by J. Preston
A peaceful walk in the woods takes a dramatic turn for the worst.
A Walk in the Woods
By: J. Preston
The fallen leaves crack under my shoes as I walk through the woods. It's a warm and sunny weekend afternoon, not to mention peaceful and quiet. I enjoy the peace and quiet, it gives me time to think to myself.
I love these woods, which I guess is why I go to them almost every weekend. My walks help me calm down, relax, recharge after my stressful week. It almost feels magical, the power of these woods to help me. It's as if they understand my predicament, understand the reason why I come here, understand me in general. I know how stupid it is for me to drive almost an hour and a half just to come here, but I feel like it is more than worth it.
I needed this walk, especially after the week I just had. It was one of the worst I've ever experienced in my entire life. Looking back on it, it doesn't even feel like it happened, like it was a dream, even though I know it is part of this reality. This day seemed so far away on Tuesday. I feel so relieved that I can finally unwind and just enjoy my walk through the woods.
I love when the birds chirp. Sometimes, I imagine they are talking to each other, having very detailed conversations that may or may not be about the mysterious stranger walking through their forest. It might just be my imagination running away, but sometimes, when I close my eyes, I feel like I can understand their conversations, but I always never like the conversation I hear. Today, the birds have been very talkative, but I am not trying to listen because I am afraid they are talking about me, saying stuff about me I wouldn't like.
As I'm walking, I notice that the shadows of the trees are starting to stretch into long lines as the sun begins to set. I am debating leaving since I don't want my walk to end. I am enjoying it too much for it to stop now.
I've decided to continue with my walk.
The beauty of the forest, the songs of the birds, it is all so overwhelmingly wonderful, complex, completely untouched by humanity. It is probably one of the only places around here still the exact same as it was before our species conquered these lands.
I look up and notice the beautiful purple sky behind the web of branches and leaves. I stop and watch the sun slowly sink behind the horizon of tall trees. That was when I heard the first warning.
I had a sudden jolt of surprise. I looked behind me to see the source of the sound.
"Hello?" I call out, checking to see if it was someone whose path just happened to intersect into my own.
I decide to ignore it, to keep going on with my walk so that I can return to the meditative state I was in before being surprised by a sound that was most likely in my head.
This goal of mine is very difficult. I have no idea why, but it is.
It is dark out now, but since the sun had only just set there is still a small amount of light in the air. I just remembered that tonight the moon will be completely overshadowed by the earth, meaning that it would eventually become pitch black. I think I better turn around before then so I will not have to make my way out of the woods in complete darkness.
While walking back I've noticed the chirps of the birds have all but completely died out.
It is extremely quiet, almost hauntingly quiet. The only thing audible are my footsteps. But they seem extremely loud for only coming from a singular source. I became curious, I stopped walking. That was when I noticed a slight shuffle from somewhere behind me. Is someone following me?
I turn around to see nothing but trees and leaves.
It must be my imagination, I have always had an overactive imagination.
As I begin walking again I notice that I'm walking faster now. I have no idea why, but I am, and I can't stop. Why can't I stop!?
Relax. Relax. Breathe in and out, and just relax.
I am calm now. I am calm now.
I take long, deep breaths as I begin to walk slower and become more relaxed.
I look around; I realize there is nothing familiar around me. I think I am lost.
I take out my phone hoping to look up a map to find my way out of this forest.
I unlock the phone, and open up the app only to find out I have no reception.
DAMMIT! Now what am I going to do.
I think I'll just keep walking and hope that I can find my way to the road. And now that I have my phone out, I think I will use the flashlight to help me in my endeavors.
I have begun walking again, now with the aid of flashlight on my phone. I look around. The forest looks so beautiful in the dark hue of the sky. Eerie, but still beautiful. It is helping me return to my state of peace I was in before my mind started playing tricks on me.
I am finally calm again, no longer afraid of what might be behind me. It was a huge relief, to not be afraid. I hate being afraid, it's not something I feel a lot, but I hate it when I do. It feels like a nuisance, a flaw every human possesses.
I am starting to pay more attention to my surroundings as I continue my walk. That's when I noticed the singular bird chirping; it is the only one; there are no responses coming from any of the others. I closed my eyes so I can figure out what it could possibly be talking about by itself.
That's when I knew something was wrong.
"Silly little human, making a muck of my woods, scaring my poor little creatures."
Who was that? What was that? I started to panic.
There was the sound of rustling, the sound of breaking branches.
CRACK! CRACK! CRACK!
"You think you can just come here whenever you like and act like you own the place? You don't. I do. These are my woods and you're going to pay for trespassing in them."
I began to run. It was pitch black now and I had no idea where I was going. I most likely strayed off my path, but all that matters to me right now is surviving.
I dropped my phone, not even caring what happened to it, only caring about what happens to me.
The sound is somewhere behind me. I started running as fast as I could, ignoring the pain in my muscles.
Sound gaining, becoming faster than me.
I silenced my breath, hoping it won't hear me.
I closed my eyes, trying to calm myself so that I wouldn't give myself away. But when my eyes shut, I hear its horrible voice again.
"You may be able to hide from me for now, but I promise I will find you sooner or later. Your human nature will give you away, and when it does, I will cut you into small pieces while you are still living; slowly, so that you can feel every single cut I make. Then I will scatter those pieces across my forest so that my critters may feed on them."
I'm trying to hold back my tears. I don't want to give away my location with my crying.
I tried my best to push away my shock and terror so that I could think of a plan to survive this ordeal. That's when I got the idea to throw a rock so that the sound would chase it, and I could silently escape with my life.
I picked up the rock and threw it in the opposite direction.
The sound is running in the direction of the rock. I can use the opportunity this gives me to escape.
I walked as silently as I possibly could.
I could hear the wailing and the shrieking of the sound in the distance. It seems to have realized that I tricked it.
As I move further away from the shrieks of anger and rage, I begin to walk faster, knowing there is much less of a chance that it could hear me running for my freedom.
Can I make it? It seems like I can now. The sound is gone, and there is nothing in the way of me and my safety.
I began to run faster, and faster, and even faster than that. The sound seems so far away at this point that I'm not even worried if I'm making a lot of noise. Why should I care if I was making a lot of noise? I am almost free from this nightmare.
But as I continued my escape, I failed to notice what was happening around me, what was happening right next to me as I carelessly ran with the help of testosterone.
The birds have begun to chirp again.
I can hear the horror that is the howls of the sound.
It's gaining on me.
What can I do now? Hide? No. The birds will surely give away my position to the sound.
That is not an option anymore. The only thing I can do now is run. Run until I can't run anymore. Run until I am either free, or dead.
The race was on.
As I'm running, I can hear the shrieks of the birds and the cry of the sound becoming louder, and louder, and louder, until they were almost deafening.
Sound gaining as I just keep running faster.
All I know is that I don't want to die, I just don't.
What now, what am I going to do now?
There is nothing to do, except to die.
But, I don't want to die.
That's the only option. What else is there to do?
I am running as fast as humanly possible, maybe even faster than that with nothing else on my mind but the need to fulfill the goal of living. And that is what I am going to do.
Sound gaining as I start to slow down from exhaustion.
Oh no. This is it, isn't it?
Sound becoming one with me.
Sound making two halves of me, never to be whole again.