It was foggy the day I left my cabin and ventured to the Forest – superstitions be damned. I wasn’t afraid of a ghost story, but still, the fog didn’t help anything. The crows ca-cawed above like some ominous Edgar Allen Poe tale. The branches cracked beneath my worn riding boots, and they sunk into the damp earth. Mud caked along the edges of the trail, which had only been forged by wanderers who had never returned from the Forest’s grasp.
I walked until the treetops hid the sunlight, and a veil of darkness washed over the Forest, turning it into a whole new nightmare. I realized how foolish I’d been. Psychiatrists love to say you should face your fears, but what if facing them ends up with you being dead and buried… or just buried alive?
As I ventured into the heart of the forest, my breath came short and stuttered, the cold wrapping its talons around my bare skin and giving me eternal shivers – my bones chattering. Save me, save me. I thought. But who would save me now? I probably couldn’t even find my way out, and some twisted part of me still wanted to keep walking, still wanted to keep exploring and figure out –
I wasn’t alone. He stood there, hunched over a lump in the leafy base of the forest, beneath willow trees and creepy crawly things skittering about. A howl crescendoed behind me, but I didn’t jump. I couldn’t look away.
He would have been charming if he didn’t have blood stains on his teeth. If it were a woman, it could pass as smeared lipstick. But his feral eyes didn’t match the hooded expression of passion, just a few minutes before making a bad mistake – or a great one.
I knew he could rip me to shreds, perhaps devour me in unimaginable ways. He was the furthest thing from safe and, in that moment, human. But it didn’t matter. That’s what the Forest does to people. I knew he’d end up being my killer, and yet I still fell in love.