The park rangers lectured all hikers entering Table Mountain National Park. It never helped. The ranger paced before penguin-like sculptures in the lodge. They had white bellies and a black tailcoat, but their faces were red and they had catlike ears rising in horny points."Who believes in Devils and Angels?" The ranger stared at the hikers sitting through the orientation with their backpacks towering over them. Two hikers raised their hands."You're the ones I'm not going to worry about," said the ranger. "The rest of you will think I'm a batty old man. And I worry about you. Devil's peak lies to the east and it's not just a romantic name. Don't wander outside after dark. Leave the forestry-provided wards beneath your cars and tents. The wards aren't foolproof, so always check for penguins."As the ranger expected, a majority of the hikers rolled their eyes. The ones still awake. Others sprawled with their eyes half-closed. It saddened him. It was unlikely that any of them would come back. He slammed the black leather bible on a display case. Eyes opened. But only to glance at the wallclock.The ranger clicked through the slides, but they were grainy and he recognized the doubt echoed in tapping fingers. Foreigners who expected to see reality based on the vividness of Photoshop. The clock over his head ticked and the hikers leapt out of their seats as the minute-hand hit twelve. Two individuals, the ones who had raised their hands were the only ones left. They believed. They'd come here on pilgrimage.#Alexi pulled on the rope binding the ward they'd haphazardly tossed underneath the car. They couldn't afford to have the rangers tow their car because they hadn't followed the local's silly superstitions. The rope stuck. The wooden plaque must have caught on one of the jagged rocks underneath their rented Jeep.He jerked the rope several times before yanking. The ward fought his pull and Alexi realized it felt more like tug-of-war. Alexi put his back into it. He fell backwards. Something landed on his chest. Claws dug into his stomach. Through the tears in his eyes he saw a red face and pointy ear-horns.
Aidan, I've been so preoccupied lately I've neglected Flashy. This is fantastic! I love the demon penguins! LOL
Thanks, Deb. Love the penguins; but don't hug the penguins. I wouldn't want to have to write a fictional funeral :P