Tuesday, 18 March 2008
I say it took me 4 and a half hours to write because I know it's not very good. It falls through in several places, but I'm leaving it sit for a while before I go back to it, if I go back to it, and edit. I don't normally edit anything because I believe when a person writes from the heart there's nothing that can be edited later. This wasn't entirely written from the heart, it was, but it was lacking. It was written out of boredom and depression, it was written to kill 4 and a half hours. It was written based upon a simple idea my brain seized upon, an idea I no longer remember. It was written on the basis of a mental excerise I did in my freshman year of highschool. It was written in the now, and so it's focus is the now. There isn't too much of a theme surrounding this, it's mainly upon the very last paragraph - that's where it becomes personal. Where it finally begins to reflect some part of the Writer Inside. I can see the symbolism, even if you can't. I didn't write this for praise or damnation or whatever, I wrote it because it seemed like a good idea at the time, just as I'm writing this cause it seems like a good idea [at the time]. I don't know why I feel the need to clarify this, but I do. Maybe because I know that if I don't write this down I'll never remember it later, though I have pretty excellent memory when it comes to my writing. I can remember where most of my poems and prose were written and under what circumstance, but not always. So maybe that's why I'm writing this, because I'm not proud of the following piece, there's nothing to be proud of, but I am glad I stuck with it and saw it to the bitter end. And maybe that's another thing, I'm not happy with the ending, maybe that's why I'm writing this...
Walking down this wood chipped path I felt alone, but deep in my mind I could feel eyes boring into my back. And even as the fear trickled down the back of my neck I didn't turn around or glance behind, but kept on walking; putting one foot in front of the other. My eyes never left the wood chipped path that meandered through these thick trees with trunks the size of semis. They towered above me so far I could not make out their topmost branches nor see the leafy canopy casting the forest floor in shadow. I had stumbled upon these woods by accident, but now it was not by accident that I was lost. I wanted to be lost, to meander this forest aimlessly for hours or days. I wasn't afraid of never finding my way out, I knew eventually if I kept walking I'd find the edge of this seemingly endless forest. I hadn't even been afraid of anything lurking in these dense woods until I felt it's eyes upon my back. It had just seemed to me at the time I stumbled across the wood chipped path into this maze that the only thing living here were the trees. Foolish as that idea was, it seemed rational at the time.
I don't know how long I walked feeling its gaze burn my back, but a time came when it vanished. My stalker's eyes seemed to look the other way and let me pass unharmed. I stopped and leaned against a tree, my shoulder pressing into the bark, as I scanned the area for any sign of movement. I found nothing and wondered vaugly what had followed me for so long and then decided to leave me be. I continued walking without even a hint of an idea of where I was headed. Eventually, I assumed, night had fallen. Without any light to penetrate the thickness of the forest I could not be sure, but I figured by now it must be dark outside this forest. I had come across the path into the woods early in the afternoon and had moved among these trees for several hours, but without a watch or sun to tell the time I couldn't be sure. It didn't really matter to me as I layed down upon the soft, mossy ground and rested my head against a fallen log. This forest was quiet and peaceful; I felt if I closed my eyes I could sleep forever undisturbed. This thought momentarily horrified me, [what if it were true?] but it was absurd, this was simply a forest that did not contain magical powers strong enough to keep its inhabitants asleep forever. I nestled into the ground and shut my eyes and the last thought that crossed my mind before I fell into a deep slumber was curiosity towards the unknown thing that had followed me through the woods earlier. Would it come out at night? Was it still following me and I just didn't know it? But I had no time to speculate furthur because I was asleep within seconds.
As my body slept the deep recesses of my mind came alive and smokey images flashed across my vision, haunting me with their indecisive quality. In my deep subconscious I could see images of my past, things I had done and people I had once known, but as quickly as they came they vanished, leaving me empty and hollow because I could do nothing about them. I awoke with a start, adrenaline coursing through my veins and my head still foggy with sleep. I propped up on my elbows and gazed around the dark forest. It was darker than it had been in the day because a hazy mist was hovering above the ground. My clothes were saturated from the mist and droplets of water clung to my eyelashes. I could feel the mist dancing along my skin and chills erupted down my spine. I quickly got to my feet, but even standing I could not see above the mist. I looked up towards the treetops that I could not see, but even then I couldn't see the end of the mist. Fear was worming it's way into my system, and I knew I'd lose my head if I didn't take control soon. It was stupid of me to have lied down and gone to sleep in an unfamiliar place, but just as enterting the forest had been an impulsive whim, so was choosing to lie down and sleep for a while. I was starting to see a pattern I didn't like very much.
I began walking again, peering through the mist to no avail. Even squinting I couldn't make out anything further than a foot in front of me. To make matters worse I thought I heard someone whispering nearby. I stopped dead, straining my ears, but nothing came to me. I gripped the trunk of a tree with my right hand to steady myself as the ground beneath my feet became unstable. Fear was swimming through my blood and the mist was becoming disorienting. I swayed where I stood and cursed myelf for allowing irrational fear to get the better of me. The longer I stood there the clearer the whispering became, and even though I could not make out what was being said I was certain it was real and not just a figment of my imagination. An absurd idea occured to me, but it seemed so rational in this forest that I dismissed it; the whispering was coming from the mist itself. This idea seemed to steady my resolve and I continued walking, deeper and deeper into the unknown.
As I walked further all thoughts were wiped clean from my mind. I was blissfully unaware of my surroundings as I continued walking. Several times I realized this and chastised myself for not focusing, but I always fell back into that tranquil state of no thoughts. I assumed this too was the work of the mist. A grim certainty had surfaced in the back of my mind: there was a chance I wouldn't make it out of this forest. Yet I remained as optimistic as I could while walking aimlessly through the thick trees and dense fog. After a while I came to the end of the wood chipped path. I stopped at its edge and stared into the darkness of the forest before me. It was foolish to walk away from this path, it might be my only way out, but I could feel a strong pull towards the darkness of the woods. Logic told me to turn around now and go back the way I came, but there was still no guarantee then that I'd find my way out. But what I was thinking of was sheer insanity, and still I stepped off the path into the dark woods and continued walking, now without the path to guide me.
The mist faded away slowly the deeper I walked into the trees, which grew much closer together here, as if they were afraid of what lurked in the shadows and so they stood together to fight it away. I stumbled over roots that grew out of the ground and perspiration ran down my back in rivulets. My palms were clammy and my entire body was cold with sweat, but I continued walking. The darkness pressed in all around me, choking my eyes of sight, but still I moved forward like a blind man, feeling my way through the trees. Just when I began to feel the extent of my foolish idea to stride away from the path, I stumbled over another tree root and fell forward on my face. I lie sprawled on the ground for a moment, cursing myself and my insane ideas. I would get up and turn around now and find my way back to the path then proceed out of these woods, but when I raised my head my eye spied something I had not expected. Lying on the ground not but a few feet away from me was a grey wolf with peircing yellow eyes.
It's eyes blazed like beacon's through the darkness, and seemed to illuminate our surroundings. I stared into those eyes for several moments, completely forgetting where I was and what I was doing there, as the wolf stared back at me. I blinked and attempted to tear my gaze away from the wolf's eyes when I spotted the reason it was lying on the ground in the first place; it's foot was caught in a trap in a pool of congealed blood underneath it. My stomach lurched at the sight, but pain tore at my heart worse. This poor defenseless creature would surely die soon if it wasn't helped. Vaugly a thought occured to me, but I pushed it aside because it was unimportant at the moment. [who had set a trap in these woods? and did that mean people had set foot here before?] I pushed myself to my knees and examined the wolf from my safe distance. The only injury it appeared to have was the foot that was caught in the trap. I stretched out my hand towards it, like I would to allow a dog to sniff me and spoke in a soft whisper so as not to scare it.
"I'm going to help you." I said, and felt as if the darkness around me swallowed my words the moment they were spoken.
I inched forward and instantly regretted it because the wolf growled and snapped it's jaws at me. I yanked my hand back and placed it over my heart that was thumping madly. The worlf curled it's lips to expose two rows of sharp incisors that could easily tear through my flesh. It's eyes blazed with fear and I couldn't blame it. It had been trapped and injured and alone for how long I did not know; why would it trust me when it was my kind that had trapped it in the first place? I sat upon the hard dirt-packed ground and leaned against the trunk of the nearest tree as the wolf's growls subsided. I desperately wanted to help it but knew not how to convey that to this wounded animal; so I sat there with the wolf for a long, long time hoping that my presence would prove to it that I wanted nothing else but to help it.
As time wore on the wolf lowered it's head to the ground, but it never took it's eyes away from mine. I sat in total silence that felt like it was crushing me. After the wolf's growls I hadn't realized how silent this forest really was and how absurd that seemed. By the look of it, the wolf had been lying in this trap for days now. It's fur was matted with dirt and an assortment of insects were crawling across it's back. The putrid stench of sweat, blood and death permeated the air around it and nearly made me gag, but I held it back. The longer I sat near the wolf the more bearable the stench became. I began to long for the cool moisture of the mist and the certainty of the wood chipped path underneath my feet as the silent seconds ticked by. I could leave this wolf to it's fate, as it was almost certain it would die even if it was freed from the trap, but how could I live with myself if I let it die alone in the darkness of it's own blood?
Time elapsed and eventually I assumed I had waited long enough. Hunger and fatigue had been tearing at my insides for hours now and I would certainly be just as doomed as this wolf if I sat here any longer. I got back to my knees and held out my hand again. The wolf raised it's head and sniffed the air, but did not growl. I took this as a good sign and inched forward as adrenaline coursed through my veins yet again. The wolf watched me warily as I drew closer, but made no sign of attack. The closer I came to the wolf the stronger the scent of death that filled my nostrils and churned my stomach. I gagged, but there was nothing for me to throw up. Finally I was close enough to touch the trap. Against my better judgement I lowered my gaze from the wolf's face, leaving myself vulnerable, and examined the trap. It wasn't very professional to my knowledge, its hinges were rusted and flaking. I had to try something so I gripped the trap in both hands, glanced back up at the wolf, it was watching me cautiously, then pulled with all my might. The teeth of the trap, that had suddenly snapped shut and pierced this wolf's flesh and bone so easily, dug into the meat of my palms. I cried out in surprise and pulled away from the trap to examine my wounds.
I cursed myself as blood oozed from my cuts and slithered down my palms to my wrists, following the natural course of the lifelines in my palms. From my periphial vision a giant black nose appeared near my hands, sniffing at my blood. I froze as I watched the wolf's head hover closer to my wounds. Surely it would lash out and bite me, I had been stupid and deserved whatever came to me, but the wolf did not bite. Instead it's tongue appeared from between it's lips and it began to lick the blood dripping down my palms. I was frozen solid, horrified and yet grateful. Surely this was not typical wolf behavior, but it seemed to me that nothing in the forest acted as it was supposed to. Once my wounds were clean the wolf raised it's head to gaze into my eyes and it whined. The sound tore at my heart, and I knew I must hurry and free it's leg. With new determination I gripped the trap yet again, blood oozing from my wounds in protest, and tugged with all my strength. Slowly and surely I was pulling the rusted hinges of the trap apart.
My arms were shaking with the effort of prying the trap's teeth away from the wolf's leg, but I never gave up. The wolf repositioned itself as I worked tirelessly and began trying to yank it's paw free as I pulled. I barely got the trap open when my sweaty, bloody palms lost their grip and it snapped shut yet again, but not before the wolf had pulled his paw free. Kneeling there in the dirt with sweat pouring down my face and back, elation bubbled through me. For the first time since enterting this unknown forest I felt good, as if I this was why I'd come along. The wolf lied back down in the dirt and licked at it's wound. When it began to bite at it's dirty, blood encrusted flesh I turned away. I was silently sick for a moment before I got to my feet and turned in the direction I had come. It was time for me to find my way back to the path and out of this entrancing forest. I began to walk away from the wolf, towards the place I assumed I would find the path when I whine behind me stopped me in my tracks. I glanced over my shoulder to see the wolf painfully rising to it's feet. It shook under the pressure, but managed to rise on all three, carrying it's injured paw close to it's chest.
It hobbled over to me and nudged my leg with it's nose. I was astonished as I stretched out my hand and stroked the fur behind it's ears. It closed it's eyes contentedly. Somberly I said my goodbyes and wished the wolf well and began walking again. It wasn't long before I realized I wasn't alone. I looked behind me and dimly in the distance I could see the wolf's blazing yellow eyes watching me from the dark as it limped after me. I stopped to consider it for a moment. There was nothing more I could do for the poor wolf, and yet it was following me all the same. That was when an idea struck me: this was the thing that had stalked me earlier. I watched it move closer for a while, then turned and continued stumbling through the trees, trying to find my way in the darkness. If it wanted to follow me there wasn't much I could do about it, but I could not help it anymore, of that I was certain.
Time passed and my sheer luck I stumbled upon the wood chipped path yet again. I glanced over my shoulder once more before setting off down the path, but I didn't see the wolf's eyes anywhere. I moved down the path with surprising quickness. I was exhausted and starving, but more than eager to be free from the clutches of this forest before darkness fell again. My determination overshadowed my ravenous appetite and my sweaty exhaustion. I relished in the sound of my feet crunching over the wood chipped path; it felt like coming home to a long lost friend I hadn't seen in years. As the hour grew later and later fear spurred me on to reach the end of this maze. I wanted nothing more than to return to the comfort of my home and lie down in my soft bed after a large, warm meal and sleep forever. Just as hope began to seem fragile and futile, the trees around me began to thin and I could see a dim haze of evening light penetrating through the trees. I scrambled over the wood chipped path to the exit only to be stopped suddenly.
Blocking my exit from the woods was the wolf I had saved. How it had gotten here before me, I did not know, but now it was standing in my way. I started to walk around, but it growled and lunged forward, cutting me off. I stumbled backwards and fell to the forest floor. This sudden turn of events disoriented me, how could it move so quickly when it was injured? Then I glanced at it's injured paw only to find that it was no longer injured. There wasn't even a hint of the injury the wolf had sustained from the trap. And now that I realized this I glanced at my palms and saw no hint of the wounds dug from the teeth of the trap. Nothing added up. How long had I been walking through the woods before the wounds simply vanished? Then it hit me, the wolf's saliva had healed me, and it had healed itself, and then something else came to me - this was no ordinary wolf.
I climbed to my feet, fighting exhaustion and proceeded towards the exit yet again, but the wolf snapped at me. I jumped backwards, narrowly avoiding it's teeth, and realized it was not going to let me leave. I no longer felt elated as I had when I'd freed this wounded animal from the trap; I felt betrayed by the one good thing I'd done, which no longer seemed like such a good thing. Foolishness had caused me to act impulsively yet again when I had freed this wolf as it had caused me to act when I entered these unknown woods and fallen asleep on the path and then later ventured away from the path. And now, when I was so close to my freedom, this wolf would not allow me to leave. For some unknown reason it longed to keep me here. I stood staring at the wolf, perplexed as it stared back it me, it's eyes blazing with determination.
As I stood staring into the wolf's gaze I began to feel the pull of all the hidden things that had drawn me to this forest in the first place. The stronge allure of the forest itself and the pull towards the unknown darkness and the call of the whispering mist. I suddenly felt as if I were trapped in a nightmare, a place of illogical phenomenon that I could not fight no matter what I tried. The certainty that I would not get out of the woods seemed more prominent that ever. And the tragic part was that I was so close to freedom I could almost taste it. I could taste the scent of the cool, liberating wind just beyond these trees that silenced everyting, like a wall meant to keep all the good things out. I felt all my fears creeping up on me from out of the shadows, I felt all my insecurities watching me from around every tree, and I felt all my failures reaching out to me with invisible, sinister hands trying to pull me back towards the darkness of the trees. As I stood there gazing at the wolf I sensed darkness fall outside the forest and watched in amazement as the mist formed from out of the ground.
It rose in lazy spirals, dancing on the air and skimming across my skin with it's cool touch. The whispering began again, pulling me back into the forest, away from the freedom that laid just beyond this row of trees. I felt my eager resolve from only moments ago falter and shatter at the mist's touch. A tranquil blankness filled my mind like a dense fog residing inside my brain. I could lie here on the forest floor and sleep forever without a care or worry in the world. I felt rather than saw my body sink to my knees as my resolve gave way completely. The mist circled around me like a blanket, washing me of all my human emotions and thoughts, leaving me pleasantly empty. I rocked forward and my head hit the wood chipped path, but I barely felt a thing. Then there was a tugging at the back of my neck and I vaugly assumed it was the wolf pulling me away from the edge of the forest, back into the darkness of his home.
It was easy to lie down and let this forest take me away and keep me forever, yet something in me screamed so loudly I jolted awake and pulled against the wolf. Maybe it was human nature and the desire to live, or fear of whatever nightmarish things lurked in these woods, but whatever it was it was strong enough and sudden enough to urge me forward. I dug my nails into the dirt and pushed my weight forward. I was locked in a standstill with the wolf hanging on to the back of my shirt with his teeth just above my neck as I dug into the dirt, moving in the other direction. Just when I felt his strength overpowering mine, the cloth ripped and I lurched forward. Without hesitation I pushed myself to my feet and darted for the edge of the forest. If I could get out of these trees and far enough away from the forest there might be some hope.
I was almost there, I could see the open plains beyond and the beginning of the wood chipped path, I could smell the wind whipping across the fields of green just beyond my reach, but then a searing pain coursed through my leg and I screamed as I fell to the ground yet again. Taking my longing gaze away from my freedom momentarily, I looked back to see the wolf's jaw clamped tight around my ankle as my blood poured into his mouth. The wolf worked it's jaw around my ankle sinking deeper into my flesh, tearing into the muscle and finally crushing the bone beneath. I screamed again as a harsh reality swimmed to the forefront of my mind. Just as the teeth of the trap had held this wolf captive in the darkness, the teeth of this wolf now held me captive in this darkness of pain. For dark it truly was, because as the pain surged through my body black wings had begun fluttering at the edges of my vision. I had forseen my fate when I stumbled upon the wolf and now I was staring my death in the face as the wolf's jaws sunk deeper and deeper into my leg, severing the muscles and chewing through the bone.
Hopelessness consumed me, but then a single ray of fading light in the outside world fell upon my face. Warm at it's touch I felt that I had to try, one last time, to free myself from this wolf. With all my remaining strength I raised my free leg, pulled it up to my chest, then jerked it forward with all the momentum I could muster into the wolf's face. My heel collided with the wolf's face just above the eye and it yipped in pain, releasing my leg. I kicked it once more as I pulled myself away with the remaining strength lingering in my arms. As I pulled myself towards the edge of the trees the light began to fade, casting me in shadow.
"No!" I screamed desperately, working my muscles harder than they had ever been worked in their life. The light was fading faster, paying no mind to my feeble call. I followed after it, desperately trying to catch it as if I could grab it and fight away my enemies with it. The wolf lunged again, after it had recupperated from the shock of my attack, but I was ready for it. I kicked out once more, striking it's chest as it soared through the air. A sound, like the air being sucked out of a vaccum, erupted from the wolf's lips as it fell sidways. I didn't wait but continued pulling myself towards safety.
Suddenly I was there, the wind lashing against my face, as I crawled from the darkness of the trees. I flipped over on my stomach and army crawled all the way up the hill, over the prickling grass. I reached the top of the hill and gazed at the village below. The lights were on in every house as the full moon hung in the sky, larger than ever. I sat up and looked back at the forest. By the light of the moon it looked menacing as ever. The trees appeared to be bending with the wind, reaching towards me with their branches. I shivered violently as another harsh blast of wind ripped through the open plain around me. I turned away from the forest and screamed into the howling wind. I couldn't move, I was frozen by the wind and exhaustion and blood loss kept me rooted to the spot. I screamed and screamed as loud as I could over the agonizing howl of the wind, hoping to raise anyone. Just when I felt I would surely be left to die here in the cold, a string of lights appeared separate from the village, moving towards me. I screamed wildly, my resolve renewed if only temporarily, but as they drew nearer my gaze fell back on the forest and a final grim certainty fell upon me: no matter how far away I ran, it would make no difference, because I could still hear the whispering of the mist inside my ears. The forest would always beckon to me, and the wolf would always wait at the edge of the trees for me to return someday. Then I fell down into darkness to sleep forevermore.