From the Inside Flap
The lifeless body she held in her arms was still warm. He might have been sleeping, if not for the awkward angle of his head. She shuddered, feeling the weight of the world on her shoulders. Below, the air in the house was hushed and as heavy as the burden she'd been carrying. They'd all fled, leaving her alone. She wouldn't be by herself for much longer, however. Soon, the rest would come. With them would come her own certain death.
She looked down at his face again and heaved a ragged sigh. Such a handsome face it had been-and still was! The blood had been wiped from his skin with respect, and now his alabaster complexion appeared to glow in the dying of the firelight.
She slowly lowered his upper half to the floor and, careful so as not to disturb him in his eternal sleep, and gently tugged her skirts out from under his legs as she rose to her feet.
Standing now, she turned and took a long look around her bedroom. Her eyes lingered on the door to the tiny room in the corner.
"It's your fault," she whispered.
She could feel the anger bubbling in her stomach, and when the rage had built so that she saw red before her eyes, she grabbed the teacup on the mantle and hurled it across the distance. The sheer violence of her action had the dainty glass smashing against the door and shattering into little more than dust.
"Why did you come here?" she demanded, her voice echoing through the empty house. "Why don't you leave?"
She wanted to cry, wanted to throw herself across her bed and weep until there was nothing left. There wasn't enough time for such selfishness, however; they'd be arriving soon.
Smoothing her skirts now with renewed pride, she straightened her shoulders and walked to the door. The floorboards creaked under her feet. Aside from the snapping of the flames in her fireplace, the low moans were the only sound.
Because it was much smaller, she had to bend down when she pulled on the knob. It stuck and, at first, she was afraid it wasn't going to give at all. The shattered teacup pieces ground deeper into the floor with each move she made. When the knob finally turned, and the little door gave way, she faltered, losing her balance. Before she toppled to the ground, however, she righted herself and peered into the thick darkness.
The fetid wind that blew from the opening was damp, yet surprisingly warm. It blew off of something that was very old, perhaps older than the land on which they lived.
"There isn't time," she whispered. "I will be leaving soon."
The air blew outwards again, pushing her hair back from her face in tangles matted with sweat, tears, and blood.
"I can't help you," she sighed. "My time is over. You must wait." She spoke now to the other woman, the one who had come long before her. The one who might not have been a woman at all.
There came a sigh then; a yearning sound full of pity, sadness, and something much darker that she didn't want to think about.
Then came the voices.
Firmly closing the door, she rose to her feet once again and timidly made her way to the window. At first, it was difficult to see through the impenetrable fog. The mist enveloped her land and house like a pale fortress, shielding her from the outside world. She could almost believe that it could save her, keep everyone away. Or perhaps carry her away to another place where she could live out the rest of her days in a peaceful nature-the way she'd always wanted.
Even now, she could hear them as they charged forward, their torches and lanterns held high in their hands as their heated shouts grew closer and closer. They were everywhere at once, their faces hidden by the mist while their disembodied voices rode through the night on the wind.
She looked down at her hands; they were trembling. A sob threatened to escape from her throat, but she choked it back. She wouldn't give them the satisfaction.
And then they were there. The flickering lights burned through the fog, and her land was full of little fires. They shouted her name, their faces distorted with anger, but mostly fear. They could see her slender body outlined black in her window; she wasn't hiding.
She closed her eyes and waited for what would come.