And Then Came The Rain

“Come on John, keep up boy”

“Yeah, yeah dad, right behind you”

John was tired; he didn’t want to show the old man that, but damn was he tired.

He had to admit though his father was right, tracking through the woods  a couple of hours before dawn broke,  just to reach this height, it was ‘glorious’.  The sun was just starting to peek above the gathering clouds, the tops an orange glow whilst the undersides ominous shades of darkening grey and blue.  He could see the tops of the trees swaying gently and hear the rising of the dawn chorus, birds flittered here and there, and small mammals could be heard in the undergrowth all around them.

George stopped, and looked out over the edge of the cliff to the forest floor below, gasping to catch his breath; he gave a wry smile and said “What do you think?”

“Dad it’s great, look at the clouds man, I think we’re in for rain”

“Um yeah looks like it, but we have plenty of time to get back, let’s just sit here for a while yeah”

Silence fell, a comfortable, companionable silence as man and boy each took a seat.

George took his hanky out and wiped the sweat from his brow, while John started to rummage though his pack for a breakfast chocolate; Starbar…  mars… no, Cadburys fruit and nut.  Chocolate pieces were exchanged from son to father as John’s eyes roamed around the small clearing below them.

“Woo dad, I didn’t think we were so high up… what’s that there dad, quick, look, what’s that?”

Leaping up swiftly from his rocky sofa and pointing downwards, John’s eyes were as wide as a startled cats, but his dad moved even quicker and pulled his son down before he was fully erect.

“Shush shush, that’s why I brought you here; quiet now just watch, and stay down, stay hidden.”  He whispered urgently.

For in the small clearing below, the light was filtering through the leaves, not as you may expect so deep in the forest, a dark and dappled chlorophyll green, but a radiant, bright emerald green, and there basking in this luminance stood a creature.

Four foot six it stood, naked, the dark hairy legs of a goat and the torso of a small boy, perhaps a little younger than John, maybe ten or eleven.  Golden rings of hair curled tightly around the childish face and brow.  Small curled horns poked out from this mop atop the head, his skin was white, almost translucent, and his face was raised to the light, his eyes closed and nostrils flared, taking in the scents of the woodland.

“Look John, look how beautiful he is”

“But what is it?”

“Some have called them Satyr, some have called them Faun.  The truth is I don’t know, they are neither of those mythical beasts, and yet they are clearly not human, but…”

George took the lads chin gently in his palm, closed his gaping mouth and turned his sons head to face him.  Hesitating, just for a second, and looking into the boys green eyes, weighting up many things in his mind, George spoke.

“Son, this one is called Lichen, and he is your grandfather, your mum’s dad.”

The creature opened his eyes and looked up towards them; John could see the same green as the light surrounding his grandfather flitting in them, the same green as my own eyes he realised, like mums.

“I can hear you human, and I can smell you too George, you sweat too much.  I can smell kin of my kin.  You have brought him then, to greet me at last, he is of the age?”

“I have Lichen, he is”

“Then I grant you leave to approach.”

As the pair climbed down and slowly approached the beast, Lichens face suddenly whirled around as the wind shifted, and he caught a different scent.

The light in the clearing dimmed.

Half a minute later the man and boy rounded a tree just a few feet away from the creature, as they did so Lichen’s head burst apart, and his lifeless form dropped to the earth, red blood and white gore splattered to the green floor.  The unmistakable crack of gun fire sounded seconds later, George screamed.  “No”, and hurried to the fallen figure, a shocked John stood there mouth agape as his body started to quiver.

The light fled, and the skies darkened, a peel of thunder was heard, and then came the rain; dark rain to wash away red blood, splattered amongst the silent forest green.

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Lee Douglas

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