The only sound in the quiet evening was the lonesome wail of John Winston's old fiddle weeping 'Wildwood Flower.' I'd heard it many times, my fur bristling along my back as I ran to hide behind the woodstove. Rue the day I first heard that loathsome tune.
The chill was on the mountains, and the fallen leaves rustled with the scurrying rodents gathering winter food. How I longed to run in the fields and pounce on them, fat with their windfalls. Seven years since I set my paw across the doorstep, ignoring the twitch in my tail, never to lie in the sun again, or stretch a against a tree, my claws in its bark. But that tune wove its spell across the doorways and windows, keeping all within and luring those who wandered too close.
No mice creep through this house, though the wind slithers through the cracks in the walls. No insects, reptiles, or any other living thing but those of us who hear the tune. No one questions how he keeps the farm, never going into town or paying taxes. But I know.
They bring him gifts, those shining ones, entranced with the moan of catgut scraped by horsehair that promises "roses and lilies so fair." They come with the bounty of the farm that no one works, vegetables that never spoil, flowers that never fade.
He takes their gifts and teaches them to love him, but he dines on rarer meat.
I too have eaten the bones of the fae, at first unknowing, but now in my shame, I cannot resist. When I refused, fasting without water or food to die here, he forced the broth down my throat, vile but delicious.
My belly grows fat under my sleek yellow fur, a fine pelt soft as rabbit. He has a quilt on his bed where he takes them, pieced from fur: tabby, tortoise, black and gray, his former residents.
His fiddle strings are growing thin as he plays, an undertone of hiss and yowl that will not bring the shining ones to him today, though he scrapes away on the last set of strings.