I waited, in the brush, invisible, silent. The forest was quiet, I heard nothing. Not the wolves, bears, or owls, although I knew they were around. I also knew they’d wait, and watch until I acted. They’d act when their selected leader acts.

I didn’t smile, although you might have said I did. My lips separated in a quiet snarl. The men were coming. I closed my eyes, and listened. I could hear them in the distance, getting closer.

Men. On their way to my home. My town. The town Jessica, Hannah, and Valerie started. The town we’d made from nothing. All of us were survivors. Wounded by what happened in the word. What happened when the veneer of civilization fell away. When the world went insane.

Men murdered my father. Raped my mother and sister, then murdered them. But what happened to me was nothing compared to what happened to Valerie, my love. To Kelly, and so many others.

I remembered when I found Kelly, what men had done to her. I remembered when Kelly and I rescued Jenny, Beth and the others from the stables. It was the first time I’d struck back against the chaos. I’d found more stables since then, with the wolves. We’d shut them down, freed the women trapped in them.

I learned to speak with the wolves, bears, owls, hawks, eagles, foxes. Jessica had them teach me their languages, their ways. Eventually, a bear told me, “You have found yourself.”

Now, I waited for the men. Quiet. Hidden. No guns, a bow and arrows instead. Something they wouldn’t hear coming. The wolves and foxes had taught me to move through the brush almost silently, like a predator stalking prey.

I waited for the men, noisy as they were, arrogant as they were. Them, and their guns. Not afraid of anything. Intent on sending a message to everyone, “You can’t stand against us!” My snarl said otherwise. The men were in for a surprise.

The noise they made grew louder, I knew they were nearby. We’d planned well, we’d watched them approach for days. We knew the path they followed, where they were going, how they would get there and when they would get there. They wouldn’t know we surrounded them.

I raised my bow, drew an arrow, and quietly waited for the first man to appear. I didn’t have to wait long. He stepped between the trees, breaking branches, kicking brush out of his way, acting like he ruled the forest. Right until the moment my arrow sank into the center of his chest. I quietly drew a second arrow and let it fly. Then a third. Three men down.

I had no need for noise. I quietly moved through the brush, patiently stalking the men, hunting them. I could smell the chaos and fear consuming them. I let three more arrows fly. Three more men fell.

They panicked, started shooting their guns at nothing, at shadows. The time for quiet had ended. I screamed the battle cry of the owls, causing them to take flight, followed by the wolves and the bears.

It was a short fight. Men screamed. Men shot at shadows, and anything that moved, at each other. Soon, there were no more men.

And the forest was quiet again.

Monsters In The Dark

Frank felt sweat on the palms of his hands, and the back of his knees. He looked at the wolf to his right, and the bear to his left. Both looked at him, and nodded. Everyone knew, men were coming. Not men like Frank. Men like animals. Men who’d become monsters, hungry for everything. They’d kill him. They’d take the women from the camp. Rape them. Enslave them. And when they grew tired of them, kill them.

It’s what most men had become. Monsters stalking the dark, seeking prey. Prey they would not find. Jessica had taken the others into the woods. They were safe. Jessica left him with the wolves and others. “Show them the error of their ways, Frank.”

Frank would.

He held two fingers up, looked at the wolf. The wolf vanished into the brush. He signaled the bear and the bear vanished among the trees. His two animal companions had gone to speak with their packs, tell them how, and when to act.

Frank couldn’t see or hear the owls in the trees. They moved through the dark invisibly. “Owls, the predators of the night.”

They would come. The men would come. They would not be ready for what they found. They would not be ready for monsters in the dark. Frank checked the line on his bow. It was ready for the coming fight. “Let them come. We’ll show them who the real monsters in the dark are.”

He waited. “Soon, now. Soon.”

I wrote this for Siobhan Muir‘s #ThursThreads, Week 164. Please go read all the entries in this week’s #ThursThreads. They are good reading.

#55WordChallenge : The Fence – Part 21

Before we could act, eagles fell from the sky, their talons and beaks seeking flesh and blood. A pack of wolves raced from behind the building, joining the eagles. And the strange man I’d seen days before was suddenly there. He gently picked up Alice and they were gone, over the hills, into the sun.

 55 words

This is part 21 of the serial story I’m working on for Lisa McCourt Hollar‘s #55WordChallenge flash fiction challenge. Please, go read all the other entries in the challenge this week. It’s flat amazing what gifted writers can say in just 55 words.

If you wish to read all the parts of the story, they are in order, from most recent to first, here.

A Clip from JuNoWriMo 2012, Day 8…

No sound was made. The wolves were silent. They simply let her past. The two females moving away from the child, as Mystica approached. A white light formed around the child. Gently holding her still. Providing warmth. Closing her wounds. Mending her broken bones. Ending her pain.

The child smiled. She looked at Mystica, and she smiled. Mystica smiled back at her. Then turned. And looked at Scream. There was sadness in her eyes. Scream knew. Mystica was too late. That even with all her white magic power, there are wounds Mystica can’t heal. That a life, already gone, can’t be restored.

The wolves, Scream, Merlin and Mystica stayed with the little fairy girl. Talking with her. Mystica holding her hand. Gently kissing her on the cheek, and the top of her head. Always smiling. They learned her name was Sally. That she loved bright red and yellow flowers. Some of the wolves had raced into the forest, and came back in just a few minutes with lots of red and yellow flowers they had snatched up in their mouths. Bringing them to Sally.

Sally had asked Mystica, “Will you be my mommy? My mommy doesn’t love me any more. My daddy doesn’t either. I need a new mommy. Will you be my mommy?”

Mystica had smiled. She’d kissed the top of Sally’s head once more. “Of course, my dear child. I’ll be your mommy. I’d love to be your mommy.”

Little Sally smiled. “I love you, Mommy.” Then she closed her eyes. “I’m so very tired.” And she went to sleep. And never woke. Her body going limp, as she stopped breathing. And her heart beat for the last time. With that last heartbeat, the wolves all stood as one, looked to the sky, and howled in pain. As if they’d lost one of their own.

Tears fell from Mystica’s eyes.

Merlin only watched. Standing to one side.

Scream, screamed. Stretched his wings. And was gone.

Fairies : Wild Magic (Part 3)

On that night, when the men had stopped to rest, Rose spoke to the Alpha Wolves that were accompanying them. She explained to them what she would like for them to do. The wolves had agreed, and off they’d gone. Howling all the way.

And it had not been long at all until the number of howls began to grow. And it kept on growing. The rain had kept pouring down. It had not let up since the previous night. The wind continued to howl through the trees. More wolves than ever howled in the night. There were no stars. There was no moon. It was nearly totally dark. And every time a man closed his eyes for just a little while, he woke up screaming from the nightmares that he’d had.

Musica had begun to play her flute once more. A song of someone being hunted. A frantic melody that simply would not let up. One of panic, and of fear. That the men in the camp could not help but hear. And many of the men paced to and frow. Some sharpened their axes. Some practiced with their swords. Some of them talked nervously among themselves.

Not one of them got any sleep at all.

One hour before the dawn, the wolves returned. Fifty or so of them. They silently approached the camp with all the men. And suddenly, all at one time, the wolves raced through the trees, and into the camp of the men. Howling. And growling. And snapping their teeth. They did not attack the men. Instead, they stole bows and arrows, and axes and swords. They didn’t get everything, but they did get away with nearly half of all the weapons that the men had brought with them.

As they’d raced through the camp, the men had panicked. Scattering in all directions. Some had been to terrified to run at all. They just stood there, and didn’t move. A look of complete shock on their faces. A look that said they were certain they were going to die.

The fairies were very excited. Their plan was working so well. Surely the men would give up, and leave Mystica alone. But once the sun came up, they learned that they were wrong. For the men regrouped. And they talked among themselves.

“It’s them! They’re doing this! There was the one that made the rain and wind. There was the one that could get the animals to do anything. there was the one that could put nightmares in your head. There was the one that played music that you could not escape. It’s them! The ones that we abandoned! The ones the witch saved!”

And with that, the men spread out through the trees, and brush of the forest. They were searching for the girls. If they could find those girls, they could put a stop to all this weather, all these things the animals were dong, all the nightmares they had when they tried to sleep. And they’d make sure that those girls could never bother them again. That’s what they’d do.

They’d hunt down those girls, and kill them. That would cure the problems they were having. And when they’d done that, they’d go after that witch.

The fairies were shocked. They were stunned. They stayed right where they were. Hidden in the forest, near the camp of the men. They did not know at all what they should do. So it was not long at all before the men found them. “There they are!” And the few bows and arrows that were left among the men were suddenly being drawn. And arrows were launched through the air.

Arrows that were incinerated in their flight. Bursting into pitch black flames. Other men had raised their axes, and their swords, and were racing toward the girls. The girls were terrified. Until Merlin himself stepped forward. He opened his wings, and spoke. His voice sounded like a sheet of metal being crumpled up, and torn apart. As he screamed, he swung his wings forward, toward the men.

A linear wind lashed through the forest. A wind that took down everything that was within its path. It uprooted trees, and hurled them through the air. Trees that didn’t get uprooted, but held fast in the ground, snapped into pieces, leaving shattered stumps along the ground. And those trees hurtled toward the men. The wind struck the men first. Some of them were lifted from the ground, and hurtled through the air. Being smashed by the wind into the forest, and the trees. Some of them were impaled on tree branches. Some of them bounced off the trees, their bodies being broken, and shattered.

Other men were pushed flat to the ground. where they grabbed at anything that they could. To keep from being blown away by that wind Merlin had made. And that was when the trees the wind had collected reached them. It was as if a wall of trees and brush collided with the men. More men were swept away by the wall of trees and brush. Collected up, and crushed, and tossed around. Being smashed and bashed between tree branches, and tree trunks.

It was over almost as quickly as it had begun. Not one man was left standing. Over half of them had died. And many more were likely to.

That was when Merln spoke again. This time in a voice that you could hear inside your head. “These are my children. I will protect them. They are in my care.”

And that quickly, Mystica was there.

She saw the destruction that had been wrought. And could not help but cry. It was such a waste of life. So many lives destroyed by blind hatred, and anger. She wished very much that Merlin had been left with another choice to make. A way to avoid the action he’d had to take. But she knew he’d had no real choice. He’d done what he had to. To protect the little fairies that he and Mystica loved so very much. He’d protected their family. And she knew she would have done the same thing if she’d been there. If she’d been in his place.

She called forth the white magic. Using it as quickly as she could to mend the broken bones and bodies of the men that were still alive. She did her best to keep as many of those men as she could, alive.

By the time the sun was fully up, and the storm was gone, and the wind had died, the men that were left were gathered up, in a little group. Surrounded by that pack of wolves. With Merlin standing next to Mystica. The witch had healed them. For some reason that they could not understand.

And it was then that Mystica spoke to them.

“Go back to your villages. Tell them what happened here today. Tell that not to come into my forest again. Tell them I will not let them hurt my family. Or the villages with which I am a friend. Tell them what happens to those that try.”

Then Mystica had turned, and picked Fauna up like the tiny little girl she was. She reached down and held Sunshine’s hand. Dream had climbed up on an Alpha wolf’s back. And Rose had spread her wings, and floated into the air, next to Mystica.

Mystica had turned once more to face the men. “Leave my forest. Now.”

Then she’d turned, and walked away. Leaving the men surrounded by the wolves.

The men had left the forest. Fleeing for their lives. They’d run for days. Sleeping only when they could not keep going, and collapsed from sheer exhaustion. They did as Mystica had told them to. They returned to the villages from whence they’d come. Telling everyone what had happened to them when they’d gone into the forest to hunt down and kill the White Witch.

And so it was that the legend of the White Witch grew. And it would be a long time indeed before anyone in the villages would enter the northern forest once again.

Fairies : Wild Magic (Part 2)

That morning had been awful for the men in the forest. The wind was howling through the trees. The rain was pouring down. Most of he men had not slept at all that night. Those few that had managed to get to sleep in the wind, and rain, woke up screaming from the nightmares that they had.

But on that next morning, they got up, and got organized, and continued their journey into the forest, toward the lake, where Mystica lived.

Mystica watched everything play out on the surface of the water of the lake. She knew the nightmares the men had were caused by Dream. She knew the wind and rain were caused by Sunshine. She was so amazed that her adopted little girls were doing what they could to help her. And she was so happy that Merlin and Whisper were there, with them, to take care of them. She knew, of course, that Merlin, on his own, could completely destroy the men. Leaving no one alive. She knew the power of his black magic. She knew of his speed, and grace. She knew that swords and arrows were harmless to him. She knew that the men could not hurt him in any way.

She knew Whisper had wild magic of his own. Although she didn’t know what the wild magic had given to him. She’s spoken with Merlin during the night. “I’m watching, you know. You take good care of our girls,” she’d said to him.

“I will. And I will let you know if he time arrives when you are needed.”

And now, she watched the images as they played out on the lake. Wondering what those little girls would do next.

As the men started to move that day, Musica began to play her flute. But she didn’t play a song. At least not one that you would recognize. Instead, she played a tune that blended in with the forest. This was her wild magic. The magic of the flute. The magic of music. Her tune was like the howling of the wind. And slowly it became the howling of the wolves. And the screeching of the eagles and the hawks. The men in the group became even more nervous. Moving more slowly. Always looking for wolves or other predators all around them. It was exhausting. The men could not rest. It was as if the forest itself was fighting them.

While Musica played her flute, Rose flew ahead of the men. As she went, she spoke with the trees, and all the vines. The trees flexed their branches. Closing off pathways between themselves. Making walls to block the path the men were on. The vines draped themselves between the trees. Making more walls. Further blocking the path the men were on. Making it more and more difficult for the men to continue their journey to the lake.

It was an exhausting journey for the men that day. At times it seemed to them that the forest itself was trying to stop them from reaching the White Witch, and doing what had to be done. They were on this journey to kill that witch. To protect themselves. To protect everyone. From those little girls. Each of those girls had hurt people in the villages. Some had even killed. Those girls were demons. They could not be trusted. You couldn’t let them around people. Those girls were supposed to be abandoned in the wilderness. Left to die. So that the villages could be safe from the. So that they would not be able to hurt anyone.

It was a sad thing. No one liked abandoning a child. And those girls had been loved very much. They’d brought happy times to families and friends. But then, the problems had began. That one girl that her village had called Rain. Any time she got angry, or sad, the wind blowed, and the rain came. The rain and wind had cost her village much. Destroying crops. People working in the fields had been injured while working in the wind and rain. Two people had died from their injuries. That’s why she’d been abandoned. To keep people safe.

There were similar stories for the others. For the one named Dream, where her entire village had nightmares every night. They couldn’t sleep. And then there was the day that Dream’s parents had never woke up. They’d gone to sleep, and had nightmares that night. And the nightmares had apparently scared them to death.

There was the one girl that the animals obeyed. And so did the people. Doing what she wanted. People stopped working, and played with her. All day long. The only way to get order back into the village had been to drug her food, so that she slept for hours, and while she was sleeping, haul her off, and abandon her. And to be sure that she couldn’t fly back to the village, they’d had to tie her up.

Then there was the musician. Her music could make you angry, or sad, or happy. She’d played a tune one day, out of curiosity, and people in her village had fought with each other. Half the village had injuries that day. And three of the children had died from them.

And of course, there was the little one. The one that protected the animals. You try killing the cow for meat around her. Swing the axe to kill the cow, and you experienced all it’s pain. Slay the wolf to protect your livestock, and end up writhing on the ground, wishing you could die.

Those girls were dangerous. They had to be abandoned. Left to die. For the safety of everyone.

So it went throughout the day. The forest itself seemed to be blocking their way. The men had to use axes to hack through the trees and vines so that they could keep heading toward the lake. And they were all cold, and soaked to the bone from the howling wind, and torrential rain. And they were all exhausted from having been unable to sleep the night before.

And so it was that the men finally settled in for another night in the forest. Making camp once more. It was so windy and wet that they couldn’t even get a fire to burn so that they could cook. They had to eat everything cold. Eating dried meat, nuts, and berries. But they had all the water they could ever drink. Just hold out your mug, and let the rain collect in it.

And that night, not only did the rain and wind grow even worse. Not only did they all have nightmares once again, so that they couldn’t sleep. That night, all the men were on edge, and nervous. For through the night they couldn’t help but hear the howling of the wolves.

And each man could not help but think that the forest itself was trying to protect that evil white witch.

Fairies : The Battle In The Dark

Nine days had passed since the villagers had spoken with Mystica, Merlin, Scream, and the little fairy girls. When the talking had ended, the villagers had stayed that night in the safety of the trees with Mystica and her family. Musica had played her flute as only she could. Songs of happy times. Songs of children playing. Songs of sunny days, and cloudless nights when there were more stars in the sky than you could ever count.

That night, the sky had been cloudless. It was a near perfect night. One meant for sleeping outside, on the ground, next to the lake, under an ocean of stars that twinkled just like diamonds in the sky.

The villagers had returned home. Scream himself had carried them. A trip that had taken some of them six days on foot had was over in an hour or two. As the villagers arrived at their villages, they’d had to explain to their families and friends why there were dragons  flying in the sky. And why those dragons were not dangerous to anyone in the village. They explained that the dragons were there to protect the villages from any attack that might come from those that had threatened them. They explained that there were packs of wolves that were patrolling the forests outside of the villages that were also there to protect them. And that the dragons, and the wolves would not harm anyone.

It had taken a few days for the villagers to adjust to their new guardians. After all, they knew the stories of the wolves that had attacked villages in past. And they knew the stories of the dragons having totally destroyed villages, leaving nothing standing, and nothing alive.

It was on the ninth day, in the middle of the afternoon, that Mystica arrived in one of the villages. She met with the village elders, and leaders. And she told them that men from the foothills of the mountains, and from villages in the mountains, were heading toward their village. That it was the intent of those men to attack everyone that supported her. That cared for her. That considered her, the White Witch, to be their friend.

“The dragons, wolves, eagles and hawks will defend your village. They will take care of you. The dragon Scream, and the dragon Merlin have both said you will be safe.” She’d spent several hours with the villagers, reassuring them. And then, as quickly as she had appeared, Mystica was gone.

It was in the middle of the night. A moonless night. With clouds filling the entire sky. That’s when the men from the foothills made their move. They approached the village from the woods. Carefully encircling it. Waiting in the dark, unobserved. Or so they believed. For unknown to them the wolves watched. And waited. Silently stalking them. Until the time was right. And three dragons glided through the night. Silently. Just above the trees. Hidden from sight. They too were waiting. Until the time was right. And hiding in perches in the trees both in the village and surrounding it, were eagles and hawks. Watching everything unfold. Watching the men take their positions, as if they believed they were not being unobserved.

When everyone was in place, one of the men lit a torch. And waved it. That was the signal to the others that it was time. The men in the forest took their weapons. Swords. Axes. Clubs. And their bows and arrows. Some of them even had crossbows. Those with bows and crossbows stood up and prepared to fire.

And when they did, each of them was attacked from behind by a wolf. The wolves attacking their arms, and backs, and necks. Taking them down. The wolves did not kill. They simply stopped. Each archer was injured. Wounded and bleeding. But they would all live.

The other men, yielding their weapons, had run into the village. And when they had, the hawks and eagles had descended on them. Falling from the trees, talons extended. Using their talons and their beaks to strike at the men. The men tried to fight back. Swinging their weapons. They managed to strike a few of the hawks and eagles. Leaving them injured on the ground.

That is when the dragons landed in the village. They did not use their flames. They used their talons, their tails, and their teeth. Raking through the attacking men. Not one single man of the attacking group was left unscathed. No one was killed that night. But every man was injured. They had, in the end, dropped their weapons and fled. Blindly. Into the darkness once again. Leaving the village safe.

The dragons, the hawks, the eagles, and the wolves had collected up their injured, and their dead, and had left, as quietly as they had appeared. That’s when Scream had landed. In the village. And there he stayed. Waiting for the dawn. When the villagers would wake up. And he would tell them what had happened in the darkness, while they slept.