TITLE: Beneath the Trees
Rose kept dropping barley seeds into the neatly plowed rows though her gaze remained fixed on the forest, scanning every one of the twisting, fern-covered lanes between the trunks. No matter how stealthy the creature moved, Rose knew it was coming. A breeze brought the warning, a strange mix of clotted blood, the musk of a male animal and the sweat of a man; but most frightening by far was the utter silence with which it approached.
“Uncle John,” Rose called across the field. “I hear…Mary.” It was true. Rose could hear her aunt getting supper. “She needs you.” That was also true, of course.
John Woodman learned long ago how well his niece could hear, and he caught the very real note of alarm in her voice. Casting his hoe aside, he barreled towards the little farmhouse, expecting Rose to follow.
She’d made one step in order to give him that impression, but when she was sure he was headed to safety, she turned facing the stand of ancient oaks that lined the edge of the field.
The creature must’ve heard her call. It was coming faster now. Rose heard the snap of a twig. She caught a glimpse, a dark, fleeting shape between the trunks. And then, it was upon her.
Tall as she was, it towered above her as it rose onto its hind legs. The beastly face gave a very manlike grin and a grey, clawed hand shot out to grab her.
Rose didn’t scream.