Aphelion Issue 279, Volume 26
December 2022/January 2023
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Pretty Little Foxes

by Lester Curtis

All those pretty foxes, dancing in the moonlight. I see them, through my binoculars, from the windows of this abandoned castle.

I giggle to myself. This castle isn't abandoned -- I'm in it!

And all those pretty foxes... what are they doing? So delicate and beautiful, so graceful... those big, bushy white-tipped tails and tiny black feet... in the full moon. They're circling something.

There's something down there, in the overgrown lawn, and they're circling it. Funny, how they look... they don't look menacing at all; they look -- like they're playing -- they look like something you'd want to play with. They look like something I'd like to play with.

So pretty.

But wait -- damn. The thing they're circling is a man. Must be the fucking shapeshifters -- a real fox wouldn't stalk a man unless it was rabid, and rabid animals don't hunt in packs. For that matter, foxes don't hunt in packs, do they? If they did, those demented fox hunts would be a lot fairer...

I don't have any idea what the damn fool is doing up here, but he won't make it back to the village; I know that. They're keeping a good distance now, but they'll close in on him soon.

This is just entertainment. They really want me.

I thought there were more of them. Where are the others?

I sweep the binoculars around the area. Aha. Three over there, another two there... approaching the castle. Trying to move in while the others keep me distracted, the furry bastards. I look around and find a chunk of broken masonry and pitch it as hard as I can, out and up, watch it fall, fall, fall... it crashes through a tree near the trio, and both groups head back to the party, even though they were well out of range.

I've got to get out of here.

I bring the binoculars back to the group again. The man tries to run, and the circle of foxes bends around him. They don't get too close -- yet. Don't run, you'll just die tired.

The man is running away from the castle, and the circle of foxes runs with him. Maybe I could get away out the back, but there is no back. The backside of the castle drops right into the river -- that big, loud one, with the tree-trunks and icebergs in it.

Maybe I could get some help. Maybe I could gather up what little is combustible here and start a fire. The villagers would see it, and maybe come to help.

I laugh out loud. If this place burned, they'd throw a party down there.

Three days. If I can hold out here for three days, then the moon won't be full enough anymore, and I can at least get out of here at night.

Trouble is, that's three days without sleep...

What do they want with me, anyway? I've done nothing to harm them, or even to interfere in their... games. Nothing!

I'm already tired. Tired of running, tired of hiding. But not so tired that I am ready to die!

If I could only rest for a little while...

Look at them, the white tips of their tails swirling like petals in the wind... dancing, dancing around something dark and still on the ground. Something? Some fool of a man.

I'm not ready to die. I'm not. I'm not...

Still, it would be so much fun to run and play with them... all those pretty little foxes...


© 2010 Lester Curtis

Bio: Lester Curtis is an unpaid creator of prose, poetry, music, art, and occasional other stuff, such as minor modifications to his firearms. He lives with his cat in NE Ohio, and due to his age and condition, believes himself to be the main source of material for the huge dust-bunnies under his furniture. Mr. Curtis's story A Lifetime of Memories appeared in the May 2010 edition of Aphelion.

E-mail: Lester Curtis

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Pretty Little Foxes

by Lester Curtis