The Forest

Sometimes you get comfy, sitting at your laptop, fire on, cats huddled together trying not to freak out at the wind. Calmly watching all the stuff that you thought was ‘secure’ flying about your garden and then you get distracted. You wonder to yourself, if that set of goals blows over the wall – where will it land and would we ever see it again?

So, yes, here I am having that very dilemma! However, said goals are now secure.

I feel safe in the knowledge that I  have created something useful today – a short story evolved from a photo of a tree with a face on it (can’t quite figure how to get it on here yet so will do that later).  I was sent the photo by a fellow author (www.writingupsidedown.com).

Another challenge for you she said.

My task was to write a story of less than 1,000 words that involved the tree in the picture. So Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you The Forest…please feel free to comment.

Have a safe, warm day and avoid flying goal posts at all costs!

The Forest

 She braced herself against the wind, head bowed, she ploughed her way through the leaves and tried to avoid the debris flying past her at great speed.

Time was of the essence and according to the signs on the path ahead she still had at least two miles to go.

The letter in her pocket burned furiously against her leg – it’s very meaning etched forever in her thoughts. Her brother was being held and she had been summoned to fight his case or perhaps be an audience for his death, she was trying not to think of the latter as to her that wasn’t an option. He was being held at The Forest – it’s name alone would send chills down even the hardest of men’s spines.

As a child she had played near The Forest but she was forbidden to enter – seemingly you would never return if you made your way in. It was a legend among her village, passed down from generation to generation, never failing to make all the children quake with fear along with a few of the adults too. It was a story that she never looked forward to hearing at bedtime, especially when the wind howled outside her bedroom, tapping against her window and whispering her name into the dark night. Her Grandma’s voice still rang in her ears about the faces on the trees following your every move, their numerous limbs reaching out to anyone who dared enter. Once captured never seen again.

She shook her head and brought her mind back to the task ahead. Turning left at the bridge which meandered over the babbling brook, she glanced down at the water which churned over and over, gaining intensity and depth with the onslaught of the torrential rain which now fell, soaking her to the very bone. She shivered uncontrollably.

She walked and walked. The horizon never leaving her steady gaze as she headed onwards and what would inevitably bring her and any unsuspecting rambler to the entrance of The Forest. But today was different and the sense of trepidation had never left her throughout this necessary but ill-fated journey.

It all started three days ago. The cream coloured envelope entwined with slavers of bark shavings tied roughly together. The mark of The Forest was plain to see and it took her well over two hours to open the offending notice. Every time her hand went near the crisp note, her heart pounded so loudly it was as if it was in the room beside her and not locked safely away in her chest, rushing around supplying her organs with vital nutrients that would ensure her survival in this god-forsaken world.

The note was short and to the point. Her brother had been labelled a traitor and her presence had been requested to attend his trial at The Forest and to be prepared to watch his demise. She was to be unaccompanied and to travel on foot. She was to tell no-one of her ‘invitation’ and if word came out that anyone in the village knew of her quest, then her brother would be ‘eliminated’ and his body parts scattered around the surrounding land for all to see.

Reaching the entrance to The Forest, the wind had disappeared altogether to be replaced with an eerie silence, reminiscent of the calm air that comes before a ferocious storm. She was hopeful that the storm that had been brewing would very soon come to an end and she would bring her brother home, safe, without incident and away from the horrors she had no doubt he had already been privy to in his capture so far.

She stood still at the willow embellished entrance, her eyes searching the darkness beyond. Nothing. She could see absolutely nothing. Using her pocket torch to light the way, she took her first tentative steps into the cave-like growth that had now enveloped her and she slowly breathed out to calm her nerves. ‘Steady’, she thought to herself as she quietly clambered forward over the foliage, roots and stumps awaiting her arrival.

She pushed onwards to meet her brothers maker, the confidence in her steps did not match the turmoil that now flowed freely through her mind.

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