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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2096637-AN-UNEXPECTED-ENCOUNTER
by Espero
Rated: E · Short Story · Action/Adventure · #2096637
A Walk In The Woods Finds Something Unexpected
I was sitting on my front porch feeling lazy as one does when all chores of the day are done and time stands still for a brief moment.

Soon dusk would be falling, the wind was just slightly moving, stirring the colorful leaves on the ground into a ballet of joy. The soft rustling noise of the leaves was music to my ears and enlightened my soul with harmony. My feet were restless so I decided to join the symphony and venture into the woods for a short walk.

Mindless of the time, and ever tuned to the sounds of the forest, I walked on, becoming startled now and again by the crack of a twig or nearby scamper of a critter fleeing my approaching footsteps. I laughed to myself at the frolic of the squirrels in their never ending game of tag; round and round, up and down the trees, never tiring from their form of hide and seek. They reminded me of children, free from the burdens of life. I jumped as a deer, more frightened than I, fled the approaching phantom.

The flight of the deer suddenly reminded me that I had ventured too far into the woods at this time of night and just as I turned to make my way homeward, I heard the howling of coyotes and stopped to listen closer to another sound that I couldn't recogtnize. Was it a chant of some kind? Intrigued by the sound, yet knowing that i should leave, my curiosity best me and I stood there, silently listening. Yes, it was a droning hum or chat, and I became paralyzed by fear. Yet, ever the detective, I was mystery driven to find out what was going on.

Like a ghost, or apparition, I slowly crept along, stepping softly, not wanting to make a sound or let a leaf give me away. The droning was becoming louder and I imagined I could smell the scent of smoke. Was my mind playing tricks on me? No, my gaze saw a flickering glow ahead in the distance. Was I encroaching upon a fire that had started in the woods? If so, I needed to summon help, but i continued on to be sure.

I stopped, dead in my tracks, and cowered behind a tree at the sight that emerged before my eyes. There, in the clearing before me, in the light of the now rising moon and the background of an ancient graveyard, a ceremony or ritual was taking place. I felt like an invader, a voyeuristic intruder who should not be there.

Quivering with fear, yet transfixed, I barely breathed so as not to draw attention to myself. A circle of white robed figures, looking like goblins in the night, were surrounding a dark clad creature who was witch like, white hair streaming behind him as he moved side to side with his claw like hands reaching skyward. The group seemed in a trance as they performed their eerie dance; men and women alike. I noticed, bubbling in the center of the group, a huge black cauldron that was hanging over a circle of crackling flames. I could smell the spicy pungent aroma of the contents brewing therein.

I watched for what seemed eternity but in reality was only minutes and then, very slowly, in a hunch like position, I took one final look, and on my knees in excruciating pain from my twisted frame, made my way further and further from the incredulous event. When I was confident that my exit had gone unnoticed, I rose from my uncomfortable animal like posture and made my way home as quickly as I could in the now dark and dreary forest where I imagined eyes were looking out from the dark everywhere and a boney hand was waiting to reach out and grab me, never to be seen again; maybe ending up in that cauldron of bubbly liquid.

When I reached the edge of the woods, I was finally able to look back and I stilled my fluttering heart with a long, drawn out sigh of relief.

Never again would I enjoy those lonely walks in the woods, for always there was the nagging dread of another unexpected encounter. What this was, will remain a secret from me, one that I will forever ponder on. Perhaps a devil worship of some kind, perhaps just a harmless Halloween party being played out. I was never to know what it was; but often, in times of silence, my mind takes me back to that haunting, yet oddly exhilarating expeirence.

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