It was a rather terrible evening, thought the man as he felt himself in a bed of snow.
A whole line of evenings had been bad up to this point, but there was something a little worse about this one. Maybe it was the pounding headache he experienced. Maybe it was the way that the moonlight shined directly into his eyes, causing him to wince and whine. Maybe it was just the pure quiescence that he was just a little more than passed out in the snow.
Maybe it was because he was just plain lost.
It took a little more than an effort to open his eyes, and it took a little more to get a feeling about where it was, or more so, who he was. It was hard to understand what one being's person might be when you're feeling surrounded by absolute nothingness. The man shifted his eyes, looking towards the left and towards the right, and soon towards the moonlight above him. He noticed the substantial amount of trees around him, beckoning him with almost human-like branches and chilling ice-cycles that hung like Christmas Orients. There was so many, he didn't have to look up to see them. They were dark and almost life-like.
The man pulled his legs upward slightly, towards himself till they were at a perfect angle. He ran a gloved hand through his curly hair, and felt a bump from where he assumed he fell and hit his head. Or atleast he hoped that he fell, and this wasn't someone else's doing. As the man pulled the rest of his body upward into a sitting position, he noticed how very cold his back was, regardless of him being dressed relatively warmly. The air was still, and not a single wisp of wind rolled past him. The man grabbed his jacket and pulled it over him, not entirely zipping it up, but not entirely letting it flap lazily at his sides anymore. He brushed off the snow on one side, and soon grabbed the hat off of his head.
He took a hand and brushed past his brown cap, shaking off as much snow as he could. As he took in the vastness of the forest, he realized a few things wrong about the situation he had been placed in. (1) He had never been in this part of the woods, nor was it at all familiar to him. (2) There wasn't a wooded area near where he last remember being. (3) There was a lot of trees. (4) He wasn't sure that there was a forest near where he lived at all. And lastly, (5), there wasn't a trail of footprints. At all.
Not a track leading to him. Not one leading from him. It was as if he had fallen out of the sky in that precise location, and had not stirred in his position since this very moment. He looked around himself, trying to find some marker or some form to lead him to civilization. There had been no previous snowfall as far as he could tell, because there wasn't a single snowflake on him. This was something out of science fiction, or a bad romance novel, he concluded. It took him a while to collect the strength, or the willingness, to actually stand up. But as soon as he did, he felt instantly sick.
The man shuffled his feet in the snow and trekked in a foreign direction, which he gently decided to be East. As he went gently East, he looked back and forth almost frantically. What had happened in the time that he fell asleep and woken up? What happened before then? Whatever happened must have been something intentional, he assumed, because he had a bump about the size of a goose egg. A hand trace it, pushing it softly before covering it with parse curls and some woolen fabric. As he continued onward, he ignored the throbbing for as long as he could and shoved his hands into his windbreaker.
As he continued on, he could swear that he heard subtle footsteps in the crunching snow. He would pause, listen, and shake it off as latent paranoia. As he walked on and onward for an endless amount of time, he swore he was about to cry. He looked forward and he saw a beacon on hope. It was a Tavern-- a bar of sorts. As he saw it, he began to break into a run. He ran quickly, long legs stepping awkwardly into positions much like a daddy-longleg's would. As he ran, he instantly felt about twenty-times worse than he did just stumbling through the woods. As he neared the door, he pulled a staggered walk, his legs wobbling from lack of use. He was much like a newborn doe, walking towards the door and falling on it.
A rush of warmth hit his red cheeks and instantly sent him buckling. He had a headache the strength of about twelve marching bands and a need for some food as soon as possible. He unzipped his jacket and headed towards the bar-stools, where he was instantly interrogated by a local drunkard. The man sitting next to him looked much like a farmer you would see in an almanac from the sixteenth century. He was blubbering something about being a stranger. Something or another.
"Whhhhhho're yeee?" He slurred, lifting his head like a camel reaching for water.
"Ye?" The stranger asked gently, pointing to his posterity.
"Yyyyyyer'nt from 'round'ere, 'r ye?"
The man looked at him and tried his best to copy his drunken accent. "N-Naw."
The drunkard took a look at him and grumbled to the table. He rested his head on the warm woodwork and snoozed away. The man envied this gently, but soon got the attention of a local mistress. She was busty and hefty but seemed as cherry as a child. She looked like she could be Mrs. Clause if she really wanted to. Her dress was a dirty brown color, and seemed to match the atmosphere. The man was a little pleased with himself, because he was too matching the dull and drollery color scheme. She parted her cheeks, and began to speak.
"Wat'er'ya havin', boy?"
"Er," The 'boy' started, taken aback gently. "I'm not much for drinking."
"How'er 'bout some Ginger-Ale?"
"Please." He said, gently. "And something for this, too?" He asked, lifting his hair and hat to show the wench his goose egg.
The women inspected it, taking his chin in her meaty hands and peering deep at the bulbous flesh. "Hmm," She hummed, thinking to herself.
"Witch Hazel," She said, pushing his head back. "An' try notta pound heads fora few days, got it?" She hit him twice on his cheek, before she shuffled off. She stopped mid shuffle, though, to turn back. She stuck her hip out and placed a hand on her side. "Naw, how'd'ja manage a shiner like that, boy?"
The man shrugged.
"Wat'cher name, hon?"
This question took the man aback gently. He actually had to think about his name for a moment, because it had taken most of his strength to even remember how he got here. "Uh," He started slowly.
The tavern maid snapped her fingers, getting his attention once more. This startled the man, and thus, he splattered out his name quickly. "F-Felix. Felix Mann."
"Well now, F'lix, I'mma get'cha that Witch Hazel.
Felix Mann was a high-school student at a highschool located a little Easy from the Tavern. He was right about a few things that he really didn't know he was right about. He was right, there was no wooded area in his town. And he was right to assume someone was following him, because little did he know that someone was. Felix was a string-bean like fellow, with eyes of coffee and skin that nearly matched. He was the color of leaves in the fall, and his red patchy cheeks almost proved otherwise. He stripped himself of his coat, and relieved a soft brown jumper, with a white collar underneath the sweater. Dark brown elbow patches caressed his elbows as he rested them on the table, and he soon waited for his Ginger Ale.
He didn't much care for his cardigan, but he was thankful he wore it on such a chilly night. He only wished he had a little more than the bear necessities. A glove or two would work swimmingly, or perhaps a scarf to bring it all together. Felix brought his hands up to his mouth and blew hot air into his palms. His knuckles were dry, and he hoped there would be enough Witch Hazel to patch up the cracks in his skin. He looked over his hands and dragged a tan one over the breaks in the flesh. He hoped that blood wouldn't surface, but if it were to, he would be ready.
He stuffed a small portion of napkins into his pocket, and sat as his head pounded gently. Felix listened in on the conversations that were swirling around him, and felt like he was a stranger in the way of all these townfolk. He turned to the drunkard once more, and tapped him rather impolitely on the shoulder. The man grumbled, lifted his head, and looked at the man with hazy blue eyes.
"Hhhrm?" The drunkard asked.
"Uh," Felix started, taking a hand and tapping it on the table. "Where, exactly, am I?"
"Eeerm," The drunkard belched. "Yer'in Windomnnnnn." He purred, resting his head back on the table.
Felix had never even heard of a Windomn! He shook his head, and ran a nervous hand through his mop. He was from Chassen! Where in the world was Windomn? This didn't make a lick of sense at all. First the footprints, then the strange sounds, and now this strange tavern in the middle of no where?! Felix got up quickly, pushing his chair back loudly. The entire tavern looked like him like he was a madman. Even the drunkard gave him a look of disapproval. Felix grabbed his coat and pulled his hat onto his head. "I have to go," He muttered to both himself and the people watching him.
But the thing was, everyone was watching him.
"I-I have to go!" He announced to the entire pub. As he turned to bolt for the door, he grabbed for the handle. As Felix reached for it, he was knocked on his ass by an unknown force on the other end of the door. It sent him falling flat on his ass, his head slamming onto the hardwood floor with a sickening 'wham'. He laid there for a moment, sure he was going to pass out again, when a figure stood over him.
As the clouds of his heated breath passed through his parted his lips, the wandering thoughts of this everlasting winter.
The woods, eerie, and mysterious, the shade of the night blanketing this winter wonderland. The snow covering the ground, with its individual snowflakes that all piled into one, compacted, and glistening under the quiet moons light. Night was filled with silence, but trickled in the creaking of the branches for when the winters chilling bite blew through, causing to sink its chilling teeth into the lone forest travelers exposed skin. A shadow of the night, a man in a cloak, matching the color the casted to black thicken trees, he wandered. Swiveling through the forest, matching the silence that rested in the wildlife.
All was peaceful. All was well. For the Beast was at rest.
In hiding, he was. The spotting of the dreadful Beast was no longer in heed. Many say that he has died, time has caught up with the ungrateful Beast. Many say that he vanished to another land, a land untouched by the civilians in Windom. But the common tale is, the Beast come to the lost souls that wander in the woods; for he doesn't care to terrorize the innocent, for he only goes for the ones who wish to die.
The tale was eerie, it was the reason that no man wanders when the sun had went for its slumber. The moon was the enemy, and there was little to none for the refuge.
Which came to the question, why was a lone traveler, unknown to the people, but known to these silent woods, a pure native to this mystical land? Was he a fool? Or did he wish to die?
The wind blew, causing the cape that hung thickly over the traveler's shoulders, rustling roughly with the aggressive gust of chilling wind that slipped right through, and underneath the man's fabric. The fur that hung around the hood, coated with the flurries that blew with the wind, tickled the side of his cheeks, as his bare hands cuffed up his hood, defending himself from this blistering cold.
But, for when the wind came down, a groan came to sound.
It startled the man. His heart skipped a necessary beat, and his body froze in the midst of the above the ankle deep snow. His breathing became indefinite, slow, but deep, as it made its own fog with each long and heated breath. His hands dropped into his cloak, eyes growing wide as he stared into the night, waiting like a animal in plain sight. For he was. A buck, a half man, half animal, with large dark colored antlers, replica of a male deer protruding from his head, mixed in with his slightly disheveled hair, that waved, sticking to his face for the cold sweat perpetrated from his chilled skin.
A foot step, and another, followed with another, until it became constant, breaking the silence in the night, causing the pointed ears of the half man, half buck, to twitch with the crunching breakage of the snow. His eyes followed the sound, his neck allowing his head to move to get the direction of this mysterious visitor, of his dark woods.
East. The footsteps headed east, and as did the man.
With a ground covered in snow, and the staggering steps of the other being that the traveler tried to match to stay undetected, his efforts were simple futile. The feeling of the other beings awareness stung at the travelers attention, for his body vibrated with anticipation to see who was this foreigner, and to be the hypocrite of these dark rumored woods.
He didn't realize it, he didn't realize his steps quickened, he didn't realize that the foreigner was in sight. The back of his slender figure faced him only a few steps away. His silhouette right in plain sight, running, panting, panicking, it filled the mans eyes with dismay.... And unexplained delight. This creature was afraid of the darkness of the woods. He was afraid of what turned at the corner, what sounded in this dark night. He was afraid of the Beast that followed close behind him.
Standing there in the cold, his heart pounding through his ears, the blood rushing, surging through his body, his body shook. The feeling of Predator and Prey, was riveting. The feeling was nothing this wandering Beast has ever felt before. Adrenaline coarse through his cold blooded body filled with rumored black blood. It wasn't long until this known Beast craved for this feeling, it left quicker than it came, it wasn't fair. He has never done this before. The chase wasn't something to his liking, for no fool came into his part of the woods unless they wished upon death. The fact that this foreigner, came here, only to run, run from his fate, was a feeling he has long forgotten.
The Beast, wanted his blood.
Following the snow prints the scrambling two-legger left, the glowing warmth of a tavern shown the deeper he followed away from the thick forest. An open land where a river trickled in lightly, and the snow coated it sweetly. A cute tavern from the outside, that hummed brightly int he night. That was his destination.
His hands that stung with the cold reached for the golden handle that lead to this tavern, swinging it open, revealing his disguise to the scattered drunkards that have already lost themselves into the bitter remedy that filled his senses. Caught up in the changing surroundings, a force hit him head on, his back full on to the heavy wooden entrance. Grimacing at the light pain that pierced his body, his eyes, and attention shot to the body that came onto him. The man was slim, lanky, his appearance seemed confused, questionable, different from the farmers that swayed into the long night. The Beast's eyes frantically looked at this body, matching with the only silhouette that filled his mind, almost as if it was imprinted.
"It's you.." His voice said swiftly and softly, as his body lunged forward at the other, wanting to pounce him right then and there, but he stopped, only to tower over him, bent over, with both hands grasping the collar of his cardigan, practically lifting his torso off the ground.
The black eyes of the Beast, the dark iris that almost matched his pupil, stared into closed eyes of the weak man that he held under him. His black waved hair, that hung messily around his face, hanging over his eyes. His hands became loose, only to regrip and pull the man, that seemed to weigh almost nothing, from underneath him. He had to keep him up, for even with the simplest slack, the weak two-legger foreigner would fall over.
"Are.. Are ye' ok?" He began softly, looking into the tired, ghost like appearance of the other male. "Are ye' 'wake? I didn' hit ye' too hard? Righ'?"
As the strange man lifted himself from the floor, almost without any work needed, Felix was sure something was going to make this night a lot longer.
If it wasn't the eyes that struck pure fear into his heart, it was the strength. Sure, Felix wasn't that light-weight, but he wasn't all that hefty, either. As he was lifted, he lost all feeling in his legs. His knees wobbled and his legs bent, threatening to giveaway into absolute fear at any given time. Felix's collar was about up to his chin, and he ducked himself in slightly, as if he was trying to find a way out before he was to meet with this strange demise. He took a hand and ran it through his brown curls, his eyes darting the man up and down. He noticed that the man talked much like any other farmer, but his get-up pulled him away from all the rest. His eyes were dark as the night as long, and it filled Felix with a feeling of dread... and the feeling that he had met this man before previously. He looked at his hair, and noticed how neatly it was messy, and it seemed to go well with his dark cloak and soulless eyes. But as his eyes wondered, they grew the size of dinner plates.
Felix griped at his scalp when he realized the weight of the situation. This man had horns. Not just small ones, but antlers. Thirteen points, to be exact. Oh god, this man was not only a prize that needed to be shot and stuffed, but he was something that he knew someone else should have bumped in. Felix didn't recognize the words that the other was slurring to him, nor did he quite care. Felix bubbled into laughter slowly and nervously, taking back the use of his legs and standing up. His face was grim and he was sure he was dreaming. Felix nearly towered the strange antlered fellow, but his horns beat his length. Felix was near tears. Once he stood, he managed to take slight control over his legs. He took his hands, one from his side and one from his hair, and placed them over the man's hands. He then pushed back his hands, letting the fabric around his shoulders crumple unattractively.
"Antlers." He said, almost in disbelief. "Horns." He added, each word growing more and more unbelievable. "That's it," Felix said, looking at the man's rack once more. He shook his head, and looked the man in his dark eyes. He matched the depth with his own brown eyes, and ran both his hands through his hair this time. Nervously, he began to speak, and gently he spoke it, too. He restated his previous statement, and did it only to himself. "I-I'm going home." Felix turned around on his awkward feet, and walked towards the seat he previously occupied. He grabbed all his belongings, and began to dress himself. As he pulled his coat over his shoulders, the tavern maid headed towards him.
"Nowhere' 're ya' fixin' on goin', F'lix?" She asked, placing what he requested on the table before him.
"Home." He said simply. He sighed as he zipped up his coat and helped himself to the Witch Hazel. "Where is... Ch-Chassen from here? Chassen? At all?"
"Chassen?" Asked the maid, "Well, shootn' if I know." She looked him over, and paused gently. "Y'aint headin' out there by'ya lonesome, 're yeh?"
"Yes, I am, actually, thanks for asking, " He applied the Hazel to his wound, and used a good amount on his dry hands.
"Don'ttya know The Beast's upon ye?" She asked, almost in a whisper. The whole cavern seemed to listen in on mention of The Beast, but Felix, upon hearing this, instantly decided that it was just a load of bull.
Before he could start an argument, a man with a curiously scrunched face spoke up. "Beast? The ol' bitch is dead. Died 'long with the crop in the winter of '47."
A women, who looked much like the beginning of an 'A Nun Walks Into A Bar' joke, began to speak. "The Beast is in us all-- Sin is the only Beast there is against The True Divine one."
The barmaid looked over the teen, and rung her hands together nervously. Nervous for him. "The Beast's very much 'live." She said, for him to hear. "He's 'pon us all."
"Yeah, and I can name a few other things that are upon me, too." He said swiftly, like he had someplace to go. "A monkey on my back, for one. I have a rock in my foot the size of Texas-- Do you even know what a Texas even is?"
The maid shrugged.
"Well, along with my rock," He said, as he raised his foot to tie his shoes. "My head is killing me, I can't understand what-what half of you are even saying, I'm like Dorthy trying to find a way back home, and-and-and ANTLERS! OVER-OVER THERE!" Felix pointed to the man, who seemed to be nearing towards the bar table. "Ant-Antlers on his-his-his head, right stuck... jammed into his... head. Human... Antlers..." Felix tied his shoe tightly, and chugged the Ginger Ale like it was good. "With antlers and my headache, I think The Beast is the least of my worries. After all of this, I'd love to run into a feral mutt-- or whatever-- your Beast is."
"The manifestation of all darkness!" The walking jokebook exclaimed, before making a strange symbol over her chest. "Ahmen, Most Divine One, Ahmen."
"BITCH'S DEAD." The old man said, stomping his foot loudly for all to hear.
"M'warnin' ya'," She said gently, whispering to him in silently. "The Beast comes t'take lost souls that wander'n the woods."
"Yeah," Felix started, wiping his mouth. "But I'm not lost," He started, "And I'm not wondering. I'm going back to Chassen, and I know exactly where I'm going."