Moonlight ladies, beta'd by the lovely dani_in_japan . Only warnings are stuck up girls and some gore and grossness. Please enjoy <3
Caroline Kinsey was not a country girl. No, she had grown up in the heart of the big city, always surrounded by lights and noise and where things were always happening. She had no desire to leave, no desire to be anywhere else but where she was and had always been.
So, when her great uncle whom she had never known existed left his property to her deceased mother (and somehow through some complicated legal backtracking, to her) she grudgingly left to see what country life would be like. But only for long enough to sell the property and go back to her home.
She had somehow missed that it was not just a house and land property, but that it was a cattle ranch, complete with a full two hundred head of meat cattle, being raised for slaughter.
When the nice driver at the airport who had agreed to pick her up (a Mr. Kimball who lived next door and had three sons, all of whom were courting the most wonderful young woman he had ever met and he was fifty one and had been born raised and planned to die on his farm, and who she could tell to shut his trap if she thought he was talking too much) told her about them, and that she didn’t need to worry about caring for them, her elderly uncle had hired ranch hands to do that.
She had gone to meet the ranch hands in her best clothes, hoping to make a good impression. Instead, she ruined her favorite heels in the six inches of mud and cow dung, and nearly lost one as she was trying to make her way back. The ranch hands, all of whom were dressed in plaid and heavy work boots, laughed and cheered her on.
Caroline hated all of them and the cows from that moment on. She determined she was going to sell each and every one of those cattle as soon as she could, and she didn’t care if it was well below market value or not. She just wanted her money and to leave.
Then, a just a day later, something started killing them.
It only took one look at the headless carcass that the ranch hand insisted she see, to send Caroline running to the nearest empty corner to vomit up the breakfast she had eaten just half an hour ago.
After she had been brought inside, calmed down, and had assured multiple people that she was indeed alright, she ventured into town in her great uncle’s rusty old pickup truck that smelled like the cowpats that were probably engrained into the carpets and ran like it was going to die any second.
She was surprised she made it to the town diner. She wasn’t surprised to find nearly every ranch owner in the area there. She approached using her best “girl on the hunt” walk, fully ready to question them about what was destroying her sale profit.
They looked at her like she was crazy when she asked about coyotes.
“Them’s not coyotes out there, din’t your uncle leave you nothin’ ‘bout how to run the ranch? Them’s the moonlight ladies.” Mr. Kimball informed her, looking about as serious as a rotund old man with chubby cheeks could. “Coyote’s won’t dare tread near their territory. They know better.”
Caroline rolled her eyes, and asked how one was supposed to deal with this “moonlight lady” thing that she in all her infinite wisdom had heard of.
“Y’just gotta sing at ‘em before you git yerself to sleep. Singin’ll ward ‘em off for the night. Just a quick ditty from the ranch owner’s all it takes.”
Caroline dismissed it as small town superstition, because really, what sort of city girl would believe you could ward off what was plaguing you with just a song? She thanked them with all the false adoration she could muster, and drove home to see what was in her uncle’s gun cabinet in case the coyotes came back.
The next morning she woke up to a dozen more dead cattle. Heads torn off, bodies ripped apart, killed in all sorts of ways that nearly drove Caroline to vomiting again just by hearing it recounted by the ranch chands.
She tried offering money to the hands to watch the cattle that night, and to kill the pack when it dared to appear. Each and every one refused her, despite the exorbitant amounts she was willing to offer them. Told her to sing at the ladies and be done with it. Caroline laughed at the superstition once more, telling them it was just a bumpkin’s myth and shouldn’t they know better in the modern era?
Going back inside, Caroline managed to find the ammunition drawer and made one of the ranch hands show her how to fire the shotgun she thought looked easiest to use. He looked worried as she did, and told her that she couldn’t learn good aim in a day, but he would at least teach her now not to kill herself. Once she could fire it to the point she believed she could hit something, she loaded it again and left it outside the door, going inside to sleep so she could stay up that night and shoot the damn pest that was destroying her profit.
As the sun set that night, Caroline layered herself up and went outside to the cattle pen, to where the cattle had gathered at one side, pressed together and shifting restlessly.
She sat there, back ramrod straight against the fencepost, listening and watching for anything that dared to come.
She woke to a blood curdling scream and a wet thunk on the ground beside her. She jolted up, looking and scrambling away from the severed cattle head that was sitting beside her, eyes wide, staring at her, as if accusing her of letting that happen because she fell asleep.
The shriek sounded again, and she looked up, her horrified gaze turning from the cattle to the white figures floating across the sky. Translucent fabric of long dresses trailed behind them, veils covered hair that still managed to float in the nonexistent breeze, they drifted eerily in the air above her heard, and she could see the suggestion of faces looking down at the cattle. Suddenly, as one they dove, attacking another one, and Caroline watched as the remains flew about the pasture.
As one, the turned, the ghostly reflections of their faces focusing on her, and suddenly she could see it clear as day, pointed teeth, glaring eyes, skeletal bodies underneath fanciful dresses torn asunder.
She screamed again, pushing herself back into the fence, the gun laying forgotten at her side.
As one, they dove at her.
Caroline screamed again, arms thrown over her head in an instinctual attempt to somehow protect herself; she expected to become another gruesome kill much like her cattle.
She didn’t know how much time had passed, before she heard something. A faint humming, a tune carried across the breeze. She opened her eyes, unscrewing them slowly and flinching back when she saw the women little more than an armspan away, the only thing keeping them back another ghostly form positioned between her and them.
It was humming, and soon turned to a song, the words no more than a faint whisper carried on the wind.
Caroline watched in horrified shock as the ladies slowly began to sway, then rise and float away, following the same nonexistent wind that carried the song, until the faded into the moonlight.
Slowly, the figured turned to face her, and Caroline absently noted that it was about as typically old west cowboy as any ghostly figure who had just saved her could manage.
It smiled, charming and crooked, with a dimple on the left side.
“Don’t forget to sing them away next time, darling.”
And then he was gone as well.
The next morning, when the ranch hands found her amongst the scattered remains of several cattle, Caroline could scarcely remember what had happened. She could remember the tune of a song, quiet and winding through her mind, blocking the memory of everything else that had occurred.
Caroline left the town a few days later and never looked back. But she could swear that some nights, when she would walk out under the moon by her lonesome and hummed a tune she felt wasn’t ever complete, a short breeze would wind by, carrying on it words she could never recall past a feeling of crooked smiles and dimples, that never failed to make her smile too.