“Follow me,” I heard the voice through the window. I lifted my gaze from my book and listened. Only the sound on leaves crunching underfoot in the woods. Who would trample tonight? I shrugged and renewed my reading.
I’d read the same paragraph twice when I set the book aside. The voice beyond my window bothered me. I did not recognize it. It was no one I knew and yet, there was something familiar about it. I closed my eyes and recalled the voice; gruff, yet youthful, neither manly nor womanly, but not a child’s.
“Follow me,” it had commanded, confident but with a hint of… malice? Treachery? The memory sent chills down my spine. I endeavored to ignore it and retrieved my book, Faust by Goethe; a man who sells his soul for knowledge.
The wind ululated outside my window while the fire crackled in my room and a sinister atmosphere had descended on the night. I turned the page and screeched when an illustrated Mephistopheles—with hooves, bat-wings and horns—startled me. I shoved the book away.
“Follow me,” the voice whispered.
My heart racing, I crawled out of bed and peeped through the window curtains. The night was crisp and starless for the moon shone so bright it cast silver shadows on the land. Frost lined the windowpane; the trees were bare, their branches reaching heavenward like skeletons begging for mercy, and their fallen, frozen leaves sparkled in the moonlight.
A shadow fell across the moon and for an instant I thought someone had passed by my window. I squinted. The moon lit the world again and there was only the sound of footsteps crunching the leaves.
I froze with fear, stiff as the trees, and listened. There was someone traipsing outside but I could not see them. I gasped and panted; my breath came short and fast and fogged the glass. I dared not move for there in the mist caused by my breath a lanky figure appeared, which faded as the window cleared. I breathed on the pane, and, in front of a tree, I saw the same figure.
“Follow me,” the voice hissed in my ear.
I spun my head. I was alone. I turned back to the window and this time the figure stood before the nearest tree, clear and defined in the moonlight. I rested my fingers on the windowpane; snow fell.
“No!” I cried and the glass split where I touched it. A trickle of blood appeared on my fingertip. I ran to my bed, jumped in and hid under the covers.
The next morning I tiptoed to the window and peered through the splintered glass. Copious snow covered the ground, the bare branches heavy under its virgin white, while the sun glinted in orange and yellow sparkles under a bright blue sky.
I gasped. Beneath the nearest tree, the sun shone on a patch of snow imprinted with a distinct pair of hooves; the long, horned shadow of a devil reached for me across the frozen ground.