Aspen walked the moors. He did it every day. It was part of his ritual. He would set off out from his hut with his dog, Harper, at his side. It was usually cold, the fog rolling down from the hills to coat the valley in obscurity. It was three miles from the hut to the cliff. Aspec would walk the same path every day, trudging through rain, snow, mud, whatever the weather threw at him. Today, though, something unexpected fell from the sky.
The base of the cliff had just come into view in the distance, when Harper started barking. She was normally the most silent of dogs, fitting for a man who spoke only a few words in a day, if that. Their quiet existence was a comfort to Aspen and this sudden, sharp, truncated noise was like a dagger to his brain.
Harper raced ahead, disappearing into the fog. Aspen quickened his pace to try to keep up. It was easy to get lost in the fog and he didn’t want to lose Harper. She stood a few yards from the jagged rocks at the foot of the cliff, eyes to the sky, focus fixed on something that was completely invisible to Aspen’s senses. There was a distant creaking, like rope under stress.
Twang! Twang! Snap!
A dark shape hurtled through the fog from above to land with a sickening thud almost at Aspen’s feet. A cry was startled from his unfamiliar throat. It was a person. A young woman. Or more accurately just an inanimate lump of flesh and fluids now. Fluids that were leaking from unnatural places. Everything was unnatural about this situation. The fact of a body plummeting from the cliffside. The angle of her limbs, twisted and broken on the mossy rocks. Harper’s stock still frame, frozen in point, staring at the corpse.
Aspen stared too, unsure what to do next. He spat on the ground.
“Well, shit,” he said.