This prompt is based on an image. The link from Reddit: https://www.reddit.com/r/WritingPrompts/comments/5abfe7/ip_lady_in_red/
I’ve chosen not to post the image itself as I have not asked for permission. You can see it via the Reddit link.
The link to the artist’s website (please visit, cool stuff): https://www.artstation.com/artist/jakubrozalski
When I was boy, father spoke to me of monsters. He say, Legend born of truth and twisted by time still true. He warned me of darker hills in Romania, darker hills with black wood. I was never to go to them. Not as boy. Not as man. Not ever. Man has not conquered world like he thinks.
He was right.
In village, stories cannot always be trusted. They are half-fun. Like Television. Villagers embellish for entertainment. They cannot help. They are bored. But sometimes you hear story, and you know it true. Even when heart not want to believe, you know.
I was fool.
I hope my father forgive me even though he is dead. I hope my family forgive me, although they shouldn’t. No one should.
When first report come, we think it joke. The man was crazy! He shivered like so much cold but covered in sweat. He ran all night down road, through mud, through ice and rain. When inside garrison, he collapsed. His strength was gone, but his eyes still wild, and he spoke crazy things.
They’ve come! They’ve come! he said, again and again. But when we ask who, he go crazy. The darkness with eyes, he say. The darkness with eyes.
So, we go. What else is do? Is job. We go.
I’ve never seen so much blood.
The village was gone. In mud, you could see the marks where villager claw ground while being dragged from home. All homes like this. All villager is gone. Taken up the hill and into wood. Every trail the same, washed in blood. And in one small home I see crib. It—like meat pile. Like smashed tomato.
I remember gun shaking in hand and feeling very cold even though in full uniform. Mist come from woods and cover village in sadness. The others, they say devil. Some say demon. But I remember my father’s words of black wood.
Village was too close.
While staring at crib, shaking, crying, I hear shot and yell. I run from small home to see fellow soldier being killed by wolf of shadow. Wolf of shadow does not eat soldier like wolf. Wolf of shadow eats soldier like darkness eat room of dying candle. Wolf of shadow surrounds and soldier becomes another meat pile and puddle of blood.
So I run.
I know it’s too late, and I know I am soldier and supposed to fight, but I cannot help. I run.
There is clearing in wood, on hill, outside of village. The trees have been lumbered and thatch harvested for village. When running, I see wolf of shadow, whole pack now. They are in the wood beyond. I see what crazy man saw now. The darkness with eyes.
Though I tremble with fear, I cannot go on. Is hopeless. Man cannot outrun legend. I fall to my knees and weep like child, for I am scared and suddenly very homesick. I hear wolf of shadow coming to me and I pray that end is fast. I do not fear death, but I do not wish dying to be painful.
But then strange silence falls around me. I look and see that wolf of shadow has moved away.
There is woman now. Is gypsy in red. With her is real wolf, black but not as shadow although the eyes look same. I try to gather myself and stand. Maybe gypsy can save me. Maybe she commands wolf of shadow.
“What are you doing, gypsy?” I ask. I hold my rifle but I do not point it at her or real wolf. In her hand, she holds a stiletto dagger.
She does not answer.
“Why have you unleashed these evil things?” I ask. Behind her, pack of wolf of shadow stand now like human things. They are taller than tallest man I have seen. They are tall like bear.
“Are you devil?” I ask in whisper. The wolves of shadow laugh. The sound is like jackal.
The gypsy looks upon me with eyes like shadow, like skin of wolf of shadow. She points dagger at me and tells me to kneel. I can barely stand already. My knees are shaking. But with all of heart, I do not want to kneel. My father spoke of other things when I was boy as well.
Son, he said, never kneel for devil, for then death is not the end.
The gypsy takes half-step closer. Her voice is different now. Is voice of devil. Gypsy tells me to kneel. In heart, I feel nothing but sorrow and dread. I wish to be home. Around me, the wolves of shadow laugh like jackal.
My leg bends.