Grantley Woods

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: The Imaginarium
A short story based on an Imaginarium House One Word Prompt.

Submitted: July 09, 2017

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Submitted: July 09, 2017

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Grantley Woods.

There’s a story going round that there is some sort of beast inhabiting these woods. First, it was laughed off as nothing more than a drunken fancy, but then there were more reports. And one or two of these were made by ‘respectable citizens’, ones that weren’t partial to a bit too much of the demon drink. Even so, couldn’t it just be a trick of the light; an illusion created because of the story!

But then there were the sheep. Four of them vanished from a field bordering on those very woods. Rustlers, Gus and I said, people from the mountains looking for easy food or perhaps just to increase their own flocks. A logical explanation, but the rumours increased; there was a beast on the loose in those woods.

Were we drunk, Gus and me, when we said we’d go out there, set up camp and check those woods out during the night time? Well, there was no point in doing it during daylight – everyone knows these beasts only come out to hunt during the hours of darkness.

So here we are, parking the truck as near in as we can get it. We’ve chosen a bit of a clearing where we can pitch our tent. But it’s thirsty work lugging all our gear backwards and forwards along this track. We’ll stop for a while, rest up and have a couple more beers.

This tent is meant to be ultra easy to assemble. Just a matter of pulling the right cord and it should more or less pitch itself. And it does, well, partly. Enough for Gus to scramble in and give it a helping push from the inside.

I can’t help wondering why we brought so much with us. All we need is our sleeping bags, and a few more cans of beer. And my gun! Mustn’t forget that. I’ll keep it beside me at all times and if any beast should show it’s face I’d shoot first, ask questions after.

And so we sat there, Gus and me. At first, every snapping twig, every rustling branch, would get us ready for action. But it was just the normal sounds of the woods as the night-time settled in. Nothing to worry about, no need for stressing. Another few cans of beer and we’re getting too tired. If anything turns up we’ll hear it, right.

Doesn’t take long for us to fall asleep. I heard Gus snoring before I no doubt joined in with him. There’s something though, that wakes me up, not long after. I have the gun in my hand, ready, but I don’t have many bullets, can’t afford to just go firing at nothing.

There! I can hear something moving round. It’s right outside our tent, snorting and sniffling, picking up our scent. I don’t want to make a sound so I nudge Gus with my foot until he jolts awake. I signal to him to stay silent, say nothing. He takes notice just in time.

Whatever it is, it’s starting to move away from us. I’m gonna have to get my act together, make myself get outside and see just what it is. I’m the one with the gun so it’s got to be me. Gus will be here for back-up, should anything happen. There are plenty of branches around that he can pick up and use as weapons.

I make my way over to the flap door-way and peer out. Can’t really make out much detail. It’s way too dark at first, but as my eyes sort themselves out I begin to be able to make out shapes. I take a few steps outside, pause as the air hits my beer-addled brain, then take a few more. There, I see it. I try to follow quietly so it does not know I’m there but it seems impossible to move through this place silently.

What is it? It moves into a bit of a clearing and the moon moves from behind a cloud. A deer! The beast of Grantley Woods is nothing more than a big old deer. If I was my Dad, I’d shoot it and be done with the whole thing. Be hailed as the hero for ridding us from ‘the beast’. But I’m not him. I won’t take that shot, they’ll just have to believe what I say. I can just picture Gus when I tell him. I’d best head back now, while we still have a few hours left to sleep.

Strange how the tent is tilting so. I’m sure it wasn’t, not when I left. And where the hell has Gus got to, he’s not in his sleeping bag. The back of the tent is missing, ripped, shredded, and there’s sticky stuff on the ground. It’s on my hand from the tear in the fabric. Torchlight shows it up as blood.

I dash outside, tripping my way round to the back and there are these footprints leading away from here. Gulping, I make up my mind to follow, he’s my best mate after all. But that inhuman scream, that earth-shattering roar.... I’m leaving everything apart from my gun and heading for the truck.

When I get back to town it will be dawn. They’ll put together a search party and they’ll find the tent, see the prints, the blood....But somehow I don’t think they’re gonna find any trace of Gus or any sight of that beast. Grantley Woods belongs to it, or that is how it seems.

 

Inspired by the Imaginarium One Word Prompt -- Beast.


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