A Study In White

*A fun little piece I did for a writing prompt last month:

A STUDY IN WHITE

The footprints in the snow suddenly ended. I knelt down to study the deep, three-pronged impression. Twice the size of my own. Extra metatarsal ridge. Female, and pregnant. The chimes on my staff tinkled faintly (ting ting); the theriomorph was still near.

Here’s a riddle: how does a ten-foot beast just disappear? A jewel glinted nearby. No, a piece of scale, icy and irridescent in my palm. I sniffed at it but gleaned no scent and then it melted into nothing. The clever half of me reckoned I shouldn’t be here, out in the open. The other stupid half had me remain.

I scanned the trees ahead and the blinding white all around, empty of life or movement. The truncated spoor lead backwards to the town from whence I had set out, a cruel twisted black shape against the pure horizon. Once in awhile, the wind carried snatches of moans and burnt carbon. The townsfolk trusted me too late, methinks.

“I’ve seen plenty of these things,” I had told them, to which I mentally replied, “in my books.”

Here’s a fact: nobody knows them like I do. They were primarily snow creatures (ting) but mated in summer. For the rest of the seasons, they hibernated as benign (ting) animal forms–foxes, deer, sometimes humans–whilst allowing the embryo to incubate (ting). A female did not become apparent (ting) until she was in breeding, usually in winter (ting). In winter, she turned ravenous.

Ting ting ting!

The air was rife with screaming chimes and a sudden, oppressive heat. I looked up. Well now, who knew theriomorphs could fl-

Advertisements