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Miranda forgot to breathe as her gaze locked with the deep black pits where eyes would normally be. There shouldn’t have been anything there to stare back with, but there must have been somewhere in the depths because she felt its stare boring coldly into her.
The stranger remained completely still, then flickered. The effect was like a light switch was being rapidly flicked off and on, or like an animated movie moving slowly from frame to frame. One moment it was leaning against the well, relaxed and grinning at her but poised for movement, then the next moment it was standing. Then it had its hand raised as if in the early stages of a wave and its grin had grown impossibly wide. Miranda, heart pounding, couldn’t look away.
It was posed halfway through a stop motion step forward before she realized it was moving towards her, and with that the trance was broken. She made a choked noise that would have been a scream if it hadn’t got stuck in her throat and jerked backwards, trying to put more of the rosemary bushes between it and her. As soon as she managed to turn and get her to her feet the world tilted sharply and she hit the hard-packed earth on her knees and elbows.
Half a second of horrible scrabbling later she realized that her backpack strap had gotten tangled around her ankle and tripped her. She kicked at the bag until the strap slid down over the back of her sneaker and she was free.
Then a hand closed hard on her shoulder and jerked her backwards.