[Editor's Note: This is the latest installment of 'Notes From the 422nd Annual Wraiths for Writing Conference,' a biweekly series of story and art that artist Amelia Garretson-Persans has created for Country Life. Trace its roots by reading the previous entries.]
Professor Dogwood and I had just entered a small tract of woods in search of protective materials. The Professor moved quickly and easily through the thick trees, so it was hard for me to catch all that he was saying.
“Hazel branches, the … of raspberry brambles, early … buds … seashells, the abandoned eggs of … ” The Professor’s voice shone through the crunching of twigs like the moon in deep woods.
“The … with doubles, as opposed to other … is that they know you so well,” he called. “It’s almost like they can anticipate your … move.”
I grunted in assent, but I doubt if he heard. The distance between us was growing. For a man of probably 70 years, the Professor hiked with great dexterity.
There was something on the path ahead of me that the Professor deftly stepped over without a glance. In the filtered light of the moon I could tell that it was uncannily low to the ground, and that its movements were haphazard. I braced myself for a dying bird.
The Professor yelled triumphantly from somewhere farther along the path. Amidst the enthusiastic cracking of branches, I thought I heard the word “bramble.”
I drew closer to the thing on the path, which had not stopped moving. In a few yards the mystery was revealed: three black butterflies convening on deer poop. Looking up, I realized I could no longer see or hear the Professor.
In an instant I was racing back to the college with the unshakeable feeling of having been tricked.