As promised here is the last installment of Off the Path!
Off the Path Part Seven
The leaves crunched under Tiffany's boots as she wandered further into the deepening shadows. Bushes and branches snagged and scratched at her clothes. She could just make out red flashing ahead of her and the sound of giggles drifting on the breeze that had come up.
Her teeth began to chatter a little as the wind penetrated her clothing. It was all so quiet. Except for the occasional giggle from the red dot up ahead.
Suddenly a wolf howled from somewhere behind her.
She started moving faster through the brush. As she got closer to the red dot it resolved itself into the form of a little girl standing with her back against the trunk of a huge old ash tree. The child wore a blue checkered dress that was pretty well worn, and a red cape covered all but the ends of her golden curls. The wide blue eyes looked at Tiffany through a sheen of terror and she would almost say, pity.
"What are you doing out here alone?" Tiffany moved closer to see if she could get the girl to come with her. That howling was getting closer.
The little girl shook her head as her mouth began to move.
"Oh please come help me, I'm too scared to move." The voice was sing song sweet and seemed to float on the chill wind. The child began shake her head harder and her eyes seemed to grow even more panicked as Tiffany drew closer.
As she was about to take the girls hand a deep growl sounded behind her. Tiffany turned slowly and found herself facing a large black wolf with dripping fangs and a deep rumbling growl. It seemed focused on the little girl and started to stalk slowly towards the tree.
The voice inside Tiffany's head was screaming at her to do something, but her feet seemed rooted to the spot.
"You must run." Almost to low to hear , the whisper finally shook her out of her terror and she grabbed blindly for the little girl and dragged her by the hand away from the tree and the beast.
The world swirled and spun around her as she stumbled and fell to her knees. The last thing she heard before the darkness closed in around her was a haunting and mournful howl wailing through the woods.
"Wakey wakey." Sharp slaps on her cheeks dragged Tiffany back to consciousness. At leas she thought she was conscious, but that couldn't be. She had to be dreaming.
" Oh no, this is no dream. A nightmare maybe, but then those always are more fun, hee hee." The high pitched voice sounded strange as she watched herself say the words. She looked at her windblown and disheveled clothes and mousy brown hair and thought "I really need a make over."
And then she started screaming.
Tiffany covered her ears and walked a few steps away muttering to herself and then turned back abruptly and slapped herself hard, across her small cheek making her blond curls bounce.The red hood fell back onto her shoulders and she wrapped her arms around her knees and began to rock.
"Oh don't be so pathetic. You certainly were brave enough when you thought that it was your friends playing a prank. Well now you really did get a good trick didn't you." She tossed back her head and let a fountain of high pitched giggles our out.
"It's simple really, you're still you , just not in you anymore. I'm taking up residence now, and boy will I have some fun. Damn humans and their rules. I thought they would never start forgetting and I would be stuck in here running from that damn wolf forever. But then here you are, big as life and practically inviting me to come out and play. Oh how old fang face is going to suffer tonight. The blood will flow again, I hope my new toys will last for a while before they are completely broken. When the dead are buried beneath the ash tree, then their vengeance belongs to me! What fun it shall be!" With that the thing that wore Tiffany did a little dance and strode out of the clearing giggling to itself.
Tiffany continued to sit and rock, watching herself walk away through the trees.
After a little while she pulled out of herself enough lean back against the tree trunk and look around.
The wolf was sitting on the edge of the clearing watching her. It seemed to be staring.
She felt the hysteria bubbling up inside mixed with a strange sort of lethargy. When the beast began walking slowly towards her she tried to scramble away, but her leaded limbs wouldn't move fast enough.
It padded over until it sat down squarley at her feet and crossed it's paws and stared at her some more.
"Couldn't stay on the path could you?"
She looked around for the voice, but there was nothing but the wolf.
"Of course it's me. How many other wolves do you know who would pay any attention to a little girl in that ridiculous get up?"
The crazed laughter finally made its way past her lips, and Tiffany sat there, trapped in the body of a little girl in a checked pinafore and hooded cloak, and laughed until the tears rolled down her face and her sobs wracked her little body.
"Oh knock it off. Crying isn't going to do any one any good. We've only got three days and I don't want to waste any of it on hysterical little girls." This was followed up by a sharp yip and a light nip on her ankle.
This. Can. Not. Be. Happening.
Wolves don't talk.
Little girls don't steal your body and run off with it.
This is some really really sick joke and Millie is going to pay for it.
"This is not a joke, dream, hallucination, or any sort of illusion you can think of. Best get those thoughts over and out of your head right now, I don't have time to waste on them. That Demon will be back with your friends by now and we only have three days to stop it from massacring everyone it can get it's claws on."
At this the wolf got up and began to stride into the trees.
"Come on. This time I am not going to fail."
Her heavy limbs finally seemed to respond to her. She got up and followed the wolf deeper into the woods.
I know I said that this would be the conclusion, but those darn characters mutinied and are demanding I rewrite the finale( they have my stuffed dragon and are demanding rewrites or he "gets it")- so unfortunately tomorrow night shall have to do! Until then- unpleasant dreams and Samhain wishes to all!