. . .
“Grandfather, where’s your friend?”
The man’s hand tightened around his nine-year-old grandson’s, his brain moving quickly. This is what they want. This is what they want.
“We’re almost there, my boy,” the man said, trying to sound cheerful. His fingers were covered with three-day-old splinters and wounds from sticks.
It was difficult getting through the lid of the coffin. She wasn’t that decrepit in her grave. He didn’t understand why she wasn’t good enough for them. She was everything to him.
The sun had begun to set, the shadows in the forest long, treetops splitting the sky like jagged cuts from a rusty, serrated knife. Orange and red hues bled into everything they touched, edges of one object blurring into another as a strange feeling of dread came upon the man, soaking into his skin and rattling his old bones.
He stopped, his eyes glistening with anticipation.
The ground shook as something moved, blurring in the little boy’s eyes.
He fell to the dirt and leaves below, his knees giving out as the shaking multiplied, the blurry image seeming to grow from nothing.
The boy gaped up at the creature that appeared before them, standing as tall as the tallest tree in this forest at the back of their land.
The grandfather gripped the boy’s arm and forced him to his feet.
“Stand up straight and be respectful,” he reprimanded.
Out of fear, the boy obeyed.
The grandfather spoke to the beast as it let out a small, warbled coo like a child only a week old, peering down at the boy with its strange glistening eyes as it twitchily swayed from side to side, seeming impatient. However, as the boy tuned back in to listen to his grandfather, fear clenched his esophagus, a scream lodging within it.
“My late wife was not good enough for you, I understand. You need a warm body, warm blood.”
The boy began to pry his hand from his grandfather’s fingers, unable to utter a sound as he shook his head in protest.
This can’t be real, the boy repeated to himself. This is just a dream. Just a dream!
The man gripped the boy’s hand tighter.
Hesitated. But only for a second.
“I give my grandson as the first sacrifice.”
The creature let out a delighted squeal that sent a white-hot arrow of fear through the boy as he pried his hand free.
The monster dove after him, birds lifting into the air as the boy lets out a bloodcurdling scream, drowning out the gleeful cries of the monster.
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