Becky went around the house closing shutters as the moon rose, a few hour after sunset. It was another anomalous blood moon, and if it was anything like the others, monsters would walk the earth openly. It's not safe to be seen by such things. People all around the outpost would be thinning their bedding soon, for want of the winter night breeze, and it would be a late morning for all of them.

Perhaps more worrying, however, was that the thing from Becky's dreams had warned her. It had told her repeatedly, in no uncertain terms, across half a dozen dreams, "a blood moon is coming". If the blood moon had been just an element of a dream, then fine, but no. The thing she'd been dreaming of every night for a week, the black skittery thing with talons like scissors, the thing almost the size and shape of a human but moving so unlike one, had been most insistent.

After closing all the shutters, she went around again double-checking their latches, but every shutter was latched tight. The anomalous blood moons had started last summer, and nobody survived that long by forgetting shutters. But just as she was entering her bedroom to thin her bedding, she heard a clatter from the kitchen. A quick cluster of sounds, then silence.

She should've been alone in the house. Her younger siblings were off training with Mr. Richter, off to the east, where the ocean warms the winters and cools the summers; her older brother had disappeared into a blood moon last summer, leaving her in charge; her friends had all left before sunset. Another clatter, and this time she recognized the sounds of pots and pans. She wasn't alone in the house.

Becky was blessed with night vision even better than anyone in her immediate family, so when she was alone, she preferred to run around in the dark. This suddenly wasn't one of those times, so with a press of will she ignited an eldritch light to sheathe her right hand, and blinked as her eyes adjusted to the light, half as bright as a candle but much broader. She didn't move for the kitchen until her adjustment was complete.

Two thirds of the pantry was open, and a small black shape was visible near the transition. The larger wildlife were all gone since these anomalous blood moons had started, but raccoons and foxes and skunks were just thinned a bit each time. This looked like one of the latter, having come in for shelter and then decided to raid the pantry.

Becky approached, slowly but with only moderate caution. So long as she didn't act too threatening or startle it, she had nothing to fear from a skunk that wouldn't be preceded by a threatening dance.

Closer, though, and she slowed to a stop. Whatever it was, it was furless, with a coat of slick black plates. Then it skittered back, bigger than she'd thought, and turned a baleful gaze on her. Almost the size and shape of a human, but moving so unlike one, and sheepishly closing a pantry door with a pair of talons like scissors.

Becky turned hard aside, looking steadfastly away. This close, she could hear the staccato whisper of it skittering up onto the breakfast table, and she shivered.

"A blood moon is here." Its voice was like glass upon first listening, but the "aftertaste" of remembering it was more like shards of glass crunching underfoot.

"Yeah, no shit!" Her own vehemence surprised her, but she realized she was treating the thing as if it had interrupted a pleasant dream, even though nothing of the sort had happened.

A pause stretched on, punctuated only by the faint scraping of talons together. "Why do you avert your gaze?"

"It's… not safe… to see such things while awake."

A laugh, a beautiful terrible laugh, which turned to ash in memory. "Safer than to see us in dreams. But you…" Two scissor talons scraped together. "…You have not only survived, you have thrived, dreaming with your mind weighted down like that. You bear the weight as only a few can, returning from dreams, and returning to dreams, never touching the Deep Dreaming, much less descending into it."

She peered sideways at it, through a screen of black hair and then past the eldritch light on her hand. It crouched on the table, gazing at her, everything but its eyes unreadable, its eyes showing an all-to-human gleam of hope.

"Nearly a hundred have died, that you might be found."

`