Off the Path

His back was still turned towards me. I walked forward and wrapped my arms around his body. Ignoring his icy frame, I buried my face in his neck, breathing in a vaguely moldy smell. He stiffened in my grip, then relaxed. Gently grabbing my wrists, he loosened my hold, then turned around to face me. I couldn’t hold it back any longer; I moved forward and kissed him, and immediately tasted something acidic. His hands reached up and pulled down my hood, tangled in my hair. It hurt.

            I cried out and pulled away. Something was humming in my head, persistent. He was looking at me, his brows drawn together.

            “I’m – I’m sorry,” I stammered. The humming was getting louder, like the droning sound of cicadas, except of course there aren’t any so late in the fall. I continued, “Um, it’s just, I don’t normally do this, like this. I mean, I’ve never…” I swallowed the words. I've never followed a strange man alone in the middle of a dark forest and kissed him. God, what was I thinking?

            He smiled, slow, and it made me shiver, but not in the pleasant way it did before. He was staring at me intently, his hands locked on my wrists; they were so cold. I tried to pull away, and was surprised at how solid he was, how strong. The humming became so loud it almost pounded in my skull. I started to panic.

            “Please,” I started, but he pulled me close, his face just inches from mine.

            “Relax,” he soothed. “It is all right. Besides, don’t you know how the story goes?”

            A spider, dark and shiny, the size of a quarter began to crawl down his temple, slowly, reaching its black lacquered legs out towards my face. My throat was constricted; I couldn’t scream.

            “At the end…” he whispered as another spider, double the size of the first one, crawled over his shoulder, moved down his arm towards my wrist. Its legs felt like needles on my skin. “…you get eaten by the Big Bad Wolf.”

The End

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