The forest here is peculiar — the slim trees arranged evenly in rows by some grand design so that one might move easily between them in all directions. They have no branches until about 20 feet up. And in spite of the late hour and moonless sky, their smooth trunks reflect dim light from some unknown source. They cast long, straight shadows in a measured grid over the flat, dark earth.
Half a dozen or so men line this odd forest’s edge. They are extraordinarily tall, reaching seven feet in height. Great black, mantled trench coats swath them from shoulders to feet. The men’s faces in deep shadow that the trees’ dim glow cannot penetrate. With slow, sweeping gestures, the dark men indicate a path through the trees. Silently, they entreat us to come, to see the ‘duck dog’.
Some of those gathered with me beyond the perimeters of both men and trees begin to wander off in the direction of this promised creature, but they so do in a dispirited fashion, as if compelled. Their steps drag, their shoulders are hunched and their heads are bowed. The line of dark men parts to admit these poor folk who trudge forward through the softly gleaming trees.
Soon, I am alone, crouching at the edge of this scene. It seems only I am alert and attentive enough to notice the dark men’s oddly-shaped hands –a flat rectangular object is adhered to each of their great palms, and from each palm protrudes five slim lengths that mimic fingers but simply cannot be such digits. Continuing my surveillance, I realize, with a shock, that each shadowy man holds a sheath of throwing knives. The ‘duck dog’ is a trap. The men are luring us into the woods for slaughter.
I raise an alarm. I call and shout to warn the others to no avail — my subjugated companions continue dragging their steps forward, sloping off between the rank of dark men into the trees. My appeals, however, have drawn the unwanted attention of the dark men themselves. Their heads swivel toward me in unison — I have been marked as a target for elimination. Suddenly, the air is alive with noise and motion as the men hurl their flashing knives. I hear the sleek weapons hiss pass my head to bury themselves into earth and tree trunks alike. Diving to ground, I duck the paths of these deadly projectiles. As I lay upon the cool earth in the leaf litter, I suspect that the ‘duck dog’ was not a creature, but a warning.