Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Light of Darkness

I'll never forget the first thing I ever wrote. I was reading Frankenstein my senior year, and one of the assignments given was to make our own monster story. This was mine, edited and added to a couple of times, but still has that place as my first. I still read it from time to time to see how far I've come. So, without further adu...

Timber Forest was off limits. It had been for nearly fifty years. In the past, the forest had always drawn people into its depths. People used to do all kinds of things in the forest like annual picnics and family camping trips. There was always activity going on in Timber Forest.
            Then, out of nowhere, bad stuff started to happen. People who went into the forest started to disappear. No one ever saw what happened, and nothing was ever found of them again; it was like they just wandered off and got lost. Then the disappearing started to escalate. In only two months of these incidents happening, the situation changed from just individuals to entire families just vanishing. Police only found abandoned camp site.
            Of course, though, when events people can’t explain start to happen, rumors arise to fill the void. Some believed the forest was haunted. Others thought that some insane murderer was hiding in the forest. Plenty of other explanations were also made, from surreal (alien abductions) to ridiculous (a bridge to a different dimension), but no one had ever figured out what was going on.
            After many months, the only thing growing about the case was the list of missing. The forest was quarantined. A ten foot electric fence was erected around the forest, with armed guards and motion sensors watching the entire perimeter. But in those twenty years, no one went in and nothing ever tried to get out. Fear alone kept people away.
            So people just left the forest alone. The armed guards went away, the motion detectors were taken down, but the fence was left standing. No one entered the forest; families started having their annual picnics and parties at other locations; no one disappeared, and the case just went cold.
            However, just because something is considered off limits, that doesn’t people will stay out. Early, before the sun rises, five teenagers, four boys and one girl, rush across a field up to the fence. Four of them carried camping equipment. The group stopped about four feet from the fence. The boy in front wielding a small shovel with a wooden handle about two feet long slowly approached the fence with the blade out in front. He cautiously prodded the fence with the blade of the shovel. The only sound was that of metal on metal.
            “See,” the boy said, turning to another boy, the only one not carrying anything, “I told you it wasn’t electrified. That’s more money you’re going to owe us tomorrow.”
            “That would require that you actually do come back tomorrow, Hunter,” the boy said.
            The first boy, Hunter, replied, “Matt, you might as well give us the money now. I’m telling you, there is nothing in there,” he pointed over his shoulder toward the forest. “Whoever caused all of those disappearings fifty years ago is long dead. We’ll try to bring his skeleton back as a souvenir.”
            “Whatever, dude,” Matt said. “You have to stay overnight. That was the bet.”
            “Yeah, I remember,” Hunter said. “And you remember that the bet applies to everyone who stays the night with me.”
            Hunter had managed to talk his team into going, too. They called themselves a team because they had always done everything together. They had made bad movies together, traveled together, and they even tried to be a rock band at one point.
            Hunter was their unofficial leader. He was brave and friendly, but also had a bit cocky. Joseph was the quiet one of the group, but he had lived next to Hunter his whole life, and helped with math homework, so he was probably Hunter’s best friend. Sarah was the only girl on the team. She was very cute, yet she was fully capable of pulling her own share of the weight. The last member, Aaron, had money and too much time on his hands. Aaron met Hunter at school, and their personalities just meshed like vinegar and baking soda.
            Aaron and Sarah took their backpacks off and climbed the fence. Aaron stayed at the top while Sarah went over to the other side. At these positions, they started an assembly line for their equipment on the other side of the fence. Once everything and everyone was over on the other side, Hunter turned back, gave Matt a crisp fake salute, and then headed into the forest.
            When the sun started to show the team was already a mile into the forest. The large trees blocked much of the light from the sun. Fifty years of no human activity had done its toll on the forest. It was wild. Any foot trails made by humans had long been overgrown.
            After another couple of hours of hiking, they came across a small field with a creek alongside it and decided to set up camp. It was decided beforehand that they would just use two tents, one for the three boys and one for Sarah. Sarah’s one-person tent was up so quickly that she could help the boys with theirs. Lunch consisted of sandwiches when camp was set up.
            Afterwards, they set off to explore the area around them. The forest was peaceful and quiet, yet had a sense of eeriness to it. The deeper they went, the thicker the canopies of the trees were. The leaves were so thick that it blocked most of the sunlight, making it look later when it was midday.
            Aaron was the first to speak up after a while. “Do you guys notice something?” he asked.
            The whole group stopped and turned to him. “What do you mean? I don’t hear anything,” Sarah responded.
            “Exactly,” Aaron said, “it’s really quiet in here.”
            “That’s because no one is talking,” Hunter said.
            “No,” Aaron said. “I mean it’s just quiet. This is a forest. Shouldn’t there be more than just silence. Other than bugs, we haven’t seen any animals since we got here, not even dead ones, and not even animal tracks.”
            “That is weird,” Joseph said. “What do you think happened, Hunter?”
            “I don’t know,” Hunter said. “If there aren’t even tracks, I guess they just left the forest.”
            “But why?” Sarah asked.
            “Who knows?” Hunter reasoned. “Let’s keep moving.”
            They continued their hike, which only confirmed Aaron’s point. There were no animals to be found anywhere. After a while, they decided to head back to camp.
            They spent the rest evening around camp. The thick ceiling of leaves made it darker quickly in the forest, but in their little field, they probably had about an hour left before it was too dark to do anything. Dinner was made and eaten quickly. After dinner, everyone just went to sleep.
            Several hours later, in the middle of the night, Hunter woke with a start. He needed a tree. He put his shoes and jacket on and grabbed his flashlight. He unzipped the tent and quietly left. It was a quiet night; a light breeze cooled Hunter and the full moon was bright enough to see the entire field their camp was in. Hunter walked up to a tree at the edge of the field and had just unzipped his pants when he thought he saw something.
            He originally saw it out of the corner of his eye, but he turned his head and saw it again. It was a blue light. It kept flashing and moving, but it was there. It didn’t look like a lantern, or at least it wasn’t a lantern that Hunter had ever seen. Hunter didn’t think it was a firefly, since he had never heard of blue bugs.
            Whatever it was, it was deeper into the forest. Hunter’s curiosity dragged him out of the field and into the darkness of the forest.
            Hunter followed as quietly as he could, but he was still walking through the brush in the dark. The light seemed to be toying with him. Whenever he got less then probably thirty feet from it, it would start to move again. Hunter soon lost track of time; all he was focused on was catching up to whatever the blue light was.
            When it stopped again, Hunter tried to sneak up on it. He was probably just ten feet away when it just disappeared. It didn’t reappear at all. It took a few seconds for the gravity of the situation to fall upon Hunter. He was lost in the middle of the woods in the middle of the night.
            Hunter panicked for a few seconds before he forced his brain to start working. He remembered he had his flashlight in his pocket. He pulled it out and turned it on in one movement. He checked his surroundings and only confirmed that he was lost. Hunter had a photographic memory, but trees just look like trees.
            Two leaves fell on his head and shoulder each. He noticed them and was about to brush them off when his brain turned on to a horrifying fact. There was no breeze. How were the leaves knocked out if the air was dead still?
            He turned around and flashed the flashlight onto the trees. He traced the trunk of one tree up to the first few large branches where he saw it.
            It was perched on the first large branch Hunter came to, not even ten feet from where he stood. It clung to both the branch and the trunk with both arms and feet. At first glance, it looked human. It had a torso, head and arms that appeared human, but that was where the similarities stopped. For one thing, the entire creature was blue. The next things that stuck out were the giant blue wings, fingered like a bat’s but possessing blue and black feathers. The creature’s legs were normal human except for its feet; it had huge three toed feet, each adorned with a short curved talon like a bird. The head had long black hair going down its back, and yellow eyes filled with pure malice. The arms appeared normal enough, but the four of the five fingers on its hands had long claws, the middle claw longer than the others. The tail looked to be about five feet long, and ended in a bulb-like feature.
            Hunter barely had time to think when the creature pounced, roaring as it slammed into Hunter, all claws and fangs. The trees muffled his final screams.
            The next morning, the rest of the team awoke to notice that Hunter was gone. They searched the entire area for hours, but never found anything. It came to the point where Sarah and Aaron wanted to keep looking, but Joseph, being the voice of reason, said that they needed to leave. Joseph brought up points that they weren’t equipped to stay in the forest for an extended period of time; their food supply was out and they were running out of water fast. They finally agreed to go back, restock, and look again the next day.
            The next day, Sarah was unable to go into the forest, but the boys went back in, promising that they would find Hunter. Just like Hunter, neither of them came back.
            Sarah lost her mind the day she lost her best friends to Timber Forest. No one would help her; everyone was still terrified of the forest, and three people very recently disappearing only brought that fear back. Finally, Sarah went in by herself to go find them, since everyone else was scared.
            She only took one things with her, a video camera she had gotten for her birthday. It was wirelessly connected to her computer back home, so even if she didn’t make it out herself, people would finally see what was terrorizing the forest.
            She, too, never came out of the forest again, but what the camera caught was quite disturbing and eye opening. It’s the middle of the night; the camera recording is set on night-vision, so everything is mostly green. For about an hour, all it shows is her walking around the path they used the day they camped out, when, in the distance, a light suddenly appears. Sarah leaves the trail and follows it. For several minutes, it toys with her, until it just flickers off and is gone. The camera pans around several times until it shoots up to see the creature waiting for it in a tree. The camera gets about two seconds of good footage of it before the creature pounces, claws and fangs barred. The camera is knocked out of Sarah’s hands, but falls to where it catches what happens next.
            The camera catches the creature crouching over Sarah, slashing her with deadly claws. Sarah screams and attempts to crawl away, but the creature pulls her under itself. Like a snake, the creature strikes, driving fangs and claws into her shoulder. Blood dampens the area around them quickly as Sarah struggles. Inevitably, her struggling weakens and the screams quiet. When she stops, the creature lets go and inspects her from head to toe, the bulb on its tail flashing.
            Then something even stranger happened. The creature then noticed the camera, and stepped over Sarah’s body to inspect it. After its inspection, the creature picked it up, pointed it at itself, and said, “This is my forest. Stay out.”

             After that, it just drops the camera, which lands still facing Sarah, only on its side. Sarah is just barely alive when the creature picks her gently up, spreads its giant wings, and takes off. It takes hours for the battery in the camera to die.

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