gloaming eased to darkness, the wind blew steady. a hut nestled within a copse of trees stood above the animal path.
i entered and sat on the earthen floor. there was a small hearth and fire.
i began to cough.
within my throat, a deep scratching tickle intensified. i began to retch. i rolled onto my hands and knees and vomited a dark, long, stringy mass. it was a thick rope of hair.
a few wet hairs stuck to my lips and face; i felt them move as my stuttered breath slowed. i placed the mass of hair in the fire. it smoldered before burning.
from behind, something moved towards me from the corner darkness. i leaned back against its legs to rest. it placed a thorny branch in my left hand and painted three horizontal stripes across my forehead. i closed my eyes. the skin beneath the stripes stung.
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