Bryce stood there, right in front of the woods, gawking at what was in front of him. An almost clear but well-trodden path led straight ahead to the translucent wall of trees that emitted the vibe of ‘unwelcome’. The gnarled roots of the trees above the crooked line of sticky soil looked like twisted hands that wanted to penetrate and enter the ground.
Sun rays found gaps through the canopy of tall trees, and Bryce could make out the bright yet dull silhouette of the setting sun which cast the sky in the beams of twilight. Even though it sounded as if there was a slight breeze, the feeling of stillness in the air was unmistakable – he could practically feel ancient and unknown energy lurking in the woods.
Bryce shuddered at the thought of entering the forest at such a time. He had been asked to leave as early as possible, but ignorant and obstinate as he was, he started after sunrise. Now, he was severely regretting it. He bent down to slap mosquitoes that kept buzzing around and biting his legs. He shivered again in disgust. Insects were the worst; creepy – crawly creatures usually living to suck human blood.
He tried recalling what he was asked to do, but the very idea of walking through those thorn-like things had frozen him in place.
All of a sudden, Bryce’s ears caught the sound of a twig snapping nearby. He whipped his head to his right, just in time, to see a dark shadow running – no, floating towards his car. He yelled in fear and shock and immediately felt the air getting thicker as if the trees were alive and monitoring every sound and movement of his.
Truly afraid and shivering now, Bryce made a sudden sprint towards the opposite side – the direction he came from – but paused. He turned to take a last look at the woods . . . . but they had vanished. In place of them, stood huge, cracked boulders that stretched up to the dark-blue sky and disappeared into their murky clouds. There was no telling whether or not the rocks went higher than that. Thick, grey mist enveloped the stones in their embrace as they slowly floated and danced in the air, blowing icy cold air in all directions.
Bryce opened his mouth to scream – but realized his voice had gone as well. He could feel a burning sensation mixed with an icy one, crawling up his stomach – his throat – his mouth. . . . and he heaved out black smoke.
The dark whisps slithered above and started spinning around him. They grew higher and denser with each second, and twirled faster, and faster, and faster. Soon, Bryce was inundated in their murky walls.
Suddenly, a deafening and alien sound hit Bryce’s ears, and he felt tears prick his eyes. He was scared, he was alone, and he was surrounded by some mysterious substance that wouldn’t stop coming near him. The noise got louder and louder, while something as smooth as silk wrapped around his chest.
Moments later, Bryce discovered his airways were unblocked again. He screeched and yelled and thrashed around in despair, but to no avail. The tightness around his chest just kept squeezing along with the intense racket stabbing his ears. His hands were tied – stuck – to his body, and he couldn’t wail any more. His body went numb with the pain. He started choking. The noise went higher and shriller; it gradually started morphing into a static sound – the kind when a radio is set at a frequency where no station exists.
Then for a second, time froze. Bryce’s eyes were practically bulging out of his sockets and his body was contorted at unnatural angles; it was that moment he knew it was over. The noise subsided abruptly. The instant passed, and Bryce fell on the ground, lifeless.
A huge cloud of mist passed over the entire forest, emitting the energy that had drawn Bryce towards it. No one shall know, it seemed to whisper. Bryce’s body dissolved, and the gnarled roots and the scene of an ordinary, placid night was back.