That afternoon, he sat in his room at the village inn, chin propped in the palm of his hand. He had sat in the same place in a similar position since arriving just after sunrise, unable to come up with a new plan. Stretching, he jumped to his feet and walked toward the window. The afternoon breeze blew cool against his face as he watched a lizard bask in a stream of sunlight. A slow smile spread across his face. He spun toward the door and hurried to the parking lot.
Coming out of the shaman’s shop, he carried a brown envelope tied with a red string. He slid into his car, opened the glove box and slipped the envelope inside.
In the dead of night, Kit parked on the side of the road a mile from the crossroads where he had waited the night before. He opened the glove box and took out the brown envelope. From it, he withdrew several sheets of silver-foil, pressed into reddish-brown folding paper made from the sacred sakaki tree. He then shook several cream-white flowers into the palm of his hand.
Standing at the edge of the forest, he folded one sheet of silver foil sakaki paper into the shape of a tree. He whispered the requisite arcane word and the paper tree disappeared in a puff of blue-gray smoke. In place of Kit, a flowering sakaki tree grew. In his tree disguise, he breathed in shallow puffs and waited.
At 4 a. m., the light from will-o-the-wisp came into view. Kit stood still, letting the night breeze tickle his boughs. As the creature drew near, its light grew from a speck to a blaze. So close did it stand that Kit could feel the heat of it.
In one hand, he held a small tanto blade, taken from a Kumo the night before. The knife’s hilt rippled in his hand with the life of the spider it had once belonged. Poison dripped from the metal tip. Whispering a curse, that to the untrained ear sounded like a whirling wind, he stepped from his tree disguise and plunged the knife deep into the glowing, flame heart of the demon.
The creature screamed with agony and turning abruptly, slammed a fiery fist against the side of Kit’s head. The next instant, darkness swallowed his mind.
When he woke, Kit lay on the ground beside his compact car. Morning dew misted its green metal skin and glass. When he tried to stand up, hot pain shot across one side of his face. Wincing, he limped toward the driver’s side mirror where he ducked and peaked at his reflection. The right side of his face was a raw, blistered mass. He shuddered and looked toward the place where the remains of the monster lay in a charred, black pile.
Relieved, Kit slid to the clothe upholstery of the driver’s seat, closed the door and sank back to collect his wits. On the passenger’s seat lay a tiny sprig of yellow flowers and purple berries. He smiled and lifted it to his nose. The pungent scent of cinnamon filled his senses.
He peered through the front windshield and saw a small, white fox swish her tail in his direction and then scurry into the forest. “Momoko, you are very welcome,” he whispered, knowing he would see her again.
Copyright 2014 by Ledia Runnels
(Wonderful YouTube video on how to make this origami fox)