13. NightHer mother did her level best to make her afraid of the night.

“Be in before dark.”
“Don’t stay out too late.”
“You don’t know what’s lurking out there in the night.”

She’d taken all of that in. She was careful when and where she should be. She wasn’t stupid. Her mother wasn’t wrong; night is the time when the creeps come out to play.

But it was also the time the stars came out to play. There was nothing she liked so much as to be out in the country after the sun set, away from the city and its eternal, nagging glow, and watch the stars come out. Slowly, Venus usually the first, but all the rest following soon after.

She remembered the first time she saw the country stars, and she could easily imagine herself a girl in ancient Rome, or out in a village, or anywhere a half mile from civilization, and lose herself to the night sky.

Even now, in her neighborhood, out for an evening stroll, the night was like a blanket, hiding unkempt lawns or badly maintained fences. The majority of the stars were hidden, but they were still there.

She heard a rustling in some nearby bushes, breaking the spell she was under. It sounded too big to be a cat or some other easy-to-buy explanation. She sighed, silently unlocked her mace, made plans to travel out to the countryside that weekend, and got ready.