Author : John Plunkett

The girls were dressed in simple skirts and blouses of homespun wool from their father’s sheep. They spoke brightly to one another, rejoicing in a day of swimming and play at the small pond just over the hill from their father’s house.

A young, naked boy darted from tree to tree, his eyes focused on the group of girls walking down the path. He was filthy, covered in dirt, dead leaves, and a greasy smear of dried blood and hair around his mouth.

The youngest girl stopped suddenly, pointing into the trees and asking in a loud voice, “What’s that?”

The other girls looked, but seeing only the trees they shushed their sister and gently forced her to continue down the path.

The boy continued to follow them, but allowed more space between himself and his prey. It would hardly do to let them escape.

The girls arrived at the small pond, a place where the creek turned sharply and had carved out a deep hollow in the soft dirt between the trees. Having been to the little pond many times before, the oldest girls led the rush into the water, leaving woolen garments in small, neat piles on various rocks, tree stumps, and low branches near the water.

Laughing and playing in the water, the girls didn’t see the boy watching from the undergrowth until he burst out of the trees, running and jumping from shore into the cold water.

Shocked and uncertain at the boy’s sudden appearance, the girls didn’t start to move until after he landed in the water, and even then the oldest girls moved toward him at first, unafraid of such a young boy.

When they saw his skin change to a dark gray color, and his arms and legs shrink down into fins and a tail, then they reversed course, swimming hard for the shore they believed would bring safety.

Once he was in the water, the boy knew they were his for the taking. He flicked his powerful tail, opened his mouthful of long, sharp teeth and grabbed the closest girl by her leg, pulling her under the surface and toward his new lair at the bottom.

Very subdued, the girls walked home, already mourning their oldest sister, who had given her life so they might live. Many of them kept their eyes on the trees around them, watching for any threat.

A young, clean naked boy followed at a discreet distance, watching the girls, and waiting for an opportunity.

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