The fog swirled thickly around my feet, obscuring the beaten-up pathway that I was walking on. I could only just barely make out the glow of streetlights up ahead, but I walked on, towards the flow.
I was so focused on making it to the light that I tripped over something lying in the path, which sent my sprawling across the ground, the fog shifting, almost angrily. I looked behind me to find a child, on her side, a pink backpack with a unicorn on it clutched in her arms.
I slowly made my way towards her.
“Hey,” I said. “Are you okay?”
“I want my mommy and daddy.”
I knelt down next to her. “Are they here somewhere?”
“Oh. Well, where do you live?”
“I don’t know.”
I glanced around, hoping that maybe her parents were here after all, but the fog obscured everything except for that hopeful flow farther up the path.
I looked back down at the girl and held my hand out to her.
“If you want, I can bring you to the police station. They’ll be able to find your parents.”
The girl sat up, the backpack shifting towards the light a little bit more, so that I could see a dark smear running across half the unicorn, which I could only assume was mud from when she’d fallen in the path.
“Really?” she asked. “They can find my parents?”
I nodded, and she took my hand. Her skin was cold, which worried me. How long had she been out here in the fog, alone, scared? She could have died.
As we walked towards the light, I continued to cast glances at her. For some reason, I was having trouble distinguishing her features–dark shadows blotted out parts of her face, hair, and clothing. It was the backpack that stood out distinctly for me–the white unicorn almost seeming to glow in the dark.
“What’s your name?” I asked.
“It’s nice to meet you, Shari. I’m Elaine.”
The girl didn’t answer, so I decided to just focus on walking and getting her to the police as fast as possible. Or maybe a hospital first. What if she was in danger of dying?
I watched the blurred lights of the streetlamps, but a sickening feeling was beginning to bloom in my gut. I would have thought those lights should be getting larger by this point, but they were still small, still so far away.
I looked at Shari again.
“Shari, what were you doing out here.”
“I want my mommy and daddy.”
“I know that, but…why were you here? Did you get lost?”
She stopped walking, so I did too. Her hand felt like ice against mine. She turned her head up towards me–a dark shadow covered half her face.
I shivered and tentatively reached a hand out towards her. My fingers brushed her cheek and they came away wet. I looked down at them to see them smeared with blood.
“Shari, you’re bleeding. What happened?”
I brought my attention back to her, and realized the mud on her backpack wasn’t mud after all, but blood. And all those shadows? Blood.
My hands shook.
“Oh my god,” I said, voice trembling just as badly as my hands.
This kid might really die. There was so much blood.
Theme: draw your pet; panther