The echidna waddled peacefully through the grass nosing under fallen branches and bark for insects. A larger creature skidded on rocks and loose earth and it instinctively dove for cover under a rock only leaving its spiny back exposed. It hadn’t bothered to see that made the noise just knew instinctively to find shelter before something decided to scoop it up and eat it. It waited for silence to resume then slowly extricated itself from under the rock and wandered off. It was completely unaware of the still and silent presence looming over it.
Kay peered down through the skylight at the family sitting around the table. The youngest a boy reached for the bread and one of the older girls pulled it away responding to the mother’s command. She couldn’t see a father the boys were all too young. She looked closer. The children didn’t seem at all alike but half resembled the mother in some feature. They must have different fathers she decided and they all must have left. Then the kitchen door opened. The children jumped up to great the woman who walked in, their other mother Kay realised. Kay could now see the woman’s resemblance to the other children. Kay smiled down at the family she should have known better than to assume.
The fog drifted around her. She could barely make out the trees around her or even her feet. She walked carefully knowing if she stepped off the path and into the swamp it could swallow her in seconds if she was lucky or drag her slowly down centimetre by terrifying centimetre as she struggled to free herself. She felt for the next stone with her left foot. As a child she’d been able to run along these hidden paths with her eyes shut but she hadn’t been home in years. She had never wanted to come back but now she was, one careful step at a time. She had to warn them and she was the only one who could that still cared enough.
The clouds hung grey and heavy over the hill dotted haphazardly with houses. Their size varied from tiny units to massive eight bedroom, two story giants. Trees mottled the remaining space forming green organic blobs among the red square rooves. A bird sat on a TV antenna occasionally letting out a chirp calling to the other birds. Then it took off with a clatter of feathered wings. Sief held on tight to its neck feathers. If she fell her own wings were probably still not strong enough to save her from this height, even if it was only one story. The bird finally landed. Sief quickly slid to the ground. The bird ruffled its feathers and took off again. She looked up through the broccoli leaves to watch it fly away.
Wind hissed past my ears as I ran downhill. Sticks and gravel skidded under my feet occasionally. I had to check my pace as I hurtled past trees. If I tripped they would catch me. I hadn’t seen them but I could hear them behind me their panting an echo of mine. They called for me to stop. There was no way I was stopping not with a ghost chasing me. I didn’t dare glance back at the shadowy figure. I had nearly caught up to my friends. I yelled at them to run. Then I was in the middle of them. They grabbed me asking what was wrong spinning me around.
‘Ghost,’ I panted pulling at them to run with me.
I couldn’t see them but I could hear them around the corner panting and feet slipping. Then just as my friends were starting to run the girl rounded the corner.
‘Wait,’ she panted, ‘your phone.’
We all stopped and looked back at her and my friends looked at me with looks that asked seriously that’s your ghost.
‘Thanks,’ I took my phone from her, ‘I thought you were a ghost, I’m sorry I ran.’
She smiled at me and vanished.