A dark shape moved through the trees by the light of a crescent moon. The two legged being was searching along the edge of the forest, had been for many nights. Tonight, he was sure, his search would yield results. The human houses just beyond the woods were mostly dark, with one or two dull orange or yellow exceptions. These he passed by, he was looking for a particular kind of light. The residents of the houses, human and animal, were unaware of his passing. Those kind of people stopped believing generations ago. Only minutes later the figure stopped, his breath stilled, his eyes aglow. There, in the small window of a large house, the room beyond lit by a faint blue light, sat the silhouette of a young girl, her dark hair haloed in navy by the glow.

Perfect, thought the figure. It was already past midnight, but Rebecca couldn't sleep. She switched on her bedside lamp, the one with the blue bulb, and doused the main light. Her mother had insisted that blue bulbs, or indeed bulbs of any colour, had no place in the bedroom of a young lady. When Rebecca had lied that all the girls at school had them, her mother had relented, not wanting her offspring to be unfashionable. The rest of the room was fairly typical of what mothers like hers thought teenagers should have; flowered prints, daisy wallpaper, a little clock in the shape of a teapot. Rebecca hated it all, when she had children their rooms would be fun, not deadly dull like this. After undressing and slipping on her white, knee length, lace trimmed nightie, she quietly pulled back the curtains and looked out into the dark night. The edge of the shadowy forest sat like a ruled line across the middle distance. Orange light spilled between the houses from the street lights, casting dusky shadows over gardens and fences.

Her hazel eyes adapted to the light, allowing her to see a little better. A moments hesitation, then she gripped the window handle and swung the wood effect uPVC frame outwards. Cool, but not cold, air wafted against her face and neck, sending a shiver down her back. The sensation wasn't unpleasant, indeed it seemed to invigorate her after the crushing stuffiness of her day. She began to daydream, leaning her elbows on the window sill and leaning out. Wouldn't it be nice, she thought, to just leap from the window and into the sky. Rebecca listened carefully to the sounds inside the house, making sure her father, who often worked late, had gone to bed. When she was satisfied she climbed onto her blanket box then onto the window sill. At one metre sixty two centimetres, she was too tall to stand upright, but hanging on to the window frame and leaning out gave her an immense thrill. When she had scared herself enough, she sat down on the sill, legs hanging in the breeze.

Just below her sat the flat roof of the kitchen extension. Rebecca wondered if she could climb down without too much fuss, but rejected the idea. If her mother, for some reason, came into her room and found her outside she would have a fit. She would be grounded for months and be forced to attend Madame Sophia's deportment classes. Clouds of dark grey floated across the sky, their edges lit by the moon. She studied them, wondering were they had been, and where they were going. How fabulous it would be if she could just strip off her nightie and rush naked into the heavens. Rebecca giggled suddenly, she had been having thoughts like that for quite a while. She had told her best friend

Kristie, who had been quite shocked. Movement down in the garden caught her eye. She pulled her legs up and was about to rush back inside when she heard the sound of a cat purring. Eagerly, almost too loudly, she called out, "Here puss, come here," clicking her fingers to gain its attention. Pets were not allowed in this household; dirty, smelly things, covered with fleas and making a mess. No matter how much she pleaded, Rebecca was unable to move her mother on the subject, despite Mrs Dorington-allen, the lady with the biggest house in the village, having a Clumber Spaniel that won prizes. After a slight rustling, and a grunt that sounded very un-cat like, a feline face appeared above the kitchen roof.

The face was quite large for a cat, but otherwise had all the right features. Yellow eyes set in a brown face regarded her for some time, then it purred again, like a small outboard motor. Rebecca shushed it, "Quiet puss, come here, see what I have for you." She held out her empty hand, not knowing how smart cats were. The cat spoke, or at least that's what it sounded like to a startled Rebecca. She giggled nervously, finger tips to her mouth. Was she hearing things? Or just trying to make sense of random noises? The cat looked back at her, in a very human way, then it spoke again, "Help ussss." it purred.

Rebecca's mouth dropped open in a very unladylike fashion. Her unblinking eyes were wide with shock, her breathing stopped. The stillness of her body contrasted deeply against the whirling of her mind. All the fantasy stories she had read, the films she had watched, the characters she had imagined being, surfaced at once, threatening to drown out her control. The creature watched the girl with increasing excitement, she could really be what he was looking for. True she had frozen up, but she hadn't yet ran away. If he could only say the right thing, she was his to command. Shifting his position on the drainpipe, he climbed a little higher, exposing his shoulders. The cat face was very uncomfortable to hold, but he felt to relax now would be a mistake, the girl was obviously a cat lover.

"Please, we need help, we are threatened. Our race is dying, you humans are destroying us. The homes of the Elfs' are being felled to make the paths on which your glass eyed chariots race." He smiled sadly. Rebecca listened in horror as the thing spoke, she could see now that it wasn't a cat at all. If it hadn't have been for the voice she would have sworn it was her younger brother in a mask making fun at her. On second thoughts, that wasn't possible, Harold was far too much like his father to be so frivolous. A single word cut through the storm of thoughts inside her head, elf, it said elf. Her thoughts turned to the much read book on the shelf above her bed. Lord of the rings, in which the noble elfs helped the humans and dwarfs fight the evil creatures spreading across the land. "What...what do you want me to do?" She whispered hesitantly.

The cat that wasn't immediately leaped up onto the roof. Rebecca was stunned to see how big it was, easily as big as her brother, but more muscular. The elf wasn't as tall as she imagined, at less than a metre and a half, and he was dressed funny, in a kind of tight kilt and an old leather tunic. His feet were bare, with thick fur on top and up his legs. His face, now he had dropped the cat features, was almost human, his mouth a little too wide, his eyes too big, and his teeth definitely wrong, more like a cat's, actually. His hair was thick, almost matted, not the long, flowing blond locks of the elfs she had read about. The elf approached. Hastily she snatched in her feet and withdrew into her room, bare feet on thick carpet and her right hand on the window handle. The elf stopped, holding out its empty hands, "I mean you no harm, please, let me talk, we need your aid." he purred, smiling benignly.

Rebecca leaned out and hissed, "What can I do? I'm only a school girl, I can't stop them cutting down the trees." "No, but you can talk to my people, tell them that not all humans have forgotten them, that some still believe." The figure took a step back and bowed deeply, "My name is Chichit, I am a member of a race long forgotten by the higher folk.

This night I was drawn to your window, not by the light, but by the spirit I felt coming from you. You are an open human, not closed and mean like the rest. Please, for me, I promise you an adventure you will never forget." His eyes shone liquid in the blue light. Rebecca was unsure. She was convinced he was real, even though she had seen people in films made up to look like almost anything. But it was too dark for cameras, and anyway why would anyone want to trick her? The word adventure though, that stuck in her mind, burned her brain.

Chichit was tense with anticipation, he almost had her, just another push and she would be out of that window like a squirrel. But what? She seemed deep in thought, what had he said that had set her thinking? He tried to remember the exact words, then tried a few. "Our spirits called out to each other." Nothing. "It's sad how people have forgotten us."

Again, no reaction. "The adventures I have had." The girls eyes flicked up and locked on his. "Oh yes, you wouldn't believe what I've seen." He continued triumphantly. "I'll get dressed," She whispered. "No, no, its alright. If you surround yourself with too many human things we won't be able to travel the spirit paths." Chichit said quickly. The girl hesitated again. "Quickly, before the nights gone, you want to be back by dawn don't you?" Rebecca paused for a moment, she didn't like going out dressed only in a thin night-shirt, but she couldn't go fully dressed, and the night was creeping away. Not giving herself chance to change her mind, she jumped up onto the window sill and carefully lowered herself onto the extension roof. Chichit helped her down, his warm hands grasping her hips.

"Hello, my name is Rebecca, my friends call me Bec, you can too if you like." She held out her hand to shake his. Instead he took it to his mouth and kissed the back of it. "It's a pleasure to meet you Bec, now quickly, follow me." Chichit was ecstatic as he lead the girl over the roof, down the drainpipe, and out through the back gate. His heart had nearly leaped from his body as he helped her down, the sight of her bare backside taking his breath. Now he could see her properly he was impressed. She was quite tall, had long black hair and good sized bumps under her shirt thing. Yes, this was going to be a night to remember for both of them.

- Copyright Steve Dean