This is for Sue Vincent’s photo prompt
Snow had fallen gently all day, but at nightfall it stopped. Inside the house, they listened to the silence and shivered. Not one of them had dared set foot outside since the whispering began. Nothing entered the house on the river; the electricity didn’t work and the phone line was dead. Batteries were flat and signals were silent. They were not certain what they had done, but the whispering rippled through the fur of the trophies littered throughout the house, and something glittered in their glass eyes. In the kennel, the dogs howled until they let them out. Now they were silent, gone, swallowed up by the malevolence of the forest.
They sat huddled together before the hearth, watching the flames and wondering how long the wood would last. The whispering would stop, they said, the forest had no hold on them, not really. In the morning they would leave. They kept their guns ready, feeling safer with the comforting steel in their hands, and when the first bottle of whiskey was finished, the sharp prick of fear was dulled, laughter returned, and they pretended that their prison was no more than a power outage.
They were sleeping when the grey light of dawn began to glow with an orange light. They woke, not to the sound of whispering, but to the angry crackle and roar of flames and the acrid smell of soft furnishings burning. With cries of fear, they fled the burning building. And the forest was waiting for them.