The woods were dark, and full to brimming with shadows that danced behind the beam of her flashlight. Rachel knew there was something in those woods, something that was not friendly and was not quiet, and if it had not been for the fact that Oliver had disappeared into those woods just a few minutes before there was no conceivable way that she would have willingly wandered into them. She had her father’s pistol, and the old sheriff’s cryptic words of aid or warning, a torn square of an old letter that had only the word “Blue” clearly written on it, and a smartphone with eight percent battery life set to “airplane mode,” but otherwise she was unprepared for those dark and fell woods where great big things moved in great big shadows and Oliver, afraid and alone, wandered looking for the way home. If she had known what the evening would bring – if she could have seen the grey blood of the saltseeker and the blind face of the hunger tree and the fairy lanterns glowing evil blue over the dead marshes – if she had known all of that, she would still have gone, because after all it was Oliver in those woods. But if she had known, she would have at least paused at the beginning of the woods, to consider what she was about to do. But she didn’t know, so she marched into the woods with all the courage of the blind.
Written about a woman and her cat named Oliver on 10/14/16 at the RMSC After Dark Prohibition-themed event.