December 6, 2007
It was a beautiful day to go for a walk. There was a wood path running along the stone fence at the western edge of a wood. The trees that bordered the path shattered the rays of light, which tried in vain to seep past their leaves. Not more than twenty feet away, the path veered to the right and dove into the forest. Songbirds were out and about, calling to one another in their little birdie ways. On the other side of the fence, a pair of chipmunks scatted a few leaves as they danced around the fallen foliage. A field mouse, scared by their odd games, ran and hid itself inside a hole at the base of the stone fence.

The fence, or wall as it might be called, was old and rotten, not even fit for the homes of bugs and mice. The only thing keeping it up now was the selective placing of the rocks. At any moment a breeze might just wipe out its remains.

Suddenly a young girl of maybe seven or eight came skipping down the path, humming a little tune as she went. In her right hand was a large dead stick, probably from an old tree, which she was using rather harshly to bash the fence. She had a smile about her even though it didn’t really show on her face. There were fresh red scars on her neck, but she didn’t seem to notice them. She continued to skip down the way, not even caring or noticing when the sun slipped delicately behind a cloud. It was autumn after all, and it was only expected to be gray out.

As she reached the part of the path that went into the forest she slowed her progress. She wasn’t scared, no that would be silly. Her parents owned this wood and she had been inside of it thousands of times, but still better be cautious. Switching now to a walk she continued forward into the deep thick woods, leaving the stick behind her, lonely and abandoned in the grass.

Little light reached the ground in here. Even though it was autumn and most of the trees had lost their leaves, the numbers of them and their branches were great, so the forest was set in darkness. The girl continued on anyway, unaware of a pair of gleaming red eyes that had been watching her ever since she had stepped along the path.

There it was, finally! The little girl took off at a run, heading for a large pond. It was standing by itself in the middle of a clearing. Well, that’s not really true, there was a large smooth rock that jutted out over the calm surface of the lake. Joyfully she flung herself upon the rock and looked at the deep waters spread out before her. Well, they didn’t look as deep now; the lake had filled with the leaves from the surrounding trees, now it was maybe only a few inches deep.

As the young girl looked down at the water from the rock, she felt its smoothness calling her down into the depths of sleep. Her eyelids fluttered, once, twice, three times. She fought the pull at first, but then finally surrendered and let it drag her down into the deeps of REM. The red eyes glinted slightly, almost smiling, and then disappeared into the brush.

The little girl twitched in her sleep as her dreams grew round her. She was playing somewhere with her father, laughing as her father chased her through the trees of this very forest. Eloise. Eloise. Someone was calling her. Her father perhaps, yes that was it, but still she ran, heading for a rock wall nearby. She knew the place well. A large rock that towered up over the lowest branches of the trees, forming a sort of a wall in the heart of the wood. Eloise. Eloise! The calling was harsher now, no longer like her father’s, but like that of a bird. She didn’t stop though. Just ahead, there! Eloise!! She pulled the bushes aside and there, huddled against the rock was an enormous yellow polecat, eyes gleaming like fire.

She screamed. It snarled at her harshly and she realized that the voice, that harsh voice she had been hearing that was calling her name was coming from this animal. Quickly she turned to run, but tripped over a rock on the ground. The polecat was on her in a flash, with gleaming white fangs. Eloise!!! And then her eyes opened, and she awoke fully, but still in a panic, gripped by the terror of the dream, she flung herself off the rock and landed in the pond. The leaves fell beneath her proving that the water wasn’t as shallow as she had thought. Vainly she tried to swim to the surface, but the leaves gathered around her, sucking her down with them. Fighting now for all she was worth, the girl, Eloise reached up and grabbed hold of a.....a hand. Someone was pulling her up out of the water, and there she was now, back on the rock, safe and no longer drowning. She lay panting for a few minutes before looking for her rescuer, but there was no one there.

“Hello?” she called aloud, but there was no answer. Even the birds had stopped singing. Everything around her was deadly silent. Trembling now she tumbled off the rock and on to dry land. Something told her that if she got out of the forest, everything would be okay. She hurried back the way she had come, not running, but definitely walking faster than normal because when you run then things become real, your fear becomes real. She was almost there! But something odd was happening. She was slowing down, and the forest was growing, stretching out before her. She felt as though she was going through molasses. Suddenly she broke into a sprint, but her pace never quickened. That’s when she looked back and saw the polecat. Well not a polecat anymore, but a huge pine martin, and martin with blood red eyes and yellow-brown fur. Her heart beat faster. Martins were known for not caring about size and for being the most vicious of weasels, and this one was huge!

Trying in vain to run, she continued her slow sprint to the edge of the forest. There was a dead tree on the ground in front of her. She knew she could jump it, and maybe it would even slow the pursuit of the martin. So she closed her eyes and leapt, but her hopes died as in one violent moment her shoe caught on a stray branch and she fell. In a fluid movement the martin was on her and she had one last glimpse into those horrid red eyes until everything went black.

Eloise awoke the next morning feeling tired and rather sore, as if she’d been running for a long time. She glanced out her bedroom window, resting her hand upon the glass to test the temperature. Yes, it would be a beautiful day to go for a walk. Silently she hurried downstairs to grab breakfast. Her mother said nothing about the scars on her daughter’s neck. She couldn’t, it wouldn’t do any good because her daughter simple could not see them. So she just watched as her child ran out onto the path and headed into the forest. The harsh voice calling her name over and over again. Eloise, Eloise!!

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