Ah. The darkness was comforting. Sure, I knew it must be cold because the hairs on the bare part of my arms were standing up and my breath was a little cloud, but I couldn’t feel it one bit. Instead, the air was so soft and full, I felt like I was wrapped from head to toe in wool. Quiet too. I whistled a short tune into the night, wondering if there was anyone out there who could hear it.
I had chosen to walk through the fields behind the house, opting out of the house-lined street I usually took to the Guard house. It was longer, but I had something I wanted to see quickly before I went in. I might not have another opportunity for a while.
The pond was still, covered in green weed that made it look just like land in the dark. The fence was there to prevent sheep from falling in but maybe that wasn’t all. I crouched down and ran my fingers over the ripped shreds of cotton fabric that clung to it, waving in the light breeze like they were signalling their defeat. I held them to my face and sniffed, sure enough, they stank of sweat and panic, even stronger than the organic, rotting smell of the pond beyond.
I smirked. “Are you going to come out?” My voice skimmed the water, I watched it ripple slightly. “No? Scared?” The water shook again, a black patch forming within the weeds, shining thickly as it rose up. Long hair, dark as the water it came from, covered its face, but I could see the flash of spiked teeth as it spoke.
“What are you.” Its voice was a spluttering hiss.
I laughed without humour, watching it through the diamond shaped links of the fence with unblinking eyes. “All you need to know is that you can’t be here anymore. I recommend you leave before you cause any more problems for me.”
“Leave?” It tried to laugh back, but all that came out was a gurgle. “I have always been here. Long before you humans came to live in this land.”
“Hmm…” I said, pretending to think for a bit. “Well then you’ve been here quite long enough, haven’t you? So why don’t you find some other pond to hide away in before I decide not to let you leave at all.” I let my voice deepen to a feline purr. It would be a lot easier if it would just leave quietly now.
It moved ever so slightly closer, probably thinking that I wouldn’t notice, and placed one long fingered hand up on the edge of the pool surreptitiously. What could it be planning? “Why do you want me to leave so badly, I wonder.” I could catch a grin on its sharp face. Oh, it thought it had something on me. How foolish.
“You tried to kill one of these people, didn’t you?”
“That human was wandering too close to my pond. It doesn’t happen very often, so I always ensure I make the most of it when it does.” It was definitely smiling now, I saw its fingers dig into the soft peat of the bank in the edge of my vision. I sighed, it wasn’t going to let this go smoothly for me, I could just tell.
“Well you can’t do that, not anymore at least.”
“You’re protecting them? What a strange creature you are.” It was dragging itself closer to the fence, its face nearly level with mine on the other side of the fence. It cocked its head to the side. “Are you sure you’re a human? They’re usually more scared at this point.”
It lifted a bony hand and grasped the fence right to the side of my head, intertwining its long fingers tight around the chain. I noted the greenish hue of the transparent web between them, it looked sort of like a frog. I wondered if it had any gills.
As it drew itself from the water on its pale, slug-like body onto the bank, I made sure not to move an inch. It was expecting me to run, I could see the hesitation in its movements; it made it slower but also more desperate. It made a clumsy grab for my neck, which I avoided by rocking back on my heels slightly, putting one arm down to my belt.
“Don’t bother.” I told it, trying not to smile too much. “I can see now that I must get rid of you myself.” With one swift movement, I pulled the pistol from my belt and shot right into its forehead. As its head swung back, the hair parted from its eyes, revealing them to be wide with shot. Funny for such a hideous creature to have such a face. A lure, I supposed. That’s how it caught its prey. It would transform into something they wanted, or desired. I stood up and looked down at her as she splashed back into the pond, her hair spread about her in the water in thick curls, her dark eyes looked straight up like she saw something amazing up there. I glanced up, the stars were bright tonight. She had always liked the stars.
I put the gun back in its holster and, with a whistle, made my way back to the Guard house once again.
She was waiting for me when I got there, not looking quite so angry this time around, a little sad and dirty in fact.
“Lahel.” I said, attempting to walk past her. She stopped me with an arm to my chest. “Lieutenant Callahan. Every so sorry.” I mock bowed and tried to pass her again, but she moved to stand in front of me.
“Sergeant Murphy.” Her voice was low, resolute. There was no discernible emotion in her dark eyes.
“Yes?” I asked.
“I’m arresting you for murder. If you try and resist, I will use force.” She pulled her handcuffs out of her belt and began to clip them onto my wrists.
“Now wait a minute. Murder? And who exactly are you saying I murdered?”
“Don’t bother, Murphy, I know everything.” She tightened the cuffs with a click. A bit too tight, I was beginning to think she wanted to hurt me.
“Everything?” I found that hard to believe. Even I didn’t know everything.
“About what you did.” She began dragging me back towards the entrance, out of the Guard side of the house and to where the criminals would be kept, if there ever were any. They had always been empty, besides the occasional thief or a stray dog that had been causing trouble on the streets.
“What I did?”
“I know you killed those people. Some thief, the man on the doorstep, probably the little girl as well.”
“Huh? And do you have any evidence for these rather flagrant accusations? Saying that I ‘probably’ killed some kid isn’t exactly inspiring me to trust your judgement.”
She glared at me, holding the cuffs tight as she unlocked the door of the first cell. “It doesn’t matter if you trust my judgement or not. As long as you’re in here…” She pushed me in. “…the murders will stop. And then we’ll know that you’re the ‘monster’ and this can all be over. It’ll all be over.” She slammed the door closed.
“Excuse me!” I called to her face, which was still visible behind the barred window at the top of the cell door. She turned towards me. “If I was, as you say, the ‘monster’, do you think I would really just let you lock me up in here. Wouldn’t I, I don’t know, resist?” I beamed at her.
Her reaction was one-hundred per cent worth it; with a furrowing of her brow she looked me dead in the eye. “Look, I don’t know why you’re not resisting, but I know you did it. I have an informant.” An informant? Well I wonder who that could be. Well, that was all I needed to know, after that I just let her walk away, leaving me in the tiny cell. I looked around, there was nothing but a bare bed, a sink, and a toilet. I sat down on the edge of the bed with a wrinkled nose, brushing the dust off of it with the sleeve of my uniform. All there was to do now was to wait. I grinned to myself, I was good at waiting.