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By @UnknownWriter227

The Woods

   I struggled to open my eyes so I wasn’t sure where I was, I had to feel around slowly because I was half asleep. I tried to find my phone and realized it wasn’t on me. Panicking, I forced my eyes open and they were met with darkness. I blinked several times and crawled around with desperation. My hand hit something- something… Something that caused a pained groan to escape my friend’s lips. 

“Whoops. Sorry Ben, I panicked. Uh, are we still at the school?” I nervously asked, trying to change the subject.

“Yeah, Chipmunk, we are. You fell asleep and when Headmaster Lores came to check in, he said to let you sleep and that I should stay with you. He said you’d be disgruntled when you woke up and, sure enough, you were.” He yawned widely towards the end and I felt my heart swell at the knowledge that Headmaster Lores and Ben cared about me enough to allow me the sleep I so desperately needed. I wasn’t sleeping well lately, it felt like I was always being watched. The nightmares and forgotten memories were tearing me apart. They were finally able to break the wall I built down. This time it was easy to sleep dreamlessly. I think it had to do with Ben there. 

“Chipmunk?” I stirred slightly and shifted so that I was facing him. “Want me to walk you home? I can carry you if you’d like,” he was always thinking of me. I enjoyed being the center of someone’s attention again, in a good way. 

“That sounds nice,” I felt him start to stand and I let him go for a moment and then gripped his hand when he held it out. He lifted me and carried me bridal style as he jogged out of the school. When we reached the main entrance, he shifted me to sitting on his shoulders and pulled a key out of his pocket. “He gave you the keys?” I was bewildered. He’d only been here for a week and he already had a key to the place. I don’t even have a key and I’m practically the headmaster’s daughter.

“Uh, yeah.. I have to give it back in the morning. He wanted me to be sure that I locked up when we left,” he seemed a bit embarrassed. An awkward silence between us began to form as we reached the street I usually cross in the morning. I noticed his stance was slightly hunched and I worried that I was too heavy for him to carry like this. “Where do I go now,” his question broke through my thoughts. 

“Oh, uh, straight.”

“Through the woods?”

“Yeah. I take it every morning and I used to take it after school before you came. It’s safe.” I was kind of surprised by his reaction. I wanted to assure him it’s safe and there’s no one out here. 

“Have you been through here in the dark before? It seems dangerous,” his intention was to keep me safe, I realized. How much did he care about me?

“No, the last time I was in the woods alone in the dark was when I was 9.” I remembered exactly what happened then, I was sworn not to go alone for a long time. It sucked.

“These woods, though?” This wasn’t right, he was being weird. 

“Am I too heavy,” I blurted out suddenly. I wanted to change the topic and I wanted to stretch my legs, anyways. “I would prefer to walk anyway.”

“You’re not too heavy but if you want to get off, I guess you can.” He lifted me over his head and placed me back on the ground. “Is something wrong, Chipmunk?”

“I could ask you the same thing.” It was then that I realized we weren’t alone. “Ben, get closer,” I warned.

“What, why?” He was startled by my sudden outburst. 

“Just do it,” I exclaimed. “Something’s following us,” he was about to argue back so I kept him quiet and elbowed him in the gut and gave him a stern look. I looked around and I saw the tree leaves rustle and it looked like something was running through the canopy towards us. The whole thing brought back memories of the last time I was alone in the woods. The only difference was that this time, it dropped in front of me. It was the same creature who I met 7 years ago. I smiled and my eyes welled up with happy tears as I raced to it and trapped it in a bear hug.

 “I knew you were real, it had nothing to do with trauma!” I sobbed into its neck.

“I never forgot about you, my dearesst” it responded, dragging out the ‘s’. I jerked back and looked it in the eyes. They reminded me of Ben’s eye. I looked at Ben and he didn’t even look scared, startled, or like it was some sick monster. 

“What the hell do you want, Rake?” He sounded angry and annoyed, like the creature was just a bothersome bug.

“Nothing, old friend. Jusssst a vissssit to check on my child.” Rake responded. I was shocked they knew each other. I was about to say something when I realized Ben had two eyes with a back void and a glowing red pupil. I gasped and then Rake pushed me aside as Ben leapt at him. I watched as they fought, Ben’s figure seemed to be glitching out of harm’s way and reappearing in another place to attack. I wasn’t about to let these two rip each other to shreds. 

“Stop!” I screamed, “Just stop hurting each other!” My anger was getting the best of me but they weren’t listening. I did the only thing I knew would get their attention. I allowed my body to release its power and felt it forming stronger than ever. I could tell it wasn’t the same as it was when I was a child. There was no knife this time. I thought about keeping the two of them away from hurting one another. I saw four dark silver tentacles shoot out from behind me and two went to trap Ben and two wrapped themselves around Rake. “I said STOP!” I practically screamed. Ben struggled against me and tried to escape and—poof. He was gone and then he reappeared behind Rake, ready to kill. I wasn’t fast enough. My silver tentacles were halfway there when four black ones shot out and wrapped around Ben. I gasped because these weren’t mine. There was a tall figure in the trees and his appearance brought static that would have made anyone go deaf. The only reason I didn’t was because—as I just realized—I was producing louder static. 

“My children, why must you hurt each other?” He questioned us all.

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