The forest was shroud in mist. Tiny droplets hung in fine lines on the spiders’ webs. The earth, which was dark and dank, reeked of mould and decay. All sound was muffled. The ring of a distant bell hovered in the air. An angry dog barked once only to be silenced with a yelp. Stone workers laboured to break stones in the nearby quarry. Drips fell from the branches onto fallen leaves.

“Evil little buggers,” she cursed, spitting as she swiped at the toadstool with a stick, signing a cross with her free hand. You never knew what manner of filthy blighters hid there. It was the bright red that made them worse. Everyone knew red was the colour of the devil. The whole forest was bleeding with it. Green had seeped from the world and leaves hung yellow and orange and red, limp in the damp air. Not a breath of wind stirred. Death was on the prowl. It was All Hallows.

She took aim with her stick and sent two more toadstools flying. They sprung up in circles, just like hags in a coven, messengers of the dark one. She screeched and slashed left and right, laying into the red toadstools, some as high as her knees.

“I wouldn’t be doing that, if I were you,” a hushed voice said.

She spun round, her stick at the ready. She didn’t immediately spot the little man, his russet jacket and breeches and light brown boots blending with the forest. He was leaning in the shadows against a tree, his hands in his pockets.

She looked at his face. A shock of red hair stood awry on his head. His lips were thick and sensuous, his skin was ruddy red, his dark brown eyes, wild and full of fire, eyes that bent you to their will. “No!” she screamed and turned and fled. Not towards the path. But away between the beeches. Staggering over fallen branches, swerving around moss-covered stumps. Away. Away from those eyes.

A branch snagged her face leaving a deep gash across her cheek. Her shawl caught on a bush. She ran on letting it hang. On, on she raced, dodging the trunks that sought to catch her, those terrible eyes following.

Abruptly the trees came to an end and mist swirled around. The quarry! She screamed, but it was too late. The ground had fallen away. Others screamed as her body hit the ground with a muffled thud and her blood seeped red over the rock littered floor.

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