Old writing: Into the Woods

Anthro-fiction before it got popular! This would have been about 2004-2005, and turned into a slightly X-Men story that meandered out before I really got anywhere. As you may be guessing, plots weren’t my strong point!

James sped along the path, dodging trees and bushes. The path seemed to be vanishing, and he was having to jump grass and branches. His lungs felt as if they were going to burst, and his legs were giving out. He dodged a tree and fell flat on his face as his foot caught a root. Pushing himself up, he tried to get up but found his legs had given out. But someone was chasing him…he had to keep going. He pushed himself up again, using the last of his strength, and staggered onwards.

Something hit his back and he fell face-down into the forest floor. Raising his head, panic and pain from running shooting through his stomach in agonising jerks, he saw something human-like crouching in front of him, watching curiously. Human-like…his stomach froze…but not quite human. Humans didn’t have tails, or ears…but this thing was wearing a jerkin and rough trousers, and wore a dagger…what was it? He tried to push himself up but his arms wouldn’t support him. It would kill him…he didn’t want to die!

“Are you alive?” the creature said, cocking its head to regard the boy sprawled in the leaves. It was the same voice that had been pursuing him, but somehow seemed a lot friendlier coming from this creature, rather than a hidden shadow, threatening and vague. It was a very human voice, warm, cocky and pedantic, a voice that was slightly at odds with the creature itself.

James was still staring as he pushed himself up, realising that they were standing in a patch of shining moonlight. The creature gave a half-smile and reached out a hand to steady him as the boy wavered slightly. As the hand grasped his arm hard, James felt the leathery skin and faint prick of nails…his stomach went cold again as he realised that he couldn’t run, not now. The rough skin of the hand had a fine covering of reddish hair on the back. James’s eyes travelled up the arm to the leather jerkin, and then to the head. Raggedly cropped hair framed a delicate, elfin face and green-brown eyes that sparkled in frank curiosity. Fox-like ears poked out of the reddish hair, and the human ears seemed to be missing. James found that he was staring as frankly as the creature was staring at him, the fear gone from both of them.

“You’re full human.” it said finally. “What are you doing this far into the forest?”

“I got lost…” James said hoarsely, suddenly fearful again.

“Aw, nothing to be scared of. I don’t eat humans. They’re too big.” the creature said, a mischievous smile flitting across the slim-boned face. “What’s your name, human boy?”

“James.”

“Very boring.” The creature wrinkled its pert nose. “I’m Treen. You’d better come with me. And don’t try and run anymore – there are worse things than me around. You won’t get far.”