It came as no surprise to young Charlie Thompson that the woods far behind his house contained a terrible secret. Many nights he had stayed up late, gazing at the black forest, and many nights he saw the strange figure moving in and out of them. On warm summer evenings, when he left his bedroom window open to feel the cool air sweep in, he heard eerie cries and screams from within the trees. He never saw anyone venture inside. He never saw anyone go near the woods, in fact.
So when the neighborhood children told him of a witch who lived deep within the wooded fortress, he didn’t pass it off as fairy-tale. No, he was profoundly convinced of the story’s accuracy, and , like most situations of this caliber develop, there came a time when one of the children spoke those words that no young person can ignore, “I dare you.”
Thus, it came to pass that when Charlie was just 12 years of age, he found himself standing at the edge of Ebersaw Forest.
“Well go on Charlie, you said you were brave enough!”
“I’m going already!” he yelled back to his friend Phillip, who stood several feet away.
“Are you sure you don’t wanna come with me?”
“Then who will get help if the witch gets you?”
Charlie clenched his fists and flared his nostrils. He was closer to the woods than he had ever seen anyone get. Therefore, he already had a worthy accomplishment under his belt, but he knew it wasn’t enough. He was going to do this. He had to know for sure what was haunting these wood, even though something told him he shouldn’t be meddling.
His first step into the wooded area was bold and true, but the second and third were a little shaky. Although it was mid-afternoon, the thick and stringy trees darkened the inside, creating a spine-tingling environment. Nonetheless, Charlie found his will to be strong, and he told himself that it was going to take a lot more than darkness to drive him out.
There was a dead silence that he found odd. No bird chirps or squirrel barks, just silence. He pressed on through it all, crunching on dry leaves and twigs, until something up ahead caught his eye and chilled his blood. A large bulky shadow was swaying back and forth, walking across his path not fifty yards in front of him. As a few shards of sunlight found their way through the maze of leaves, Charlie could see the shadow’s features.
If she wasn’t a witch, he didn’t know what one looked like.
But she wasn’t the only thing crushing through the woods. He could make out a small, childlike creature walking along with her. It was bald and obviously disfigured, standing no more than two feet off the ground. The thing was grumbling and speaking words Charlie couldn’t understand.
It was then that he made a mistake. The fear pulsating through his body instinctively caused him to take a step back, which, as luck would have it, caused a stick to snap under his weight. Instantly the witch glared in his direction. She screamed the scream he had only heard before on the other side of his bedroom window. It traveled on the wind and rustled his clothes as it flew by. Suddenly, the little creature by her side took off in a sprint towards Charlie. It’s mouth was open as it thrashed its way through the brush. Charlie turned in a panic, knowing that he couldn’t outrun the thing, but he had to try. All the while the witch was screaming and laughing, taking pleasure in seeing her little pet do her bidding.
Charlie’s strength was failing him. His couldn‘t run much farther. Then, just as the deformed creature was about to pounce on him, some unseen force knocked it away. Charlie didn’t see it, but he looked back when he heard it cry out in pain. It was laying on its side next to a tree, not moving, not breathing. The witch screamed again, having saw the event take place, but it was too late for her to do anything.
Charlie reached the end of the forest, to see Phillip already running away several yards ahead of him. He vowed then and there, never again to go places he knew he shouldn’t. His interest in Ebersaw Forest was officially put to end.
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