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The tomato splattered across my face- ow. Fear bubbled in my stomach. Even after I had gone to the headmaster, the bullies, Lola and Lucius, kept harassing me. It makes sense that they hadn’t been addressed; their parents are rich.

“Bet you’re afraid,” said Lucius, with another tomato in his hand, ready to be thrown.

“I’m not afraid. I just have common sense and a desire to stay sane.”

For years there had been tales of The Wood. They started after a girl wandered into The Wood. After she was found. she starting acting strange and was later found trying to drag her baby sister into The Wood. Her parents sent her away. She hasn’t been heard from or seen since. No one goes into The Wood anymore. Some people believe the tales; some don’t. Whether you believe or not, there’s no denying that the wood is strange. Things left within a few feet of the border disappear or are mangled with strange bite marks. Now, for the last few days, Lola and Lucius had been trying to get me to go into The Wood.

“I don’t want to go, please.” I was close to begging.

“Well we want you to,” said Lola.

“Why?” The bullies shared a look. I didn’t know what they were thinking but I was afraid. They dropped the tomatoes and started to get closer to me. I backed up. Then I turned and ran. I stopped in my tracks and realized they had me right where they wanted me. Our school backs up to The Wood and I was barely ten feet from it. When I looked over my shoulder, they were right behind me. My stomach dropped. There was something in their eyes that was almost… not human. Then they grabbed my arms.

“No! Let go of me!” I yelled. I kicked Lucius in the groin and hit Lola in the face. They were surprised. I took the opportunity and ran. I got to the door to the lunch room. I pulled on it. It was locked. I pulled again. It couldn’t be locked. It was never locked. I pulled for the third time and then the handle dissolved as if it were sand. I turned to look and see how close Lola and Lucius were, but they were gone. But that was impossible. I looked at the gate but could see plainly it was locked. Suddenly, my feet slipped. I looked down. The ground had wrapped itself around my feet. I tried to pull my feet out, but they didn’t budge. The ground began to******* down. I tried to scream but I was sucked under. It was like being sucked through slime except it wasn’t wet or dry. I got to the bottom of whatever this thing was and fell onto something hard. It was the ground. In front of me were Lucius and Lola. They smiled at me maliciously. They grabbed me and began dragging me towards the woods again. I struggled, but they seemed to have supernatural strength. Something wasn’t right, but before I had a chance to think about it, they threw me into The Wood.

* * *

I landed on my butt in soft moss. I ran toward the clearing to escape. But the trees and vines grew, blocking my exit. I looked around. All the exits were sealed by foliage. I began walking deeper into The Wood. It was dark. There were no leaves on the ground, just moss. I looked up at the trees and saw they were all evergreens. I began walking to the center of The Wood, hoping to get to the other side and find an exit. I walked a few hundred feet before I realized that my feet were no longer touching the ground. I floated back towards the border and fell to the ground. I figured out that there was something in the center of The Wood, something that whenever I got close to it, it made strange things happen. I pushed on. I got closer and closer to the center. Things got curiouser and curiouser. I could spot the center now. It was emitting a bright green light that blurred my vision. I walked into it which was a bad choice. When my vision cleared, I saw something that chilled my blood. There, in front of me, sat a tangle of vines in which were three people: Lucius, Lola, and the girl that disappeared. I walked over to Lola.

“L-Lola? Are you alive?” She didn’t respond. I was about to move to Lucius when Lola’s eyes cracked open.

“You- You have to… to warn them,” she whispered shakily.

‘Warn who? About what?”

“They’re coming for us. Soon they’ll take everyone.”

“What are you talking– “ I was interrupted by a slithering behind me.

“Look out” Lola screamed. Then she slumped. I looked behind me and saw a creature. It was beautiful and terrifying. It pounced onto me. I struggled, but it began wrapping me in the same web-like vines. Soon I was bound. The vines had strange little thorns on them that pricked me and began taking my blood. I relaxed though I didn’t want to. The thorns were injecting me with some sort of sedative. The vines turned visibly red, full with my blood. Then they grew to a stone bowl that I hadn’t noticed before. My blood was poured into the bowl and it started to take a shape. It turned into me. Down to every imperfection, every hair. I tried to scream because I knew what was happening. They were taking people, killing them by taking their blood, and replacing them with these aliens creatures that weren’t us. The thorns squirted juice into my mouth. As soon as I took a sip, I knew it was poison. I started dying. Everything faded to black. My last thought was that maybe someone would believe the tales. Maybe they’d believe the warnings. Maybe they would save us. Maybe.

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