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Archive for the ‘Short Story’ Category

The old wooden door creaked on its rusted hinges as the man leaned his weight into it and pushed it open. It swung into the small cottage revealing the flickering light of flame to the night. The man paused before stepping over the threshold and thought of calling out to anyone present but words failed his tongue and he could not speak. Slowly he stepped into the oasis in the woods leaving the darkness of the night behind him. The feeling of dread of the unknown demon also diminished as if the cottage was a shield against all those that could harm him.

He took a few more steps into the building and took his first real look around. It was a one room affair. In one corner there was a smaller bed, nothing more than a cot upon a worn wooden frame. It looked well worn and sleeped in, sagging in the middle fighting against gravity’s pull. In another corner there was a small table and a single worn wooden chair. Utilitarian would be the best definition of the furniture in this place, everything served a purpose, its beauty meaning very little. The table was empty except for a single place setting. It was an odd site considering the cottage was empty yet there was a plate, knife, fork and spoon, neatly arranged with a wooden mug resting near by. The plate was empty, its clean white set off against the dark worn wood of the table. It reminded him of the moon set in the black sky above him. He stood there staring at the table for a moment wondering what would have some one leave so abruptly after preparing to eat.

His mind wandered some more as he gazed to the corner that held a few small shelves and what could be called the kitchen, nothing more than a cabinet with a basin atop its counter and a small cast iron wood stove. The black stove was cold, no sign of being used recently, its pot belly however was full of ashes and other signs of past use. The man ran his fingers along the objects in the cottage trying to get a feel for the place. It had all the signs of life without any life presently in it. The only evidence of recent occupation was the fire that was burning in the stone fireplace in the middle of one of the stone walls. It crackled and popped, its embers glowing white hot. It had been burning for a while but was well stoke for the warmth that it gave the cottage.  A warmth that the man bathed in, letting the chill of the woods evaporate from his frame. He gazed into the fire mesmerized by the dancing flames. 

Something caught his attention. There was something in the fire. It looked like a piece of paper, no a picture. Its edges were curling and melting from the heat with in. The image was hard to make out but it was clearly a photograph of people, a portrait. A family, smiles upon their faces. Loving and all close together with their arms upon each other. The man’s memory pained him as he tried to remember. The thoughts were so close to his awareness but so very far from being clear. He felt he should know this scene. He felt it should be in his past that was now nowhere in his memories. He did not know why but a tear came to his cheek. A single hot tear that slid down his dirtied face until it came to rest hanging from his chin. Soon another joined and then another. The tears began to come rapidly. Burning in his eyes. He could feel the pain surging through his heart, the pain of memories lost and a life lived that could not be recalled.

The fire consumed what was left of the photograph and the tears stopped, the memories lost were gone and the pain began to fade back into the existence that was not his presently. The man stepped towards the hearth of the fireplace and picked up a small mirror that sat in a wooden frame and looked into its reflective surface. The image shocked him. He recognized the icy eyes staring back at him, but the face. The face was so different from the image he had of himself. The face was dirty, weathered and showed the effects of age and a hard life. He raised his free hand and touched his jaw, ensuring that what he was seeing was himself. Himself but from what time, what part of life. The old man staring back mimicked his actions and touch his hand to his jaw. The mirror crashed from his hands upon the floor and shattered into a hundred little pieces, its wooden frame cracked. Panic began to set in. Why could he not remember, who was he and why was he here. He had to get out, he had to run again but his body would not let him. He was a prisoner inside his own flesh. He screamed a silent scream that only his soul could hear.

The cottage door slammed shut rattling in its frame. and the fire quickly died as if it had never burned at all. The cottage sat dark in the quiet forest. Returned to its slumbering existence. An oasis in the night for the lost travellers of the woods. An end to the journey.

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The light was faint and far in the distance. It was a dull in comparison to the silvery moon high above. It called to the man, consuming all other desires or feelings. It was the only thing that was left in his world everything else faded into the periphery. He forced his aching body to move and his legs obeyed the command that his nerves shouted out. Each step was labor, pained, but the idea of finding any answers or help numbed out the sensations that would have crippled any other but the strongest of men. Each step brought him just a bit closer and hopefully further from the ominous terror that was still behind him. The fear of the unknown demon that prowled the woods still had all of his hairs pricked with tension. The electric pulse of anxiety raced his heart and gave his fingers a shaking twitch that would have made any manual action all but impossible, but he did not need that ability right now. He just needed his legs to continue to carry him.

His hobbled gait began to close the distance over the dreary terrain. The light began to grow and become more real. The man was relieved that it was not an illusion that had tricked his mind. It had to be real now that it was growing closer and more present. He still c ould not fully trust his mind though until he was standing in front of what caused the illumination. Tricks could easily be played on him with his senses in such array. Even so he let hope sink into his thoughts and begin to ease the sense of dread. Hope fueled his need to continue and soon he was rewarded with a scent that was bliss to his nose. It was the sharp yet sweet smell of a wood fire. The smoke began to lightly scent the air and soon became more present. The man breathed deeply, the smell reminding him of a past, a childhood that should hold so many more memories than it did. He searched his thoughts trying to find the memories that were trying to immerge from the haze but they would not come just out of reach. He could not clearly remember anything but his trek along the woods. Instantly the fear returned. Instantly the paranoia consumed him. Instantly the demon of the wood was at his back, its hands outstretched until he felt the touch of cold fingers upon his shoulder.

His mind snapped and he ran screaming the rest of the way until reaching the relative safety of the light. He rested his hands on his knees, hunched over catching his breath. After a moment he stood up and looked at what the light revealed. A small stone cottage with a thatched roof stood before him. Wood smoke wafting from its stone chimney. Faint light spilled from the only window he could see and the door that stood barely adjar. A sliver of light cut through the night from its opening. Calling to him Inviting him inside. He stepped forward, answering its call.

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The birds and small animals of the night sit upon their perches and peered from concealment. Curious of the body lying upon the floor of the woods. Their glittering eyes reflecting red beacons into the night. In the distance a crow called out in its shrill caw and movement could be heard rustling through the forest. Another crow returned the call of the first and wings could be heard taking to the night sky. The moon had returned from its cloud filled shroud casting light upon the trees and shadows everywhere else. Its blue light now fading slightly to a silvery grey. Its large body a bright orb in the black sky.

 The man began to stir, his head moving to one side to look from his lowered perspective. He moaned as he began to move more and more, finding life returning to his aching limbs. Every muscle in his body cried out in pain as he forced them to flex and move. His skin was on fire with cuts and scrapes, blood and sweat mixing in his wounds to revive him faster than any smelling salts could. He lifted his head and saw that he had made it to a small clearing, out of the constricting thickets that tried to consume him. With all of his strength he pushed his torso up from the earth with arms that could barely hold him. He got to his knees and paused to collect his strength before make the last act of getting to his feet. He stood there and swayed focusing on not falling to the ground. His legs were weak but they would hold, if only just. Pain, a reminder came back to him as his head filled with its sensation, his head was ringing from the hit he had taken. Blood caked fingers found the spot upon his head and could feel the knot that was already there. Confused he turned around. He could not tell how he had travelled so far after being taken from his feet. The clearing a haunting reminder that he was far from any impact. He thought on this but gave up knowing that these woods would never give up their secrets. The decaying undergrowth and rotting trees a reminder that with time everything disappeared, to become the food for a new existence.

As he turned he realized two things. First it was unclear where he had come from. There was no distinct path leading into or out of the clearing. and for all his searching he could not find any footprints or proof that his passing came from any direction. Second, off in the distance he spotted a small light. It was far off but it was there. A marker of life, an inhabitant of the forest, humanity. With out thought his legs were carrying him in the direction of the light. Out of the relative safety of the clearing and back into the woods. There had to be somebody ahead. Someone to provide answers for how he had gotten here, how his peace was disturbed by his forced journey through this dark landscape.

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Legs pump like pistons working the wheels of some great machine. Each step a forceful landing in the damp dirt beneath his feet. Detachment fills his sense as he knows only one thing. Need. Need to escape. Need to be free of this place of silence and desolation. Need to escape the threat of the unseen demon shadowing his back and every move. Need to survive. This was what filled the mans thoughts. The animal instinct to push on even when a predators presence cannot not be verified. Instinct and need.

The woods were now full of sound and commotion, all coming from the man who was now fleeing the unknown. His breath gasping rasps against the cool night air. Steam billowed from his lungs as his moist breath caught in the air. The rustling of his warn clothes heard as his frame moved through the mossy growth and twisted trees of the dark forrest. Sounds of his flight though could not pierce the sound of his heart pounding in his chest and the blood throbbing in his veins. His head pulsed with the feel of adrenaline, fear and terror. His legs carried him further and further into the old wood, down the only path he could see. Its rutted damp floor full of hazards, stumps, rocks and fallen branches. He leaped over the biggest of them moving as an animal in the night. Fleeing. The smaller ones he failed to notice and just let his momentum carry him through. Soon though the path, lit only by the dim blue light of the moon began to narrow and the forest began to close in. As if a trap was beginning to close shut around him. He was the rabbit taking the bait and could do nothing but continue. The only other choice was inconceivable. He could not stop, he could not turn. To do so would be the end. He felt this in his heart. It was the only truth he knew.

The forest began to reach its prickly fingers out to greet the man. Branches began to place their wooden tendrils agains his face and limbs. His bare arms were his shield. Reaching out into the night infront of him to shield his face and eyes from the barage of branches and thorny vines. Soon a sting began to grow from the tips of his bloodied fingers to the crook of his arm and his attempts at a defense were all but thwarted. The branches and wooden daggers began to find their home in the skin of his dirtied cheeks and brow. Blood began to mix with the sweat on his forehead and flow into his eyes. His vision became clouded and stained red, stinging with the salty sweat and dirt that was washed into them. He could taste his own blood upon his lips and his legs began to fail him. The adrenaline was gone, now replaced with fatigue. each stumbling step more unsure then the last.

He was now a lumbering beast in the night. His chest heaving and pained at the lack of oxygen to fill his need. His instincts and need to escape could only drive him so far. The pistons that were his legs were now a rubbery mess of flesh and bone. returned to there primary make up. He had to give up all of his strength just to maintain his upright state. this would become even more impossible as the trail began to disappear until it was nothing more than a memory of a past route the woods had reclaimed ages ago. He could nto stop though and made his way zig zagging through the trees and growth until the moon evaporated from the sky and there was nothing but darkness and the faint silhouettes of the objects around him. Now ghostly shapes reaching to claim his soul. He could feel the hands of the demon caressing his back. The man screamed, the last troubled gasp from his lunges as a force took him from his feet and there was nothing but the taste of blood and dirt in his mouth and the cool damp fealing of the earth beneath his head. He finally gave up and gave in to the blackness, though it was not a choice he really had.

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The woods are dark quiet. Sleep is in the air and all the animals of the night are sitting quietly, watching, listening. There is an intruder among them, a man that has entered their woods by mistake and taken a path that has not seen a footprint in ages. The creatures stare with the light of the cold blue moon glinting off of their sparkling eyes. Watchers in the night. The man does not know how he has arrived in this surreal scene. One moment he is at peace and the next he is thrown into this dark world full of mossy trees and old growth. Must and molds fill the air and the oddly sweet smell of decay fills his nose. The forest is always a place of death and rebirth. Mushrooms feed and grow on the dead rotting trees that litter the ground. Fresh saplings bloom in the shadows of dying giants. This should be a place of peace but the stillness. This stillness is always there. There is no sound. No crickets chirping. No sqwaks and squeaks from the critters of the night. No rustling branches or wind in the air. The stillness is consuming. An oppressive weight hanging over the man’s head. Then without warning a branch snaps and he can feel someone, some thing behind him. His heart jumps in his chest and he knows nothing but to run. Run

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