Sar felt something force itself into the gentle space of the evening. Deaf and dumb, it moved forward, bat-blind, and searched like some nocturnal beetle thrust into the light. "It's...probing for us." He thought and shuddered. A wild gibbering rose from the tree line. It raced up and down an uneven scale then dropped off into a slow,tortured whine.
"What the fuck was that??" He babbled, and looked about, frantic.. A dreadful sensation of finality rolled over him. He inherently knew that sound came from all things that breathed in blackness like air and grew fat off of unspeakable acts.
Sar started to back away. He knew he couldn't just stand there and wait. But the thought of leaving the warm circle of firelight and trying to run caused a dry sob to erupt from his throat. He took a deep breath. The air was heavy with the feral smell of sweet rot. It reminded him of the summer he'd gone to Leomedon with his daughters to purchase linen and take in the sights. One of Pinchem's kittens had wedged itself in between the barn slats and died, rotting in the high heat. The stink had welcomed him home with a force Sar had never forgotten and now here it was again, magnified a hundred times over.
Alora's hand suddenly clamped down on his forearm, her fingers like shards of ice, and Sar screamed, an agonized wail rivaling whatever it was walking in the woods.
"Shut-up." She breathed and his mouth promptly sealed, and cut off his next and much more spectacular scream.
"What is that??" He repeated. His voice shook. All the hairs on the back of his neck had risen up. She gave him an odd look.
"It's the rest of what you bought, Sar."
There was an odd tenderness in her voice and that tiny bit of compassion, from her of all people, almost caused him to burst into tears.
"I don't want it anymore." He stuttered helplessly. " My god, my god you own what you buy and I'm not done paying" He thought, sick and scared.
Alora knew Sar was struggling with everything that had happened but she simply didn't have time for it . She led him, like a sulky child, towards the fire. He let her and threw one last,desperate glance at what used to be Gareth.
"Stay by the fire. Just be quiet and don't move." Her eyes ticked back and forth across the wood line.
"No." Sar violently shook his head. " Let me take Gareth and go."
Sar realized that to lug Gareth's body back and shoulder the anger of his neighbors was as insignificant as a whore's hello compared to whatever was in the woods. The fingers on his arm tightened.
"Make her stop, make her stop." His mind singsonged , and he begged whoever it was who listened in on moments of uncontrollable panic to save him. "I was wrong and I'm willing to pay but not like this, not like this.."
"You can't go. And you might as well forget Gareth." Alora jerked her head towards the still body.
" He's nothing but meat now. And if you don't want to wind up like him you'll stay here by the fire and keep quiet."
Sar felt her let go of his arm and silently watched as she wiped her hand across her leathered thigh, her mouth twisted into a faint moue of disgust. An explosively shrill yipping echoed above the rustle and tear of foliage. Sar knew his moment of escape had come and gone. He huddled by the fire and watched as Alora grabbed Gareth by one ankle and dragged him beyond the fire's glow.
The slow purr of his body against the ground and his disappearance from the light burned a path through Sar's long suffering horror. He moved as close as he could to the fire and let it bake his sweaty face. (Nothing but meat, he's nothing but meat, make her stop, make her let me go) The words faded to the back of his mind and wrapped a protective cocoon around his sanity.
The lazy evening breeze sharpened, and pierced Alora's skin like a thousand needles. She squatted down, bare feet flat on the ground and elbows propped on her knees, her arms outstretched. It was a casual posture, more suited for four leaf clover hunting or bank fishing.
She watched the woods and began to smile. Then laugh. It was a jubilant, carefree sound, easily picked up and carried by the wind through the forest and grasses. It trickled through invisible fingers onto Gandoura and whispered around the eaves and rooftops. It finally dissolved in the empty alleyways, and gave the day's garbage an uneasy stir.
About this same time, little Arden Narvik screamed in his bed, a shrill ear-popping squawk, that caused his mother Allie to freeze then slip from beneath Conor Fitzcarin's sweaty grip with all the agility of a greased pig, depriving him of a stupendous orgasm that had held all the promise of being better than any he'd ever had with his wife.
Down from the Honor's Shop, Darius Underloy whimpered and wet his bed, a powerful gush that dripped onto the floor like a spring downpour. His mother came in, woke him up, and trounced him soundly.
Pinchem moaned and sweated on his yellowed sheets. His tired old man's penis was rock hard and tight against the wet material of his sleeping gown. It created a delicious friction. " Dance, dancing with me, oh yesss" He mumbled, never having danced a day in his life. The cats watched him with curious yellow eyes.
Gandoura turned and twisted, as those asleep glimpsed shadows and those awake paused in whatever they were doing to glance about, nervous and uneasy, yet not knowing why.