I watched her approach the Gnarled Woods from my perch. She was most likely a Ute, I’d guess fifteen. That’s when they get spit out into the real world.
I could see something glowing from her hand. She held it out in front of herself, passing it left to right, then back to center again. That would be my mark tonight.
Her naïveté is apparent, her eyes widening as she enters the circle of trees. Welcome to my home. Foolish girl! The Utes that ventured through here are always like that, wide-eyed and innocent. They always carried some sort of magic with them. I’ve managed to pinch a few pieces, but I couldn’t make the magic work. Still, they brought in a good price, enough for a month’s rations, and some odds and ends.
Lowering down from the tree, and keeping to the shadows, I snake through the trees watching and waiting. She’ll need to bed down soon. There’s no traversing these woods at night.
I manage to get close enough to hear her singing quietly: “Though I walk through the darkest night, I will fear no evil…”
Ha! You keep telling yourself that, sweetheart. It don’t matter.
I follow her to a small clearing where she finally makes camp. Climbing onto a low hanging branch, I settle in and wait for her to fall asleep.
I remember my first night in these woods. I was ten. Yeah! That’s right! Ten! My parents were murdered by Dysts. My dad had tried to protect me and my mom, but they struck him down. Mom screamed and shouted for me to run. I ran in to these woods and here I am eight years later. Ironically, some would call me a Dyst. I prefer the term, Wilder. (Pronounced will-dur, like wilderness without the ness.)
You’re probably wondering why I call them Utes and Dysts. Maybe you figured it out. The village where the girl comes from is called Aurora. Technically they’re Aurorans, but think about it. The people there are secluded and protected from the outside world. They are self-sufficient, rarely venturing out to trade goods. I look at them as living in a utopian society, and by default, the rest of us live in a broken dystopian world. Utes and Dysts. Get it?
If you hadn’t guessed, Flint is my antagonist. I hope you enjoyed these two short stories. I’ll share more later. Please realize these are majorly unedited. Writing these stories helps me to flesh out my characters and hopefully entices you to want to read my story.
Grace & Peace,