Wolfsbane.

Jessica Smith

 

She pads through the darkened streets, eyes darting as the dimly flickering streetlights create shadows everywhere. Buildings crowd together, rising over her, disappearing into the low clouds. The full moon has been consumed. She longs to be away from the cloying smog of the city. The stench of humanity all around her, the sweat of busy people and their busy lives. Rushing towards the end even as they lament, “why couldn’t I have had more time?” But what would they do with it, build more of these industrial workhouses they call cities? They think themselves so civilised. Why? In the forest she was free; here she can hide.

Squinting, she can almost mistake the buildings for trees; almost feel the soft tread of moss underfoot. She used to run free, ignoring her mother calling for her. Her friends were in the forest. Her friends were the forest. Until they came. The monsters. This is the one place they shouldn’t look for her. The one place she might be safe, until she could go back and leave grave markers. Not much point in a burial though. A low growl echoes, quiet and threatening. She cocks her head. All she can hear is the rushing of cars. So loud, but she knows she heard it. She glances up, already knowing the clouds are thinning. Hurry. She pulls her red coat around her, fighting the insidious cold, freezing her bones. Hurry. She scrambles through the back alleys, wishing for her forest. She knew every bramble patch, every stream and hollow tree. Nowhere is familiar here. Harsh panting, growing heavier.

Another look heavenwards and the moon is nearly free from the constriction of the clouds. Move faster. Ducking around a corner, eager footsteps behind her. Nearer and nearer. A dead end. Shaking slightly, she crouches to the ground. She must act, before the full moon decides the fate of them all. Trembling viciously now, she carefully digs the rough bundle from her jacket and withdraws the plant. Wolfsbane: plucked from the heart of her forest. Frantically, she scrabbles at the coarse earth until she can place the precious plant inside the hole. The world seems to hold its breath for the moment.Then sharply exhales.

They appear, with no visible weapons, but she knows better. They are always armed. They killed her parents and now she’ll have her revenge. Moonlight claws its way through the clouds, lighting the scene. Landing on her. Vibrations travel through her and she lunges at the men; the wolf bursts forth from within, mutilating their soft, fleshy bodies. Their guns are no good against the wolf. The wolf drags the mangled corpses towards the wolfsbane. Not the poisoner of the wolf, but the wolf’s poison. Blood soaks the flower as it grows, spreading roots. She howls as the roots creep over the buildings. A symphony of howls greets her. Soon there will only be forest. And her pack.

 

I hope my prey is ready.