Writing Group: The Forest Will Change You

Hello everyone!

This week for the writing group, we’re taking a step back from the metaphysical, the weird, the reality-warping. This time, it seems we’ll be spending some time looking inward. And we’ll be doing it through a very interesting lens, because…

This week’s prompt is:

 

The Forest Will Change You

 

RULES AND GUIDELINES AT THE BOTTOM OF POST
Read them to participate! You may not be eligible if you don’t!

There’s something kind of resonant about this one. Maybe it’s the way forests are often used to represent bewilderment, confusion, disorientation. People go into the wood and get lost. Sometimes it’s because they stray from the beaten path, sometimes the fae are playing cruel tricks. Sometimes, for the unluckiest travelers, the beast has caught their scent.

Whatever the case, it’s hard to ignore the ominous side of forests in fiction. They’re places of uncertainty and concealment, places where it’s easy not to find your way back. Kind of sounds like a lot of things we face in life. Could be the forest of grief, the forest of love, the forest of ambition. Whatever the case, you wander in find that you can’t quite wander back out.

But that’s all highly metaphorical. As always, you can take the literal route as well. Maybe the forest will *literally* change something about you. Maybe your soul can get caught in the branches if you’re not careful, or maybe the tree sap gets into your blood and does strange things to your flesh.

The important thing here is that this prompt comes in three implicit pieces: an equilibrium (the journey starts), a transition (the journey through the wood), and a change (the journey ends). You don’t necessarily have to do it that way, but those look to be the essential components. Hit all three, and I think you start to hit the soul of this idea.

But as always, those are only signposts. If you’ve ever read a fairy tale, you know half their purpose is to be disobeyed.

I look forward to what strange paths you all choose to follow through the leaves.

 

Remember, this is part of our weekly Writing Group stream! Submit a little piece following the rules and guidelines below, and there’s a chance your entry will be read live on stream! In addition, we’ll discuss it for a minute and give you some feedback.

Tune into the stream this Friday at 7:00pm CST to see if you made the cut!

The whole purpose of this is to show off the creativity of the community, while also helping each other to become better writers. Lean into that spirit, and get ready to help each other improve their confidence in their writing, as well as their skill with their craft!

 

Rules and Guidelines

We read six stories during each stream, three of which come from the public post, and three of which come from the much smaller private post. Submissions are randomly selected from among the top ten most-liked of each post, so be sure to share your submissions on social media and with your friends!

  • English only.
  • Prose only, no poetry or lyrics.
  • One submission per participant.
  • Use proper spelling, grammar, and syntax.
  • Submit your entry in a comment on this post.
  • Submissions close at 4:00pm CST each Friday.
  • No more than 350 words (you can use this website to see your wordcount).
  • Include a submission title and an author name (doesn’t have to be your real name).
  • Keep submissions “safe-for-work”; be sparing with sexuality, violence, and profanity.
  • Write something brand new (no re-submitting past entries or stories written for other reasons).
  • Try to focus on making your submission a single meaningful moment rather than an entire story.
  • No fan fiction without explicit permission from the source’s owner, and no spoilers for the source material.
  • Please format your submission as “Submission Title” by Author Name and be sure to separate paragraphs. (Example Submission)
  • Original art may be included in your submission, but is not guaranteed to be shown on stream. Only .jpeg or .png format images shared via a direct link will be accepted. (Example Submission) (Information on “Direct Links”)
  • You must like and leave a review on two other submissions to be eligible, and your reviews must be at least 50 words long. If you’re submitting to the private post, feel free to leave these reviews on either the private or the public post. The two submissions you like need not be the same as the submissions you review, although they can be.
  • Understand that by submitting here, you are giving us permission to read your submission aloud live on stream and upload public, archived recordings of said stream to our social media platforms. You will always be credited, but only by the author name you supply as per these rules. No other links or are guaranteed.

Comments on this post that aren’t submissions will be deleted, except for replies/reviews left on existing submissions.

 

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Ben.J
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Ben.J

“Reflection” by Ben.J
The Forest can be a peaceful place, one of calm and relaxation. The Forest can be a thrilling place, crossing falling logs across small streams.
More than anything The Forest can be a reflective place, you see yourself within The Forest. Sometimes you don’t like what you see in the forest. Sometimes you simply stop in The Forest. Sometimes you enter The Forest one person, and leave another. Sometimes The Forest will change you. And the next time you go you might like your reflection a little more.

Will Morrow
Guest
Will Morrow

“Harsh love” by Will Morrow
This forest changes you they say, through it’s stinging branch’s that drip with mild acid. A forest is a forest no matter how it may appear, but this one feels different. The air is bitter and cold here all year round and the trees, as biting as it may be, offer a sweetly stinging sap that warms you as it burns, wrapping themselves around you like a mother would her child.

This forest changes you they say, through its horridly twisted form. It’s leaves are a stone cold blue, they are dead and rotten and foetid and wrong and yet they hold a strange kind of dark majesty, a terrible wonder that can only be seen when you look past the decay and see the life that blossoms from within.

This forest changes you I’d say, it holds you tightly and tries not to let you leave. A forest is a forest but this is alive, it grabs and hugs and it mourns at a loss with its tears of morning dew upon one such as me leaving it be and walking away without a goodbye. Trees get lonely, being rooted in the ground, unable to move around to talk to those they know are there as their roots touch so slightly with eager curiosity and hopeful despair and so teach a harsh love they must endure.

With life you must cut your loses and take victories where you can, see past your peers visage to see who they are and cherish them for it because there is nothing worse than isolation caused by the deeply ingrained roots of ignorance, pride or despair. This is the forests lesson, that is how it changes you.

C. G.
Guest
C. G.

The Talking Flowers – C. G.

“The forest can change you.” Thats what my grandmother used to say, and I always listened. It might have been the way she said it, maybe intuition, but either way I never ignored her vague warning.
I only wish I could say the same for my little brother.

We used to always go up and visit her every year, my grandma’s little cabin in the mountains. It was quite and peaceful, just big enuph for the family to get together. She used to call my cousins and I her “little munchkins”, when ever she told us stories.

One day, she told us a story, of flowers that talked, and after the story my brother insisted that he wanted, Needed, to see them. I warned him that he’d get into trubble, or get hurt, or lost, “Come with me then” is all he replied as he pushed into the thick bushes.
I stayed.

He came back latter that eavning, and was chided by everyone, our parents, aunts, uncles, me. Not grandma though. She just stared at him, muttering under her breath, then left for her room. Throughout it all, he just stood there, making fake apologies, saying he was alright, and asking to leave.

When we had gotten to bed, I asked if he had found the flowers, and he sudenly seemed to come alive again.
“Yes! Yes! They where even more beautiful then grandma said! And they told me amazing things! Things about the forest!”
There was a puase, I was started by his sudden animation.
“Would you like to know?”
I nodded slowly
“Well then you have to talk with them for your self!” He said, getting an almost hungry look in his eye

I shook my head, “That’s how you got into trouble, why would I go and do that?”
“You have to go!” He yelled, jumping at me. I jumped back, concerned. He just glared at me, then I noticed, his pupils… Had changed. Taken one some sort of feline shape, and he seemed to be looking past me, only hatred behind his gaze. “No.” I told him, and left to go get my grandma.

When we got back, he was gone, and my grandma left, and told my parents. I never saw my brpther again. Although, whenever I visit the cabin, I can still hear his voice, beckoning me into the woods. I see cats eyes, watching me from the corner of my eyes, and feel a breath down my back.

Alexander
Guest

The Forest Demanded
By Alexander (Broken Earth)

Why?

That’s the only question I had. Not how, not where, but why. Why did she do it?

It was the forest, my folks said, the forest that made her do it.
That didn’t make it any better for me. I thought I could trust her. She betrayed me.

I couldn’t take it. I needed to know why. The forest’s will couldn’t be the only reason she did it.

So I went to her, like a fool, and with tears forming in my eyes I looked at her.

“Why?” I asked, not making time for a greeting. If we exchanged pleasantries, I’m sure my will would’ve crumbled beneath that smile of hers.

Instantly her smile vanished, replaced with a disappointed, tired look.

“You know why. The forest told me to.” She said it as if that would excuse it. The forest was probably the thing I wanted to hear least.

“No! I don’t care about the forest! I want to know why you did it! Didn’t he matter to you? Didn’t you love him?” My voice cracked at the end, and tears flowed through my outburst.

I was shaking, but I wasn’t angry. My grief was so powerful that it racked my body with sobs and sniffles, but I stood there waiting for an answer.

“Of course I loved him. I knew you’d be the one to take this the hardest,” she looked down as though she was debating something within herself, “so I prepared something to help you understand.”

I looked at her with confusion, disgust, anger, and so many more emotions swirling around inside. How could she think anything could help my understand this? This wasn’t something you could just explain away.

“Go into the forest,” she told me, “there’s a clearing on the first right on the path. You’ll forgive me once you see that clearing.” She sounded sincere, as though she genuinely wanted my forgiveness, but I wasn’t ready to let go of my grief yet.

Twenty years, and I’m finally ready to forgive her. I’ll go to the clearing and I’ll finally understand.

Matthew
Guest
Matthew

The Real World, By Matthew
It was a bleak midday. The morning had promised us a full day of gentle breezes, mild temperatures, and lovely cloud coverage. We could have been on a walk, out for coffee, or exploring the historical district downtown, but no, we chose to squander this opportunity on a family camping trip!

I hated it.

The insects, the bacteria, the dying trees, the ever-present sense that some vicious predator might sneak into our camp and drag me into the night kicking and screaming. It was more than the human mind could bear. Not that I had a choice, mind you. My mom would be heart broken if I skipped this evermore rare chance at family bonding, so I reluctantly tagged along.

We decided to explore one of the various forests around town. We settled on Lost River State Forest. An ominous name for a premier birdwatching location. We set up camp and when the inevitable call for firewood came and I was tasked with the job. Lucky me.

Dismayed at the prospect, I sulked down into the woods. To my surprise, I wasn’t immediately repulsed! Though dirt and broken branches littered the ground, the needle-like leaves of the various coniferous trees held a certain grace and distinction to them. Their elegant presence delighted me and held my spirits high on my otherwise tedious firewood journey.

Having completed my task, I debated my return path and my sanity. Could I really be enjoying a forest? The thought disgusted me, and yet here I was. Shaking my wary, I decided to head back to camp. The return trip was even more encapsulating. I noticed it everywhere: a beautiful black raven flying gracefully overhead, the careful and meticulous structure of a pinecone, a diligent gopher foraging for food, and the gentle swaying of spruce trees. All these ponderous sites filled me with intrigue and awe.

My mathematical brain was in flux. I had never considered the beauty beyond the filth. The intricate and interconnected world of biology was opened up to me, and I saw how small my safe, clean bubble really was.

MasaCur
Guest
MasaCur

A Test of Courage

by Myro

“Come on, Kiyotaka!”

Kiyotaka sighed with dread. He wasn’t sure this was a good idea. Akira’s ideas rarely ended well.

Akira stepped in the room. “What’s taking you?” She was a tall girl who never grew out of her tomboy phase, and never let Kiyotaka forget she was the older sister.

“Are you sure about this?” Kiyotaka asked, his voice cracking.

“This is practically a rite of passage. Now, let’s get going!”

“But Mom and Dad…”

“Are still visiting friends,” Akira interrupted. “Now get. Unless you’re scared.” Akira pressed her face up in front of Kiyotaka’s, a smug smile on her lips.

“I’m not scared!” Kiyotaka defiantly replied, trying to convince himself as much as her.

Akira grabbed him by the arm, and dragged him out to the forest behind their summer home.

“I don’t like this…” Kiyotaka sighed.

“Don’t worry, I’m in high school now. That makes me practically adult,” Akira countered.

“Then act like it,” Kiyotaka muttered.

They ventured into the forest, Kiyotaka’s legs quivering with each step. As the lights of the resort faded away, he stopped, thinking he had heard something. It started as a growl, but suddenly a loud, sharp bark sounded out.

Akira let out a scream and ran. Kiyotaka was cemented to the ground for a second, then chased after her. He wasn’t as fast, and it was hard to follow her in the darkness.

Kiyotaka broke into a clearing, and he saw…someone in the middle of it.

“Akira-nee?” Kiyotaka squeaked.

It wasn’t Akira. A woman with orange-red hair, dressed in a kimono, sprang at him, grabbing him by the shoulder in a mere handful of steps.

“Who are you?” she demanded.

“I’m…”

“You need to leave!”

Kiyotaka shook in fear.

“Kiyotaka, where are you?” Akira called out, blessedly close.

The woman released Kiyotaka, and escaped into the forest. A second later, an orange-red fox dashed out, followed by Akira. The fox looked at Kiyotaka for a second, then ran off.

Was she…the fox?

Kiyotaka bit his lip, suspecting the legends were true, and his world changed forever.

Madelyn
Guest
Madelyn

One Last Attempt
By Madelyn

Balthazar stood at the forest’s entry. The townsfolk’s warnings of how the forest would change him echoed in his mind. If not for recent developments, he would have thought that they were just plain lunatics.
He put aside his doubts and entered the forest. He hoped that the change in question would be literal. The path looked as if it was part of the town, and it eventually split into two different directions.
“This is ridiculous.” Balthazar looked around to make sure no one saw him, then shifted into his bird form. It was more natural to him this time, and that horrified him. The right path led to what might be a scenic clearing in warmer weather. The left path led to a gap in the earth. There.
Balthazar flew back below the trees and shifted back to his natural form before heading down the left path. If there was a way to reverse this power, Balthazar did not want to risk being stuck in a bird form forever.
When he finally reached the gap, he noticed just how warm it became.
The ground shook, but Balthazar did not lose his balance. Nor did he show his fear when a shimmering hand as big as him emerged from the gap. The hand rose up to show an eye on the palm, and Balthazar could not help but wonder how no one in town mentioned this.
One look was all it took for the being to simply shake its hand as if it was a head.
Balthazar’s journey was in vain. If this beast could not reverse the curse that gave him these bird-like powers, nothing could.
The forest did change Balthazar that day. Not a literal change, as he hoped. As he walked out with tear-stained eyes and a hoarse voice, he did nothing when he saw Gabriel.
“Now that you tended to that,” Gabriel spoke as if Balthazar had not lost hope for his future, “Let us be on our way.”

Twangyflame0
Guest
Twangyflame0

Title: A Walk in the Woods by Twangyflame0

As he was climbing the cliffside, Constantine looked back at the shoreline, where his dingy was moored, and the sea and breathed a sigh of relief. It felt nice to be away from imperial politics and training the marked his youth. He then looked back, tighten his sword buckle, and kept climbing.
After almost slipping off the cliff, Constantine came to the top as saw a verdant forest that stretches into forever. Birds chirped and small critters scuttled around as Constantine walked and mapped his way through the beautiful greenery. As he made his way, Constantine came across clearing with three circles of mushrooms growing.
Before he could ponder what this was, a giant blur came out of the brush and knocked Constantine down to the ground. A beast that brought back horror stories that Constantine had heard from the Northern Forest of Endol. The creature was some sort of horrible hybrid between man and wolf. It had patchy, mud-colored fur and bright green eyes filled with hate. As it snarled down at him, Constantine was surprised to find the sound to be something akin to a language and not some guttural, inhuman sound.
Constantine’s curiosity was overshadowed, as he saw the beast raise its claw to kill Constantine. But it stayed its had as a voice called out from the brush. Bloodred was the color of the woman who stood and shouted at the beast in its same dialect.
The beast ripped off Constantine’s sword, held it aloft, as it spoke, but Constantine could understand what the beast was saying. It saw him as a threat of some kind.
The woman produced a dagger and shouted back at the beast. The growled, then skulked off into the brush, turning into a strong man with a thick beard and messy hair.
The woman pointed her dagger at Constantine and in a thick accent, “Come with me and step around the fae circles.”
Constantine knew he wanted different, but he never expected this.

Seán Gray
Guest
Seán Gray

“Memories” by Seán Gray

The sky was blue and cold. No clouds marred it, no birds flew high and lonely above. Serene, chilling peace. Elliot didn’t care much for it. He didn’t care for much, nowadays.

Probably for the best, in his line of work. Seven bullets slid into his carbine, sweet as sin. He’d only need one, for this job.

Best to be prepared regardless. Out here, this tangle of bogs and wetland, he was king. His quarry knew that. Knew that it’d be a losing battle, trying to hide from Elliot here.

That was why she’d run to the forest. A smile traced his lips. She was cunning, he’d give her that. Many a man wouldn’t dare set foot there, where the heavens were lost beneath the canopy.

Elliot wasn’t most men. So he picked a path across the peat, eyes on the ground. One misstep could be a death sentence here, leave you trapped. He’d learned that long ago.
The trees rose up to greet him, twisted and old. Shadows came too, draped themselves across the ground, languid and slow. Many had gotten lost here, wandered until hunger or the bears took them. Those were the lucky ones.

Elliot didn’t intend to join their ranks. The undergrowth had been disturbed here, trampled underfoot. Well, that certainly made this easier. He stepped past the first oak, following the oaks.

There was a chill, one that lingered despite his coat. Elliot remembered this place. It almost felt like yesterday, last he’d entered beneath the boughs. He’d been so much younger then.

Now his heart felt like it was made of wood. He closed his eyes, pushed the nightmare of hounds and running away. Now it was him, chasing another. A townsfolk would call it chance. Elliot knew better.

The woods played games. Quiet ones, that twisted you up and turned you inside out. Now all that was left of the scared boy was a battered man. She’d find out soon enough. By then, his gun would be a mercy.

So Elliot soldiered on, into the gloom and memories.

Gabriel Tallent
Guest
Gabriel Tallent

Druids, Gabriel Tallent

They said “only the forest would change you”, yes my peers did believe the only place the spirits sang was on the land. In the mountain, forest, and coast did the spirits, ancestral, elemental, and otherwise, dance wildly. Only there would they live and make merry, alas, they were wrong.

I’m John, I was druid, and I have seen the spirits that have taken to enhabiting the human world. Some believe we’re separate from nature, and the spirits will shrivel and die in places of morter and brick, but I know better. I have seen the city’s totem animals, Rat sneaks in homes and streets, Dog sits loyally by the human sort, Roach hungrily devories all he can reach and Cat chases fouler spirits from home and hearth. I have seen ancestors aswell, guarding buildings which contain their children and their children’s children from dark invaders, others walk the streets, some malicious robbers, others which keep safe the innocent. This all, on top of the new ones I have spied in my walkabout. The spirit of our homes which if pleased tend the hearth and clean the grounds, the spirits of the field which bring fair weather and kill weeds, and interestingly of all, the machine spirits.

Some druid in the audience most likely spit out what they were drinking when I said that but can explain. We put our faith in our machines, we personify them and hold them in high esteem, and thusly, they take on lives of their own. They think and feel in their shells of plastic, and they walk their own woods of servers and fiberglass, they combat demons of code, they sing songs from speakers, and yet, like all city spirits, their tales are untold, and their heroes are unsung of.

When I first told the archdruid of some conclave, I was cast out, decried and stripped of my titles. “Heretic”, “blasphemer”, the cry and called, but I care not now, I have new spiritual sponsors. So, then died Johnathon H. Wilder the Druid, and so began living Johnathon H. Wilder the Technomancer.

Philip C.
Guest
Philip C.

The Call to Adventure
By Philip C.

The boy stepped quickly behind a tree, obscuring his view of the passing group of travelers. One of them was talking endlessly about his good fortune, the man in question having found an enchanted sword that doubtlessly called him to great adventure.

“The forest can change you.” That’s what the stories said. Those that dared enter were rumored to have their fate changed, becoming kings, knights, or users of the magical arts.

Henry was not in the forest by choice. He had run into it to avoid the hands of the labor contractors. They often pressed the young with no family into service. For Henry, it was the forest or the slog farms.

He had barely managed to escape such a fate, thanks to the fear of the forest that the townsfolk held.

“The forest can change you, and not always for the better.” That was something many in the town said. They did not trust the misty woods that stood to the north of their homes. Henry had no other choice. So, he hid, and waited.

A noise caused him to turn. There, behind him, obscured by the mist, something big was approaching. A loud growl told him it had caught his scent. He had no other choice. He ran out from cover and towards the group.

They were gone. The party had already passed by. Henry ran on, panic rising in his throat as he rushed through the trees, hoping that he was getting closer to the travelers. Hoping he had taken the right way.

He never saw the edge. Nor the drop into the ravine. All he saw was water, then darkness.

Henry awoke in a cave. As he sat up, he found that he felt no pain, had no bruises or cuts. As he rose to his feet, a voice, strange, but clear and melodic, spoke from behind him.

“Welcome, traveler.”

Henry turned to find a being from another world looking down on him, ethereal, and wonderous.

The forest will change you; Henry knew that now.

But never in ways that you would expect.

Ghoul26
Guest
Ghoul26

Falling Sarah by Ghoul26

With leaking eyes Sarah ran through the snow, the distant voices of her so called friends begging her to come back. Showing up at this party was a mistake. As she rushed through the dark trees, all she could think about was how Madison had embarrassed her in front of Robbie. Her tears turned to shock when she felt a sudden sting in the side of her ankle, followed by the complete weightlessness of an infinite fall.

Sarah awoke to daylight, already on her feet. She had never felt more alone. Her moment of misery however, was interrupted by the playful shouts of children. Sarah turned her head and slowly made her way towards the sound, dragging her twisted ankle. As the children came into view, she could see them play among the autumn leaves. The boy looked at Sarah, before he waved at his sister to follow him, running back to their father. Sarah limped closer, hoping to ask for help. The man raised his head and Sarah’s jaw dropped.

“Robbie…” She called out, as she felt herself falling again.

When she woke up, she scanned a pitch dark forest.

“Where did he go? Where is Robbie?” She muttered.

Further down the path she could see a flashlight. She hurried her way towards it, screaming Robbie’s name. The flashlight turned towards her, blinding her.

A familiar voice shouted. “Oh my god, Sarah!”

A sudden anger washed over her. She couldn’t quite explain it. Her hands instinctively reached out towards Madison’s throat and she wrestled her friend to the ground. This was all her fault, she had to pay. The woman gasped for air, but managed to swing her flashlight against the side of her attacker’s head.

Sarah fell once more.

Opening her eyes she found herself encircled by candles. Behind every one of them stood one of her friends. She looked at Robbie and rivers ran down her cheeks. He’d gotten so old now. The man took a deep breath and stepped forward, grabbing her hands.

With a soft voice he told her. “You can move on now.”

Jonas
Guest
Jonas

The Army and the Fort, by Jonas

I’m the fort. They’re the army.

They hurl great boulders against my walls. Stone scrapes against stone. I sally in response, howling and swinging my spear. The onslaught ceases as the attackers fall back, before returning as one. They hit harder – the fortress is about to fall. The rock cracks, then crumbles. Blood is mixed with tears now.

I flee in the direction of the trees, the beat of marching feet rattling my chest. I run past streams and stumble across a ravine. I trample the brush and trip over gnarled roots, never stopping.

Push deeper into the forest. Deeper into the murky green.

The world falls silent, but my breaths remind me that I’m still here. Nothing else reaches through—

“Darling, why do you cry?”

What? My watery gaze flits between gaps in the leaves.

“Did you hurt yourself?”

Nothing. Where is that coming from?

“Ah. Playing again. But you went and ruined it for everyone. Again.”

Is it behind me?

“Don’t be such a spoil, darling. Who’s gonna play the fort, if not you?”

Stroking my shoulder?

“You’re a good boy, at the end of the day. And you play the part so well.”

Fingers in my hair.

“You can’t stay here forever. It’s dark and cold and so, so quiet. It’s time to be with them. Time to be together.”

It’s crawled inside my head now.

I turn and retrace my steps. As their voices begin to cut through the silence,

I feel a smile play across my lips.

They’re the army. I’m the fort.

Rebecca Lomax
Guest
Rebecca Lomax

“Be Bold” by Rebecca Lomax

“The Forest changes you,” they say in hushed voices.

“Tosh!” your Grandmother says dismissively. She entered The Forest once as a child and came back three days later, unharmed. “The Forest doesn’t change you. It reveals what you already are.”

She’s the one you go to when Mr. Fox asks for your hand in marriage. You are pretty sure he comes from The Forest. He is handsome, rich and charming; like the prince from a fairy tale. But there is something dangerous in his eyes and smile that you do not entirely trust.

“If you don’t want to say no don’t say yes yet, either,” Grandmother says. “Next time he visits, secretly follow him home and see who he really is.”

The next day, you follow him until he enters The Forest. Then you visit your Grandmother for more advice.

“If you want to follow him through The Forest, it will be risky,” she warns you but she sees the determination in your eyes. Wistfully she says, “If you are good, clever and lucky, The Forest can be the making of you, my girl.”

Then in a more business-like voice, she tells you, “There are rules that might help. Take food and drink with you and share it with anyone who is hungry or thirsty. Stick to the path. Be kind to everyone you meet, including animals. Never refuse to help someone. If an animal can talk, always spare its life no matter how hungry you get. Remember that a person’s looks do not affect their personality and some wolves are hairy on the inside.”

You thank her. She smiles, gets up from her rocking chair and kisses your forehead, “Be bold, be bold… but not too bold.”

The next day, you stand at the edge of The Forest. Your bag is packed and your head is high as you take the first step onto The Forest path Mr. Fox had taken.

“The Forest doesn’t change you,” you whisper to yourself. “It reveals what you already are.”

You take another step.

Network_Overseer
Guest
Network_Overseer

Did you know? -Billy

Did you know that the forest is haunted? I swear, it’s true. Only the Desperate go there, but none of them come back.
Did you know you can hear the screams of the Beasts? They hunt only in the deepest parts of the forest here, too afraid of the lights and noise they wait for the Desperate to come.
See, the forest is haunted, and it is full of lost ideas and shattered dreams. The moss grows on abandoned hopes and deadly flowers sprout from decaying love. That’s how it always has been.
In the darkest corners of the forest lies the Deep Tree. Its bark glowing dull as the foliage blots out all light from the suns, and on it grows the Deepfruit. The ultimate goal of all the Desperate.
Did you know the Deepfruit tastes bitter? Not so bitter as to make you stop, but bitter enough to mask the first pangs of pain as its seeds latch inside of you. If you’re quick enough you can kill yourself before it progresses farther, but will you have the courage?
The forest is haunted by all the failures of humanity, which is why the Desperate are drawn to it. They crave to overcome not only their failures but those of their predecessors.
But you know all of this already don’t you? You ran from the beasts and rationed your meals, eventually tasting the fruit.
Did you know the Beasts welcome you with open arms?

E. M. Mitra
Guest
E. M. Mitra

“What Lies Ahead?”
By: E.M. Mitra
The seemingly eternal path that lies ahead is filled with unknown and uncertainty.

It is a ritual for us — in our little village — that when we’ve reached a certain age, we’d have to traverse the mysterious yet alluring road that leads deeper in the forest. When asked why they’d just answer us with a short, “Because it is a requirement.” They never told us nor spared even the tiniest detail on whatever is ahead into the woods. Instead, they rather let us walk blindly, and be surprised by whatever we will see.

“The forest will change you.” The other elders I’ve asked said.

“Did it change you?” I’d asked again but would get no more reply.

Since I was a kid, I’ve always wondered what’s it like under those trees, atop that road. I’ve tried once sneaking but the elders had forbidden me and had said that I am not ready yet. Now that they deem I am, the curiosity I bore’s no longer alone and is now entangled with a sense of fear… of uncertainty and unknown.

We were gathered at dawn, There were three of us. They told us to wait at the entrance of the forest, and I’m glad they did. I got to bond and talk with someone that shares the question — What lies ahead? We speculated and conversed until we heard the elders announce to us that it is time. We swallowed our empty mouth and with a short step… and then with another, and with another, we get closer to the blockade.

As soon as we entered the first line of trees, I could no longer see my two peers. They had just magically disappeared, yet their voices were audible. I looked behind and the elders also disappeared. I felt alone, despite being able to hear them. Panic arose inside us, especially when it came… it struck me like lightning, passed through me in a flash. I bled light, and then dark took place. It was a moment of clarity…
The forest will definitely change us… change me…

Matthew B
Guest
Matthew B

“A Night in The Woods” – Matthew Beeson
I’ll never forget it, that night in the woods. I’d just invited a friend over and we were planning on exploring that hiking trail we’d always talked about. I quickly found out there was a reason no one talked about it. At first, it was just small things, leaves moving with no wind, a soft whistle from down the tracks. Nothing we couldn’t write off as a bird.

We’d been walking for about 30 minutes, the monotonous surroundings of the trees had me falling asleep and keeling over into the sandy path. Spindly, frail trees soared 10’s of meters high. The bark had turned to ash. it seemed like the lightest wind would skin the trees right there and then. Only, there was no wind, nor any wildlife. The area seemed devoid of anything other than me and my friend. Though these were observations I can only make in hindsight. After another 10 or so minutes of walking, I had finally tired of the trip. I asked my friend “Hey, should we head back?”

There was no answer. It’s like he vanished out of thin air. I was certain he was playing some kind of prank on me, so I yelled “Well! If you’re out there, I’m be headed home!”
Though this time I was not deprived of a response.

“Goodbye.” A voice spoke behind me. It was a sickly sinister tone, the kind that would send shivers down the spine of even the bravest men. I spun around, searching for the voice. My eyes were fixated on what was in front of me. That’s when I noticed. Two trees that had been there prior to me turning around we no longer there. They had been legs, not trees.

The creature appeared to have spared me that day. I was able to return home. Though ever since he has been standing at the edge of my back garden. Slowly moving closer each day. I’ll never forget that night in the woods, and neither should you. My friend always told me the forest changes you, but I never thought like this.

Andrew Paul Wiener
Guest
Andrew Paul Wiener

“Young Love”, by Drew P. Wiener

Her hair was a gold that made the sun look pale. Her eyes were a blue so deep they made the sky seem a shallow puddle after Summer rain. Her smile was so warm it made hearth fire feel like a cool breeze. She could have anyone she desired, all the boys of the village wanted her. Even the merchant’s son, that brutish spoiled beast, was reduced to a gibbering babe around her. Still she chose me. On a blooming Spring day she came a-calling, I answered.

Our days were warm. The world seemed brighter, aglow with a light never noticed before. We strolled down our village streets, onto the path through the old wood surrounding. We spoke of our dreams and follies, weaving them together into a patchwork all our own, a nonsense tapestry. A fine foundation for the future.

As green Spring grew to golden Summer we spent days laughing in meadows of wildflowers, sitting with bare feet in the cool brook, listening with open hearts to the forest-song all about us. But as Summer wore on I had less and less time for her. All hands were needed in the fields. She would still wander through the woods to smile at bluebirds and sniff the flowers perfume, though I worried about her going alone. There were still beasts about.

One dog-day, making my way back from the fields, dirty and tired, I spied my love racing into the woods, chasing a hulking shadow that faded into the trees. All fatigue leapt from my bones, my tools hit the ground with a dull thud. I charged headlong towards the tree line, and my heart sank when I did not see her on the path. I called her name but was met only with a chill wind, early and ominous. I tore through the bramble and branches with mad frenzy, only her in mind.

What I saw in that field tainted the whole world red. She lay beneath the beast, eyes fixed on his with a look she had never shown to me.

I left there a changed man.

C.J
Guest
C.J

“For the Lonely” by C.J.

The forest will change you.

For those who cling to the human world and the normality they’ve fabricated, they will become lost and alone, perhaps even hopeless. Desperate for the comfort that fellow humans bring, they will return to the un-dappled light without fail.

For the ones rejected by humanity and burned by its true nature, the forest offers another way. In the bosom of fae and folklore, far from humanity’s prying yet cowardly eyes, they find their freedom.

What is that freedom? That answer is reserved for the lonely.

Do you know it?

Cain (DarkBlur2005)
Guest
Cain (DarkBlur2005)

~~~Forest of Shadows, by Cain (DarkBlur2005)~~

Blackened stains traveled across the walls around him, as the shadows roamed the Library he managed.

When Frank started working at the library, titled “The Forest of Books” upon its opening, he was simply an assistant, working there as a part time job to get money whilst he was studying at his school.

But after working at the Library for a while, the teenager felt attached to the place. The building itself was old, and there was an air of mystery surrounding the old location that just drew Frank in.

So, after leaving high school, he applied for a full time job at the library, and the old librarian, always tired and stressed, accepted.

Frank worked hard, and was appreciated by his superior. After many years, however, Frank noticed something odd.

The library always closed before dark, and the Librarian always stayed behind, seemingly all night, which Frank saw after realising how early the Librarian was at the library. Almost as if he never left the building.

Not long after Frank noticed this, he also saw that the Librarian was less tired and stressed, and appeared in a state of euphoria. Like all his worries washed away overnight.

Frank didn’t know what had happened, and wouldn’t for a long time, as the librarian died in his sleep a few days later. Officially, he died of natural causes, but Frank always felt something was off about it.

He was right.

Years passed, and Frank became the new Librarian. He immediately noticed what stressed out his predecessor before his passing.

The Shadows, when the day reached night, writhed along the walls, alive and frightening to the new librarian. He became obsessed, barely sleeping as he tried to research what these incomprehensible forms could be.

He researched plenty into his old age, until he realised that the true nature of these creatures was impossible to be known by a human brain. After that, he simply sat in the shadows, appreciating the company the shadows gave him at night.

Until he too, died as the librarian did before him. Died in his Forest of Shadows.

Strange
Guest
Strange

“Somewhere Through the Trees” by Strange

When I was young, father and I often walked in the woods together. In those days, we lived in a house with a path to the forest in the backyard. It seemed we would wander through those woods every day. Also In those days, we lived in constant pain due to family problems (nothing physical, thankfully).
One afternoon, we decided to go for a short walk, because it was getting dark already. As we quickened our pace to head home, I noticed something through the trees.
It was a quick flicker of light, like someone extinguishing a flame just as it was lit. I took one step in the direction of the flicker and then a man appeared in front of me. The man and I were the same height and he seemed a bit hesitant to talk. We stared at each other for a moment until I finally asked, “Who are you?”
“Can’t tell you that,” he began, “but what I can tell you is that you don’t want to go this way.”
“Why?” I asked the strange man.
“Because, this way is for kids who give up. You don’t look like that kind of kid” replied the man.
“What do you mean give up?” I probed further.
“You’ll find out when your older” he said dismissively. “Look kid, whatever is happening at home must be pretty bad if you saw a wisp, but it gets better. Everything changes and you’ve got to keep hope that it’ll be for the better, alright?” he said attempting to inspire me. I nodded. He smirked a bit and said “Great, and next time you see the wisp I’m not going to stop you, so be careful and stay hopeful!”
When I blinked, he was gone.
Looking around, I saw Father looking at me back and ask “Something wrong?”
After pausing to think, I shook my head and caught up with him and went home.
I kept that encounter in mind as I grew and because of it life got better.

R J Chapman
Guest
R J Chapman

“Chrysalis” by R J Chapman

He knelt in the undergrowth, waiting for the latest bout of nausea to pass. Slowing his breathing, he tried to ignore the rising convulsions shuddering through his abdomen. His attempts were in vain.

Later, he woke amongst the ferns and moss, for a moment feeling almost comfortable. The sun peered through the sentinels of beech and oak, resurrecting the dead forest floor with memories of life. From a nearby plant a chrysalis swayed delicately, dancing in the breeze.

The compression in his skull quickly shattered that serenity. With both hands he desperately clawed at his head, as if he could pry it open in an attempt to release the pressure. Upon lowering his hands, he discovered each contained a fistful of hair, and he began to whimper. Cleansing tears refused to come, his body denying him any to waste on self-pity.

Lacking neither the strength nor the resolve to get up, he consigned his body to the forest and cursed the Earth. His body would rot, nothing more than yet another effigy in this mausoleum of a world. He barely felt the prick of the needle as it pierced the first vein he could find.

As he waited for the morphine to take effect, he stared once more at the chrysalis and an overwhelming urge to crush it surged through him. He reached for it…

The streaming beams of light suddenly glowed brighter through the canopy. Shielding his eyes, he squinted at swarms of sparks glittering in the sunlight to the rhythm of a mystery melody. Then he began to hear it. The song swooped and chirped and bounced from to tree to tree in a chorus of defiance. The chrysalis opened; a perfectly formed butterfly emerged, stretching its black and orange wings for the first time. It seemed to look at him just for a moment, almost in recognition, before fluttering in and out of the sunbeams until eventually it drifted out of sight altogether.

Smiling, his heavy eyes began to succumb to his exhaustion. Ghosts of play and laughter echoed through the forest as he peacefully slipped away.

Mindy Garza
Guest
Mindy Garza

“Peace of Mind” By Mindy Garza

A brilliant pink orange pulled the clouds towards the horizon. Leaves crackled under her stomping boots as she contemplated whether she had enough time for a quick walk among the trees before heading to work. She needed a break from the stress if only for a few minutes. With a sigh of frustration she stomped out her cigarette before she could change her mind. The atmosphere was peaceful and deceptive.

No weight on her shoulders for once, but it was getting colder. She should’ve turned around. Her sweater got caught in a mangled branch. How trivial. This was no issue, she had another at home. She shrugged it off without another thought.

Her head was lighter now too. She spun around and walked a few more feet only to trip on some roots, falling face first into the dirt. Not feeling any aches or scratches she turned over gently. That’s when she noticed a snake near her knee. She loves snakes. She knew better than to panic. She eased off her boots and slinked away without so much as a backwards glance.

There were still some candy colors swirling around and a lovely breeze urged her to pull her gloves off. It flowed through her fingers without resistance. She tried to grasp it as she floated away.

Her mind and body couldn’t process when she left the forest a day later. An immediate weight threatened to cave in her chest. Gravity tore at her bare skin slamming her to the rough ground. Her breath became brittle and her bones screamed. Mind once blank became all at once too loud and violent as fire engulfed the clouds. Pink melted away from her irises. She clawed at the leaves and dragged herself back- feral and desperate to be reclaimed by the forest.

Riley Tippin
Guest

The Yellow Wood Whose Path is but One

“And to the forest edge you came one day…and looked and pondered long, but did not enter, though the wish was strong.”
–Robert Frost

I had entered into the woods and found myself turned around. Where I had come from was loud and busy; shrieking, the way back was, and yet I found myself drawn inward still. In neglect, I had suffered much from the darkened soul within my chest, the one that didn’t beat anymore though I was not dead.

Onto the boughs on either side of me my hands rested, gripping the feigning leaves that withdrew from my hot touch. And leaning against the black sap that leaked from the top of the trees, where, like a jungle canopy, the cold and ominous pines swayed violently, I thought of the pristine image printed onto my cortex with vibrant color.

These trees bled for us, but now that my body had submerged into their watery depths, my skin and my bones; the organs that began to fade in their life, were being sucked away from the edge where I could see you standing, looking in for any sign that I might still be there. The deafening roar of the creaking trunks droned you out and so I could not hear what it was you said—your voice traveled the opposite direction of me. Sadly, you could not hear me either.

And then you left, and I turned my head to see what horrors I had gotten myself in. But I was not shocked, surprised, or horrified at what I beheld, for there was luminescence like Spring when Spring is meant to arrive. Truly, all I could see was snow and not a single track left from animals harvesting what little could be found, but Springtime in its essence was about me, and the trunks, the boughs, and everything that I saw upon turning my head, was enough to tell me that vicissitude is only so until it isn’t.

D.W. Fitzgerald
Guest
D.W. Fitzgerald

“The New Way” by D.W. Fitzgerald

It had been some months since Brag’o the Horned God spoke to the Skinchanger in a whisper, directing her and her small coven deep into the Godspine at the edge of the world. Long enough now that the Old Way was forgotten and replaced with a New Way– the Way of the Godspine.

Wild braying ripped through the night air, intermittently punctuated by booming drums and stomach-turning wet squelches. It was to be expected, The Godspine was well known to harbor marauding tribes of vicious beastkin. All the better, the Skinchanger thought to herself, they had divested all the spoils of their prior hunts trading with the warlords of Volargrad, and their repaired and upgraded arms thirsted for the blood of new, worthy prey. Kurgo motioned silently to her pack, fire in her eyes at the prospect of the hunt to come. She turned and climbed into the rocky, wooded cliffs surrounding the hunting party, melding into the shadows in the crags: the paradigm of perfect predation.

The Skinchanger let out a guttural syllable, cracking her barbed whip into the air. Kertu, as faithful and tame as a Godspine Prowler could be considered, let out a low grumble and bowed, the bulging muscle of the beast’s broad shoulders corded and rippling under its heavily scarred skin. Leaping up the cliffside, Kertu assumed its position with murderous grace and waited, a silent sentinel barely visible against the blackened, twisted sky.

More maddening than the incessant braying was the foul smell, a lingering miasma of sweat and animal manure that heralded the arrival of the Beastkin. Lightning fast, Kertu bounded from its perch, spotting its target. The dim-witted goatman barely had time to grab its crude hunting horn before its throat was torn asunder. Just as fast as it appeared, Kertu disappeared back up the cliffside. In the sudden chaos that erupted, the predators moved as one from their hiding spots and began taking their prey.

Holding a haunch of bloodied beastkin flesh aloft, the Skinchanger shouted over the ceremonial chanting of her pack,

“Feast on the flesh! Hail the New Way!”

S. P.
Guest
S. P.

Hyacinth’s Hyacinths
by S. Pardue

Mr. Morrow hadn’t left his house in days. He barely left his living room, excluding trips to the kitchen and restroom. But never their bedroom. The thought of it without her was too much.

Instead, he slept on his couch during the night, and by day, he’d still be squatting there in silence, unmoving. The front garden was left unattended, drying and dying, and the house unclean.

He barely answered his cellphone. The funeral planners, family, loved ones. It always rang. Too much.

On his fifth day of silent grieving, after preparing himself a soggy luncheon, Mr. Morrow heard a tapping, then scurrying of someone outside his front door. The disheveled man opened it to see a delivery person had come and left a sack of what seemed to be 50 flower bulbs. On it was a purple note, “I’m so sorry. We’re all grieving. Hoping this can help. Your loving sister-in-law, Lily.”

Mr. Morrow was puzzled but sincerely delighted by the gift. After all, he desperately needed a distraction. Once he’d read the instructions, he filled a glass jar with water, placed a single bulb on top, and he waited for something to happen. Nothing did.

The weeks passed onward. The funeral had come and gone, and the brown seed hadn’t flowered.

Perhaps he wasn’t cut out for raising plants.

But then on one bright Sunday morning, Mr. Morrow found himself alone in his kitchen, and he saw tiny blue blossoms emerge from the bulb. And he felt tears trickling down his pores.

The next day, he went out to buy soil, shovels, and lots of pots for the remaining 49.

Once he was out of them, he bought 50 more. Then, another 50.

He didn’t keep them all. On occasion, he’d gift them out to others as a reminder of the light that life has to offer. The rest he planted day by day in his front garden until they bloomed a beautiful orchard, Hyacinth’s Hyacinths, in memory of a woman taken too early.

And soon, Mr. Morrow found the courage to sleep in his bed again, with his first floret resting on the window sill.

Michael Cain
Guest
Michael Cain

“Piece by Piece“
By Michael Cain

My lungs burn. I’d been trying to claw my way clear of this endless forest for hours. First I ran, then I puked on the bramble choked ground, and now I stumble and fall into tree after tree, bleeding more and more with each misstep.

I scream for help, but soon my voice gives out. I know I’m stronger than this. I know I should be hiking these woods easily. But something is pulling the strength right out of me. I look down at my bloodied arm and my skin is dark and rough… it… it’s turning to bark.

I panic, changing coarse, heedlessly pushing forward too fast. It’s all a bad dream, right? I fall hard, crying for help that never comes, and end up crawling toward a patch of cold sunlight anchored to the forest floor.

Once there I lay in the light and breath deep. My mouth will not open. My hands will not close. With every drop of strength I have, I push myself to stand. Dizzy, I breath easier as I gain my full height. But my feet are not feet, my arms are no longer arms, and the stillness that envelops me extinguishes my panic, smothers my fear.

I stand sentinel in the sunlight, rooted to the spot, my arms stretched to the heavens, my mind cool and calm and bright. I am one, but I am also many, my new kin shiver around me as they know they have a new piece in the whole. Piece by piece we are whole. Piece by piece we are one.

Jen Armitage
Guest
Jen Armitage

“Sackman” by Spewnybard

I was afraid of Christmas. While other children spoke gleefully about Santa bringing them presents while they slept, I knew the truth about that fat man all wrapped up in red. Your parents leave you gifts, I would always try to tell them, then they bar the door and lock the windows– so the Bubak won’t get in. He lives deeps in the shadowy woods, waiting until the snow lies deep upon the town, and uses it to sneak across the roads and empty grounds. My brother told me, he used to be a normal man, until the trees took his pieces and then made him find them again. He doesn’t quite look like one of us anymore, just sacks and dark and fear. But, you’ll know when he’s coming, when the wail of a baby’s crying draws near. I’m not afraid of the Sackman though. What? You say you are? When the snow covers the roads and pines, just stay inside instead.

Jazper
Guest
Jazper

The Forest
Everything is silent, i never liked the silence, but at this point it doesn’t mater. It said that as long as you walk in one direction you can not get lost in the woods, I have proven this time and time again, you’ll go back and nothing will change. Still I come here time and time again, one day I’ll get lost for good, If I don’t have to go back I’ll learn to love the silence, she will be the only friend I didn’t left behind. My feet can’t hold me any longer, I drop to the cold ground, such a familiar feeling, a chilling embrace, the end of my journey is near. But I squint as the blinding white light burns, I have been found again. as Im guided back to civilization I still feel the cold clasp of the dirt, the forest changes you all right and soon I’ll be back for my next journey.

Joseph myles
Guest

‘Missing’ by aerondight
There’s a forest at the north of town, it’s deep dark place, such a place you only hear of in fairy tales, one not even the greatest hunters dare venture into. It’s said the dense leaves of the trees rendered everythin a a sour murk. It’s said that no creature enters the forest, it is said that not even a birdsong can be heard in it’s foul guts. Much is said about the forest though nobody truly knows what’s within, those dumb enough or brave enough to enter soon realize their mistake, painfully.

And this is the place I now find myself in. I don’t know how I ended up here, it was sudden, I was walking home from the my work in the north of town when I heard it, a scream, unlike any I heard, it sounded like a small child’s but twisted, as if the trees of the forest bent the sound into something as unsettling as they are. I had to enter, what was I meant to do? It was the only option. I shouldn’t have went it, I realize now, I should of left the screams to themselves.

I followed the screams, but they always seemed distance, then I realized, it was luring me in. Deep into its wretched core. though it was evening nothing could be seen within, moss covered everything like a blanket of filth, The only sound, thecrumple of it beneath my boot. I tried retracing my steps but it all looked the same, as if the same rocks trees and roots repeated themselves.

I stumbled around for what felt like days in the dark. Listening for any sound other then the moss, that’s when I found it. A a massive tree in the middle, a tree that looked more like a scab on the earth then anything else. It seemed ancient as if it was a remnant of something from before time, I placed my hands upon the the tree to hear a heart beat, it was the beating heart of the forest, the forest was alive.

Gage Jarman
Guest
Gage Jarman

Roots
By Gage Jarman

She stands in a valley of ancient snags. She reaches out and feels warmth radiating from its weathered wood. She spots a tree still alive with a deep scar from lightning capping it and knows it is hers. Roots burrow into her psyche like they were splitting stone. Fungus infested, they emit black spores. (He is kind. He has a temper but always makes it up.) Rot perforates ligneous tendrils. (It was my fault. I should’ve known by now.) Roots grow weak as holes riddle their structure. (Things go flying by me. An empty bottle hits my head.) A breeze, barely even noticeable, topples the large pine. (I wake up in his bed, naked, hair matted with sweat and blood, and weep on the cold sheets.) She crumples, falling to her knees. Disgust pangs within her.
A magpie perching on a snag hops down and cocks its head at her slumped over and swollen eyed. “Go away!” she screams. She swings an arm out, but loses balance and falls over. The magpie hops onto her chest, looking her in the eyes softly whirring. It lays down, wings outstretched. It embraces her. She feels its subtle weight, its warmth, its rapidly beating heart. A voice resonates in her mind. “You remind me so much of myself.” his voice is deep and calm. “I know you’re in pain, and I couldn’t protect you, and I’m so so so sorry, but you need to heal. I can’t stand seeing you beat yourself up like this.”
“You say that like I can just forget it all.” Her words stumble over themselves in her throat.
“Right now you’re stuck in a swamp. How you gonna grow when you’re dwelling on all that poison. I wish could give you more than words.”
“I miss you…” Water fills her eyes.
“I know baby girl, but I have to go now. Be strong. You’ll find your spark again. I know you will.”

She wakes up in her bed, wipes her eyes on her pajama sleeve, and props up the picture frame that had been face down.

S. D. Field
Guest
S. D. Field

“The Puscha” by Simon D. Field

Heinz was now alone, and the humidity and silence and suffocating terror of never coming out of the forest came crashing down on his shoulders with all the weight of Jesus’s cross. He’d entered these woods with a Russian auxiliary and Tede in pursuit of the bandits. The Russian vanished one night, and Tede still was somewhere behind, crushed and pinned by a collapsed arch of ancient trees, unburied, left to rot. The owl whose hoots haunted his little troop still followed him, and he kept recalling and desperately dismissing Tede’s last words of doom and repentance and inability to reach the sanctuary. When he made his way through thorny shrubbery, a blackbird perched nearby and looked at him intently, appraisingly. He shooed it off, but the conscious intent in the beady eyes of a bird added more weight to the millstone of fear around his neck. He went on, because the alternative was even scarier to him.

The man had eventually lost track of time and no longer questioned why did he go forth. It was simple: he had to because he was doing it each day. It was a ritual, perhaps, and one worth observing. He was now free of terror and longing for company, although now he longed for food. He ate tree moss and chewed it when walking or resting, and it offered little nourishment. Once he contemplated giving up, but not anymore. Once he rejected that notion out of pride and hope of getting out, then to spite the forest, to show that he came to own this land, that he wouldn’t change, but not anymore. It was the ritual, and it was to be observed.

One day he finally heard something from the days long ago. A human voice.

“Come, Petya,” it said. “Daddy needs his lunch out in the field.”

He recalled a peculiar notion he once heard.

The weak are meat; the strong eat.

And he remembered he was of the superior breed, the strongest one.

He clutched the bayonet in his hand.

He inched closer to the clearing.

Then he pounced.

LumiKat117
Guest
LumiKat117

“Welcome Home” by Lumi

For his whole life, Sylvan had been told to never go into the forest.

“There are horrible monsters in there that would snack from your bones and your blood, leaving the rest of your carcass to rot.” His mother would say whenever he wandered towards the treeline beside their home in the village, following this faint yearning in his core.

At night, like a weaver, she spun tale after tale about the creatures and demons that she claimed to infest the trees themselves, waiting for unwary people to wander into their clutches like insects into a spiders web. She wanted to scare him into staying.

It only made him want to go more. Each tale striking that longing deeper.

One in particular struck the hardest, even after what seemed a million tellings, tugging relentlessly at his mind to seek it out.

The Heart of the Forest. It was supposed to be what it sounded, the physical embodiment of the forest.

The elders muttered to themselves when Sylvan finally asked for their knowledge of the Heart, but was only told that they believed it must be finally dying, and good riddance.

When asked why they thought it was, he was told that the trees seemed to be growing thinner and sickly when compared to their youth.

Something they rejoiced for.

Sylvan did not rejoice.

He knew that he couldn’t let the forest die. Why, he didn’t know. What he did know was that he needed to leave that night, he needed to find the Heart and restore it. Somehow.

That night before bed, he asked his mother to tell him the story about the Heart once more, wanting to get some kind of hint to help. She smiled and spun her tale one last time, kissing his brow and leaving him to sleep.

Once he was sure mother was asleep, he silently grabbed his pack and slipped out of the house, making his way to the trees. He paused at the threshold, remembering all his mother’s tales before taking a breath and stepping inside.

As he walked further in, he felt a sense of peace wash over him.

/Welcome Home./ (This should be italicized.)

Leo
Guest
Leo

“Blink” by Leo
Waking down the road lokking at my qhone I noticed that no-one was around me kids and adults alike.
I was a bit confused over it but dident think about it much until I got to the main road,no people,no cars no one in the middle of loking I saw a green light coming to me the loking around for an escape I blinked and found myself in a high way walking away froam what looked like a overgrown city I wanted to turn back and see but I felt an uneasy feling.
I looked at my hands they are old and bruised,I loked at my qhone it was out of battery even thought it was 80 percent so I turnde and continued walking not knowing where to go then i blinked again.I was in forest on top of a hill and beside me what looked like an older version of me,he looked tired enven more broswed still caryng my backpack.He looked at me and ponted at a direction and said”follow the road it will take you home”and then he vanished into dust just like that.
I again blinked but this time I was runing away from something. I looked back to see what was chasing me I only saw darkness folowing me and quickly
branches came out from the ground and trying to stop me catch me I kept runining until I got to what it looked like a giant ship I stepd in an shut the door.
I blinked again and again and again but nothing happened I hoped it was all a bad dream.As they were bashing the door I saw branches siping in I was about to exept my fate hering lowed voices from the other side but then I woke up in a cabben I opend the door I was in on a small hill i saw sunlight over the the clouds I felt compelled to follow the sun but as I got close I women came out of the ground came to me and asked my name I said “Leo” as finished saying my name I blacked out.
Then nothing but pure dark but then a small light came to me and showd my reflection a skull I thouched my fave I felt the holes then I understood It brought me back to the side of the forest and showed me a road so I took it back home.