Another Haunting By Yva. Maybe she’ll fill us in on her creative process and the nature of Maggie Maunt.
She was a mother now – again, really – with more than herself to take care of. There was a den of kits waiting for her, hidden deep within the recesses of their little burrow. She was a sly thing, and so she chose a place beneath the great oak, where the gnarled, twisted roots would hide the entrance to their sanctuary. Her brood of five was as safe as any forest-born mother could make them.
It was late, the sun was creeping past the horizon, bathing everything in a wash of orange tinged gold. Dusk was for leaving the den, for hunting, and so she abandoned her babies to sweep through the underbrush, her narrow nose pressed to the ground. It was easy to catch the hare’s scent, to follow it to the glade deep inside of the forest. The brown creature didn’t hear her approach, instead nibbling on its meal of grass, seemingly oblivious to the red predator lying in wait.
She slinked forward, her tail low to the ground, waiting . . .
Her teeth were around its neck as her head worried back and forth. Skin was flayed wide, blood flowed, a bone snapped. Within moment she had herself a suitable meal, a hearty meal even. Her family normally fed on mice and rats; to catch a rabbit was a rare prize – one that would keep them sustained for days.
She lugged the hare back under the cover of shrubs, darting from shadow to shadow, her eyes flicking everywhere. Unless she was careful, larger predators would try and steal her kill. The biggest dangers were the owls, who would wake soon and swoop down with their great wings, their greedy talons grasping for any meat they could find. She’d felt the sting of their claws before, in her back, and she knew better than to risk their wrath. It was best to move before they became a threat.
Luck was with her this day, though, as she brought the hare through the twisting maze of roots and into the foxhole. She dragged it to her babies, opening its belly and offering the succulent meats. They dug their noses in, greedily scarfing down the offering, tearing at sinew and devouring the organs. She joined them, taking her share of the fine meal. It was tasty and fresh and so very delicious. She ate until her jaw was bloodied, until the carcass was picked clean.
She sat on her haunches to clean herself, wiping her paw over her face. The kits settled down into a heap of tired, one furry body piled on top of another, sated and content thanks to the hunt. She licked her fur, pausing to open her mouth wide, a tremendous yawn escaping. Her eyelids drooped. She thought to take the hare out of the den before it polluted their home, but a strange fatigue had settled into her bones, making her weary. She staggered over towards her brood, settling down beside one of the kits, a potent lethargy washing over her.
The knowledge of a wrongness made her lip curl, a rumbling growl starting in her throat. Something was a threat, something like sickness was overcoming her. She eyed the hare, wondering if it was bad meat. Its dead eyes just stared back at her. The desire to move the kits was strong now, to relocate away from whatever was causing The Bad Thing, but she was so tired her head dipped forward. She draped a paw over the smallest of her young, her bushy tail curling around its body.
Move. Move away. Bad thing.
She knew she should, but she was just too tired.