The weather had the promise of a bright and clear day, but at the moment, Eren was looking at nothing but snow covered trees, bleached white birches whose wild eyes followed him with their gaze. The evergreens creaked under the added weight. The only sound was snow falling from the leaves and onto the ground below. Several thick branches of dogwood arced in front of the blind, their limbs frozen and beaded with ice. Eren’s eyes trained on the only patch of color on the landscape, bright red berries encased in glass.
Eren felt as if he were being watched. Armin and the others’ presence did little to shake that sensation. Perhaps there were other hunters out there. Or maybe the wood itself was watching him, the entire forest sensing the presence of man the predator. The grey trees in the distance cast long shadows that stretched towards him, many fingered hands grasping at his coat. He attempted to shake off sleep and the whole world tilted on its axis. The shadows appeared to move and Eren thought of Armin’s book of ancient druids assembling. Men and women gathering here in the wood for some sacred ritual. Red drops in the snow. I heard him yelp and I thought I must have caught an animal by mistake.
Then something moved. Eren felt it before he heard it. He felt the change in the air. The cardinals and chickadees quieted their song. He heard the cautious step over the snow. And then he saw.