smiles, baring pearly white, jagged teeth that you had never noticed before. But they don’t scare you. She nods softly to you as she passes out of the little grove, grace in her steps, light left in each footprint on the cushiony moss.
Gavin turns to you, a wickedly pleased grin on his mottled face, “Well, she looks pleased she does. I’d say good job to you, Charlie,” he places a firm hand on your shoulder, giving a squeeze of affirmation, “You just bought your little town another year.” The other goat-men chuckle amongst themselves before dispersing into the Woods beyond, paying you little more heed, never introducing themselves. Kind of rude, you think.
And that’s when you realize a thought has creeped into your mind. Rudeness. Those goat-men were rude. Hey, come to think of it, that was terrifying. And...and...and… Mr. Frederickson is gone! And you brought him here!! This is your fault!!! You feel the blood leave your body as the most awe-struck fear overtakes you. This happens at the exact point Gavin releases his grip to turn away from you.
“Well, it was a pleasure. See you next year.” he tosses the words over his shoulder on his exit, leaving you alone in the little mossy grove, confused, lost and apparently the assistant to a homicide. Tears well in your eyes and a loneliness you’ve never known embraces your tired, hungry body, draped in snow-white linens. Yet you feel the red of another’s blood all over you.
All Hail The Moon Queen.
May Her Hunger Be Sated For Just One More Year.
And Forever Shall She Watch--Forever Shall She Reign.
Merci pour la lecture!
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