A morning mist hung low over frost slimed grass. Branches of trees pierced the grey gloom like the petrified carcasses of unnameable beasts.
This was the Meadows, slap bang in the middle of a city of half a million souls that now felt as distant as the stars: an island of live greenery in a desiccated urban wasteland. Or so it must have seemed to the horned creature that had padded this way earlier on taloned feet, the old presences stirred by its passage.
My quarry was near.
In the bad old days the Meadows had been submerged under a body of water that stretched from Hope Park Terrace to Brougham Street, contaminated by raw sewage and worse. When the water had been drained it took the human waste with it, but the spiritual effluent remained, keeping me in a job and the city in fear.
I almost walked into the vast trunk of an old elm and cursed my clumsiness aloud drawing the attention of another predator out on the prowl this fine Sunday morning. A low, throaty laugh, the caress of light breath on the back of my neck and I knew I had much more to worry about than the minor demon I’d been hunting.
“About time,” it said stepping out in front of me. “I’m starved.”