Lilac Village

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
When Bethany and her best friend move to Lilac Village, Bethany discovers that the woods surrounding the town harbor a dark secret and a personal hell. This story is based on a nightmare I had and I was thinking about making it into something longer, like a novel. Please let me know what you think!

Submitted: September 03, 2014

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Submitted: September 03, 2014

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I tape the huge box full of my clothing shut as James, my best friend, stands over my shoulder. I’m about to pick it up to carry it out to the truck, but he puts his hand on my shoulder to stop me. 
“Here, lemme help you with those,” he says kindly. James is the kind of person who is always willing to help. A lot of people look up to him because he is so kind. I’m lucky to be able to call him my best friend. He’s like the older brother I never got to have. 
I smile at him as he picks up the box I just taped. James carries the box out to his car, not struggling with the weight. James has always been strong too. I continue taping my boxes. I finish and carry my last box out to his truck myself. He opens the door for me and I jump in. He starts his truck, an old and rusty powder-blue monster that used to belong to his father. The engine roars to life and we begin the drive to the small town where we will live together for the summer. We drive through several small towns before we find the dirt road leading to our new town, Lilac Village. James slows down a bit. The trees above us are thick and obscure the light. He follows the road for a good ten miles. We finally get to the center of the town. There are ten houses and a family-owned general store along the dirt road. One of the houses belongs to James and me. James parks the truck in our gravel driveway and we both exit the car. He puts his arm around me and smiles.
“We’re finally out of the city,” he says happily. I smile back.
“We’re finally able to live together, just like we wanted to when we were kids,” I reply. James smiles at me again and squeezes my shoulder. We’ve wanted this for a very long time. We begin to unload the truck and unpack our things excitedly. All of the people in the other nine houses are sitting on their porches, watching us intently. None of them talk to us. This little town is so quiet. He and I eat dinner together and then go to our bedrooms to sleep. Around noon, I wake up to a note on my bedside table from James: 
I went to the next town to get us some groceries, I’ll be back soon.
-James
I smile. James and I have been planning on living with each other since we first met. Now, it’s finally happening. I shower and change and get myself ready for the day. After a while, I decide to go for a walk behind our house. I walk through the trees, the canopy of leaves almost completely obscuring the sun. I enter a small clearing, but it still isn’t very bright. I feel as if I have passed into another world, another realm. It’s intriguing. In front of me, I see a huge tree. It's on the edge of the clearing and its trunk could probably fit a car inside. I’ve never seen a tree that gigantic. It beckons to me. I find my feet moving so that I can get a closer look. I try to fight it: something is wrong here. This can’t be right. My stomach is sinking lower and lower, but my feet will not stop moving. My hand reaches out to knock on the tree, to see if it is hollow on the inside. I must know. Something in the back of my brain tells me that I must know whether or not this old tree is hollow. My eyes feel glassed over, and I feel as if a puppeteer is controlling my body. I fight the urge to knock on the tree, but I must not be strong enough. My hand taps the tree. As soon as my knuckles contact the bark, a fierce wind sweeps up around me, the sky goes dark, and I fall unconscious. 
I wake up lying in the grass. A young man, probably in his lower twenties like me, stands over me. My vision is fuzzy: I can’t make out his face. The light surrounding him is bright, very bright. 
“We’ve got another one!” he shouts miserably, like he’s sad to see me. I try to recall the details of how I got here. I only remember leaving my house to go for a walk earlier. Everything after that is blank. I sit up and try to figure out where I am. It’s bright here, unlike the rest of the woods. It’s a clearing. Just outside of the clearing is a strange tree. It’s gigantic. I’ve never seen one that big. A row of ten glass cubicles sits a few yards away from me. A handful of other people stand in the clearing talking. One is an elderly lady. There’s also a young boy, probably five or six years old. What is this place?
“Whatever you do,” the young man says, “Don’t tell us your real name." 
“Why not?” I ask him, suddenly scared. I’ve always been a timid and cowardly person. The young man looks behind me, his face pulled into a grimace. 
“It will get you for sure if it hears your real name,” he says solemnly. I turn around and I suddenly see it. The words that could be used to describe this being don’t exist. The only word that I can even think of that could begin to describe it is “demon”, but even that falls short. The demon is tall, and has a long flowing cape. Its face is hidden underneath its hood, and it sucks the light from the area of the clearing around it. Its arms almost fall to the ground. My body begins to shake with fear. The young man puts his hand on my shoulder to steady me. 
“It’s okay. It can’t hurt you in the daytime. It’s the night time you’ve got to be worried about,” the young man tells me. I think he’s trying to reassure me, but it doesn’t help. The demon then exits the clearing and passes right through the trunk of the giant tree.
“Maybe I should explain. You can call me Dog. Like the rest of us, you’ve been cursed. When the sun goes down, you’ll have to enter your glass room. You can’t leave it, no matter what happens. Understand? If you leave your room, it will get you. It will eat your soul,” Dog says morbidly.
“Wait, what? What is this place?” I ask him.
“You and I have both trespassed onto occupied land. It-” Dog gestures towards the demon’s strange tree, “-tends to keep us here until we die as punishment.”
“So, I can’t leave?” 
“No, you can’t leave unless you die. Or if it eats you. None of us are sure what happens if it gets you. There’s some kind of force field around the clearing. Nobody outside of it can see or hear us. We’re like insects trapped under a bowl,” Dog says. I see the force field. Everything outside of it is tinted slightly purple and bent, as if I were looking through poorly-made glass. I feel a lump forming in my throat and fear welling inside my chest. What about James? He’ll be so worried. I can’t just leave him behind like this. 
“How did I get here?” I ask him.
“You entered the clearing. Once someone enters the clearing, they can’t stop themselves from knocking on the devil’s tree.” I suddenly remember the eerie tree and knocking on it. “Once you knock on the devil’s tree, you’re welcomed into hell.”
“So, is this hell?” I ask Dog.
“It depends on how you look at it. It isn’t hell in the sense that this is the afterlife. But it is still hell to all of us,” Dog answers. “Come on, I’m going to introduce you to the others.
Dog introduces me to the elderly woman, who they call Lilly. The young boy is called Fox. A middle-aged man, Beaver, is also among us. He’s nervous and jumpy. There are ten of us trapped here total. Dog is the closest one to my own age by a long shot. He also tells everyone that my name is Blossom. I guess everyone has nature-themed names. Everyone looks well-fed, but also has dark purple circles underneath their eyes. Many of them have chewed-up fingernails. One woman, Apple, has claw marks up and down her arms. I think of what Dog said about this place being hell. Dinner appears in each of the cubicles. Dog leads me into the glass room on the end and tells me about five times to shut the door when the sun starts setting. Each glass room has a bed, a table, and a dresser with clothes inside. 
“You’re gonna need to be strong. And brave,” he repeats over and over again. I’m confused about what he’s so paranoid about, but then I remember what he said about the demon only being able to hurt us at night. Perhaps these gossamer glass walls will protect us from whatever that thing is.
I watch the sun set through the other cubicles. As it descends closer and closer to the horizon, some of my fellow inmates begin to pace anxiously back and forth. Fox hides his face in the covers. Apple begins clawing her arms nervously. The tension is overwhelming. What is going to happen to us? As the sun disappears below the horizon, the demon exits its tree and enters the clearing. Its hood falls down and its red eyes are focused on the first cubicle, the one occupied by Beaver. Its head is spiky. The demon’s face is black and white, but it doesn’t have a nose. Just a mouth and two glowing eyes. Its mouth isn’t even a mouth. It’s more like a circular hole with jagged teeth lining some kind of dark tube leading to its stomach. The skin on its face has a strange black and white pattern to it. The pattern is almost striped, but it appears as if someone had been dripping black and white paint down its head. The consistency isn’t like that of paint, though. It’s more like that of blood, semi-translucent and thick. The demon’s disproportionately long arm reaches out and its black fingernails scrape down the glass. Beaver screams and lets out a horrible cry. Snakes fill his cubicle. I start screaming and pounding on the glass, but I know there’s nothing I can do to help him. Beaver’s guttural, scared, screams are loud and terrifying. The demon tosses its head back, as if it were laughing mirthlessly, and moves on to the next glass room. It scrapes its fingernails slowly down the glass door. Dog is in the room next to me.
“They’re just hallucinations,” he says, trying to reassure me. His voice is muffled and distant because of the glass, “We can all see what everyone else sees. It can’t hurt you unless you open your door.” 
I nod my head, but I’m still terrified. Beaver and the next two cubicles are screaming at the tops of their lungs. My stomach feels like it’s down in my feet and my head is spinning. What is the purpose of this? Why me? Why am I here? The demon reaches Dog’s cubicle and runs its long black fingernails down the glass. It makes a nails-on-chalkboard sort of noise. Dog’s eyes fill with fear as he begins to scream. A giant scorpion appears in his room and begins to attack him. I scream too.  I understand what Dog meant about this place being hell, and I haven’t even started hallucinating yet. 
The demon’s red eyes meet mine as it claws the flimsy glass wall between us. I feel my eyes roll back into my head for a second and then they’re wide open. The demon laughs, a horrible, evil, throaty laugh, and spiders the size of my hands cover everything in my cubicle. I start screaming too. I crawl into the bed, and hide under the covers, but all I can feel is their hairy legs crawling all over my body. I’m screaming and crying and shaking now. Never in my entire life, have I been this terrified. Then, it happens. I hear glass shattering in the distance and Beaver runs out of his cubicle, screaming like a madman. The demon points its long arm at him and Beaver bursts into flames. The flames burn in the shape of the demon’s head for a few seconds and then shoot back up its arm. Then I remember. This is just a hallucination. I’m sure that Beaver’s fine. This knowledge doesn’t make me feel much better though. I know that none of this is real, but panic still racks my body and I’m convulsing uncontrollably. I focus all of my energy towards not screaming, to avoid ruining my vocal cords. After a few hours, the spiders go away. I think that maybe the hallucinations are over and I peer out from under the blankets. 
James lies bloody and beat up on the floor. I scream, and a hand covers my mouth. I try to get to him, so I can comfort him and tell him it will be alright, but the man holding me back is far too strong. James is still breathing, just a little, but I can tell the life is fading from him quickly. My eyes fill with tears. I never wanted to watch James die. I shut my eyes as tightly as I can, if I shut them, then I can’t see it. But the image of James’s body is etched into my mind. Then I hear him scream in pain and I have to open my eyes. His eyes are open and suddenly have turned bright red, like the demon’s. He stands up, his facial expression maniacal, and walks towards me. His blood drips on the floor. The mysterious person behind me lets go of me and James’s cold and certainly dead hands grip my throat. I feel like I’m about to black out when his upper jaw snaps back and ants dash out of his mouth. They cover me, and everything. I shut my mouth and my eyes, but I can feel them crawling through my nostrils and my ears. I’m screaming with my mouth shut and trying frantically to get the ants off of me, but there are just too many. I curl up in a ball on the floor and shake. I can’t do this. I can’t do this. I can’t do this. I consider, if only briefly, opening my glass door. I have to get out. But then I remember Dog’s warning. I can’t leave. 
Suddenly, the ants are gone. Water begins to flow into my cubicle from the ceiling, filling my little glass room. The room is nearly filled within a minute and I strain to grab one last breath of air before it fills completely. I’m panicking and I’ve already blown all of that air out. I scream underwater. My head begins to hurt and my lungs hurt. I know that it’s because of oxygen deprivation, and that if I don’t get some air soon, I will die. I try to keep my head as I look around my room, but it’s impossible. I can’t, I’m too close to blacking out. My vision gets spotty from the lack of oxygen, but then the water is gone. I take as many deep breaths as I can, coughing and hacking up water in the process. 
Then I sense someone standing over me. It’s a butcher, with a huge meat cleaver. He holds me down and begins to slice off my skin. I scream in protest and in pain until my voice leaves me. I try to fight for a while, but eventually I just give up. This continues until the sun rises. As soon as the first ray of light touches my cubicle, the butcher, my pain, and the pile of my skin lying next to me are all gone. My own skin is back on my body. I shudder. That was truly hell. I immediately break down crying. Dog rushes into my cubicle and puts his arm across my shoulders.
“It’s okay, Blossom,” he tells me, “It’s over now. You did a good job. It’s okay.” Dog repeats these words to me until I finally calm down. Then he takes me outside. The others are laying flowers down and some of them are crying. 
“What’s going on?” I ask him.
“Beaver,” he replies sadly, “I knew he was losing his will, but I didn’t think he’d actually leave.” I guess it wasn’t a hallucination. Beaver really did break. A scorched patch of grass is all that is left of him.
“Is he gone?” I ask.
“Yes,” Dog answers sadly. I’m sure everyone here grows really close over time. Dog shudders.
“What is the point of this?” I ask him angrily.
“Well, it needs to eat in order to survive, and I guess it likes to play with its food,” Dog says, trying to be funny. Breakfast appears for each of us in our cubicles. I’m not hungry, but Dog forces me to eat it. “You’ll feel better if you do,” he promises me. After breakfast, Dog and my fellow inmates tell me about how long they’ve been here. Dog has been here longest, since he was eight. Apple is Fox’s mother, they came in together about six months ago. She’s in no state to take care of him, however. Lilly plays the role of his mother here now. It’s then when I see James. He’s walking outside of the clearing screaming my name at the top of my lungs. I run to him and collide with the edge of the force field. I stand up and run straight into it again. 
“James! James, go back! Get out of here, James, please!” I scream, pounding on the walls of the force field with my fists. He’s sweaty and panicked and only stands a few feet away. “James! James, no, please! James get out of here! Please don’t come any closer, please no!” I slam my body into the force field. My face is covered in tears. 
“He can’t hear you,” Dog says kindly, trying to pull me away from the force field. “There’s nothing you can do, he can’t hear you.” 
James turns away from me and runs back in the other direction, screaming my name as loudly as possible. I breathe a sigh of relief. Dog does as well. Thank goodness he hasn’t found his way into this hell. Nobody should ever have to go through this.
Night falls again. I’m locked inside of my cubicle, just like last night. Unlike last night, I only have to watch eight people begin their hallucinations. This second night is just as horrible as the first. But instead of a butcher skinning me, I’ve got a clown trying to get into my pants. 
This process continues for a while and I lose track of time. It feels like it’s been a few years here, but I know for certain that it has not. Three meals appear in our cubicles each day. Dog forces all of us to eat at least two of them. He has a hard time forcing Apple to do it. I have a feeling she’ll probably break soon too, just like Beaver did the first night I was here. Occasionally the demon spends some time roaming the clearing during the day. Everyone gives it a wide berth. It seems to get enjoyment out of our fear of it. Eventually it leaves and returns to its tree. None of this has become any easier to deal with. Sometimes the hallucinations change, other times they stay the same. And at least once a night, I feel the need to run. To get out. But then I have to remind myself that facing the fear is much better than what the demon could do to me. I saw James a lot the first few days I was here, searching with the police in the woods. They told him it was pretty hopeless and that over thirty people had gotten lost in the woods in the past thirty years and have never been found. I want to see him so badly, but I also don’t want him anywhere near this place. I hope I never see him here again. I look at myself in the reflection on my glass cubicle. My skin is sallow, and the circles around my eyes are dark and purple. But then I look away. I’ve got to stop feeling sorry for myself. It’s not any easier for anybody else. Dog and I talk a lot. He tells me about his parents and his childhood or people who used to be stuck here. I talk a lot about James, mostly because he’s the only thing I really have to talk about. I hardly sleep now. I usually just nap for a couple of hours. When I first got here, I was sleeping five or six hours a day. It doesn’t make that much of a difference to me though. I still feel exhausted and like shit no matter how much sleep I get. 
After a brutal night of hallucinations, Dog comes into my cubicle.
“Blossom, look!” he says happily. He points towards an opening in the force field. We walk towards it to investigate. There's a note written in the dirt. 
BACK BY SUNDOWN. DO NOT LEAVE WOODS. I WILL FIND YOU.
“Has anything like this ever happened before?” I ask him. 
“No, never,” Dog says. He looks excited. “Come on! Let’s go!” 
Dog runs through a gap in the force field. The others have already left. I follow him. We run through the woods happily for a while, glad to be out of that miserable place. We climb trees and throw things at each other. And then I hear his voice in the distance. 
“Bethany! Bethany!” he shouts, over and over again. James is still trying to find me. I climb down from my tree. 
“JAMES!” I shout, as loud as I possibly can. My vocal cords are weak from all the screaming I’ve done, but I don’t care. 
“JAMES!” I shout again.
“BETHANY?” He shouts back. I hear leaves rustling and branches breaking. He’s getting closer. I run in the direction of his voice and then I see him. It’s James. He’s really here. He’s really with me right now. I run straight into his arms and he picks me up and spins me. 
“Beth, you’re alright,” he says, laughing and crying at the same time. “Oh, Bethany, you’re alright. Oh thank God!!!” He tightens his arms around me. I pull myself closer to his body. I’ve missed him so much. I suddenly forget about the horrors of the past few months and it’s just him and me. But, then he lets go of me. “Where the hell have you been? I've been out here every day searching for you for the past three months."
I look down at the ground. Dog appears at my side.
“Who are you?” James asks, eyeing him suspiciously. 
“James, this is Dog,” I tell him. “I don’t know how to explain any of this.” Dog helps me explain to James what is going on: about the clearing, the demon, its large tree, and the glass cubicles. James looks horrified throughout the whole thing and puts his arm around me as soon as we tell him about the hallucinations and other hells we’ve had to go through. James is curious about the tree. He asks a lot of questions about it. I can tell that he pities me. He pities both of us. When we’ve explained sufficiently, James places his hand on Dog’s shoulder. 
“I am so sorry,” he says. Dog can tell that James is sincere.
“It’s not your fault,” Dog replies. 
“Is there anything I can do?” James asks. “Is there any way you know that could get it to stop?” 
“No,” Dog says, “I don’t know of any way to get rid of it.”
“I’ll look into it then. There’s gotta be someone around here who knows something about this,” he says confidently. Dog and I thank him profusely. James pulls out a map and a pen. “Could you mark on the map where the clearing is?” I take it from him and draw a circle around the approximate area of the clearing. I make it much bigger than the clearing actually would be on purpose, I don’t want James anywhere near this curse. “And the tree?” I mark the approximate location of that as well. “Thank you,” he says. I nod my head at him. He starts laughing again. “I can’t believe you’re still alive, Beth. I mean, I know you’re in hell, but…you’re not completely gone. Keep being strong, okay? Until I figure this out?”
“I will James. Of course I will,” I say, trying to smile. I’m beginning to panic though. I can tell by the position of the sun that it’s going to be setting within an hour or so. Then I’ll have to leave James and go back to that wretched place.
“Dog, you too, alright? Keep everybody else strong too. It may take me a while to figure this all out, but I’ll work as quickly as I can,” James says. The two of them shake hands. 
“Blossom, we better hurry back,” Dog says. 
“I know,” I say, “Just a second, though, alright?” Dog nods.
I throw my arms around James. I know he can feel me shaking. He doesn’t say anything until I let go of him.
“Be strong,” he whispers. He puts his hand on my shoulder. “You can do this.” I nod my head. Neither of us say goodbye. Dog and 
I walk briskly in silence back to the cubicles. The sun is about to set and we both break into a run. 
We barely make it to our flimsy glass rooms. I fumble with shutting the door and collapse to the ground, trying hard to catch my breath. I never thought that I would be relieved to be here. 
A few more weeks pass, I think. I’ve been trying to keep track of the day that I saw James, but it’s difficult.
One night, the hallucinations leave me so exhausted that as soon as they’re over, I fall asleep. There were needles. Doctors without faces, just surgical masks and cold hands, and really long needles filled with god knows what puncturing my skin over and over again. Dog doesn’t wake me up until dinnertime, insisting that I eat something. I finish my meal and then I hear a horrible scream. The demon comes running into the clearing, surrounded by black flames, screaming and writhing. Then it falls to the ground, evaporates into black fog, and seeps into the soil. All of the glass cubicles shatter and the purple haze of the force field disappears. Dog and I look at each other in shock. Everyone else here looks shocked too. Even Apple has stopped clawing at her arms. Dog and I stand up and we exit the clearing. We see James. He’s sweaty and holds a can of gasoline and a lighter. His face lights up when he sees us.  
“I burned down its tree! It worked! I burned down its tree!” James says happily. Dog and I both ecstatically throw our arms around him. The others join us. 
“How’d you do it?” asks Fox.
“Yeah, how’d you do it?” echoes Lilly.
“I just did. I came over to the tree, poured some gas on it and I burned it down!” James answers triumphantly. A smoldering trunk of a tree stands nearby. He’s beaming. I don’t think I’ve ever seen James look this happy. His eyes meet mine. Mine fill with tears and I run straight to him a second time. I throw my arms over his shoulders. He lifts me up off the ground. I don’t stop crying and I don’t let go of him. We’re free! We’re all finally free! We celebrated with tears and laughter and ran straight back into the town. The others called family members and got rides out. James didn’t once let go of me that day.
In retrospect, I should’ve known that it wasn’t over. I should’ve guessed that there’s no permanent way to get rid of a demon, especially one that had the ability to torture people like this. I underestimated its power and evil. I overestimated James. I should’ve foresaw what was about to happen. But I didn’t foresee it. I was too caught up in the fact that we were saved - that James saved us. I should’ve known. 
I had nightmares that night. James let me come sleep in his bed, which made it easier. He knew that this place scared me, so we packed up all of our things. I think he felt a little uneasy too. We re-loaded his powder blue truck and hit the road. We get off of the dirt road that leads to Lilac Village and turn onto the highway. After a few miles, James’s truck sputters and dies. He has just enough time to pull over to the side of the road. 
“What do we do now?” I ask.
“Well, I’ll try to fix it with what I’ve got. There’s a town a few miles down the highway, could you walk and get a mechanic?” he asks. I felt really nervous about leaving his side, but I figured that we’d both be safe.
That was a mistake. A horrible mistake, I should’ve known that he and I wouldn’t be let off easily. I should’ve known when the sky turned gray and the wind picked up that neither of us was safe. 
I walked all the way to that town, but it was Sunday and the mechanic wasn’t working. I talked to him though.
“I’ll tell ya what, darlin’, ya can borrow my truck and use it to get yerself and your friend here into town. I’ll fix yer truck tomorrow.” 
I thought that was a little strange, but I was desperate to get back to James. I agreed and the mechanic gave me his keys. It was around nine o’clock. Almost time for sunset. It felt strange not having to rush to a glass cubicle. It felt strange knowing that I wouldn’t have to experience any hallucinations that. After a few minutes of driving, I saw a strange orange glow in the distance. As I continued to drive, I realized it was a fire. I floored it to get close enough to see what it was, suddenly terrified for James. I stopped the mechanic’s car and saw the cab of James’s powder blue truck on fire. It burned in the shape of the demon’s head. The sun went down, and I was sure of James’s fate. 
The police found me the next morning sitting on the ground shaking with my head in my hands. Once they had calmed me down enough, I told them what happened, and they didn’t believe me. I was immediately carted off to a mental institution. Dog used to visit me for a while and tell me about how the others were doing. They were all in mental hospitals too, until they found ways to take their lives. I miss Dog. He killed himself a couple years ago. James is still reported as missing and his body hasn’t been found. I ask the doctors about him a lot: if there’s any news. I still have hallucinations sometimes. Sometimes I see the demon standing outside the glass door of my room in the middle of the night. It likes to scrape the glass with its fingernails, just like old times. The doctors keep saying that it’s just schizophrenia and they try to give me medicine. I never take it. I’m not crazy. I know I’m not. Lately, it’s been coming every night. I never scream, because I know they’ll sedate me and needles scare the daylights out of me due to previous hallucinations. I almost want to see the demon. I want to know for sure what it did to James. I want to know where he is. I want to know if he’s still out there somewhere in some sort of afterlife or if it ate his soul and James, my strong and kind best friend, is no more. 
One of the nurses left the door open to my room tonight. Instead of scratching the glass, it enters. My stomach sinks, and I am scared. It sits in the always-empty chair in my room. 
“Hello, Bethany,” it says in a horrible screeching voice, “It’s time for you to join the others.” It stretches out its abnormally long arm and the last thing I see is fire.


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