The Barrens

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

This is some ideas I have for a script about the New Jersey Devil. COPYRIGHT 2010

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Max Nodd and his younger brother Jacob have been fantasizing about this moment for years.  They and their two much older friends Harry and Jarret were about to embark on a journey that nobody has attempted in over twenty years.  The gang was about to enter The Barrens.  It was fifty square miles of dense forest that only offered the most primitive trails which to pass through.  They had been warned by the elders of town never to venture into the wooded abyss. 

Their parents and other folks around the small town had told them that the woods were a place that you could only get lost.  A man needed only venture in a couple of miles and would never find his way out.  This has happened in the past (almost twenty years to date) to three hunters that braved the ominous hunting ground.  They left on a Thursday morning and never returned.  Scattered fragments of equipment were found for years after the vanishing, but never a body.  The majority of hunters said it must have been an attack, perhaps a bear.  Other hunters put the blame on something very different.  Some of them proclaimed that it was Mrs. Leeds’ phantom son that guarded the area from any outsiders.

The ledged of Mrs. Leeds and her boy can date back to the late 1800’s.  Emily Leeds was married to Graham Leeds, a local radical preacher whose sermons mainly consisted of the fear of God, eternal damnation and dancing with the Devil.  Graham Leeds had a minute congregation, but their dedication and total belief in what he preached was complete.  Other formal churches had pretty much outlawed the unnamed Church as nothing more than a Cult, and an offense to the Christian faith.

The congregation kept to themselves.  There were six couples, each of which had at least one child, and there was Mrs. Leeds.  Mrs. Leeds had despised her husband's church and all of its teachings.  She had spent many years with Graham and the relentless religion bestowed upon her had driven her so far away from God.  She was a product of nature and she desired the power to harness the natural world for her own use.

As a child Emily Rein was dissimilar from the other youngsters.  The others, in her mind played asinine games that carried only the reward of coming in first place.  She did not like competition and conceived it as being a self-centered act.  Her innocence at the time told her that everything in nature was created equal.  There was no set hierarchy of substances to the earth.  Every element found was there to complement the other, creating a whole.  Emily Leeds was dumfounded that mankind could not get a grasp on this concept.  The notion of harmony had never, and in her accepted wisdom, will never be known to man.  This was the reason she felt so distant and alone.

Emily had parents that in her vision did the best they could with her uniqueness.  They were good Christians and tried to the best of their ability to teach the word of God.  Emily was not wholly turned off by the teachings of Christ; in fact there was some admiration for this extraordinary man.  She acknowledged Christ’s selflessness and his perspective that the earth we lived on was not ours, only borrowed.  She especially enjoyed the idea of eternal life.  The proposal of lasting forever excited her.  This however did not sway her from practicing the outlawed religion of the town, Wicca.

The young girl of thirteen sought out all writings of this tantalizing new way of life.  She wanted to learn everything she could, and she did for Emily was veracious with her studies.  There was no neglect put on her ordinary studies of literature, science, mathematics, and even the Bible.  She did this for two reasons.  Emily never wanted to cause any rifts between her and her parents for this would surely cause her newfound love of witchcraft to come out in the open.  She attended school and paid a great deal of attention.  She wanted her knowledge to be as complete and balanced as possible.  This way she could take what she learned from the current curriculum and weigh it against what has been self-learned about the art of Wicca.  That was the second and most important reason.

Everyday after school she would take the extremely hard to come by books of Wicca and enter the forest for complete solitude.  The atmosphere was extremely important for her readings.  She found that by sitting on a rock, under an enormous oak tree, next to a babbling creek, beneath the soaring birds put her in the right place to ingest the knowledge.  After a couple months of this routine, she realized that she was tailored to this way of life.

On Thursday April fifth of eighteen hundred ninety two, disaster struck the Rein household.  It was two in the morning when the fire had started.  Apparently Mr. Rein had attempted to extinguish a pipe after a restless sleep.  He thought that the embers of the tobacco had been snuffed completely out, they hadn’t.  The fire spread quickly through out the house and in a mere ten minutes the dwelling was completely engulfed in flames.  In twenty minutes, only the foundation endured.  Both Mr. and Mrs. Rein perished.  Emily survived only because of her frequent night trips to The Barrens in order to practice her skills.  By the time Emily reached the place where home had once stood, there was nothing.  Her Known existence had burned away with the house and her parents.

The upheaval had left Emily with more than sorrow.  Numerous questions began to race around her still undeveloped mind.  Like a hamster on a wheel they zipped round and round through her brain.  Why had her parents been taken from her?  They were more than decent people; they were saints to their only child.  How could a loving God take here parents away from her at the tender age of thirteen?  There were other questions as well, in which she would pursue to answer at a later time in life.  At the right time the answers would come.

Mr. Healy, the town constable, and his wife had temporarily taken custody of Emily.  Because of the remote location of the town, not being close to any city, foster care was impossible.  Another unfeasible option was staying with the Healys indefinitely.  The Healys were full of activity raising five children themselves and could not afford Emily’s presence emotionally as well as financially.  Emily was well liked by them; they just could not do it, which burdened their conscious.  They became determined to place her in the right hands.  This is where Jack and Mary Leeds came into her life.

The Leeds possessed conservative views on life, even for the time period.  Devoutly religious they could be portrayed.  They lived by the word of God without hesitation.  People in town considered them to be extreme, yet outwardly just eccentric.  They showed no signs of malicious intent and had seemed to raise a fine son Graham, a pioneer of the Christian faith.  Graham inspired to become a preacher of the word.  This motivation would become true.

Jack and Mary Leeds conspired to arrange the marriage of Graham and Emily once she reached the age of sixteen.  Graham respectfully would be twenty-one years old.  The important task ahead was to reform Emily’s religious views into their own interpretations.  Now, these interpretations were excessive.  It seems that the Leeds family had interpreted the Bible in a fanatical fashion.  They re-wrote it with extreme obsession to cater their internal viewpoints.  The elucidation of the word of God was more than fanatical. It was hellish.  The emphasis of faith was placed on the fear of God and eternal damnation. In time Graham would take these teachings to zealous proportions.

Emily’s studies of the “word” were brutal.  No longer would she be taught geometry, biology, and not any literature other than the bible.  Twelve hours of intense cramming for three years until she was sixteen.  By this time Graham was a preacher, and just starting his own congregation.  He needed a wife and Emily had reached the determined age, so the ceremony was performed.

The Leeds had been distant to the small town with a population of two hundred ninety eight, not including them.  Their farm had been just a half a mile outside the town’s border.  Now because of the town’s perception of them, Graham had needed something in order to connect with the people of the town.  It was quite obvious that Emily was the something.  She had grown to an attractive petite young lady, with virtuousness.  Even the common folks realized she was different.  The years of hardship and unwanted knowledge had given plenty of punishment to her, yet it did not show on her face.  Through the years Emily had been banned from practicing her faith, but she found ways of hiding it.  It was actually quite easy because of the Leeds indulgence of alcohol.  Every night at differing times the Leeds would enter a slumber in which the Devil himself could not disturb. Or could he?

This was a blessing to Emily, perhaps from the God her parent’s had spoken of.  She would not even have to sneak out of the house.  She just left.  Into The Barrens she would go with her small oil lamp.  The light wasn’t really necessary; she could always feel her way back.  She knew the woods, and they knew her.  Trails became visible to her without effort.  She had a gift.  There was a circular clearing that suited Emily’s needs completely.  This is where she would practice the forbidden religion.  No books were to be had because they were confiscated without ado, but she didn’t need them.  The words of the books remained in her head as if they were meant to be and stay there.

One Thursday evening Graham had taken Emily into town, seeking out possible parishioners of his faith.  Back at the Leeds estate, something had happened that is remembered to this day.  For some reason, the Devil had paid them a visit.  The enemy spoke words into Mr. Leeds’ ear.  The deceiver commanded for their lives.  That is exactly what happened legend has it.  Mr. Leeds butchered his wife then slit his own throat, just as he was told to do.  Mr. Leeds, of course only knew the actual account, yet the story moved from household to household always irresolute, but strangely having some credence.

Graham had not acknowledged his pain on the exterior.  This did not deny that it existed.  The pain grew inside him like a tapeworm.  He sought solace in radical views.  His parents must have swayed from the path of God and were punished.  Graham must seek out his sins and abolish them.  He had new vibrancies and with the help of Emily, was able to slowly build his own congregation.  The first to be stirred by Graham’s proclamations were Mr. and Mrs. Ponner, a couple from the outskirts of town.  They had just traveled from the east and Graham just happened to be able to sway them before the other church brought them in.

They were warned of course.  They story of the gruesome murder suicide was divulged and nonetheless the Ponners were not discouraged.  Guilt is what drew them to Graham.  They believed that they must be punished for their sins and the continuance of sin.  Graham was the vessel to salvation.  They immediately began visiting the Leeds’ estate each evening in order to be educated in the new way.  They always brought their daughter Jessie with them.  The young girl was barely the age of four and didn’t have the capacity to retain what was being taught. 

Emily had despised the child.  She had no true reason for this feeling but it was evident.  The constant grating noises the child made had sent shivers through out Emily’s body.  She tried her best to keep her feelings towards this little creature and also her repulsive parents, inward.  She did this quite well only of thinking of her love of Wicca, and her nightly trips to The Barrens.  One of those nights would start in motion exactly what Max Nodd, his brother Jacob and their two friends Harry and Jarret entered the woods on that Thursday evening.

Each month the exiled parish grew, as with their peculiar views on the Word of God.  The ceremonies deepened with intensity, each night the duration of the rituals grew.  Emily’s disdain towards every aspect of this religion deepened.  Her knowledge and power of Wicca grew to proportions that are unheard of.  If only she had contact with other practitioners, she could evaluate her gifts to other worshipers of nature.  This was not to be.  She reflected on fleeing the town on many occasions.  Where would she go?  Graham had only provided Emily with a small amount of belongings, and no money.  Of course she could never leave her Barrens.  She inwardly had taken sole possession of the woods.  Nobody dared venture too far into The Barrens, especially to the lengths in which Emily had embarked.

Emily knew every square inch of the woods.  She could tell you where the deer would gather to drink from a specific watering hole on every third of the month.  She named all of the creatures of the forest immediately upon their introduction.  There was a communal agreement between her and the creatures.  They knew their boundaries, and she knew hers.  Perfect Harmony.  She could not help but let her innocence fly each time she was able to creep in the woods for a gathering with nature.

The months following the deaths of Mr. and Mrs. Leeds threw Graham into his church and into the bottle.  His drinking was massive and was becoming known to the townsfolk.  The congregation remained firm with Preacher Leeds, and perceived that this is a tribulation in which he must endure.  The Lord would surely make it right, if he repented and showed and felt his guilt.  The drinking went on.

This only proved to be an opportune moment for Emily to go to her true home, The Barrens.  Grahams drunken naps increased is frequency and duration, which left many windows of opportunity for Emily to sin against her husband, the congregation, and perhaps even God.  She no longer saw God as a loving being, but a punisher of eternal sin that could not be cleansed.  The ability for her to enter The Barrens at least twice a day was pure bliss.  This went on for just under a year when the next catastrophic event would happen to Emily Leeds.

The Thursday evening sermon was heated, Graham being outwardly drunk.  His teachings heard that evening was of a violent nature that even brought unease to his faithful congregation.  There were many slurs and long pauses in order for him to collect his warped thoughts.  He spoke of rebellion against the town.  He insinuated total isolation so they all could repent!  Now the congregation felt awkward toward the content of the oration, but as many times before were ultimately drawn to it.  Graham shouted his interpretation and it wasn’t long before the congregation was screaming back in agreement.  This infuriated Emily and caused her to make a huge misstep.  The anger that grew within slowly started scratching it’s way out.  At first like a cat attempting to claw its way through a wool blanket, churning in her stomach and chest.  Then it grew to an incensed lioness that tore that wool blanket as if her young depended on it.  Emily Bellowed out “Blasphemy” and stormed out of the makeshift church into The Barrens.

Preacher Leeds tried to the best of his ability to compose himself after the episode.  With the heavy influence of whiskey, overexertion, and sin, Graham stumbled out of his church in search of his wife.  He hadn’t dared to enter farther than a few yards into the woods in the past.  The only encounter before this night was the occasional trip to the environs of The Barrens to collect firewood for the stove.  He had no knowledge of Emily’s complete alliance with The Barrens.  Through his self-indulgence of many varieties, it had left Graham naïve to the activities in which Emily had been so fond of. 

The determination drove him deep into the woods in search of his damned wife.  Emily could choose not to be found.  She could hide from rock to tree, from stream to lagoon.  She could even find refuge in the heavy marshes that were copious to The Barrens.  Emily wanted to be found.  She did not know the rationale of the decision to be located by her enraged husband.  Forces drove her beyond her hegemony. She sauntered toward her husband’s voice.  Each inch toward sure punishment drove Emily into panic.  Her body shuttered and jerked with fear.  It was a short time that seemed endless when Graham located his wife.

Graham was sweating profusely and his chest rose up and down in rapid succession.  There was a perplexing gaze to his eyes that gave Emily the most fright.  In his hands he clutched The Word of god.  The book took an odd shape because of the grip he had on it.  Emily stood before him, never staring away from those eyes.  The eyes of El Diablo she thought.  Suddenly the book of love had come crashing against the side of her face with force enough to throw her onto the ground.  “You bitch!  You are damned to hell”, Graham both screamed and garbled.  That was all he said.  That was all that was needed.  Emily was to be reproved.

The Preacher had never been an amicable man to Emily, but what he did that night was not Graham.  Even Emily had sensed this, and believed it.  The eyes that had penetrated deep within Emily’s soul had now turned black.  Not just any black, it was a darkness that could not be fathomed unless witnessed in person.  Graham threw himself on top of Emily and began to lift her skirt up.  This was a shock to Emily, yet she knew what was about to be.  It’s funny that the first time the couple had sex was in the act of a rape.  They had never consummated the marriage.  Graham had convinced himself many months before the marriage that he did not want children or sex.  The act of making love was sin in his judgment.

Graham was a human, a mammal, and an animal just like each of us.  The few nocturnal emissions that he had encountered during his life were not enough for him and whatever possessed him on this particular evening, was filled with lust and the longing for fornication.  He got his wish and violated Emily that Thursday evening.  After the attack the darkness that dwelled in Graham’s eyes dissipated.  The venting of sexual frustration had also brought him to soberness.  He simply stood up, fixed his clothing, brushed off the leaves and dirt that had accumulated during the violent but brief struggle, and retrieved his Bible.  “Now you will be with child,” Graham stated with an uncomfortable calmness attached to his voice.  He then faded away into The Barrens.  Emily was left with complete disdain towards everything.  She was also soon to be with child.  She cursed the incident and performed an impromptu performance of a Wicca ritual that carried the tone of malevolence.  Throughout her many years of executing diverse rituals, she never dared dabble in Black Magic.  This night she had no inhibitions.  She would curse her husband, the congregation, and the town.  She would be ruler of The Barrens.  Anything that entered the woods would have to deal with her.  She created her own domain, and there was a little hell that she had to pay.  Soon, in nine short moths, Mrs. Leeds would have a helper.  The phantom of The Barrens would be born.  Max and his friends shouldn’t step foot into The Barrens.  They did.


Submitted: July 21, 2010

© Copyright 2021 TJK. All rights reserved.

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