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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic
This is the first of three stories based on creatures I came across in 'The Emerald Atlas' by John Stephens. Hope you enjoy it!

Submitted: August 18, 2016

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Submitted: August 18, 2016





You’ll give it one more try before you give up and set off on foot. You have a long way to go through those country lanes before you’ll even be able to try to find some help. Bad enough that you forgot your mobile – you never forget your mobile. To have the car break down on the same night seems like just too much bad luck.


You settle yourself in the seat. Press all the pedals a couple of times before trying the ignition; twice on the clutch, twice on the brake and twice on the accelerator. They are not sticking, not exceptionally loose. The handbrake is on. Turn the key once, twice......nothing. Not a sound!


You get out of the car, reach into the back for your bag and your jacket then get ready to start walking. You pull on your jacket, place the strap of your bag firmly on your shoulder, and lock the car door. A bit pointless really as the thing isn’t about to go anywhere, but you still do it out of habit. You can’t resist taking a kick at the tyre. Your shoes aren’t thick though, so you only succeed in hurting your own foot. Muttering curses under your breath you start your long trek home.


It’s not really dark, not once your eyes adjust to it. It’s pretty clear and the moon is quite bright. It will be different when you get as far the wooded part where the overhanging trees will blot out most of the moon glow, but you’ll worry about that when you get there. It could be that your luck will change; that a car will just happen to drive along this rarely used road and offer you a lift. It’s a possibility – but highly unlikely.


At least you are wearing reasonable shoes, not the best though. If you’d have had any idea you’d be walking you’d have put on runners. No, that’s not right. If you’d have known what was going to happen you would not have gone out at all. If you get blisters you can always remove your shoes, but then you’ll have the stones digging in to the bottoms of your feet unless you walk on the damp and soggy grass. You’ll stick with the shoes, at least for a while.


If you had your phone you would be able to listen to music while you walked. Somehow that always seems to make it less of an effort to keep up the pace. Now, as you walk along, there are only the noises of the night to listen to; those and your own footsteps and breathing.


After a while you can see the woods. It won’t be long before you reach its shade. You keep on walking, hoping to hear the sound of an approaching vehicle, but there is nothing. Not the hint of an engine anywhere, even in the distance. You have no choice but to keep those feet moving, one after the other, even though you begin to feel an irrational dread of getting to those trees.


As you reach the edge of the woods it gets significantly darker. You shudder involuntarily, hesitate for a moment before forcing yourself to carry on. An owl takes flight. It scares the life out of you when it takes to the air. Your pulse is thumping for a moment but it doesn’t take long to slow back down, partly, at least.


Another step, then another. You can now barely make out the surface of the road. The trees along the side of it form a deeper blackness and that is what now acts as your guide. Please let there be no pot holes or rocks for you to trip on because you will come upon them with no warning. You wouldn’t want to fall flat on your face.


It is only as you get deeper into the darkness that you think you hear your name. It sounds like a whisper, coming from behind you. Stop imagining things, you sternly instruct yourself. You know there can’t be anything there but that knowledge still does not prevent you from looking over your shoulder.


There’s nothing. Nothing that you can see, anyway. And how could there be? You are in the middle of nowhere. There is not even a house for miles.


You do up your jacket a bit higher, hug your bag closer to your body. Why is it that you did not wear a hoodie? You want something to pull over your head but you have nothing. Your hair is already becoming damp since you reached the trees. You brush it back but then sweep it forward again; it gives the impression of having some protection at least.


And there it is once more. That whispering noise, and this time you have no doubt in your mind that the word it says is your name – Helena. Your skin prickles in fear. It is a real struggle to fight against that urge to run. You keep walking, picking up speed. A look over your shoulder again confirms that there is nobody, nothing, visible. Perhaps, you think, you are losing your mind.


And again you hear it but this time there is more. “They hate you, you know. Despise you. All those people you think of as friends......they’re sitting there laughing at you, right now.”


You stop walking. You brace yourself to be brave enough to do what you have to do. You make yourself, force yourself to, turn around. And there is nothing there, nothing but shadows. The leaves rustle to your left and you almost bolt. It is a rabbit. You can vaguely make out it’s darker shape in the blackness.


A rabbit! It ran off pretty quickly, as scared of you, no doubt, as you were of it. You carry on walking, feeling pretty stupid, mulling over those words you thought you heard but were surely no more than words inside your head.


But is it true? Are your so-called best friends talking about you behind your back? Are they laughing at all your many faults? You had started to notice a distance growing between you and them. Hadn’t you?


Oh, they think you are nothing more than a worthless slut. A leech after their time and their sympathy. They’re just waiting for a chance to dump you and laugh when you find yourself alone.”


Are you really thinking these things? You’ve never had thoughts like this before so where are they coming from? And this whispering! It’s definitely like a voice outside of your head, as though someone is whispering in your ear. Schizophrenia! Is that what it is? Have you suddenly become ill, or unbalanced? You felt fine at work.


But did you? They were all watching, waiting for you to mess up.”


Your boss hates you. He knows you are a fraud, that you are not up to your job.”


Your friends, they all hate you. They want to watch you fail. Lose your job, become homeless.....you’ll get no help from them.”


If you could see better you would run, but you dare not go too fast. If you were to trip and break your ankle you might still be laying on the road in two days time. Your friends, well, once friends, aren’t going to miss you.


They won’t miss you. They’ll laugh and they’ll dance on your grave. All those clothes you’ve lent them recently they’ll chuck in the bin. They can’t believe you really thought they’d want to wear things that a nobody like you would choose.”


They’ll tear them into rags, set them on fire.”


Burn the witch!”


You put your hands over your ears, and start to jog. “Shut up! Shut up!” You know you are shouting at something or someone that isn’t there but you can’t stop yourself. You can feel tears form in your eyes. What is happening to you? All you have to do is get home. You can phone your mum, your dad, they’ll make you feel better.


Don’t you believe it!”


How happy they were to be rid of you! You did nothing but suck them dry, emotionally and financially. They had thought they were going to be stuck with you until they’d become nothing more than withered empty husks.”


They’re dead, you know. Nobody bothered telling you.”


And your friends, they knew all the time. Oh, they’ve played you for a fool!”


Idiotic, that’s what you are. Blind and stupid.”


A first-rate moronic fall-girl”


Standing still, you shout, “Shut up! It’s lies. All lies. You don’t know what you’re talking about.” The tears are running down your cheeks unchecked now. You are shaking so hard that you can hardly stand.


And who are you shouting at at?”


You’re mad!”


She’s crazy!”


A lunatic! A lunatic!”


The whispers seem so loud, so insistent. They are coming from everywhere, surrounding you. You spin around, look this way and that. Nothing! Nothing more than the shadow of trees. Are the trees talking to you? Is that what it is?


This is all too weird, too creepy. What is going on?


Forgetting the danger, you make a break for it and run. You force yourself to go faster and faster but those whispering voices are all still around.


There’s nowhere to run.”


There’s nowhere to hide!”


You are going to die all alone on this road.”


You are going to die tonight and no one will know.”


No one will care.”


You trip, stumble, almost fall to your knees but somehow you keep on your feet, keep moving. But this road is just taking you further and further into the trees. The voices....there are more of them, coming at you in all directions. You are screaming now, “Shut up! Leave me alone!” You are sobbing, and panting and losing your mind.


Pathetic bitch!”


Give up and die.”


Do yourself a favour.”


Do every one you know a favour.”


Die, bitch, die!”


And you stumble. You fall. You land hard on your knees, your hands, your face. Your head hits the road hard enough to leave you stunned, unable to move. There is so much blood from your head, your nose, your mouth. You almost feel as if you are going to choke. You try to get to your feet but the world keeps turning, there is too much pain. And those voices.....here they go again, gleefully ridiculing, celebrating.


The bitch is down.”


On your knees you snivelling, no-good coward.”


Give in. We’ve won!”


You can’t get away. You belong to us.”


Die, bitch, but not just yet. There’s so much fun to be had with your head.”


And the night is a long way from over yet.”


You cradle your head in your hands. Curl into a ball. ‘Shut out those voices’, that’s what you keep saying, over and over inside your head. But they won’t go. They won’t stop. They won’t leave you alone.


It could be that someone will drive down this road and pick you up, drive you to a hospital. Perhaps someone will call for an ambulance. It’s not going to matter to you any more. Your mind, it has completely gone. Your are a victim of the hannudin; otherwise known as the ‘hope killers’.





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