[This encounter was from the Cat Rescue Prompt]
(Anna's odd encounter(SRBrent):SRBrent)
[Mon Sep 17 2018]
At Elm Street and Paine Avenue
It is night, about 72F(22C) degrees, There is a waxing gibbous moon.
If not for the smart phone that she tucks into her pocket, Anna might appear to most as some of the homeless in Haven; dirty, covered in the mud and dirt of the forest, hair wild and often unbrushed, features twisted into a casual sort of look. With the hood of her hoodie up over her head, she walks down the road, heading north, out of town - leaving the institution of Blackfield behind her, her crystal blue eyes unfocused, but still wavering towards some people as she passes them.
It has been a hard time in Haven over the last week or two. Lots of death. Chaos. Blood. Stories that would never have been believed a month ago have been very, very real, fairly recent. Tonight, everything is as close to 'normal' as it can get after that, and nothing at all prevents Anna from walking into the woods. After all, those that frequent the woods usually know what they are doing, and those that don't, well... They won't be facing the hard times for very long.
Anna generally did know what she was doing when it came to the woods. While what lay in the woods may eventually mean her death; that death had not come for a couple months by now, at any rate. And she stuck to the roads for the time being, preparing the long walk to the hole in the ground that she called home. Lifting her chin up, she closes her eyes, drawing in a breath of the air in the woods, and just... listening. The noise, after the silence, was great.
The usual noises of the forest greet Anna, which is to say the twisted impersonation of most other forests answers back to her senses in that quietly malevolent fashion of wrong mixed with the familiarity. Of course, Anna is also able to hear something from a little further down the road, a shuffling noise and an occasional thump on the ground. Soon enough, an old crone, straight out of fucking Macbeth, comes walking down the road, dressed in black, shawl around the shoulders, using a cane to help her walk. She has greyed hair, cataracts-clouded blue eyes, and of course, a wart or mole on the tip of her crooked, once-broken, nose. "Here, kitty kitty kitty," she croaks out as she walks.
Eyes open, and Anna' eyes lock upon the old woman as she walks forward, abandoning getting lost in that twisted malevolance of the forest for the woman ahead. Bringing up her hand, though, she clutches her pentagram, thumb brushing along the burnished gold, her eyes settling on the woman. "Bad night to be wandering the roads, grandmother," Anna whispers to the woman, unable to keep the harshness out of her voice. "Worse night for your cat, maybe?" she asks, with a cant of her head to one side, eyes watchful on the crone.
The old woman comes to a stop when Anna speaks, tilting her head as if trying to echo-locate the much younger-looking woman that speaks to her. Her eyes are blank and peer off in a completely different direction than Anna. Her face is almost expressionless, as she studies the other person on the road with hearing alone it may seem. "Perhaps, perhaps not," she finally allows thoughtfully in her high-pitched, rough tone, not at all different from the perception of witches depicted in cinema and plays of the ages. "It has been some time since someone called me that. Would you be kind enough to help me find Mitzy?"
Anna had a way of looking at people. Intense stares, for the most part - blinking less than normal. Jaw works at what the woman says, turning her gaze towards the crone, her breathing, and voice quieting some. "Yeah," she says, her tone of voice drawing low, thoughtful. "I would." Hand drops from her pentagram to clatter against the silver bullet she wears too, over her roughly worn band shirt. "And what's Mitzy look like?" she asks, her eyes settling on the woman. There was a note of healthy paranoia at the edges of her features.
"Hard to say," the crone answers, clearly unable to give much of an answer to that. The last week would have been hell on her without both sight and hearing. The woman holds up her hands in a helpless gesture, hooking the cane between her index and thumb on her right hand. "I believe she went," she starts to say, turning her head this way and that, sightlessly looking up and down as she goes. "That way," she says, suddenly pointing east, even though she is looking to the west. "Yes, definitely that way," she adds with a slow shake of her head, as if her body disagrees with her mind.
Anna snorts a bit as the crone seems to pass her little test some, an edge of that tension at her shoulders fading. A flicker of her blue eyes, finally torn from the crone as she looks off between the trees. "The woods, in this dark, grandmother. You can't be that new to Haven, can you?" she asks, her lip curling a bit as she glances that way, lifting her chin up to scent the air subtlely, first to the east, then to the west.
"It's dark?" the old woman asks, sounding utterly surprised. She blinks a couple of times in mild confusion and then says, "Can't be helped. Mitzy needs to come home and eat." She starts shuffling her way to the east, cane tapping her way as she goes, but not like a blind person feeling their way, more like it is just to help with the limp. "You are a dear. Most would not help," she adds, smiling in a way that shows crooked, broken, blackened teeth. Not big on dentistry either it seems.
A lifting of her arm, gesturing with a flourish as the woman starts to hobble in the direction of her choosing. "And if you are certain Mitzy is this way... then I guess we'll see what's become of them, right?" she says, a little frown touching the edges of her lips. Keeping a little bit of distance between herself and the woman, still, there were watchful eyes between the trees in the forest, even as she was paying less and less careful attention to the crone. "Yeah. Some would lead you into the forest for evil, too," says Anna with a bit of a sigh. "For money, or worse," a beat. "But you must know this."
The old woman hobbles along near Anna without seeming to need to know where the younger woman is. "A lot of folks wander into these woods thinking they are better than everyone else, a conqueror, a leader of men and more, destined for greatness," the crone says to Anna, with little regard for the queries tossed at her. The forest seems to hush with her passing, starting again once she has moved far enough away. "And many of them are disrespectful, condescending, arrogant, pompous..."
The forest quiets, and Anna looks across the forboding wood. Bringing up her hand, she brings up her headlamp to settle upon her head, resting it in the midst of her wild hair, like a junkyard tiara. Tilting her head somewhat, she glances behind them both as the sound begins anew there.
Still. Anna follows the woman. "And the forest consumes people like that... right?" she says, her voice drawing quiet, the harshness giving way to a bit of tension underlying her voice.
"Sadly, no. It usually weeds out the weak ones," the crone replies nonchalantly to Anna as she keeps hobbling along. She stops, the forest quiets. She listens, turning her head this way and that before turning to head north east. The woods start speaking again in her wake. "The pretentious ones have no time for old women and cats. They would scoff at the obsurdity of assisting a blind lady in the woods. Some times, I wonder what the world has come to that it produces such creatures," she continues, more telling a story of her wandering thoughts than holding a full conversation with Anna. She stops suddenly once more and listens to the silent woods.
Anna works her jaw as if it were too large for her mouth, her eyes growing a bit more unfocused as she sweeps them over the woods proper, in that zone of silence, hair raising on end as if she too, should flee into the noise surrounding the woman. "Evolution, right? Survival of the fittest until it don't fuc..." Anna usually swore. But something causes her tongue to hold. "...don't work no more, I guess," she says, adding her own thoughts in to what the Crone says. "You gonna hurt me, grandmother?"
"Of course not, dear. You are delightfully delicious, fear dripping from every pore. I do enjoy savoring such when I encounter it," the old lady says to Anna, waving off the concern with a withered left hand. The old lady turns around, slowly, in a circle, twice then twice again. Her eyes are wandering up and down as she goes before she finally stops, looking at Anna. "Oh, that cannot be good," she says thoughtfully as if she has lost the trail for her cat perhaps. She tilts her head and asks, "Is she there?" The crooked, frail fingers of her right hand lift the cane to use it to point all but straight up above Anna. Fifty feet above the pair, on the lowest branch of that particular tree, sits a big damned bobcat, backed up to the trunk.
Anna works her jaw again at that, her breathing deepening. Now her eyes were full on the woman, and widened somewhat. Was she there? Following the path of the cane, Anna releases a small shout in spite of things, taking a stuttering step away from the bobcat. But that surprise she seems to recover from quickly enough, her head dipping forward as she levels her gaze on the wild animal. "Yeah. If it's a big old bobcat," she offers, taking more steps away, eyes watching the cat carefully.
"Careful, dear. You spook, and the hunter instinct thinks you are prey," the old crone schools Anna gently on her expressions once she settles a bit. "She seems to be fairly high up. She may not be able to jump that far without hurting herself," the old woman continues, as if thoughtfully trying to come up with ways to get the feline down. While she ponders, the large cat lets out a mrowl of quiet annoyance, turning those bright yellow-green eyes toward Anna and then to the old woman. The little bobbed tail slashes at the trunk of the tree above the branch she is perched on, as if expecting something in the near future.
Anna A little noise at the back of her throat, and she nods her head to the old crone, her hands drawing away from her sides at the schooling. Hands open - empty. "You're... not suggesting that I catch it, right?" she asks of the Crone, her lips pursing tightly. She was breathing deeply still, her eyes glancing up the tree herself, wetting her lips with her tongue.
A little noise at the back of her throat, and she nods her head to the old crone, her hands drawing away from her sides at the schooling. Hands open - empty. "You're... not suggesting that I catch it, right?" she asks of the Crone, her lips pursing tightly. Anna was breathing deeply still, her eyes glancing up the tree herself, wetting her lips with her tongue. "What do you need, from... me?"
"Why, help her get down, of course. I cannot climb up there and get her," the old woman says before letting out a quiet cackle of a laugh. She rests both hands on the top of her cane and peers sightlessly around her. The woods have gone completely silent around the woman and her bobcat. "I try not to stifle creative energies, especially amidst the problem solving stages," she adds with a slight tip of her head toward Anna. For her part, the bobcat seems content to stay up in the tree. Like many cats, she faces a problem, wherein, claws are wonderful for climbing up, but the animal does not know how to use them to climb backward. Most of the time, a cat will jump from a low branch. Fifty feet is quite a jump though.
[Apologies, the log got cut off by a crash]