October 2021’s short story of the month
NIGHT OF THE FULL MOON
The moon broke through the clouds, and the four of them stood there, frozen, waiting for something to happen. They were in the middle of an open field, and it was as if a spotlight had been trained on them. Suddenly, without warning a shrill scream filled the air.
Daisy, Sean, and Clarissa turned to see Mr. Smith still frozen in place.
“Run,” the teens yelled in unison.
They didn’t wait to see if he followed. They hoofed it as fast as possible for the nearest tree line, but Daisy and Clarissa knew that even the trees would be little protection against such a creature.
TWO DAYS EARLIER
“You’re not going to believe what I overheard my mom and dad talking about,” Daisy said as she plopped into a seat. The practically ancient desk chair creaked as she dropped in.
“Easy on the furniture, Daisy,” said Mr. Smith walking down an adjacent row to the front of the classroom.
“Sorry,” Daisy mumbled, yanking her bag over her head and dropping it loudly on the floor.
Mr. Smith shook his head and sighed. Daisy was one of his best students, but she moved about like a wrecking ball.
Daisy waited for their teacher to be out of hearing range before she continued.
“Anyway,” she hissed barely above a whisper. “As I was saying, you guys aren’t going to believe what I heard my parents talking about.”
“What?” asked Sean. He was still new to their friend group, and he felt like he needed to be engaged in whatever Daisy and Clarissa talked about, even if he wasn’t really interested.
Clarissa turned around to join the conversation.
“Well?” Clarissa asked. “What are you so worked up about?”
Daisy crooked her finger and motioned for her two friends to lean in. “They said there is a harpy in the woods right outside of town.” She opened her eyes wider. Her face was pasted with a mischievous grin.
“So?” asked Sean. “Why are you so excited about it?” He really didn’t get girls sometimes. What was so exciting about a harpy? Daisy and Clarissa had grown up as a part of the magical world. He’d only recently learned that he too had magic. Seeing a magical creature didn’t seem like that big of a deal to him.
“A harpy,” Daisy hissed. “Can you imagine?”
Sean poked Clarissa when Daisy turned around to put her books on her desk. He didn’t say anything but when Clarissa looked at him, he raised his hands in confusion.
Clarissa shrugged. “It’s just one of those things that Daisy likes. Think of it like a collection. She is trying to see as many magical creatures as she can. She has a notebook that she writes in all down in and keeps track of dates and stuff. She’s weird like that.”
Mr. Smith only caught a part of their conversation but when he heard Clarissa say “magical creatures,” he tried to eaves drop some more. The students stopped talking though and settled down as the rest of the class showed up.
He gave the class an assignment to keep them busy. While they worked, mostly in quiet, he made notes in his own journal. He was keeping track of every time someone in town mentioned magic or anything magic related. He’d lived in this town his whole life, but it wasn’t until Daisy started attending his classes that he’d began to notice something else was going on and no one was talking about it. No one except for a handful of random teenagers.
At first, he assumed the kids were talking about a game or show, but the more he listened, the more he understood they were talking about the real world. And then as if to confirm his suspicions, he’d started finding strange tracks in the woods. He loved hiking and had been pacing the trails around town since he was a boy.
He knew there was a magical creature in the woods. He was going to find it and learn the truth that was being kept from almost everyone. If magic was real, people had a right to know. Why shouldn’t everyone know about it?
He wrote in his log: D, C, and S mention m.c.
As soon as he started paying more attention and actively tracking the secret chatter of those around him, he’d discovered that certain people talked about magic quite frequently. They didn’t even hide it really. Most people probably assumed, like he had, that the people were talking about something fictional.
Mr. Smith was determined to prove that it was real.
NIGHT OF THE FULL MOON
“We should go hiking on that trail behind the high school,” suggested Daisy.
“What? Like, now?” asked Clarissa. “It’s dark.” She went back to painting her fingernails.
“Yes, now. I’ve read about harpies. On nights with a full moon, they go hunting. Tonight there’s a full moon,” Daisy said as she sprang to her feet and yanked her curtains open.
“I’m in,” said Sean.
Clarissa’s mouth fell open.
“Don’t look so surprised. I’m curious.” He really was. Ever since class a couple of days ago, Daisy had talked about nothing but harpies. Sean wanted to see one for himself.
Mr. Smith saw some teens walking along the tree line as he was sitting on the bumper of his jeep changing out of his hiking boots. He’d stayed later than he meant to, and it was much darker than he expected. There was a full moon, but it kept getting covered by clouds.
As he watched, he counted three distinct silhouettes. He tied his boots and followed them.
They weren’t even trying to walk quietly. The three of them were making so much noise that he was able to catch up to them and trail them without any of them noticing.
“What are you going to do if you see it?” Sean asked.
Daisy tapped the pocket on her chest. Her journal was safely tucked away inside. “I write about it,” she said wistfully.
“That’s it?” asked Sean. “I don’t get it.”
“Don’t try to make sense of Daisy,” said Clarissa. “She’s been doing this since we were kids.”
Mr. Smith couldn’t believe what he was hearing. The kids were yammering on about magical creatures as if they saw them all the time. He distinctly heard them mention fae, leprechauns, and mermaids. Were they all real? How did they manage to stay hidden?
“Stop shouting,” said Clarissa.
“Tell me what’s going on,” yelled Mr. Smith.
A look passed between Clarissa and Daisy. Daisy shook her head.
“What are you talking about Mr. Smith? We’re just hiking in the dark. We’re not looking for anything,” Clarissa said.
“I don’t believe you.” He was so mad he couldn’t speak. His ears felt like there were drums inside of them. He needed to calm down.
The teens didn’t move. They weren’t sure what was going on. They saw Mr. Smith was following them as soon as they started to cross the field. Now he was yelling about crazy things.
They didn’t stop running once they hit the trees.
“Go, go, go,” said Daisy. “Harpies will eat people.”
“What?” yelled Sean. “Why did we go looking for it then?”
“What about Mr. Smith?” asked Clarissa. She was worried they were going to get in trouble. They’d lead a human to the harpy, even if it was an accident. The Magical Elders frowned on humans knowing about the magical world.
They collapsed in a heap once they found the parking lot.
Getting to his feet, Sean pointed at Daisy. “You’re going to get us all killed. From now on, no more.” He stomped off.
“No more what?” asked Daisy.
Sean didn’t get a chance to answer. Another scream filled the air. This wasn’t the harpy. There was a distinctive human quality to it.