The Sky He Was Born Under

The full moon dominated a cloudless late October sky. Tiny pinpricks of starlight dotted the vast emptiness above the Montana meadow. The dull thud of horses’ hooves, the quiet creaking of the wagon, and the soft voice of the wagon master were accompanied by the voices of the windblown trees and the singing of the crickets and bullfrogs. Overall, it was a perfect night to complete the last leg of the journey from Oak Creek to Bozeman.

The peace was suddenly split by the eerie howling of a wolf. The horses snorted nervously and pulled at the traces. The wagon master lightly slapped their rumps with his switch to settle them. He shifted on his perch above the lead wagon and looked around, peering into the trees that ringed the meadow. Another wolf sang out, this time sounding much closer than the first.

A flurry of a night bird’s wings startled the man and he cried out in surprise. Then he laughed softly and whispered to himself, “Idiot man.” He clucked to the horses and they picked up speed again, continuing the journey.

A loud thumping noise startled the man out of his thoughts sometime later. He twisted in his seat, turning to look into the back of his wagon just in time to see a black cloaked figure straightening from a crouch in the bed of the wagon. The wagon master opened his mouth to speak, but his words were cut off as the figure launched itself straight at him. A hand like a vise clamped around his throat and squeezed.

As the blackness of a painful death slowly crept in, the wagon master saw the face of his killer. She was young, perhaps had seen twenty summers, and was quite pretty. Her hair looked like raven’s wings and cascaded softly over her shoulder; her eyes were the gray of shadows in moonlight and were large, staring out at him from a heart-shaped face with milky white skin. Indeed, the wagon master was struck by her beauty and wondered how such a tiny slip of a girl could have a grip that rivaled that of a dockworker’s…until he saw the pronounced eye teeth and heard her soft whisper, “Tonight, you will be born again.”

The last thing he saw with mortal, living eyes was a cloud hide the face of the moon.