The Woods
By: Destiny Eve Pifer

It had been over twenty years since Harmony had stepped foot in the deep woods that hid on the other side of a dead-end street. The horrors of those woods still haunted her dreams and had led her down a dark and nightmarish past. It was in those woods that mother nature had turned against her and her friends. Now here she was desperate to know why. Growing up kids had journeyed into the deep woods as a rite of passage. To get there you had to bypass the nasty couple who lived on the other side. A family who kept their property protected by a pair of nasty Dobermans. Any intruder who was caught usually went running down the street with the Dobermans nipping at their heels. However, Harmony and her friends knew other ways to get to the woods. Once they made it into the darkness the trick was trying to find the small creek that ran through it and to find a way across. Old ruins of houses stood like a skeletal reminder of a long-forgotten past. No one dared to venture in for the houses would most likely collapse. However, that wasn't what made Harmony uneasy. It was the skeletal remains they found that looked to be wrapped up in vines. Harmony's friend Ethan encouraged them to keep on moving despite their discovery.

They came to a large hill with one single rope that dangled from a tree at the top. Her friend Stacy shoved past her and grabbed a hold of the rope. Stacy was always trying to one-up Harmony and what she wanted the most at that moment was to impress Ethan. Despite Harmony's protest Stacy grabbed the rope and began to climb but not even halfway up she cried out in pain. A vine had twisted its way around her one hand and was sticking out of her flesh. She let go and tumbled down the hill prompting Ethan to come to the rescue. Harmony pulled her younger brother Jake back and watched as Ethan pulled the vein out of Stacy's hand. He put pressure on the wound and then used his shirt to wrap around the wound. As they navigated their way back home Stacy complained about her hand. Harmony pulled the sock away and found the wound was quickly becoming infected. Strange dark lines had formed from the wound and spread to her entire hand.

As Stacy began to panic Ethan and Jake were desperately trying to find the way they came in. Finally, they made it out just in time for the Dobermans to spot them. The kids fled quickly down the street until they heard a gunshot ringing in the sky. An old man stood at the bottom of his driveway and watched them as his Dobermans came running back to them. He cursed at them, but Harmony was far too scared to even listen. She walked Stacy home and upon seeing her hand Stacy's parents rushed her to the hospital. That night she dreamt of Stacy. She was standing in the middle of the woods as vines were twisting their way up her body. Her eyes were black as coal and standing beside her was Ethan who had the same vacant and eerie look. Vines began twisting around his body as well and as they did he beckoned Harmony to come closer. The next day Harmony rushed over to Stacy's but was told that Stacy was quite ill. She asked to see her and upon entering her friend's darkened room she found her in quite a state that frightened her. Stacy's hand and entire harm were wrapped in gauze and her eyes were sunken with black circles underneath. The smell of vomit was so strong that it nearly knocked her off of her feet. She slowly walked past and noticed that the vomit was black. "I don't know what's wrong with me," Stacy said weakly. Harmony sat down across from her and studied her arm. "What's the doctor say?" she asked. "They don't know what caused it. They just know that it has developed an infection that is spreading up my arm," Stacy replied. Harmony froze in horror at the state of the infection. How could one harmless trip into the woods lead to this? "I'm scared," Stacy whispered. Harmony patted her friend on the shoulder and made her a promise that she would find out what happened that day. Right now, she needed to find Ethan. He had touched Stacy's wound and she had to make sure that he wasn't infected. She went to his house, but his mother said he had gone for a walk. Ethan never went for walks. He also rode his skateboards or his bike but never just wandered off.

Somehow in the back of her mind, she knew where he was. Entering those woods had been a dare but climbing that stupid hill had become an obsession that had left one of their friend's sick. She quietly made her way into the woods and towards the old ruins where they found the hill. Ethan was sitting on the ruins of the old house and was just staring ahead. "I have to climb that hill," he said in a low voice. "Forget about the stupid hill," said Harmony. "Stacy is seriously sick, and it's got something to do with those vines and whatever else is on that hill." However, as she spoke she noticed that Ethan wasn't even listening. His right hand was bandaged, and he was already rushing towards the hill. Harmony tried to run after him, but the twisted vines wrapped their way around her feet stopping her. Ethan grabbed a hold of the old rope and began to climb but as he did his feet began to sink into the earth. She screamed as the earth began to swallow him. Soon there was nothing left but one of his shoes. She broke free and ran towards the hill, but something whispered in her ear "Get out."

She ran out of the woods and to her house where her mother was already waiting for her. Stacy had passed away just ten minutes ago. Though she knew it was a crazy story to tell, Harmony had no choice but to reveal what happened to her mother. Always one with a special intuition her mother sensed that there was something evil in those woods. Whatever it was Harmony and her friends had awakened it. They had ventured somewhere they shouldn't have gone. Now here she was covered in dirt and terrified. Two of her friends were dead and her brother was so terrified that he refused to leave his room. Her mother agreed to help her find out what was hiding in those woods. What they learned from the town historian was that a family had settled there a hundred years ago and not long after moving in they began to experience strange phenomena in the woods around them. It was in those woods that the father and mother both perished. Their bodies were found wrapped in vines.

Only the oldest daughter managed to grab her infant brother and fled out of the woods never to return. Those who came to investigate perished not long after. That was why the nearby neighbors had put up no trespassing signs. The townspeople believe the town to be cursed and would not allow anyone else to fall prey to it. But here they were now dealing with two mysterious deaths. It was as though mother nature was lashing out at them for invading her space. They had burnt down woods and torn down trees. They had left dead trees to sink into the ground around them. Perhaps she had enough of the destruction and was now destroying anyone who dared to harm any more of her land. The local authorities were afraid to enter the woods. They declared Ethan a runaway who would never be found. Stacy's death was ruled as a bad infection to whatever she had come in contact with. Now as Harmony stood outside she could see her neighbors in mourning and at that moment she vowed to one day stop whatever darkness lived in those woods. No matter how far away she ran she couldn't escape the past. It followed her all through school and even to the big city. It lingered in the back of her mind every so often creeping into her dreams. No, she couldn't escape the woods any more than she could escape the odd climate changes that were affecting the world around her. Perhaps what happened in the woods during her youth was just the beginning of something bigger. Maybe it was the end or perhaps the beginning of a fight.

One thing was for sure she knew she had to go back and face it. Even if it meant losing her own life in the process. She had to get revenge for Ethan and Stacy. Now years later she crossed through the grown-up brush and across the fallen branches. She made her way towards the old ruins that still looked the same as they did long ago. With her, she carried a gas can and some matches. As she began to sprinkle the gasoline over the vines that were weaved around the ruins she could hear a small rumble coming from beneath the ground. She couldn't shake the horrible feeling in the pit of her gut that there was something bigger going on. It wasn't just the vines or the ground below. It was the woods themselves. She continued to pour gasoline upon the very spot where Ethan had been sucked down. Then she lit the fire and watched as the earth around her began to burn. But as it did she heard the rumble grow louder. The woods were angry, and they were not going down without a fight. She began to run as the dark smoke seemed to chase her.

Suddenly beneath her feet, she felt the ground begin to sink. She was sinking into a pit of putrid-smelling mud. She tried to move but couldn't. She was stuck in what felt like quicksand. A horrible fate that would grow even more terrifying as the black smoke began to choke her. All around her the woods let out a loud screeching noise. Almost inhuman. Could they really be alive? And if so why take out their vengeance on humans? She loosened her bootstraps and then grabbed a hold of a nearby log. There was no point in screaming for she knew no one would rescue her. No one knew she was here and though she had come prepared to die the reality was that she wasn't ready. She managed to free herself and crawled on her belly out of the muddy pit. Barefoot and terrified she began to run through the woods. Dodging vines and branches that were determined to pull her into the darkness.

In a distance, she could hear the fire engines and she knew that she had to make it back home without being seen. Though many knew the secret of the woods there were still those who doubted it. When finally, she made it to the clearing bruised and exhausted she hid beneath a neighbor's shed and watched as the fireman attempted to put out the fire. Much to her dismay, they kept it from spreading and all that remained was a burnt down section of woods and the old remains of a house that still remained a mystery to her. When everyone cleared out she silently walked home and cleaned herself up. However, the nightmare of that day would forever weigh on her mind. The woods would always be a reminder that the earth wasn't always kind to those who sought shelter or even a pair of children who wandered through. No, she was vengeful and cruel. Wicked and cold the marks she left on Harmony would never heal and the scars she left on her already fragile mind would only worsen in time. The woods would still remain even when the borough knocked down the trees and left them rotting on the ground. The darkness would still remain for anyone who dared to stay long in its graveyard. Yes, it would always remain, and it would wait silently and patiently for a new life to take.


Rate Destiny Eve Pifer's The Woods

Let The Contributor Know What You Think!

HTML Comment Box is loading comments...