A Missing Sheep – Part IV

The first few raindrops drummed on the canopy as she reached what was left of the sheep. Now she was glad that the sun had almost set so that she could only see vague outlines of what had once been the sheep’s head. The lower jaw was missing. Where a body should have been, she could only recognize a spine. Blood and slippery intestines were scattered across the forest floor and the undergrowth was completely plowed up. Whatever had messed this place up; it definitely was not the work of a normal wolf and she had no intention to stay and find out what it really was.

“Poor sheep,” she said.

“Poor sheep…,” came a distorted voice behind her back.

Arthema spun around, her eyes wide open in shock. A small creature was sitting in front of her, an arm’s length away. The storm and the setting sun had almost washed away all colors and light but she knew immediately what it was, although she had never seen one before. An imitac cowered before her. It was as big as a cat and had dark-brown fur that was almost black in the fading light. Its head was bigger than its body, with two pointy ears and small but vigilant eyes. Instead of front paws, it had two very sharp-looking claws. Its throat was wide and baggy, so it could devour prey which was much bigger than itself.

Father had showed Arthema and her brother paintings and described the creature in one of his “Don’t wander alone in the forest” lectures. They can mimic nearly every sound they hear, be it animal or human. He had told them that even though they look cute, they are very dangerous and most importantly, they never hunt alone.

“Poor sheep?” asked the imitac again with his head tilted to one side. Arthema flinched. His voice sounded too much like hers.