She kept her eyes ahead. The smell coming from him was not quite human, though it had human components… mothballs, sandalwood, bourbon. But also muskier scents, like dog and … almost a metallic odor, like copper. But warm. She wondered why she didn’t feel fear. She did, but it wasn’t the overriding emotion.
When her steps slowed, something prodded her gently in the small of her back. She found herself slowing intentionally just to feel it. If she didn’t pick up her pace immediately, it was a harder and sharper prod, sometimes accompanied by that guttural growl. The forest deepened and the smells from the trees and floor became darker and older, fecund, and she wondered how long since light had touched here? The canopy was like a ceiling, letting nothing in and nothing out.
All she heard was her own footfalls and breathing. She would slow or stumble to make certain he was still there.
Then he blindfolded her. Told her to stop, and something soft and black covered her sight and tightened around her head. It was almost reassuring. From that point, he took her arm and guided her. Did she feel claws? Or was that her overactive imagination? Was this whole thing a fantasy, and she still stood on that sunny hilltop with her face tilted into the yellow rays?
A squeak. And his breath close to her ear for just a second. Gooseflesh rose and raced down her back and arms. A bare acidic whiff of… coffee? Then a click. Her feet were on hard smooth ground now. And it was warm. He moved her forward.
“Do you know where you are, Red?” he asked softly.
She shook her head and felt a wave of vertigo. And when he answered, she heard the smile stretching his words.
“You are where no one will hear you scream.”
…to be continued