He jumped, the hairs on the back of his neck rising at the sudden sound. What was that? Quickly turning, prepared to face whatever was behind him, he quickly realized that his chance of survival was slim. It was much too dark to see. Not just the steps in front of him, but also, everything else. Even squinting, he couldn’t make out anything within a foot’s radius.
Why did the moon choose tonight to disappear? It was all his own fault. He should’ve never entered the forest alone. More importantly, he definitely shouldn’t have entered the forest with the assumption that he would be out by the evening. Lost and trapped in the maze of trees since the early morning, he’d been regretting his actions for hours now. Nightfall only made things worse.
Besides the decreased visibility, he now had to worry about accidentally becoming something’s supper. He took a step back, his foot unintentionally crushing a fallen leaf and revealing his location.
“Oooh! Oooh!” Cried someone or something somewhere in the darkness behind him. Turning, he raised clenched hands up to his chest. A feeble attempt at defense that he hoped would at least Serve to deter potential attackers. Nervously, his eyes darted about the scene as he slowly scanned from left to right, trying to pinpoint the exact location of the unseen threat.
“Oooh! Oooh!” It came again, once more from some place beyond his detection. He took a deep breath, trying to calm himself.
“Oooh! Oooh!” He was certain it come from behind him this time. Jumping to face it, he was met with nothing but shadows. It was moving so fast. It was as though it were trying to taunt him. He needed to calm himself. He would not let it goad him into action.
He had to calm himself. Panicking wouldn’t help him get out of the forest, how would it save him from whatever lurked in the shadows. But without a light source, he couldn’t even make out his feet without bending down. How could he ever hope to escape?
“Oooh! Oooh!” The sound came again. He didn’t dare to lift his gaze this time. Why bother? He would be dead soon enough. If he couldn’t avoid a terrible end, then at least he could avoid seeing it happen. At least, he could live his last moments in self-imposed ignorance. He screwed up his eyes and waited.
Seconds ticked by. Minutes. Hours. He couldn’t be sure anymore. As if quietly testing his patience, the sound disappeared the moment that he accepted his fate.
Was this some sort of test? Reluctantly, he forced himself to look up. It was sunrise. He let out a sigh of relief. There was nothing. With a glimmer of light, he’d imagined that most predators probably have gone to sleep. At least with the light, it was clear which direction was east. He stood, turning toward the direction of the light and came face to face with a feathery creation.
“Oooh!” It called, acknowledging his attention as he met its grey eyes. A familiar set of grey eyes.
“Minerva?” He asked, feeling his fear fading. “Is that you.”
“Oooh!” It answered, cocking it head. A familiar response.
“Thank you.” He said, a sense of guilt filling his heart. “Thank you for coming back for me, even when I’ve surely let you down. I swear to work hard and become a hero that you can be proud of.”
An oath that he would never betray. An oath that he owed her, for all the guidance that she had offered him. He would work hard so that he could be there for her, the moment that she called for him.
This story was inspired by a writing prompt from the “Promptly Written” Publication.
Start your story with this line
I jumped as the owl called to the moon