by Victor J. Banis
Enough heat, a burned body melts. This one was missing hands, feet, most of its flesh.
That odd tootling sound, like a flute, led us right to him. "Some kind of bird, maybe," I'd said when we first heard it.
"No bird I can think of," the ranger said. "A faun?"
"Faun. With a U. Never heard of them?"
"A woods fairy, right?"
"A satyr, Sheriff. What about Pan? Surely you've heard of him, haven't you?"
He grinned over his shoulder at me. We were following a ragged trail, looking for a missing camper. "The king of the forest. The god of fear."
"Oh, sure," I said, nodding.
It was about then that we caught the smell. We pushed our way through some dense brush into the clearing.
"Jesus," I said, staring at the charred remains. "What could have caused a fire that intense? Clear up here?" I knelt down. "Look, hoof prints. A deer, or…"
"Or a satyr?"
"No, I…" I started to turn toward him and saw his feet—only, not feet now, but hooves, and shaggy hocks.
He was still human from the waist up, though. "Welcome to my forest," he said, his smile sardonic.
I grabbed for my gun, but he did something with his eyes. Just like that, my clothes were ablaze, my hair, everything. I rolled on the ground, shrieking.
"Fear," he said, "as in panic." His laugh was like the bleating of a goat.