We had heard stories of the Darkwalkers our whole lives. They came with a thick fog that smelled of death. If they came, you ran. That’s what my father had always told me. Until the night they arrived in our tiny community that had been hidden in the caves of B’Rae mountain. That’s when my father broke his rule. He stayed behind, with fifteen other men, to try to slow them.
“I’m scared, mom,” I had said as she pulled me behind her up the side of the mountain. “Where’s dad?”
The screams from below stopped us both in our tracks. She turned to look, her skin pale and shining in the moonlight. Her eyes grew wide as the scratching of the Darkwalker’s stilts echoed up the path.
“We need to hurry, they’re coming!” she whispered, resuming our course.
Now I was running. Away from the screams and the steady rhythm of the scratching. We reached a flat area about halfway up the side of the mountain where little grew, and my mother stopped once more.
I leaned to look around her to find a small cat-like creature staring at us. It’s flesh hung from exposed bone as illuminated red eyes locked with mine. A scout. My father had told me they preferred cats for them because they were small and fast. Suddenly I was grappled by my mother and shoved down into a hole I hadn’t seen.
“Do not move, do not make a sound, do you understand me?” she whispered as tears streamed down her cheeks.
I nodded. I wanted to say I loved her. I wanted her to stay with me. I wanted to do so much more than she told me. I know now I would have died on that mountain path along side her had I done anything other than what she told me.
A dead pile of brush was pushed over the hole and I heard her run further up the path. The sounds of the stilts scraped nearby and stopped. I expected the brush to move, but it didn’t, and the sound continued on past me.
To be continued…