By K.T. McQueen
She was the third teen taken in a month. They weren’t missed as quickly as the younger children. But no one was entirely sure what was taking them. They knew it was an animal of some sort, the local huntsmen said the bites looked like wolf bites, only, it would have had to have been a pretty big wolf with pretty big paws to do the kind of damage that had been done.
The bodies of the two boys had been ripped to shreds and cavernous -as if whatever had killed them had chosen to eat the organs first. All that was left of the girl was one blood covered wellington boot and drag marks. But that had been over two weeks ago and the search had wound down.
Sasha didn’t think her sister had been eaten by wild animals. She thought the injuries had been done by a man using tools to make it look like an animal. And she was pretty certain the reason only Anna’s boot had been found was because it was staged.
Anna had always been wild, getting drunk before she was old enough, dating boys their parents didn’t approve of, and making plans for a future so big Sasha couldn’t believe she’d had the nerve to dream them.
And because she was so certain of her sister’s behaviour she was sure this was all some kind of elaborate plan to escape the town for good. But Sasha knew Anna needed to come home. If she didn’t, all the chores and care of Mama would be heaped onto her, she would end up missing school or not keeping up with her homework, and if that happened there was no way she’d get a college scholarship. Not that she would be able to go anyway if Anna didn’t come back to take care of Mama.
Anna did nothing but fool around with Gus, making plans to escape to America. Sasha had overheard them one night when they’d been out on the front porch. And she was pretty sure Anna and Gus had put that plan in motion, assuming Anna’s wellington boot would be enough to link her disappearance to those other two boys. They weren’t wrong.
So, one evening after her father had taken her mother to the city hospital for treatments, Sasha put on her warmest clothes and set out to look for her sister. Angrily tramping through the trees to where she was sure Gus had a cabin.
Only it was taking longer to get there than she’d thought it would. And the shadows between the trees were growing darker. Perhaps she should have brought a torch. Just as she was considering turning back the clouds cleared to reveal the fullest brightest moon she could remember seeing in a long time. It seemed so close and lit everything around her. Smiling and thanking the Universe for its help she trudged on. And reaching the edge of a small clearing she smiled as she spotted the tiny cabin. Sure her sister would only put up with such a small, isolated, location for a short time.
Something crackled in the trees behind her but she barely noticed as she tried to decide the best to convince Anna to come home. Mama would be so pleased to see her and Papa would be furious but he’d hug her tight, Sasha was certain. Anna would probably be grounded and get extra chores and…
She didn’t have time to turn as something grabbed her by the ankle and yanked it from under her. Calling out in pain as she hit the cold hard ground all she got for her trouble was another yank. Something growled deep in the darkness and she saw the gleam of red eyes just before the moon was eclipsed by another cloud.
‘No, get away from me.’ She tried to yell. Throwing pebbles and branches as she was pulled along on her belly. ‘Anna!’
A light flickered on in the cabin.
A solid pressure landed on her back, knocking the wind and any further calls for help from her. Then an icy coldness began to spread through her, spider webbing out from the pressure. Liquid bubbled at her lips and a cold wet nose shoved itself in her face to investigate. She barely had time to acknowledge that she was wrong and there were huge wolves in the woods before she felt its stinking breath on her skin and it sunk its huge teeth into her face.