Somewhere in the Cypress (Story by Crimson Ruari)

“Ahh, no! No! Not again! Not now!” The beam from the flashlight sputtered and died, and Alex smacked it firmly, as though it would help. It might—the light had always been a little finicky. He’d never gotten around to replacing it because it had always worked well enough, and he’d sure paid enough for the stupid thing. But sometimes, it just liked to cut out, like it just had. It hadn’t ever screwed him over like this before, though. The death of the light left him with the after image of brightly-lit cypress trees fading from his vision. His ears flattened against his skull, and his tail tucked in tight to his thigh. The coyote panted softly as he tried to focus himself. Things weren’t that bad: he hadn’t gone far from the car; his eyes would recover soon, twenty minutes to full sensitivity, if he recalled correctly; he— No, things were just that bad. He was lost in the middle of the bayou somewhere east of Houston and his car was almost out of gas. He held his hands out in front of him and walked towards the last tree he remembered. It was barely visible, a darker pillar against the sky; the sun had set over an hour ago, but the sky held a lingering violet glow. He found the tree with his foot and tripped over...

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