Tethered

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic

Cover image: pixabay.com.

Tethered

They tied strings around each other’s wrists and turned towards the trees. The wind grew stronger by the second and already they found themselves unable to stand against it. It roared and whistled and pushed them step by reluctant step into the treeline.

Raphael and Simone had hoped that once within the trees the raging force would cease its pushing, but they were disappointed. Branches snapped above their heads, torn free by the wind and tossed to the ground, and it was not until they were five trees in that the ferocity of the wind began to abate.

Simone reached for the string. “Is it safe now?” she asked.

Raphael shook his head urgently and held a finger up to his lips. “This forest,” he whispered, “is so much worse than any wind.”

Simone let her hand drop and left the string where it rested against her skin. A creaking groan made them turn back the way they had come, fearful that an entire tree had been uprooted and was about to fall and crush them where they stood. Instead they found their path into the forest had become blocked by thick branches that had not been there at all just a few moments ago.

“Raphael?”

“Shh, Simone. There are things far scarier than moving trees in this place.”

Simone stared at her husband, eyes wide. “I want to go home. Let me untether us. If you want to continue on this foolish journey you can do so without me.”

Raphael reached out and put his hand over the string before she had managed to undo the knot. “You have no choice, there is no way back. We have to find another way and to do that we must venture further into this place.”

Simone looked down at her feet, reached down with a hand to brush off an insect that was crawling its way up her skirt. She gave a heavy sigh. “Which way do we go then?”

There seemed to be no way for them to move, for it was not only the trees behind them that had closed up the gaps but those all around them. Were they about to be crushed? As far fetched as it might sound, they both believed that to be a very real possibility.

Instead, the trees moved apart enough to reveal a path that would take them deeper into the forest. “Looks like we go this way,” Raphael said, attempting, but failing, to smile.

He moved forward, taking it slowly so that Simone could easily keep up with him. For a while the path was remarkably clear, but then thorns and creepers began to snake their way across. Raphael tripped and pulled sharply on the strings making Simone cry out as her shoulder was roughly jarred.

“Are you okay?” she asked at last.

“Yes, I’m...”

“Look! At the ground! They are not just growing here but are snaking out as though they know exactly what they are doing.”

And it was true. The ivy slithered from out of the trees, making its way directly towards them. “We must move, Simone. Faster.” But it was too late. A coil of creeper had encircled one of her ankles and it dug in deep enough to draw blood.

“Help me! Please! It’s hurting so bad!”

Raphael looked around frantically. If only he had known what was going to happen he would have put a knife in his pocket. Now, the only chance was for him to find a sharp rock. There! Would the edge of it be pointed enough to cut its way through the thick binding?

Bending down towards the forest floor, Raphael reached with his free hand and began to hack away at the creeper. It was taking so long. Too long! And his hands were becoming slick with his wife’s blood.

“Quick!” she screamed, agony putting a stop to her caution.

“Oh, god, no,” Raphael said, as the creeper finally cut through bone, leaving Simone to fall and drag him down with her. “Don’t pass out! We must untie the string, use it as a tourniquet.” His fingers fumbled with the string around his own wrist, and only when that was finally untied did he turn to the wrist of his wife.

What he saw made him gasp and take a step backwards. Simone was covered with beetles and other insects, all attracted no doubt by the smell of her blood. That sight was bad enough but it was the smile on his wife’s face that really shocked him.

“Look, Raphael. An angel! A real-life angel!”

He followed her gaze up into the tree and found himself eye to eye with one of the biggest birds he had ever seen. At first he thought it was a vulture, but on closer inspection found it to be a raven. It looked at him from one eye, then lazily opened it’s beak to let out a raucous croak. In the quiet of the forest it was a deafening sound. For a moment there was silence and then there was an answering call.

“Simone, we must...” Raphael’s sentence was cut short when he turned back to his wife, saw her vacant gaze.

He should pick her up, carry her, but the insects were already burrowing their way into her skin. Raphael stepped away from her and whispered, “I’m so sorry.” And then he ran.

Now alone he became more reckless, picking up his pace and trying to push his way through the thick branches. He had no idea where he was going and the tears in his eyes blinded him. Raphael struggled onwards until the creeping vines gripped first one ankle and then the other. He tried to move but he couldn’t, and the vines grew tighter and tighter until they began to cut their way into his skin, as they had Simone’s.

He would not give in, Raphael decided, not without putting up a fight. And fight he did, clawing and gripping and tearing, his own blood now mingling with that of Simone. He wouldn’t give up... couldn’t give up.

And then he heard the two caws.

 

 

 


Submitted: June 23, 2020

© Copyright 2021 hullabaloo22. All rights reserved.

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Add Your Comments:

Comments

Mike S.

Scary-good, Hull!

Tue, June 23rd, 2020 5:51pm

Author
Reply

Thanks, Mike!

Tue, June 23rd, 2020 11:56am

Vance Currie

Very well written, Hully, but it would be nice for a protagonist to survive occasionally. I'm joking but I'm also a little bit serious. Much of the mystery and drama of a story lies in the reader having hope that the protagonist will survive. I knew as soon as I started reading this story that it would end badly, so it wasn't quite as scary as you probably intended. Otherwise, I enjoyed the story and admire the way in which you built up the tension.

Tue, June 23rd, 2020 9:24pm

Author
Reply

I'm getting too predictable, I know, Joe. I need to shake things up a bit, I guess, or take a long holiday from writing.
Glad you enjoyed it anyway.

Wed, June 24th, 2020 12:17pm

Rob73

A great short horror story, Hull.
It reminded me of Richard Laymon.

Wed, June 24th, 2020 3:22am

Author
Reply

Thanks so much, Rob.

Wed, June 24th, 2020 12:18pm

Vance Currie

Don't you dare take a holiday from writing, Hully, at least not on account of anything I say. You are one of my main reasons for checking in to Booksie each day. This is an excellent story. The only reason why I predicted the ending is that I read just about all of your stories and, after a while I see a pattern. I like to be surprised by a happy ending every now and then, just for variety, but who am I to tell you what to write? Please continue writing whatever comes into that wonderfully imaginative head of yours. I wish I had your fertile imagination, I really do. You do it practically every day. It takes me weeks to produce a passable story.

Wed, June 24th, 2020 9:34pm

Author
Reply

I wrote on especially for you today, Joe. It's called 'The Parking Lot'. Sometimes I get very disillusioned with writing, that's all. It's not you. And honestly, I think I'd find it hard to give up - my head would probably burst from all the words inside it.

Thu, June 25th, 2020 12:23pm

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