As he made his way up the hill, two sets of very hungry eyes watched his ascent. He was distracted from his audience by the small, flickering shadow moving about the bushes. Was it a humming bird? A squirrel? A chipmunk? He hastened to investigate, heaving his overloaded backpack further up his small back as he ran.
When he arrived at the front of the house he looked into the cluster of dying plants and twisted vines where he’d seen movement but found no furry, feathered or otherwise covered creature that might’ve attracted him. He searched above and then got on his knees but found nothing in the underbrush aside from an earthworm and spider’s web. And there’s wasn’t even a spider in it.
He groaned disappointment as he straightened himself and brushed the dirt off his knees. He noticed his sneakers light up as he moved. He looked closer- there were small lights in the soles that twinkled and burst as he stepped. That was so cool. He was too excited to wonder why he’d started walking up the hill in the first place.
His eyes stayed glued to his feet as he climbed the steps to the front door, nearly colliding with the knocker as he did. Then he looked up at the thing he’d nearly bumped his head on. A twisted, evil-looking smirk on a bat-like gargoyle met his gaze and he stepped back. Suddenly he was drowning in confusion. Where was he? Why had he come here?
Then an overpowering urge to see what was on the other side of the door hit him and he felt himself involuntarily step forward. His sneakers lit up as he did. He knew with sudden clarity that the family who had given him those shoes was not on the other side of that door. He turned and ran down the hill so fast that his backpack left bruises on his spine that lingered for weeks afterward.
“Damn it! We had that one! I thought you said the spell would work!”
“Sshhh- here’s comes another one!” A long crooked finger pointed towards the small figure slowly coming up the hill.
She stepped up the long, sloping driveway with confidence. This had to be the place. She looked around at the dreary, neglected landscape, the broken shutters, the peeling paint. “You’d think you’d at least try to hide what you are if you’re hunting children,” she thought to herself. But she wasn’t here to judge, and right now she could feel the two watching her every step so she had to act the part.
She stopped and kneeled down as if to tie her shoe. She could feel them react, their anxiety prickling along her skin like needles. It was deliciously satisfying to toy with them and she lingered there, fumbling with the laces as a child would. She straightened herself again and hoisted her backpack up the way she had when she was growing too quickly to carry her heavy kit comfortably. She sensed them settle and their hunger rumbled through her like thunder on the horizon.
She projected the energy she’d knew they’d be looking for: youth, single-mindedness, ignorance and just a touch of fear. She slowed her walk, drawing out the last few steps up to the door, meandering as if she didn’t know quite where she was or how she’d gotten there.
There were many moments in the life of a witch hunter she’d come to love over the years but none were more delectable than this one. The moment just before the chaos, the fight, the kill. The moment of wonder before the arsenal of magic was unleashed. The moment of silence before the world exploded around her. She breathed it in and then exhaled, smiling.