Two men appeared out of nowhere, a few yards apart in the narrow, moonlit lane. They turned without speaking and walked north, toward the small village nestled in the heart of the primeval forest. A deep layer of fallen leaves masked what little noise their paired steps would have made.
The setting moon cast long shadows in the deep blue of the night when the two men passed the first cottage on the perimeter of the village. When they reached the center square and the communal well they stopped, the distance between them the same as it had been when they’d first appeared.
Simultaneously, they walked in opposite directions – one west and one east – moving silently past the small shops and into the cottages occupied by the villagers. Stopping at the first homes they reached, their fists raised in unison and knocked.
The village, when viewed from above, resembled a wagon wheel. The two silent strangers moved down the spokes of the wheel, knocking at doors, never speaking.
The house to the west was home to a young family, with an infant only days old. The parents had been awakened by the baby a short time before, and had only just settled back into their bed. At the knock, the father sighed and pushed up from the bed to shuffle to the wooden door.
Swinging the door open, he glanced up into the blank face of the man waiting there. A shiver of fear took him by surprise, making him frown.
“Can I help you?”
Silence met the young father’s question, and he realized that despite the bitter cold, no familiar puff of vapor betrayed the stranger’s breath. A chill that had nothing to do with the night air stiffened the father’s spine and he moved quickly to swing the door shut.
“Who was it?” His wife’s sleepy voice startled him.
“No one…it was…no one,” he answered, climbing back into the bed.
As the sun rose over the trees and crept across the rooftops, an unnatural silence grew in the village. The strangers met at the well and turned to reenter the darkness of the forest, disappearing as the first wails of those left behind rose into the dawn air.
This post is my response to a prompt from Write on Edge – using as the first line : “Two men appeared out of nowhere, a few yards apart in the narrow, moonlit lane.”
Please take a moment to make a comment and let me know what you think!