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Mike is lazily jogging on the leaf-covered dirt road that runs through the forest near his house. “Why am I doing this? I could have been snoozing under my warm blanket, all cozy and stuff,” he thinks, stopping to catch his breath. “Running can’t be healthy. It can’t be! I am sweating, my body is aching, I feel like I’m gonna throw up. There is nothing healthy about that!”
At the turn of the path he spots another jogger. Groaning, Mike straightens up and starts to sluggishly jog again. Getting closer, he can see that the other jogger is a woman, her chestnut hair tied into a ponytail and her breasts bobbing up and down hypnotically. The two joggers pass each other. Mike turns his neck awkwardly around to get a better look at the woman’s behind. "Damn," he mumbles, a bit louder than he would have liked. The woman turns around and the two joggers lock eyes. Mike loses his balance and stumbles forward. He lowers his head and sprints away, as quickly as his fat legs allow him. “Shit.”
After spending the past months pitying his fat blob of a body, he finally made the decision to start exercising. Instead of spending his hard earned money to get a subscription at his local gym, he decided to start jogging in the forest near his house. As a matter of fact, lots of people used to go to the forest to exercise. Even a nice curling pathway that runs through the whole forest was paved to help joggers find their way through the densely wooded area. Inexplicably, people gradually stopped going there. All the better for Mike, who can now jog in peace.
Mike leans against a tree to catch his breath. That little sprint really got to him. He takes a good look at the forest around him. The tall trees provide nice, thick shading and the birds chirp lovely, cheerful tunes. His vision gets lost in a sea of brown and red leaves. He breathes in the earthy smells of the forest. The tranquility of the woods calms his nerves and soothes his spirit. Mike, for the first time in his life, feels connected to the natural world around him. His heartbeat synchronizes with the rhythm of the forest and his breath joins the sounds of nature in the timeless chorus of life.
Then, a feeling of unease creeps into Mike’s heart, breaking the serenity of the moment. A shiver runs down his spine and the hair on the back of his neck stands up. He finds himself staring deep into the forest. The world around him feels like a dream. He has no control over his body, as his legs carry him towards the center of the forest. Drunkenly, he looks around. Time seems to have stopped and an eerie stillness hangs in the air as he walks past trees and bushes.
A crunching sound brings Mike back to his senses. He looks at his feet. He has stepped on a twig, snapping it in half.
"Weird," he mutters. Confused, he walks back to the paved path. Silence has fallen over the woods and he can't shake off the feeling that something sinister lurks in the bowels of the forest.
After a few minutes of uneventful jogging, he sees something out of place in the distance. He squints, but he can't make out much.
When he gets close enough to the weird object, he realizes that it is simply a chair. A chair out in the woods. Mike can't help but feel a bit weirded out by a chair abandoned in a forest. It seems... off.
Next morning finds Mike once again jogging across the muddy trek. "God, my body hurts so badly."
The sky is painted a dull gray, with dark clouds hovering ominously low above ground. The air is chilly and humid, with a slight breeze picking up every once in a while. Mike had to put on a heavy hoodie to fend off the cold.
He has been jogging for about half an hour, when he reaches the spot he saw the chair. It is now gone. Only four dry patches of grass where the chair's legs previously stood are visible. "Someone must have moved it then," Mike thinks and keeps jogging.
A sudden gust of wind blows the leaves on Mike's right and carries them across the path. Following the leaves' trajectory with his eyes, Mike spots a vaguely human-shaped shadow moving in the distance. Distracted, he slips on the damp leaves scattered on the path. When he regains his balance, the shadow is nowhere to be seen.
Mike holds his breath and listens. Nothing. "Just my overactive imagination," he thinks and resumes jogging, casting a quick look over his shoulder just to be safe.
He is now walking near the center of the forest, in a densely wooded area. The trees seem taller here, covering what little of the sunlight escapes the wall of clouds and casting thick shading over the damp ground. It is so dark that Mike has to look at his watch to confirm it is still morning.
The forest itself feels asleep. Nothing moves and no sound is made. Only Mike's heavy breathing and the rhythmic sound of his soles hitting the leaf-covered ground. He looks left and right at the scenery, enthralled, and a little unsettled, by the unearthly stillness of the forest.
Through the wall of trees and branches, Mike spots the sun's rays penetrating the forest's armor and reaching the ground in a beam of blinding light. In a heartbeat, he decides he wants to look at this marvel from up close. So, he carefully starts making his way towards the light. Stepping over a fallen log, he scrapes his shin on its rough bark. "Shit..." he mumbles under his breath as he carries on.
Mike looks up. There is no light beam. Confused, he quickly steps forward and takes a good look around. Where he thought he saw the light he now sees a small, muddy pond. He looks up at the thick mass of foliage and branches. "There is no way light can pass through that," he realizes. "Maybe my mind is playing tricks on me."
His attention shifts back on the murky pond, where foamy bubbles start appearing on its surface. Curious, Mike leans forward but a putrid smell hits his nostrils and he is immediately forced back. Moments later, he can only watch in terror as a large shape starts emerging from the depths of the dark waters. For a split second, Mike spots broad shoulders and an arched back. Adrenaline kicking in, he starts running back towards the path.
A few seconds of desperate running later and the familiar path is nowhere to be seen. Mike looks around in panic. He doesn't recognize any of his surroundings. In his attempt to escape, he got lost. He tries to come up with something, anything, but his mind is frozen. Then, he hears shuffling of leaves and branches all around him. The rotten odor from the pond hangs in the air once again. Suddenly, a bulky figure steps out of the cover of tall bushes and tree trunks. Heart beating fast in his chest, Mike starts running once more.
Twigs and branches claw at his face, but he doesn't stop until he is confident that he has put a lot of distance between himself and his pursuer -or pursuers. Out of breath, he heaves his weight against a tree for support. With the corner of his eye, he spots a woodcutter's axe buried in a tree on his right. Without giving it much thought, he lunges towards it. Just as he is extending his hand to grab the axe, he hears heavy footsteps approaching. Mike is petrified. The leaves to his left start parting. A large hand reaches out, pushing branches to the side.
Mike lets out a cry of fear and starts running blindly forward. Moments later, he reaches a clearing in the woods. He runs towards the center of the small meadow; eyes peering at him from behind the treeline. He is surrounded. Exhausted and terrified, a feeling of lightheadness wafts over him. He takes a step back, trying to steady himself. A circle of chairs lays at the corner of the clearing. They are all positioned facing inwards. The sight unnerves him, "What the fuck is going on!?" he thinks, his heart beating frantically in his chest. Before he can react, something hard hits him on the back of his head and he falls unconscious on the ground.
His eyes open; the moonlight is shining bright on his face. He is sitting on a chair. He tries to move, but his limbs don't obey. The wind is blowing softly through leaves and branches, which whistle a sepulchral tune under the breeze's gentle touch. Mike realizes he is still in the grassy clearing. He hears footsteps behind him. Panic grips his mind.
The footsteps get closer and closer. He can now hear heavy breathing, just behind his back. In a frenzy, he looks around, desperately trying to find anything to help him escape. His gaze shifts to the corner of the clearing. The circle of chairs is still there. This time, they are not empty. Sitting on them are men and women in hoodies and sweatpants and athletic gear. Mike can only watch in horror, as he realizes their heads have been severed, only to be replaced by small wooden logs.
Suddenly, they all start turning their heads towards him; their facial features crudely carved on the hard wood.
He tries to scream, but nothing comes out. Then, a decaying odor fills the air. Everything goes silent, like the earth itself is holding its breath. A man with broad shoulders and wide torso steps in front of Mike. His head is missing; a fungi infested wound stands bare at the end of his neck and mud is dripping down his body. His strong arms hold an axe, which he slowly raises above his head.
The last sight on Mike's eyes is the axe chopping his head off.
"And that kids, is why you should never go jogging," the morbidly obese father advised his somehow even fatter kids, before stuffing a burrito in his mouth-hole.
Written by MrDupin