Apologies for today. Migraine. Tech issues. Posting a short story as compensation.
BLOOD MOON RISING
© 2014 Karen J Carlisle.
Somewhere in the moonlight, soft footsteps circled, scraping lightly on stone.
A loud crack echoed through the walled courtyard. A low growling followed. It ricocheted among the stone pillars and statues that erupted from the flagstones, making it impossible to trace the sound’s origin.
A warm summer breeze jostled the branches of Martine’s chosen refuge, masking the faint noises around her. Slowly the sky darkened. There were too many shadows.
Summer solstice had slipped by yesterday, without any excitement. She knew it had been too easy.
She looked up to the sky, and studied the moon. Her eyes narrowed, nothing but slits exaggerating the furrow that grew on her forehead. As the sanguine shadow crept across the moon’s surface, blood coursing through its veins.
A blood moon. Change is coming.
Such portents could not be ignored. Again.
Martine took a measured breath. She reached back and pulled a small crossbow from a hidden pocket beneath her bustle. She hesitated, her gaze darted across the courtyard. Shadows danced over the dim garden. She bit her lip and pulled the string tight and eased the silver tipped bolt in place.
The growl was behind her now. Close. The hair on her neck jumped to attention. She turned, snarling in anger. A large hound leapt toward her, hovering for a moment as the bolt drove into its chest. With a whimper, it fell at her feet.
Shadows flitted in the corner of her eye.
Martine shoved a second bolt into the crossbow. Too late. It was knocked to the ground by a flurry of darkness. She dodged backwards, landing hard against the stone wall.
Her hunter had found his quarry. A sliver of tooth jutted onto his lip. He was young, not yet able to control the changes.
Martine wrenched a small branch from the hawthorne beside her. She smiled, baring a perfect set of extended canines. “You should avoid strangers during a blood moon,” she whispered.
He glanced at the blood moon above them. A thin sliver of light threatened to chase away the shadow. He licked his lips and swallowed.