Into the Woods Part Two

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

Part two

Part Two

 

When he was out of breath, Gimlet realized he was deeply lost. The trees overhead was as imposing as ever, blocking out the sky. He didn't know how much time had passed since he entered the forest. It felt like a day but surely, he was only gone for a couple of hours.

 

Despite losing the lantern back at the cottage, he still had his knife and his father's ax. He cut off a small branch from a nearby tree and picked two sharp rocks. With practiced ease, he knocked the stones together and soon made a torch.

 

With the fire illuminating his surroundings, he felt a bit safer.  The next second he regretted his decision. An eerie creature stared back at him.

 

He took a step back. To describe what it looked like would be like describing a confusing mess of animal parts put together.  It didn't blink its owl like eyes. It stretched its serpentine neck.  Its mouth or rather mouths opened, revealing teeth, fangs and other forms of oral orifices.

 

Gimlet couldn't move or run away, too frozen with fear to react. And like lightening, the creature struck, biting Gimlet's neck. A piercing pain shot through him and he cried out. He fell on the ground and lost consciousness.

 

When he came awake, Gimlet found himself inside a wooden cage hanging several feet off the ground. The neck bite had scabbed and he felt dizzy from the loss of blood. He checked his waist and felt relieved to find his knife still there. So was his father's ax.

 

On a high window, the bright moon illuminated the night sky.  For some reason, he felt relieved to finally see the white moon and the clear skies. At least he knew it was still night.

 

The creature was no where to be found. Gimlet started to cut through the cage with his knife.

 

A voice said.

 

"Who's there?"

 

"Don't do it." The voice repeated.

 

"Why not?" Gimlet asked.

 

"It likes to play games."

 

"How would you know that?"

 

Gimlet looked around and found another cage hanging a few feet above his. Inside was an older boy with flaxen hair and golden wheat colored skin. He was dressed in a strange fashion Gimlet never seen before.

 

"I've tried to escape several times. It always catches me and puts me back in the cage. I think it likes to play with the food before it eats it. You know like a cat."

 

"Do you know what it is?"

 

The boy shook his head. "I have no idea what it is. I got lost when it found me and took me here. What about you?"

 

Gimlet pondered on the stories. "I think its a forest spirit."

 

"A forest spirit? Like a fairy?"

 

"Yes, but more dangerous. I am not certain of it for sure but if what you said is true. Its a spirit that lives very deep in the woods. Hunting humans is its favorite sport and when the human is peaked with fear, that is when it devours the human."

 

"Oh." The boy said in a small voice. "So it really is like a cat."

 

"What's your name?"

 

"Eric."

 

"I'm Gimlet. Let's work together to escape. How about it?"

 

"Two heads are better than one I guess."

 

"Can you tell me how you escaped the first time?"

 

"I managed to break free and within a few minutes, it caught me and put me back here again. I tried to escape several times after that but it always manages to catch me."

 

"Did you see any landmarks or stones?"

 

"I noticed several pieces of wood sticking out from the ground."

 

"I see. side its hunting territory so we need to get out before it catches us. I have a knife and my father's ax. What about you?"

 

"I didn't bring anything with me. It took me by surprise."

 

"Then how did you manage to break the cages?"

 

"With my bare strength."

 

Gimlet looked at the semi-thick wooden bars and tried to pull at it. It didn't budge.

 

"You must be strong."

 

"Yes, people have told me so."

 

To prove it, Eric pulled at the bars and it broke under his grasp. Gimlet watched as Eric climbed out of the cage and leapt over to his cage. Up close, Eric's eyes were a clear blue color.

 

"Believe me now?"

 

Gimlet nodded. They spent half an hour concocting a plan. When they finalized it, they both climbed out of the cages and leapt to the ground. Several broken cages surrounded them. Some stained with blood.

 

Gimlet took out his father's ax and handed it to Eric. "In case it tries to capture us, we each have something to defend ourselves with."

 

Eric swung the ax around, feeling the weight and nodded. "Thank you."

 

"Once we leave here, it will start the hunt and try to bring us back here again. Split up and find the exit. If we do that, one of us has a better chance of escaping and finding help. Are you alright with that?"

 

Eric nodded. "I'm fine with that."

 

They both walked out of the entrance which turned out to be a large hollow tree and stared at the dark tunnel like opening.

 

"Do you think its watching us right now?" Eric whispered.

 

"No doubt it is. Remember the plan." Gimlet whispered back.

 

Then they walked into the dark opening.

 

Immediately, they split up and ran in different directions. There was no clear path. Gimlet had to evade various trees and branches sticking out as he ran as fast as he could. He looked back every once in a while, his heart pounding in his chest.

 

Once he ran as far as he could, he stopped and tried to find his bearings. All around him, no light could penetrate through the thick overgrown trees. No sound came except for his panting breath and the sound of his boots. Then from the corner of his eye, he saw it. It sat atop one of the high branches, gazing at him with a concentrated look. He shivered. It felt uncomfortable.

 

He felt something wet down his hand. He looked down and saw his wound had opened. It must have reopened while running. The cloth stained with fresh blood attracted the creature. Like a hunter who found its prey, it agilely jumped down the tree and approached Gimlet. Gimlet tightened his grip on his knife.

 

He felt glad he remembered the story. A man once felt empathy for the animals killed by hunters and tried to take the souls of those who died into his own as a way to comfort their pain. However, what he didn't expect was the level of pain the animals felt. It erased his sanity, leaving behind a horrifying amalgamation of animal spirits who seek revenge against humans.

 

Gimlet watched as it grew closer and just went it reached out. Gimlet yelled.

 

"Now!"

 

Eric appeared behind one of the trees and struck the creature with the ax. The heavy metal embedded itself on the creature's back, making a soft wet noise. Blood spurted out as the creature made a loud cry.

 

It turned to Eric, multiple eyes glinting with anger. It swiped at Eric with its hoof. Eric dodged.

 

Gimlet moved in close while the creature was distracted and sliced off one of the creature's limbs. A webbed foot fell to the ground and the creature cried out. Eric then immediately took a risk to grab the ax still stuck in the creature's back, pulling it out but not quickly enough. The creature hit Eric in the chest and Eric flew from the impact, hitting the ground hard.

 

The creature roared, wrapping a serpentine limb around Eric's neck, squeezing the boy's breath. Gimlet watched them, his heart pounding. A sudden thought came over him. He could leave them behind and run. He had a higher chance of escaping while the creature was distracted. Eric was only a stranger after all. Saving his own mother was more important. His life was more important.

 

It was only for a split second. Gimlet made his choice. He rushed at the creature, grabbed the ax handle, pulled it out and whacked it against the creature's head several times. The creature fell limp on the ground, releasing its hold on Eric.

 

Gimlet panted with exhaustion. He released his father's ax with trembling hands and went to check on Eric. The older boy was breathing but unconscious. Heavily bruised but in one piece. Gimlet sat next to Eric, trying to get his breath back.

 

The creature in front of them started to twitch. Immediately, Gimlet became alert. The creature started to change form, the many limbs and shapes melted away, revealing the face of a man with a missing limb.

 

Gimlet climbed to his feet to take a closer look. He gazed at it. The last time Gimlet saw his father was before he left for the woods. All that was left was a severed leg and the ax. His father looked like he hadn't aged a day. Then the body withered and turned to dust.

 

Gimlet tried to see if he felt something at the surprising revelation but nothing stirred in his heart. His father died a long time ago.

 

Eric woke up. "What happened?"

 

"We did it."

 

Eric looked around and saw the gray dust on the ground. "Our plan worked?"

 

"Yes, we killed the creature."

 

"Finally. We can get out of here. Also thanks for saving me. I owe you. If there's anything I can do to help, tell me and I'll help you."

 

"I'm looking for a plant called the Queen of the Night. Can you help me find it?"

 

"I don't know anything about plants but I'm strong. I can help protect you if the situation becomes dangerous."

 

Eric grabbed the ax nearby. "Do you mind if I keep this with me for a while? I'm assuming there are more dangerous creatures the more we go deeper in the forest."

 

"I don't mind."

 

They left the creature's territory which ended in front of a river.  They began to follow it up stream.

 

End of Part Two

 


Submitted: September 18, 2020

© Copyright 2022 Myariel Lee. All rights reserved.

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