2. Dark Figures

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The town they lived in was small, only big enough to have a main street with a few side streets flowing from it, houses scattered around it.

Although the town rested right next to a forest when it was founded, it had not grown much in the hundred and fifty years since then. The old rustic look often attracted visitors to the small town, which held a bed and breakfast, and the scenic area around it. Even though there were materials to build more from the town, and certainly the space, in the early days of the town there was a legend of a creature who lurked within the dark woods near the town, who had promised the sheriff long ago that he would not bother town and any of the residents as long as they did not destroy his forest.

Of course no one but a few of the elderly residents believed the legend now, but the town was never developed any more than it had been in the eighteen hundreds because of the tourist attraction it became.

The house Persephone and her mother lived in resided within this same forest, in a clearing just through the trees, close enough to walk to town but still far enough for one to travel through the woods a while.

Persephone had never feared the woods nor anything that was in it, even though she had never explored much, her mother always warning her to stay on the path, fearing to lose her daughter when she didn't have an eye on her. But in resent years Persephone didn't always abide by these rules, but always stayed near enough to see the path.

Making her way down the path towards town, Persephone eyed the under brush, searching for flowers fit for a center piece. She knew they'd have to be of varying types so she kept an eye out for different colors in the dark shade of the trees.

Spotting a particularly colorful patch, she made a note to stop later.

~~~~

Down in town, in the store, Persephone scooped up a carton of eggs. She headed to the counter.

The double back to grab a Snickers. Her mom did say she could get anything else she wanted, didn't she?

As the cashier rung her up, Persephone took a quick glance around the small store, like always, excluding Saturday mornings, the store was almost empty.

"That'll be $2.58," the cashier drawled, obviously bored with the job she had been given.

Persephone handed over the five she had tucked into her back pocket when she left the house, she received $2.42 in change. Nodding a thanks to the cashier, Persephone grabbed her bag and ducked out of the store just as another visitor walked in.

~~~~

The way back to the small cottage, Persephone was lost in thought, almost missing the patch of flowers she had promised herself she would stop at.

Hooking the small reusable bag over her shoulder, she bent down to gather the wild flowers. Many of them were fully in bloom, it being the end of May, spring coming late this year.
Stepping off the well worn path, she knelt, glancing around to see if there were any she missed, her hand filled with petals of varying colors.

About to rise and leave she spotted a peculiar flower she'd never seen around before.

Having a thin stem, the blood red flower curved its neck just before bloom, spreading its petals downward instead of up like most of the others she had seen. Carefully, she rose and tread towards it, avoiding any other blossoms she had chosen not to pluck. Approaching the beautiful flower she wondered what it was, lifting the head she could see the insides were curving with a bright yellow. Looking around she tried to spot another one around, only one in a bouquet would be odd, and it was just so beautiful.

Sighing at the realization there was only the one, she plucked it from the ground and stood up to leave.

Just as she was about to step back onto the path there was a snap of a branch, whipping around she stared into the forest behind her.

There.

Just where she had plucked the flower, farther into the woods than she realized, a dark figure stood. Fear struck her in the heart, her eyes widened, there was someone in there.

But with a blink of her eyes the figure was gone.

"I must be imagining things," she said to herself after scanning the tree line again for the figure that no longer seemed to exist.

Turning on her heel, Persephone hurried down the path, her mother was expecting her back by now.

The entire way she tried to push the dark figure from her mind, but she could not rid herself of the tingling feeling that there was a pair of eyes on her back, watching each move she made.

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