From the hut nearby came the stealthy sounds of a child escaping her mother’s watchful eye.
“Baby, Baby is that you? Mama will skin me if she catches me out here after bed time. Baby?” The little girl crept carefully around the corner of the mud brick house and picked her way through the low vegetation. “Come on little kitty, you don’t want to get eaten. There’s lots of eaters out at night.”
The tiny light of her candle flickered in the breeze, shedding a pool of illumination too small to give much help to her eyes. Her ears were more useful and she heard the reptilian scrabble of his claws as he scuttled up the tree into hiding. The skin under the soft blond curls tightened slightly, but she was too intent on her search to be frightened yet. She heard the soft mew of the kitten to her left, turned toward it and stumbled, her foot caught in something on the ground. She thrust her hands out to catch herself and dropped the little candle. Her hands shook in the sudden dark as she struggled to free her foot from the soft cloth that entangled it. Above her, the thing in the tree salivated as the girl’s heart began to pound.
What is it? What is it? Her thoughts scurried frantically as the child thrust small fingers between the cloth and her ankle. The brush of cold, dead flesh against her palm dried her mouth with fear. Shivering, she struggled to her feet just as the moon poked his pale face above the houseline, throwing a sliver of light on the human wreckage in front of her. The thing in the tree cursed as her screams rang out, bringing more humans, and the security of numbers.
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