The frog croaked. It was a grating sound, a false call just a little too treble to be believed. It came from the plastic monstrosity that lingered by the door, awaiting those returning home with its hoarse welcome. Ben couldn't quite remember where exactly Sarah had bought it, though he often hoped that whatever store it had been was now out of business, paying penance for stocking such a dumb thing in the first place.
The mouth of the valley opened into the hills and exposed a rather weary-looking path that lead upwards. It disappeared with the beginning of a forest line, that itself disappeared into a high mountain mist. I had never seen such beauty in a landscape before, but perhaps that was because it had been awhile since I truly looked.
The place we went as we balanced the line between life and death was not a place easily escaped. To do so, one would have to navigate a maze unlike any other. Entering it on the other hand, was easy. Pass through a single door; follow the call for violence. And we had followed, obediently. We’d followed until it took us to a part of our minds that burned with hot hate. Where the inside walls of our heads were scorched with the will to do one thing alone; destroy those that threatened our home. And so we had.
Some of my earliest memories took place in that home. Perhaps even my first memory, though it was hard to know anything for sure after so many years. Everything that old had a way of changing, and with whatever glass my mind’s eye looked through, those years were tinted. Foggy like a pair of glasses going inside during the winter.
When the rabbit cries, it is the fox that first comes running.
There was almost an ache in the trees as they blurred by the running man. They seemed contorted, writhing with an unseen agony of sorts, as though each were sick with an illness that forced them to arc away in shame. Their symptoms the wounds of visible sores that marred bark once so smooth, festering now like the pockmarks of some human disease. Their long years of life were nearing an end, and the man thought that perhaps they knew it. Something they were certainly not alone in.
There had been another.
Or so his doorman was trying to tell him, with an infuriating sluggishness. He watched the man's decrepit mouth fumble, almost comically, as the words he tried so hard to sugar-coat kept evading his narrowly-minded mental grasp. Finally the doorman’s blinded hunt ended, and he announced it blatantly, with an equal amount of apology and fear in his falling gaze.
“Sir, you've been robbed.”