The Strangers in the Wood

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
Susan and her uncle Alfie both have a knack of seeing strange people and sceneries. One day it may all be a bit too strange ...

Submitted: December 27, 2009

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Submitted: December 27, 2009

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Alfie often met people in the streets who set his imagination aflame. Sometimes he didn't even know why they appealed to him. Most often they looked ordinary, didn't do anything special and nothing extraordinary happened to them, but still, to him they looked like something out of this world. Four times it happened that they proved to be just that. One was an escaped murderer, another one was a very famous artist who wanted to renew his former anonymity and thus decided to hide in the small town of Alfie. Needless to say the curiosity of Alfie ruined that plan.
As to number three and four they were so strange that Alfie never found out exactly WHAT they were, only that he found them very "special" and was sure they were just that. However, even though he didn't really know what they were, he might at any time describe them in details.
"First of all, they were smaller than most people," he told his young niece Susan, "but they were perfect as to shape and everything. Nothing dwarfish about them."
"But why did you deem them to be "special"?" Susan asked.
"Something in their gait - they almost floated - also their total similarity to each other. All of them looked alike as if they were twins or something. Only the color of their hair differed from one person to another."
Susan found that just as strange as her uncle did, but she didn't tell anyone about these special incidents until she herself had one. That happened when she experienced a strange meeting in he small wood of the town. These strangers were a group of very tall, statuesque, but in some unfathomable respect "strange" people. She met them when she was out walking her dog Digger and after seeing them she hurried to phone Alfie to tell him about her experience.
However, strangely enough he didn't appreciate the ability to recognize special people in others. He liked his niece very much, but maybe he in his heart expected her to stay his audience and not try to overdo him by having and telling about  such incidents.
Susan was very disappointed when her uncle didn't want to listen to her and only shook her head at her story. She had been very meticulous in her rendering of the episode, hadn't embellished it in any way or bragged about it, so she felt let down by her uncle.
"But Alfie," she said, "they were sort of metallic. Not in their looks, but in their movements ..."
He just smiled and looked at her like she was losing it. It offended her that he of all people didn't believe her or didn't want to hear about the meeting in the wood. That's the reason she decided to confide in someone else and tell this person what she had seen. Also she made up her mind to tell a little more of what Alfie had told her over the years. They only one she dared to approach  Alfie's son, Douglas. He had never wanted to listen to his father, but Susan figured that he was the only one who might keep the secret of these incidents, simply because he was afraid that others would learn about his father's "craziness". The ones she absolutely wouldn't tell anything were her own parents as they always had been so much against Alfie's "tall stories" as they called them.
 
Douglas looked at her in disbelief. "Oh no," he said, "I've had enough with my Dad meeting elves, ETs or whatever he claims they are. Don't start ..."
"But it's true," Susan said, "it happened exactly as I told you, but somehow your Dad doesn't want to hear about it."
"Neither do I," Douglas yelled, "so stop it ..."
"As you wish," she said, very disappointed.
"Don't talk about it again, neither your experiences nor my Dad's ..."
At the time Douglas said this he really meant it. He didn't want to hear about strange people or episodes of any descriptions. However, only a few days later he almost begged Susan to tell him more. At that time his father apparently had disappeared and had been nowhere to be found for three days. What's more, his home was found to be extraordinarily messy which was unusual for him. Even Douglas had to admit to himself that the house of his father looked like a burglar scene. Or maybe even worse.
"It's not like him," he said, genuinely worried. "I wonder whether the people you saw in the wood could have been some of those migrant robbers the newspapers are full of."
"You mean someone who passed the border in order to rob and steal here?"
"Yes, you yourself said they were "different" so maybe they are foreigners. Couldn't you take me out there to see where they camped?"
Susan didn't like the idea of meeting those metallic people again, but on the other hand she too was very worried about Alfie. Also she was glad to have caught the attention of Douglas and she almost felt honored by his sudden trust in her so she agreed.
They went in his car and without commenting it she saw that he placed a couple of guns beneath the front seat. Only she decided not to bring Digger as she felt that the dog might become the innocent victim of whatever unpleasantness there might arise. However, she had to give in when Douglas insisted that she brought. He suspected that Digger would be able to find the people if they couldn't do it themselves.

After parking in the road outside the wood and then walking up to the spot where she had seen the strangers they soon realized that something had happened. Douglas found three scorched spots in the ground with a distance of 5-7 metres. The trees in that part of the wood also looked a little scorched.
"Did the trees look like this when you came here first?" he asked.
"No," she said, "but this is, after all, not the exact place where I saw them. Those people were 70-100 metres from here ..."
"Ok, let's go there."
Off they went, with Digger at their heels, his nose very close to the ground. Before long the dog found a scarf - or what was left of a scarf - dangling from a bush. Susan grabbed it and held it out to him. "Look," she said, "it resembles the one I gave your father for Christmas."
Douglas stared at it, his face turning very worried. "My God," he exclaimed, "that proves that he has been here or that those people may have brought him - or only some of his belongings - here. I think I shall call the police right away."
Susan agreed and they were very relieved to see the police arrive 10 minutes. Douglas told them why they had come and he also showed them the scorched spots they had passed. However, it was obvious that the two police offers averted their eyes, avoiding to look at the spots. They only glanced in that direction, but didn't comment their finds.
- Strange, Susan thought, but she didn't say anything about it.
The policemen told them that they by now saw the disappearance of Alfie as a possible crime case. Douglas and Susan returned home. None of them talked, and none of them commented the unhappy sounds from Digger. It was as if he was lamenting something and got more and more frustrated that they didn't get his message of sorrow.

The next morning Susan herself had cause to lament: Digger had disappeared. He was nowhere to be found, neither in the garden nor with Douglas or anyone else she knew. When she phoned Douglas he didn't answer her call, but she took for granted that he might have gone to the police station and somehow had turned off his cell phone. She left a message for him and got very worried when he didn't return her call. Then she phoned one of the policemen. However, she felt that he tried to belittle her problems by telling her that most of the cases about missing people ended up being something quite natural like e.g. a new lover. She felt like an idiot because she knew that no matter what then Alfie, Douglas and Digger weren't where they were supposed to be and that they had found a torn scarf of one of the missing people which to her indicated foul play.
At this time she was downright scared, but she didn't want to confide in her parents or her friends as she feared that they wouldn't understand her. Instead she told her next door neighbour that Digger had disappeared and that she would go and look for him. If she didn't mind she would love to borrow her dog, Lucifer, as she figured he might help her.
The neighbour loved the idea as she then didn't have to walk this big, strong pet who frankly was a bit too much for her. Susan came to feel the same as she herself was led along at a speed by this strong creature, more than she got the chance to do the leading. Luckily enough he went for the small wood which she took for granted was quite natural as it was a favorite place for all dogs.
As soon as they entered the wood the dog started to look quite ferocious. The fur on his back was standing erect and she even heard a low growl.
"Good boy, Lucifer," she said to calm him, but at that very moment he tore loose and dived into the darkest part of the wood. "No-no-no, don't do this to me, Lucifer," she cried, but he was gone.
- Oh my God, she said to herself, two people and two dogs ...
As she made her way into the thick shrapnel where the pet had disappeared she suddenly heard the piercing wail of a dog being hurt.
"Lucifer, Lucifer!" She screamt, very upset, but somehow more angry than afraid. "Come back!"
No answer of any  kind, but when she tore the last branches of the shrapnel aside and suddenly found herself in the glade with the scorched spots she became so exceedingly happy, so overwhelmed with joy, because there he was. Not only was he standing unhurt and healthy, but with him was Alfie, Douglas and Digger. However, it was one second after she saw them that her newfound happiness and relief turned into misery for with them were those metalic people she had seen. Not only were they with them, but they were all standing on the platform of something that only could be called a Spaceship. Before Alice could make up her mind to hide or to flee she felt how she lifted from the ground like had she been grabbed by a giant hand and this hand carried her through the air and put her beside her four friends. However, not until she spoke to them and they looked at her like they didn't know her or any kind of humanity did she fully grasp her new situation.

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