I was going to take this in a slightly different and more realistic direction, but had trouble not being too literal about it. So, we get another short and, perhaps heavy-handed allegory.
by L Czhorat Suskin
"You sure Big City over there won't cause trouble?"
I tried to look relaxed, to wear my mantle of Big City hipster detachment, but the guy (Billy or Bobby or something like that. I'm awful with names, especially soundalike hick names) was intimidating. Persistent halitosis, unkempt beard, a bit of a beer gut and the muscles that come not from the gym but whatever work they do out here in the middle of nowhere. Farming or something, I guess.
Jack, as usual, spoke for me. As if I were a mute or a child. "Hey, he's my cousin. You trust me, you can trust him. kay? He's OK"
Billyorbobby nodded with a "he'd better be." We headed outside. His big dog (of some indeterminate breed) let him, he lead us and the bunch of locals who joined in. Jack had introduced them, but I'd plain forgot. Neighbors, an auto mechanic, the guy with the county's best moonshine. Jack whispered to me as we marched, "just be cool, k? Remember, it's like a war here. They steal cattle, curdle milk, even ruined the last batch of Jake's whisky. We gotta do what we gotta do."
People who think that city traffic and city life are chaotic and confusing ain't never been in the woods at night with a bunch of hicks with lanterns and flashlights and dogs and shotguns and the barking and call of "there's one!" and the running.
I barely got a glance between trees as we started the chase, but I could tell that it was bigger than I'd expected. Also dirtier. The size of maybe a ten year old child, its wings not the diaphanous beauty from picture books, but nasty lumpen things of oily flesh, fluttering uselessly behind yellow-clawed arms.
One of the dogs had caught the wing in its mouth, was thrashing it to and fro.
In one frozen moment the thing looked at me, called out in a language that sounded between german and pure evil. Then the men were on it, tieing it with ropes and striking with tire irons and shovels and fists.
It ended the way it had to end, with a sturdy tree and a rope too clumsily tied to snap the thing's neck.
The locals started to wander off as the thing started struggling, as dawn broke. BillyorBobby clapped me on the shoulder as he walked past. "Your first monster hunt."
I started to follow them, turned to Jack, "You're right. That was something I'd not believe."
Jack held my arm. "Wait. Watch. This part next is the one you'd not believe."
As the morning's first light touched the tree, the fairy monster slowly faded, like an old picture. IN a moment, all that was left was the empty rope.
"Ain't that a thing."
I nodded. "Yeah, it is." I'd noticed something odd, amiss, "Go ahead, I'll catch up. I wanna think about this a moment."
He left me with the rope and the tree, and the anomaly. At my feet, hanging from the shadow of the noose, was the shadow of the fae-beast. It seemed at rest, gently swaying in a hidden shadow wind. I knelt at the strange shadow, and found it to be a thing that I could lift up. As insubstantial as gauze, as warm and alive as a new baby. In my mind I could hear the things shouts as the men descended upon it and destroyed it.
To tear it in half was easy, effortless. It melted away to nothingness in my hands without another scream.