~Chapter One~ ~Warm bread doesn't calm an angry Gwen
As I opened my tired eyes the smell of mother's bread filled my nose. I could almost taste the sweet, crunchy, warm bread in my mouth. I hadn't eaten since yesterday morning. I got in trouble again for staying out at night in the woods. My mother and sisters always told me horrible stories of the monsters that would come out and eat little girls. I was the youngest of all my sisters, so of course, they tried to scare me. However, I wasn't always the youngest. Just a few months ago my little sister, 8 at the time, Robin was killed. We don't know how or why... all we know is we found her body mangled and scratched out in the woods the next morning. I guess I did actually have a good reason to belive them.
I sat up out of bed and saw the rest of my sister's beds were empty. They were going to be the first to eat the delicous bread. I sighed as I opened the curtians. The warmth of the sunlight touched my face and I knew today was going to be a good day. As I changed out of my long, pale pink nightgown into my dress and boots, I could hear mother setting down plates on our wooden table, and soon after the sound of our old oven being opened. My 4 bigger sisters giggled and screamed as they ran over into the kitchen.
"Oh me first! I am the eldest!" I heard Ellie squeal.
"No, I want the first slice!" Gwen yelled.
"Give it to me mother! Hurry, hurry!" Talia was the third oldest, being 15.
"Shut up Talia! Mother, I deserve the first slice!" Talia's twin sister Willow screamed.
For the next few minutes my sisters argued on who got the first slice. This happened every Saturday, and I knew what would happen next. Mother would hush everyone and cut the first slice of bread.... then bite into it herself. Ellie, being 19 knew this would happen, yet she still persisted. Gwen knew about this as well, being 16, however the twins Talia and Willow never could get it through their brains. I was 13, the youngest now and even I knew mother would save the first piece of bread for herself. I heard the twins groan in frusteration as I walked down the creaky old steps of our house.
Our house was in the middle of the woods behind the village of Twain. The only times we went there was to by food and medicene. Most of the time the medicene was for grandmother though, for she lived deeper into the woods. Everytime mother would go there on the weekends, Ellie would watch the sisters and I untill she returned, but then soon after she would have to go buy medicene in the village. We loved our grandmother, and we knew she was getting older, but sometimes we needed the money for food for ourselves. We were barely getting by and mother's job paid nearly nothing.
I walked into the kitchen and sat down at the table, waiting for my slice of bread. Mother smiled at placed a warm, golden slice on my plate. I dove into it and savoured every bite. We all sat around the table, enjoying our breakfast in silence as we ate. Mother was the first to finish and she finally spoke.
"Well girls, I must go visit grandmother today. I should be back before the evening; if not, then at least before dark. Be good today, and don't let miss Opal outside." Mother winked at me when she said my name.
"I just wanted to see if any monsters came. I still don't belive the stories you tell me." My voice ached with tiredness.
"Is Robin getting killed not good enough for you?! Would you still not belive if we all died?!" Gwen snapped at me.
"Gwen... she didn't mean-" Ellie tried to speak for me but Gwen cut her off.
"When will you understand Opal?!" Gwen slammed her fist on the table, making all the plates jump.
"Gwen be quiet please. She does understand. She is still sad about Robin..." Mother had tears in her eyes and Gwen left the room.
It was true. I was still sad about Robin's death. I was always the one to play with her, or help her make something or pick flowers for mother with her. Now that she was gone, my sisters considered me as a real teenager, and expected me to just continue my life. Gwen was always the one with the "anger" issues. She got so worked up about things and sometimes it took her a few days to realize she overreacted. Once, I found her shooting a dead deer outside out house over and over again for no reason. Then, after the removed the arrows from the deer's bloody corpse, she would save the dirty arrows and just make new ones.
After Gwen had left, and supposively went up to our room, the rest of us finished our bread in silence. By then, they had gotten cool, and no longer had the conforting warmth. Afterwards, we placed our dishes in a pile and went about our chores. I had hte jobs of making all the beds and sweeping the floors. Then, I would fill up the bath with water and wash myself. Afterwards, I would go out and pick berries for lunch. Before Robin died though, I would normally wash her after I gave myself a bath... not anymore however.
~Chapter Two~ ~Evil Bunny~
My favorite chore of the day was picking berries. If I didn't get caught, I would usually sneak a few into my dress pocket and eat them. Behind our house, was a patch of black berry bushes and if I was lucky, I could watch birds and bunnies eating some on the ground. I always enjoyed the woods, despite my familie's warnings. Mother even told me once that when grandmother was a young girl like me, she got chased by a monster that wanted to eat her soul. I, of course, did not belive her.
I despised lies and tales because they never, ever, sounded true. I hated talking to Gwen, Talia and Willow. They were so annoying and always wanted to be right, or proven that they were the best. Talia and Willow fought constantly and Gwen was always looking to yell at someone, no matter what they did. Since I was the youngest, Talia and Willow would always want me to chose to be on someone's side in an agrument, and Gwen always screamed at me. Robin was the only one who I liked, besides Ellie, though she was the eldest.
Mother rarely spent time with us, mostly on week days, when she had to go to town for work. Then, on the weekends she had to go care for grandmother. My thoughts drifted away as I plucked each berry cleanly of the prickly stem, trying not to poke myself. All of a sudden the bushes rustled and I slowy turned my head. There, on the ground peering through the darkness of the thick berry bushes was a bunny rabbit. Something about it however, was slightly off... it was hard to explain. It seemed as if it was scared to come out of the dark, as if the bunny was stuck in the darkness.
I stood there staring at me and it sat staring back at me. A low growl seemed to escape the creature and I stepped back. What? Had a BUNNY just growl me? Impossible, right? No, I was sure of it when the bunny made the low sound again. It began to open it's mouth and I saw small, sharp teeth appear. I gasped in horror as the pupils of the creature's eyes thinned into a crescent moon shape. Another noise roughly came out of the bunnie's mouth and I started to walk away, back towards the house. I had no idea what had just happened but it startled me. How was I going to explain this to my sisters... or to mother?
I decided once I washed off the berries I wasn't going to tell anyone about what had just happened. I had a feeling Gwen was going to freak out and I really didn't want to deal with her. I couldn't imagine what mother would say either. I just hoped it wouldn't happen again... but I felt that I would begin to start seeing a lot more of those... what ever those were...
"I wonder when mother will get home today. I don't like it when grandmother keeps her after dark." Willow said to me as we sat on some buckets as we washed dirty clothes.
"Me neither. It worries me..." I replied.
"I'm suprised grandmother hasn't died yet. Not that I want her to, it's just it seems like she has been alive FOREVER!" Willow exlaimed as she splashed water out onto the ground.
"I know what you mean. It's wierd that mother doesn't talk about her unless she is saying she is going to her house. Have you ever met her?" The more I though about it, I realized I had never met grandmother...
"No. None of us have, not even Ellie and she is nearly 20 years! Only mother, and I think father did right before he left us." Willow's voice softened as she said the word father.
Father wasn't an easy subject to speak about. Ellie was the only one who actually grew up with him throughout her child hood. I had never seen him, and niether had Willow or Talia. Gwen had only lived with him untill a year before the twins were born. Ellie told me he left after he met grandmother. After that, mother never let any of us met her.
~Chapter Three~ ~Monster in the Night and Gwen in the Morning~
The clock ticked by and every second felt like an hour. I was sitting on my bed, awake, staring out the closed window. I hadn't pulled the drapes over yet, I wanted to see the stars before I went to bed. Mother had not come home yet, and all my sisters were in a deep sleep, probably dreaming of handsome men coming from the kingdom, giving them gifts and asking for their hand in marriage. Ellie once had a partner, but he died ill. Gwen had never had a partner, but she didn't want one. As for Willow and Talia, they were obsessed. I could never remember my dreams but I was sure that tonight they would be filled with Robin and that horrifiing rabbit from earlier that day. I wanted mother to come home, and even though I knew she would, I was still worried. I knew that in the morning I would wake up late again and come bounding tiredly down the stairs to see her cooking stew for my sisters and I.
Ever since Robin had died, and even though I didn't belive the unholy tales, I still feared that one night mother wouldn't come home and we would find her...dead. Deep in my thoughts I barely missed noticing a russel in the bushes down by the side of the house.
"Probably that strange bunny again..." I thought, but soon I saw a large dark shadow imerge from the bush. I gasped and backed away from the window, but still not taking my eyes from the creature. It began moving slowly, but soon got faster as it prowled around my house. I placed my pale hands over my mouth, trying to keep from squealing. What was going on? Was there a bandit in my yard... or was that a... a monster? The dark night sky kept me from observing it in depth, but I soon saw it was hunched over, making it's spinal cord visible through the creatures skin. It looked furry, yet rough at the same time. It had a long tale, like rat.
I wanted to look away, but my eyes could not pull away from the demon below me. My breathing slowed as I began to sweat. My heart pounded even harder when the creature began to turn around. I swore it was looking at me. Bright yellow eyes stared into my soul and long sharp teeth dripped saliva onto the round. It's long, yellowing, rotten claws dug into the soil and it's tail flicked back and forth. Panicing, I snapped back into my normal self and I jumped to the window, swinging the drapes, covering the window. I leaped into my bed and hid under my patched blanket. I couldn't wait until daylight. I couldn't wait until mother was back.
The woods...the monsters....mother, father and grandmother. My sisters...Robin. Everything was flying through my mind as if it was the night sky outside of a cave, swarmed by bats. I couldn't control myself. Who could help me? Could I even talk to my family about the monster from last night? I wanted everything to go back to how it was a few months ago. With mother, Robin, Ellie, Gwen, Talia and Willow. The family of us 7 girls. It was impossible. It would never, EVER, be the same again. Why did this have to happen?
I awoke in a cold sweat. Sunlight streamed throught the small crack inbetween the drapes. I remembered everything. I would never forget anything. I heard my mother, talking in a comfronting way and my sisters....crying? I threw my quilt off and dressed quickly from my nightgown into my red dress and boots. I ran down the stairs, but chesnut brown hair flying behind me like a cape. I leaped into the kitchen and saw a horrifiing sight. Gwen was laying down on the wooden floor with a scratches up and down her arms and legs. A large, bloody puddle was slowly forming around her, and I noticed the real wound. A gory gash had placed itself on Gwen's side and I saw mother applying a wet rag onto it. Ellie was weeping and Talia and Willow were screeching with sadness and fear. Mother was quietly whispering to Gwen now, telling her that everything would be alright. I stood awkwardly in the doorway, tears forming in my green eyes.
"Why?! What did this to Gwen?!" Talia yelped as Willow layed her face in her hands.
"We don't know Talia... but whatever it was... it was not human." Ellie said, cringing at the last bit of the sentance.
Mother slowly stood up, and saw me. I ran to her and hugged her, not caring anymore about last night, but only about Gwen. Mother patted my back as I cried and kissed my head. I pulled away and went to stand by Ellie. Mother turned and began to wash out the now bloody rag. For a moment, the thought in the back of my head slowly came forward... even the thought of the monster in the night doing this to Gwen was revolting and I quickly pushed it away. I couldn't bare to think that the tales were true, and that Gwen was going to die. We may have not always gotten along, however she was my sister, and I loved her for that.
~Chapter Four~ ~Journey through the Woods~
Ellie and I sat outside on a pair of buckets, discussing what we should do. Mother wouldn't be able to go take care of grandmother, for she had to care for Gwen. Willow and Talia were having an emotional breakdown and could barely breathe. That left Ellie and I to do most of mother's work. Ellie was talking about going into town, and buying some medicene for Gwen's wounds, and I would go with her. As a breeze flew by and pushed my hair into my face, I feel backwards and I heard Ellie yelp. I slowy lifted my head up and saw a monster, like the one from the night before, only it was taller, with wings and blood red eyes. It's mouth was open and it was staring at my sister.
The creature reached it's long, skinny arm out and grabbed Ellie with his sharp, never ending black fingernails. Blood oozed from the mouth as it pulled the struggling, sreaming Ellie closer to his face. "Why couldn't anyone in the house hear us?!" I wondered, pulling my body up and standing in front of the creature.
"OPAL! GO, RUN INTO THE HOUSE AND TELL MOTHER! SHE CAN KILL IT!" Ellie bellowed, swinging her fists at the monsters own. She tried kicking it, but failed as the monster stroked her face with a nail.
I replied with a nod and ran into the house, yelling at the top of my lungs that a monster was outside trying to kill us. Mother ran straight from the kitchen and out the front door. The monster held it's grasp on Ellie, though she still tried fighting. I could slowly see the life draining from her body, now growing limp. Then, suddenly I blacked out.
I couldn't see anything but darkness around me. Shadows and whispers filled my head and I felt rain splatting on my body. I couldn't open my eyes. What was happening? The whispers suddenly stopped and the shadows seemed to hide. A low, rumbling growl echoed in my ears, and I tried to get up. I needed to run... run as far as I could. I heard a small voice and all the noises and pressure around me stopped, besides the slight sliver of rain falling on leaves. I opened one eye, though it was blurry until I opened the other. I was... in the woods. Deep into the woods, the night sky engulfed around me. I was laying under a tree, with green moss covering large rocks surrounding me. I saw a brown mushroom under the tree next to me and I spotted a snail, slowly making its way under a pile of fall leaves.
I sat up, using a giant tree root to hoist me up. Cringing in pain, I placed a muddy, wet hand on my forehead. Pulling it down, my stomach churned as my eyes revealed it was dripping with blood. Tears streamed down my cheeks and mixed with droplets of rain, falling from branches and leaves above my head.My stomach growled and I grimaced. "How did I get here?" Wasn't mother just fighting that... that beast?" I asked myself, turning into a position that allowed me to get mild cover from the rain, under a tree root that had grown over another tree root, creating a small ark shape.
I tucked my knees up to my shivering body and wrapped my arms around them. I would have to spend a night in the goul filled forest, with monsters and demons searching for food to eat... in which in this case, would probably be me. I secrectly wished to myself that this would be a dream, and when I closed my eyelids and opened them again, I would wake up to find myself wrapped in a warm blanket in my house, and smelling mother's soup from downstairs. I knew in my gut that this wish, wouldn't come true... anytime soon...
~Chapter Five~ ~Pain~
Warmth from the sun's rays slapped my cheeks and the slight breeze ruffled my hair as I layed under the overgrown roots. I slowly sat up, dusting wet leaves off my dress that had stuck onto them from last night's rain storm. I began to realize though that this wasn't my dress, in fact, I was not only wearing a dress, but a bright red cape with a hood was tied around my neck. I rubbed my hands over the soft velvet material, slightly smiling for the comfort this had randomly given me. Suddenly the snap of twigs behind me shook me from my moment of happieness and I sunk into the root shelter, griping the red cape.
What ever had just walked up behind me had stopped, and I could hear it's breath, panting and gurgling slightly. My own breath slowed down and my heart sped up as it took a step forward towards the roots. The though crossed my mind that maybe I could escape. There was another large tree about 8 feet away from me and if I lept and crawled quickly, I might be able to make it into the bush of red berries... red berries? I had never seen them before and just as I began to think about them, my stomach made the worst possible timing to growl.
The steps of the mysterious, evil creature grew louder every second. I squeezed my eyes tight together and placed my hands over my heart, hoping the creature couldn't hear it, because I knew I could. Everything went silent. The birds stopped, the rustling in the trees from the wind stopped and the sun hid behind a clump of clouds in the sky. It seemed as if the whole earth had stopped and I was the only one able to move. A wolf howl broke the moment, and I saw my life flash before my eyes. The wolf monster jumped into view, over the roots and I screamed murder. I stayed in my spot though, trying to punch and kick the monster, yelling help the whole time.
Suddenly, the birds began to chirp and the sun came out. The wind rustled the leaves, bushes and my hair as the wolf monster dissapeared into a cloud of black smoke, leaving only one thing behind. A puddle of blood, seeping through the brown, crunched leaves on the forest floor. I felt everything turn back to normal as a small brown bird flew down on a log a few feet away from me, and sang a song. I wanted to hold the delicite, fragile little creature, who would never expirence what just happened to me, and I hoped it was grateful. I reached my hand out, however just as I did the bird flew away and a sharp pain pierced my hand. Slowly and steadily, an invisible knife sliced open my palm and pulled it back within a second.
"Why is this happening?"
"What is happening to me?!"
"Someone please help me!"
"Don't worry, your pain will stop soon..."
"You won't have to suffer for much longer..."