fiction fridays: and a little child shall lead 2

(read from the beginning here)

The rabbits sensed the happenings of Pine Meadow before many of the animals knew what was coming. A year ago, before the tornado had even formed the rabbits were scurrying about collecting food to hide away with them as they retreated for cover. Five and a half months ago, the all migrated to the woods just beyond the far southwestern edge of the Meadow in preparation for the strongest storm any of the animals had seen in years–lightning had felled several trees, but none in the wood just beyond the southwestern edge of Pine Meadow. So when a rabbit spoke up on that particular night, every animal took one step forward. All were now hanging on the rabbit’s every word.  

 

“Shadow hunters were spotted a few hours ago in the northwest corner of the Meadow.”  

 

“What is a shadow hunter?” asked a young beaver.  

 

“A shadow hunter,” said the rabbit, “is a most frightening creature. They are tall and strong, and bulky like they don’t fit well in their own bodies. They have long tusks, rugged skin, and long, scraggly hair all over their bodies. Shadow hunters can stand on their back feet and walk around like human can, but they sort of hunch over, like they don’t have enough skin to stand upright.”  

 

The young beaver snuggled up to his father, as did many of the other young animals at Shallow Creek Bend.  

 

The rabbit continued. “We saw a pack of shadow hunters in the northwest part of the Meadow and came immediately to warn the gathering. There were about a half dozen of them.”  

 

“That’s more than enough to be big trouble for us,” said one of the cats.  

 

Shadow hunters brought destruction wherever they traveled. They hunted at night and preyed on every sort of animal—wild and tame—that gathered at Shallow Creek Bend. When they were roaming in Pine Meadow, the land itself seemed to carry a great depression at their very presence. It had been years since anyone had seen a shadow hunter and now they had returned.  

 

At this news, the owls began circulating throughout Pine Meadow. They too were vulnerable to the shadow hunters but had long ago taken up the duty of keeping watch in the event of a dreadful sighting. Besides, flying and perching high in the trees allowed them to avoid danger, at least for a little while.  

 

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