Two little deer, playful and free, ran through the woods. Over thickets and between the spindle-thin trees, they dashed and hopped. Chasing one-another as the rabbits called in their children. Birds began to nestle into the trees – ever watchful for the rebellious worm to break through the ground. The warm glow of the sun slid further down their fur until a chill crept over. Only then did they notice that only their hooves crunching down on the leaves were the only sounds left in the forest. Crunch crunch crunch. The rest had gone to sleep. Ansa, the oldest, began to worry. They had strayed so far from their home. She spotted Kauko, her sibling, rustling through a large pile of leaves, ignorant of the situation. The long strip of black fur along his spine flicked up as she called him back.
The darkness began to seep in, from the trees above it finally settled all around them. Ansa knew it would take a long time to get back. Their mother had warned them of what lurked around the forest in the darkness. Not to cross the smooth stone unless she was there beside them. Kauko called her over.
Standing on the ridge of dirt, they had found it, the long black smooth stone. Stretched over the ground like the belly of a snake, it parted the way home from them. Kauko urged them to go across but her mothers words came back.
“What is wrong over there little ones.” A voice came out from across the smooth stone. Then they saw it, laid out. The lamb, it’s body stretched out long and flat. “Are you lost?” It continued. It’s voice a gurgle and hiss. Ansa stood her ground but Kauko nodded.
“It is lucky you came across me. I know where all sleep. Let me see both your faces. Come down here onto the road.”
Kauko stepped forward, almost crossing before Ansa caught him. He had already forgotten everything their mother had said. She could see the stretched lamb at greater detail now. How it lay frozen, yet under its fur, it moved. Wriggling.
“Yesss. Yes. We – I mean I, know your mother. We had met long ago.” The stretched lambs gaping mouth never seemed to move. “You are so very lucky, your home is just across this stone. We are sure she is worried for you. Just cross the stone. Come come.”
Ansa shook her head to Kauko, but he ignored. This was easier than walking back the long way. Ansa watched him step out onto the black rock, too afraid to move. The lamb made a pleased noise.
“You are doing the right thing little one.” A bright light stretched from the corner of the grove, bright and fast. “We needed a larger body to fill.” Kauko darted back but the light was too fast. Swallowing him. A deafening screech rang out. Startling Ansa, she fled back through the woods. The gurgled buzz of laughter and rumbling machinery following her.
She never saw Kauko again, nor the stretched lamb. But every now and then she would hear whisperings from the other animals. How when the night was at its darkest, it would call out to snare any unlucky creature who answered. It’s body slithered out from across the smooth stone.
A large stripe of black running down it’s wriggling back.