Stumbling through the thick, wet undergrowth she tripped on a protruding root and landed on her front. Another barrage of scrapes and cuts lined her face, hands and knees. Her clothes were tattered. She had no idea how long she had been running for.
She pulled herself to her feet. Which way? She tried listening for a clue. There was no sound. At least that meant she had lost her pursuers for the moment, but they would be coming for her. she had to keep moving.
She knew the forest well enough, she had walked and played in it growing up. A memory stirred. Follow the way-stones home. Her father had taught her as a child in case she ever lost her way.
She took a metal hair clip from her head. The forest provided a carpet of leaves, she picked a suitable one. She dipped into a puddle of water until she had a pool on the leaf. Then she placed the clip onto it. A crude compass.
Slowly the clip turned, the metal point attracted to the naturally magnetic way-stone that lay ahead of her. She pocketed the clip and headed off in the direction it had pointed.
Another ten minutes of stumbling and falling, clambering and scrabbling and she came upon the clearing. The night sky and twinkling stars were visible above, the full moon added a white glow to the scene. In the middle was the erect, moss-covered way-stone.
She approached it and slumped down at the foot of it, her back against the solid, cool rock. She could rest a moment. Now she knew the way to get home. She took deep breaths, filling her lungs. Then she caught her breath abruptly.
A rustling behind her. She froze. She felt the warm breath next to her face. She smelled the wolf scent.
‘Did you really think you could escape us?’ the werewolf hissed in her ear. It was Ivan, the leader of the pack. Was he alone? Her senses picked up. As Ivan’s jaws opened, ready to pounce on her, she leapt to her feet, grabbing him by the scruff of his neck and throwing him across the clearing. Ivan landed and quickly turned to face her.
Mallory drew herself up, bearing her fangs.
The werewolf and the vampire faced each other across the clearing, the moon providing a spotlight as they paced around each other, sizing each other up.
With a shriek and howl they charged towards each other.
This is a response to the #writephoto Prompt – Way-stone curated over at Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo. Click on the link to read other stories inspired by the image.
A way-stone is a middle English term, sometimes called a lodestone – a naturally magnetised piece of mineral magnetite, that used to provide important navigation to travellers, before we all got GPS – Wikipedia
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