Stupid. Fucking. Dog! Fauna thought as she continued to run. Her lungs felt like they were on fire, and she could feel her side beginning to cramp up. Her legs were starting to feel like jelly, but as much as she wanted to stop the incessant barking coming from behind her kept her going.
Fauna was just starting to worry that the dog was catching up with her, when her foot got caught on a tree root. In the few brief seconds before she hit the ground, Fauna only had enough time for one thought: Fucking typical.
She hit the ground, and tumbled down the hill. When she was finally able to slide to a stop, absolutely everything hurt. Body parts she hadn’t even realized she had were hurting. Fauna wanted nothing more than to lie there for the next hour, but the barking hadn’t stopped. She groaned. Maybe letting that dog eat me wouldn’t be so bad after all. Then she remembered how sharp that thing’s teeth looked, and managed to scramble to her feet.
Half running, half limping Fauna made her way through a grove of trees to find a castle looming in front of her. Remember your horror movie training Fauna, she reminded herself. Castles are usually owned by psychos that would love nothing more than to wear your skin as a dress. This thought was interrupted by a low growl frighteningly close behind her. Okay scary castle better than monster dog!
With renewed vigor, Fauna ran up the castle steps and pounded on the door. “Hello?! Please let me in! This dog is trying to kill me!” No answer. And the barking was only getting closer. “Help me please! I’m gonna die out here!” There was still no answer. Fauna tried the door and found it was unlocked. She tried to push it open, but it was stuck.
Fauna quickly looked behind her to see the dog closing in on the stairs, hackles raised. Forgetting the pain her body was already in, Fauna slammed herself into the door which finally gave in. She fell into the castle foyer with a thump. Getting up as fast she could, she kicked the door shut just as the dog was lunging. But the door was able to latch, keeping it closed even as the dog threw its weight against it.
Still afraid, Fauna quickly locked the door and scooted several feet away from it. Panting, she finally let herself collapse to the floor. Now that the adrenaline was wearing off, things were hurting worse than before. She raised her heavy limbs to try and get a look at the damage. There was mud and dirt all over her clothes; the sleeves of her sweater were shredded, revealing nasty cuts on her arms and hands. Fauna managed to sit up to get a look at her legs. There were rips in both the knees and one of her legs was bleeding. Given that she could feel warmth trickling down her left arm, Fauna assumed she had a bleeding cut there as well. All in all, not so bad. She should probably count herself as lucky considering what could have happened, but she didn’t feel lucky. If anything she felt like crying. She was about to let herself do just that, when she thought she heard something moving near her.
Fauna whirled around, the thoughts of a serial killer returning again. But where she was expecting a man with an axe, there was only a cat. There was something wrong with one of his eyes, but other than that he was pretty cute. “A cat,” she mumbled. “I-I like cats. Are you friendly?” She cautiously put her hand out in front of her. The cat eyed her suspiciously, trying to decide whether she was a friend or foe. It took a few calculated steps towards her, and Fauna made sure not to move. The cat was now standing right in front of her outstretched hand. He sniffed it curiously, and his eyes flicked up to her face. The look in his eyes surprised Fauna. It was too smart, too cunning to be a normal cat. Still she didn’t break eye contact with him; if this was a test she intended to pass it.
After a moment he looked away, and placed his head in her hand. Fauna managed to smile, and scratched behind his ears. The pleased purr he let out was comforting after the terror she had just experienced. She was just starting to pet his back when he quickly turned his head, hearing something she couldn’t. He let out a soft meow and ran towards the stairs. “Hey!” Fauna called. “Where you going?”
“Where he belongs,” answered a chilling voice.
Fauna jumped, managing to move her aching body to a standing position. All her instincts were telling her to run out of the castle, but she could still hear the dog scratching at the door. As much as it terrified her, Fauna decided it best to stay where she was. After all going outside meant certain death, which automatically made staying in the castle the least dangerous of the two options.
The voice laughed. “Staying are you? You are either incredible brave or extremely stupid.”
Although she didn’t really want to speak, Fauna felt it was expected of her. “Uh it’s pruh-probably a bit of both.”
“Hmm,” the voice mused. Is she smirking? Fauna wondered. The voice cleared her throat. “Minose seems to have taken a liking to you. Although this is very interesting, it does not excuse from breaking into my home. Who are you?”
Fauna gulped. “I-I’m Fauna. And I wasn’t trying to break in. I was being chased, and needed somewhere to hide.” She desperately tried to peer through the dark to find the person the voice belonged to, but she couldn’t make out anything but shadows.
“Chased?” Now the voice seemed interested. “By what?”
Fauna felt an unexpected wave of anger wash over her at that question. She was mad-no, she was furious over everything that had happened tonight. She had done nothing wrong, and her she was aching and bleeding playing twenty questions with some disembodied voice. “I was chased by the stupid fucking monster of a dog!” Was it just her imagination or was the voice taken aback by her shouting? “I was just trying to walk home! I took the shortcut that I take every damn day, and out of nowhere this huge dog shows up snarling at me! I did what my parents told me when I was little! I slowly backed away, so as not to provoke it-but no! It fucking charged at me and I had to run for my god damn life! If I hadn’t found your castle it would have ripped me to shreds!” She felt herself panting, and only now realized the tears she had been holding back earlier were freely flowing down her cheeks. Fauna wiped at her eyes, embarrassed to be crying in front of a stranger.
For a moment the voice was quiet, and Fauna half wondered if it had left her alone. But then she heard something that almost sounded like a hiss, quickly followed by the voice saying, “I never liked dogs.” Fauna felt herself take an involuntary step backwards. The voice was venomous; she had never heard someone sound so angry.
She heard the clacking sound of heals, and a figure finally emerged from the shadows. It was a girl taller than Fauna was herself. Her hair was a strange shade of purple, and she wore a long evening gown with a cane hanging by her side. She had strange pointy ears, and skin so pale Fauna immediately became concerned for her health. But the most discomforting thing about this figure was that her eyes were a bright shade of red.
This girl spared Fauna a brief look, then walked past her and towards the door. “Wait,” Fauna panicked, “what are you doing?!”
She stopped moving, and looked at Fauna over her shoulder. “Opening the door. Is it not obvious?”
Fauna quickly trudged over to her. “Dude no. You seriously don’t wanna do that! You haven’t seen this thing! It’s huge and I swear to god that it’s fucking rabid or something!”
The girl smirked. “That doesn’t scare me.” She reached a hand towards the door knob. Thinking she must be out of her mind, Fauna reached out to grab her arm. But right as her hand was about to make contact, the girl said: “Don’t.”
The venom was back in her voice, scaring Fauna into immediately pulling her arm back. “I’m sorry,” she mumbled, hardly even recognizing that she was speaking.
This seemed to please the girl because she spared Fauna another quick glance. “Just watch,” she said with an evil grin on her face. Fauna managed a small nod. Taking this as a yes, the girl threw open the doors. The dog was still there, and the moment its entrance was no longer blocked, it lunged. Fauna closed her eyes and prepared for the worse. But nothing happened. “I told you to watch,” the girl tsked.
Fauna opened her eyes to see the dog tied up in some strange velvet cord that was coming from the girl’s cane. No matter how much the dog struggled it could not break its bonds. “Holy shit! How did you do that?”
The girl inspected her nails as if she was unimpressed with this question. “You would know if you had kept your eyes open like I had told you to.” Holding the cane in one hand and picking up the slack of the cord in the other, she let out a nasty laugh. “Now let’s have some fun!”
She spun the cane so that the dog was flung out of its bonds and into a tree outside. Fauna couldn’t help but laugh at seeing her tormentor fall to the ground as she had earlier. “Oh my god! You just yeeted that monster into a fucking tree!”
The girl brushed some nonexistent dust from her sleeve. “Yes. Yes I did.” Fauna couldn’t be sure, but it seemed like this girl liked having an audience to show off in front of, and given that she was her savior Fauna did not mind playing the role of the excited cheerleader.
However, her revelry was cut short when the dog got back up and shook its body while letting out a threatening growl. “Hey, um, it’s getting back up!”
“Not a problem,” she answered confidently. As the dog tried to run at them once more, a long hand made of shadows shot out of the girl’s arm. Fauna watched in amazement as the large hand picked up the dog with its sharp claws. The dog, only now realizing it had lost, whimpered and tried to break free. “Oh no, no, no.” The girl purred. “You don’t get to play innocent now.” She pulled her arm back and launched the mangy beast into the air.
Fauna tried to follow its shape through the sky to see where it would land, but quickly lost track of it. “Um, not that I’m not grateful or anything, cause I totally am, but where is that thing going?”
The girl tilted her head slightly. “Don’t know, don’t care.”
“Is it dead?” Fauna asked, feeling guilty for not feeling bad at the thought.
“It will be.” The girl said with a smirk as she closed the doors.
“Wow,” Fauna murmured as she let herself slide back down to the floor. She tried in vain to process everything she had just witnessed. She noticed the girl staring down at her with a curious expression on her face. Fauna could only think of one thing to ask. “Who are you?”
For a moment she said nothing; she just continued to stare at Fauna. Then she moved to look out one of the windows. “Missi. You can call me Missi.”