[Image by Thomas Finley]
“Hello?” It came out a hoarse whisper. Nothing but the wind. My thoughts pulsed with denial. It wasn’t real. It was gone. It was a stump. I had just greeted an inanimate object.
I pushed myself, still keeping my eyes averted, and said louder, “Hello, I’m Anna.” My breath caught as I heard the smallest rustle.
Oh God. It moved.
It was deliberate stealth, just the slightest shift and turn. The air around me seemed to shimmer, and a deep quaking gripped my body as I shook uncontrollably. A puff of wind hit my face, and I smelled the most rancid, curdling stench creeping up my nose and down my throat. My gorge rose and I gagged, fighting the urge to violently vomit.
No doubt now. This was the real deal. Their smell was famously documented.