December 30, 2019 | Posted in The Mermaid & The WolF Adventures

WooFZee doesn’t like this. The forest is dark and sprawling, and MeaZea curls against his back like she’s coming down sick, or maybe more like she’s trying to hide.

And Zen won’t answer his questions.

No matter how many times WooFZEe demands tell me what’s going on, the little creature just counters with, “we need to move quicker.”

As if WooFZee isn’t already running.

As if Zen isn’t the one setting the pace.

“WooFZee,” says MeaZea, and her voice is soft and shaking. She sounds scared. Her hands curl into tighter fists around his fur. “Something’s following us.”

WooFZee’s ears flick. Outside of their own footsteps, the forest is silent and still. He parts his jaw, breathing in, but there’s no scent that makes the warning bells ring. “We’re not, MeaZea. It’s okay. I think – what did Zen say? This forest is just playing tricks on you.”

“Move quicker,” says Zen. “She’s not wrong.”

WooFZee comes to a full stop.

Zen spins around to face him, demanding, “what are you doing? We have to go!”

“You need to tell us what’s happening,” says WooFZee, the words chased by a growl. “Now.”

Zen looks nervous. “Fine, fine! This forest is alive. It’s a living thing. It can see us. It can follow us. Sometimes, it makes itself known, just to mess with us!

It’s messing with MeaZea right now. It’s making itself known, and that’s why she feels so bad, and why she can tell we’re being followed. Alright? Are you happy now? Can we keep moving?”

WooFZee demands, “can it hurt us?”

“If we’re still too long,” says Zen. And, is the words have a physical effect, Zen turns and darts down the path again. “Hurry up, unless you want to lose her to the trees!”

That’s the last thing what WooFZee wants. So, even though there’s nothing going on that he can see, and even if he doesn’t fully understand what’s happening, the wolf once more begins to follow their guide.

Is it just his imagination that the branches are swaying in an unnatural way?

Is it just leeriness born from their conversation, the reason that the air suddenly feels heavier, and he thinks he can catch sight of eyes blinking in the shadows of the trees?

Maybe, but WooFZee isn’t willing to stick around and find out.

After that, he follows Zen without question. There’s no small amount of relief in WooFZee when he catches sight of sunlight, marking the thinning of the forest.

“We’re almost out!” WooFZee’s tail starts wagging.

Zen shouts, “run for the tree line!”

The little creature takes off at full force. WooFZee is hot on Zen’s paws, racing towards the sunlight, towards freedom. Behind them, the shadows bloom and twist, and the branches reach and grab, trying to snag fur.

It’s all that WooFZee can do to avoid the living trees.

It’s all he can do to keep running.

 

Katelynn E Koontz – Author

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