In the Home of Beasts
DescriptionI wrote this last year and surprised myself. Two girls in the woods.
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"Kaylie, I don't like it here, can't we go home?" Victoria whined, tugging on her sister's shirt, refusing to turn her worried eye from the thick forest behind them. The trees they had just passed through now seemed bunched together, bundled branches forbidding any protective light from exposing dangers that lurked. Not that they could have done much to any threat regardless; the stick Kaylie held in her left hand made a good make-believe sword no matter how the boys mocked, but Victoria did not think wolves played pretend. It was the stupid boys' fault they had come out here, if they were eaten or torn apart it would all be the boys' fault for daring them to come here. Well, maybe Kaylie was a little to blame too for agreeing to it. And Victoria hadn't wanted to go, she only said yes because Kaylie asked. So it was all Kaylie's fault and the boys'...but Kaylie wouldn't have gone if the boys hadn't challenged her. So it was all the boys' fault they were going to die! "Kaylie?" She risked looking away from the dark to make sure her sister was still there--Victoria clutched her shirt, but she needed to be certain. Her sister, eleven, was two years older than her and never backed down from anything. She wore pants today, which was becoming more rare. Mother made her switch to dresses, and father said they should have done it sooner. They were old, stained, only had one small tear on them, but to Victoria they indicated Kaylie was here to fight. Her hair dangled longer, too. Last year what was left of it had to be cut after an accident attempting to leap fire. The boys were involved then, too. Her sister trembled, transfixed on the void beyond. Something crunched in the woods. Victoria spun but for a moment it seemed more like the world revolved around her as her brain sloshed in her head. The trees looked to be leaning towards them now, looming, taunting, pushing them towards Kaylie's goal and their probable end. Faces made of bark in the layered shadows laughed at the girls. Unseen death surrounded them and closed in wherever vision failed. Birds and insects both fell silent like children at the first illusion of a magician's show. What would happen next, they wondered. Making one of the girls disappear would be a neat trick. And the other might be cut in half. Somewhere in Victoria's head she hoped that this was all deception and the boys would leap out and surprise them, they'd be safe and not alone. She'd take her sister's stick and beat them if they did. Leaves crunched again on the edge of the deepest shadows, and this time she was staring right at it. A sharp yellow grin mocked her hopes, and paws bigger than her head crushed them into the dirt. If they didn't move, she wouldn't be long to follow. "Kaylie..." Victoria whimpered, shaking her sister out of her stupor. The older girl glanced over her shoulder and saw the beastial shape, its eyes unblinkingly hungry. Another stepped out beside it, low growl in its throat, paws placed forcefully, empowered by the scented knowledge that its prey was terrified. Kaylie's shuddering breath was her first in a long time. "Vickie, we have to go," she said, body shaking as if it were cold enough for snow. Victoria couldn't make her mind work well enough to ask the question she wanted to. Where could possibly be safe now? "Into the cave." Like the woods, the cavern seemed to have become more menacing since Victoria had last looked upon it. Its gaping mouth only held immense darkness, the darkest of shadows that ate everything up until the threshold and still yearned, stretched for more. No light crossed that line. If they passed it, they might very well fade into the void. This cave was not a secret trail to Divine Punishment the likes of Anais and Odinseus braved, it was a gap in creation. If they passed that line, they would fall out. Sticksword in one hand, Victoria's wrist in her other, Kaylie broke for the depths.