Child of the Mist

They chase her through the 'verse, blue hands outstretched, always one minute too late, one step behind.

She dances, whirls, fades to dust, blending with the shadows. Moving, always moving, flitting past the stars and into the dark places in between.

Leaves behind a trail of red where she goes, breadcrumbs in the forest.

They can hear the laughter, echoing, bouncing off walls and trees, haunting and dreamy and blood chilling. Can't tell if it's ahead or behind, up or down, left or right.

Corner of a blue dress, flash of black hair, then she's gone, turned the corner, run away. They frown and follow again, but she's only an idea, a dream, a half-forgotten memory. Unsolved mystery, riddle with no answer.

Slips through their fingers time and again; she's sand on the beach, and they can't seem to stop the waves from coming in to take their sand castle.

Gone gone gone. Bird cage is empty, castle vacant. Knock knock, no one's home. Footsteps echo, screams hanging in the air. She's a flower pressed between the pages of a book.

They see her in the market, and she turns, smiles, laughing at a joke that only she knows. Tilts her head, brown eyes sparkling, and then she's gone again, leaving behind only some footprints in the dust.

She's a story, twisted and turned and added on to until it's more lie than truth, a myth, fiction.

Their footsteps echo on metal, but they find only leaves, scattered on the floor. Keep searching, eyes probing the shadows, bloodstains on the walls and floors.

They can hear her, the impression of madness and nightmares never fade. Tangled sheets, gleams of silver, they all tell the story, archaeological implements as they brush dust from the pottery, separating the lies from the truth.

She's a song, whispering to them, her voice sing-song, her eyes blank. The words fall from her mouth, but they can't understand, the words are so tangled it would take a century to lay them out in the proper order, and another to decipher what they mean.

Brushes past them in an empty street, and they don't realize until the words drift back to them, sweet and clear. Tick tock, goes the clock. Apples, they decide. She smells like apples.

She's a secret, destroying them, tearing them apart until they are nothing. She's a poison spreading through their veins, black curling across their skin. She's driving them mad, her life and prophecies eating them from the inside out, a tumor, not benign.

They start to run, moving ever closer, determined not to let her get away. She just laughs and begins dancing faster, crumbling away from outstretched hands until they are trapped in a place of shadows and illusions, where they don't know what's real and what's not.

She laughs, tells them that now they know how she feels, painting the words in blood on a wall. They're tripping over the bodies now, scrambling to reach her but she's fire, scorching them as they grab at her, burning to a cinder and whisking away with the wind.

She flits through the swamp, white dress and black hair making her a ghost as she twirls and leaps, as graceful a dancer as any and more.

Pauses, looks back at them, smile mocking, eyes amused. She turns, vanishes, stepping farther away as the world crumbles behind her, turning to dust. She doesn't care, there's nothing there for her now.

So she answers their questions and departs, vanishing into the night, a child of the mist, evaporating with the light.