I step from the world of Shadow inside my circle into my world, what you would call the real world. I head west towards the river. I look up and see the Moon in her full glory lighting my path ahead, not that I need the light to see but it is a great comfort. I walk cautiously at first through the clearing that is home to my altar, sniffing the air as I go and looking all around me into the trees. I look behind me and see a warm glow from a house towards the middle of the hill the wood sits on. the descent to where I am from that house is treacherous so I decide it is safe to ignore and move on way.
I’ve not travelled this way to the river before, usually I would walk, in my natural human form, down a ginnel from my house that leads under a small rail bridge and down directly to the river itself. That is how close I am to civilisation. I enter the trees which only spread a short distance to a slope which leads to the steam rail line. I pause at the top of the slope and listen, I do not want to give the railway’s staff a fright if they are making their way home by the train. It is a local heritage railway between the town I live in and a few stops through the surrounding villages, many of the staff are local and use their work to get them home in the small hours of the morning. Which means there will be one due at any moment.. and here it comes.
I am not used to how sensitive my hearing is so I decide to wait for the train to chug slowly past before I cross the tracks. I feel certain they must see me as I am still adjusting to having cat vision and do not realise that I blend almost perfectly with the dark trees to a human’s eye. A noise behind me makes me start, my heart pounds within my chest and I breathe heavily, my breath forming a light mist. I follow the sound with my ears and relax as I hear the squeal of a field mouse being snatched up by the owl that was the source of the noise I had heard. The train is closer now and I crouch down, looking to my right to spot the engineer’s light. The wait feels long but eventually I see the telltale glow of the engine’s cabin and smell the coal heated steam and the warm oils lubricating the engine itself. I wait until it is out of my line of vision and move down the slope and across the track and over to the next grassy slope that leads to the river. I make it to the riverbank and lean over the water.
The face looking back at me is not my own, I’m not sure what I expected but it was an eerie feeling to see myself in this form for the first time.
The Moon’s light is bright here with no trees to filter it and I feel suddenly quite exposed. I drink hastily whilst trying to think of my next move. To my right is the pathway into the town itself, to the left a pathway leading to a residential street. It seems my only choice is to make the river my path out of the heavily populated area.