When the villagers speak of the monster, they only speak of its teeth.
The delegates that came out to my cabin described long, tusk-like fangs as sharp as razors. They spoke of the way the dead were found, out here on the edge of the forest, out here by my cabin, torn through by those teeth that haunted their collective minds.
Funny, not a one of the men mentioned the monster’s eyes. The red and silver glow of hell fire brought insanity to all who gazed upon them, yet it was the teeth, always the teeth that made them shrink in fear.
They wanted my help. They were at a loss. Brute force had done little to keep the monster from savaging the village. Night after night, another life lost to those ivory daggers. So desperate they were that the council put aside their distaste for the strange witch who lived in the cabin at the edge of the woods to beg her assistance.
The same witch had sought shelter earlier in the season when a terrible creature had been spotted roaming the forest, but the villagers had no sympathy as they shut me out. The barricade, twelve feet high and smooth as glass left me vulnerable to attack, but it did not shut out the sounds of the villagers laughing and spitting curses upon me, simply for being a witch.
The delegates knew, of course, that this was in the forefront of my mind. Not a one could look me in the eye as they begged for help. Their guilt, their shame, their humble acknowledgement of that which they could never take back held no redemption. For had they dared to face me, they might have noticed something other than those dreadful teeth.
They might have noticed the red and silver glow of my eyes.
James never believed in ghosts. Not that he ever admitted it out loud. I mean, why take a chance, right? Whenever anyone else claimed not to believe he simply smiled and nodded knowingly, but discreetly. And so he had made it through his life thus far. Then one night his four-year-old daughter, love of his life, looked him square in the eyes, and asked, “Daddy, do you believe in ghosts?” To hesitate would say more than any answer he could speak, so without missing a beat he answered, “Of course not sweetie. Don’t be silly.” And that’s when the lights went out.
J. Daniel Layfield