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Sanctuary of the Moon by Liam Cotterill
Sun light flitted through the canopy of dead leaves and snow, casting shadows and demons into the dark under the trees. The darkness held both life and death, hiding both equally. From the depths, a small hand reached out in search of another. The small hand was followed in kind by a small head, legs and torso, turning every way. Watching. Waiting. Wishing. He stumbled, almost fell. However, was caught by a large black, calloused hand.
The large man lifted his son onto his shoulders, feeling him slipping in and out of consciousness as he walked. It would be many months before he himself could sleep well. Still the acidic tang of wood smoke and burnt flesh clung mercilessly to his tongue. The echoes of his friend and family still screamed out to him. They alone had seen him running through the forest, a rabbit in the night, as they had been hung up like so many racks of meat. He despised himself; his cowardice, his own thoughts of self preservation had driven him on into the demon infested night. His thoughts drifted, back to a space and time that seemed like an eon ago.
Run Rabbit run Rabbit, your family awaits,
The scream of your infant, skinned by the maid.
You ran from your family, and left them to die,
Now they lay on my table in stew and in pie.
He had run long and hard. Every bleached white snow drift had turned into a "pure" white robed man, brandishing both cross and cleansing flame. The smoke had trailed him through the run. Pieces of ash, ghosts of those still screaming, stealing his breath and slowing his pace. Black coated his body and face. He desperately tried to brush away the soot, the fear, and the pain. The screams echoed in his head. Fire, ash, burnt flesh, slushy red snow. He lost sight in the night, tripped, and fell. He lay for an eternity, echoes of echoes screaming. The crimson moon lit the snow. He bathed in the bloodied snow drift, black demons breaking through the red sea to claw at his naked body with wooden talons.
No more reason, no more life. The thought reverberated off the animated husks of dead oaks. His thoughts swam through the sea of red. His thoughts lay in darkness. He no longer wished to live. He longed to be with his family. Their blood in which he swam. To end it all in the crimson light. A cry. ‘No, an echo' he thought. Again. The cry of an infant. Echo. A male infant. Again. His son. No echo. The shadows stretched for miles around. And his son was close. Again. A reason. A life. He rose and started towards the cries, the moon beginning its decent to his right.
Look now Mr Rabbit, for he who comes forth,
Not another like you but a Wolf from the North.
His family he does cherish, he wont leave them to rot,
Oh no, Mr Rabbit, he wont end up in my pot.
Everything had finished before it began. Again, then echo. He had approached fast but silent. His son lay helpless against the tree sobbing as the cloaked man approached, wielding flam and cross. All his warning was a shadow, a flicker from the north. No cry, no echo. Just the crimson moon reflected of yellow eyes.