Snow silently fell to the frozen ground. The gentle flicker of a candle could be seen dimly illuminating a small cabin. An older man sat at a small table with a bowl of stew in front of him. Embers glowed in the fireplace.
A sound, like a creaking board, was heard from outside. The man quickly turned his head towards the window. After a moment of intensely staring at the window, he returned to his soup. He dismissed the sound as coming from a tree, caught in a breeze.
This time the man stood and walked as quickly as he could to the window. He peered out onto the frozen land, surveying the snow for any sign of what could be making the noise. There was no wind. Only the snow, falling slowly on an undisturbed forest.
After several minutes, he returned to the table and his meal, which was, by this time, cold.
He took his bowl and went to a pot hanging over the coals. Filling his bowl with hot stew he slowly glanced around the room. The flickering candle cast faint, ominous shadows on the walls.
The sound of something hitting the outside of his tiny cabin startled him. He froze, ladle still in hand.
After a moment, he relaxed from his fright and lowered the ladle into the pot.
He bolted to the table and swiftly blew out the candle. Sitting in his chair shaking, he made no attempt to finish his dinner. He sat, quietly, in the dark. The light of the moons fell through the windows and cast sharp, dark shadows. Each one, more frightening to the man than the last.
After what seemed an eternity, he realized the fire had completely died, and it was getting cold. Eventually, his discomfort outmatched his fear. He struck a match to relight the candle. The moonlight’s shadows were pushed back into the night.
All except one.
As he was moving to stand, he felt as though there were eyes watching him. He lifted the candle and turned. He barely caught the faint outline of a shadow not touched by the light of the candle, when the flame was extinguished and the cabin fell into darkness.
No sound was heard. The air was still and the snow continued to fall over the frozen land.