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I never much cared for the rural area of my home. Nor did I care for the strip of forest on the side of my house, which seemed to encompass half of my house. But what I really hated was what was in that forest. When I was younger, my father always warned me to stay away from the woods. He said creatures lived in there, that they were the forest itself. Keelscries he called them. I always thought it was just a silly story to keep me from wandering off, and I never believed it. I was a kid with no fear. That was until I saw them.
It was about a week ago. I was outside fixing up my truck about mid-day. Funny thing about that forest, was that no matter what time of day it was, that tree line was darker than night. My dog Buck was outside with me chasing around a few unlucky moths. Then I saw him do something I've never seen. He just stopped in front of the tree line, staring at it. He seemed frozen in time, not moving a muscle. I called to him numerous times, but whatever was in there, it got his attention better than I could.
The air was dead calm and I could hear Buck lightly growling. But this growl was particular. It seemed almost.....worried. I watched his tail slowly conceal itself between his legs and his ears bow backwards. I felt uneasy, as I've seen him stand up to the coyotes than run around here. Buck quickly flipped around and ran behind my legs. At this point, I was terrified. Didn't even have my gun with me. "Ain't that a bitch", I thought. I knelt down to comfort buck, and only took my eye off the shadowy thicket for a second to look at Buck. He had his head completely down, and he wouldn't look up despite my best efforts.
Branches suddenly started breaking with a force that sounded like they were being pulled away rather than snapped, like a short popping. Buck ran to the front door of the house and instantly dropped to the ground, waiting anxiously to get inside. As I started to run I heard more of the same branch popping starting to spread up and down the tree line. That’s when I doubled my pace. I may have well kicked down the door, I hit it with such force, and Buck rocketed off inside faster then I could and dove underneath the dining table. I swear if he didn't have fur, he'd be paler than me. I walked to the mantle and picked up my shotgun and a snub nose revolver. As I checked its ammo condition I concentrated more so on the picture of my father and me to the left. Setting down the gun, I picked up the picture. He was holding the branch he used to tease me with. It was uncanny how much it resembled a hand, except the fingers were spindly, at least a foot and a half in length. A long, slow shudder rippled through my body. Yet, at the same time, I didn't know if I should laugh at how ridiculous this was. It was just a childhood story, nothing more. Monsters aren't real....are they? But, if they....did, then-
I ceased all thought. My attention went to the front of the house. I could hear an awful scraping sound coming off my truck. "This is insane". My mind was racing, trying to make any logical answer as to what was happening. Had to be animals. Yeah, that’s it. Coyotes pawing at my truck. I probably left food in there, I thought. Then it stopped as soon as it started. Nerves were getting the best of me, and that prompted me to lock every window and door on the first level. The light started fading faster, putting me more on edge. I was thinking I shouldn't be panicking so much. I had no idea what was out there. But that was thing. I didn't know.
The sun eventually fell from sight, and looking out the window, I could see the tree line. It stood out perfectly, even against the pitch black country night. My gaze turned towards my truck. At first, the side facing the front of the house. Long crooked scratches ran the length of the truck. As my eyes slowly followed the jagged trail up to the hood of the truck, they began to go up and over the hood. And that’s where my eyes stayed. They stayed on the four light silhouettes on the other side. They were as still as I was. I would wager they weren't even half as frightened though. I knew what they were now. How could I not. They were the nightmares of my childhood. The Keelscries. I knew I could laugh now.
This was ridiculous. I opened up the kitchen window slightly, and shouted nonsense., hoping it would make them something. In my wildest thought, I figured I could maybe scare them away. Nothing. They just kept standing there. Taking a deep breath, a cocked my shotgun, and walked to the door. Opening it maybe half an inch, I peeked out to the truck. All four simultaneously shifted towards the direction towards the door, but continued to be still. I turned on the porch light, which didn't seem to faze them at all, and finally got a better look at them. I immediately regretted it. Their faces were almost skull like in appearance and had long viney tendrils hanging from them, with no lower jaw. The fingers they possessed almost touched the ground. Random roots jutted from shoulders and wrists, twisted and gnarled. They were slender and tall, maybe seven feet tall, and a thin as well.....a tree. And that’s exactly what they were. Trees.
Pushing the door open with the barrel of my gun, I took one step out. No movement from them still. Even with a gun and forty feet between me and them, I was still outnumbered and felt incredibly unsafe. I cautiously stepped forward again and raising my gun. This seemed to abruptly give the gangly saplings life. The one closest to the cab grabbed the roof and pulled itself up, rocking the whole truck. I could barely get a grip on the trigger, I was sweating to profusely. The Keelscrie let out a hollow, guttural sounding bellow and started sprinting towards me, grunting the entire time. Another one followed just as quickly right behind it, howling in a higher piercing pitch. The cry nearly made me lose concentration.
The one leading the dual run came slamming through my porch railing, screaming and running on all fours to me, and I let out seven of my eight shots into the demon. The buckshot splintered away its face and torso, leaving it armless and nearly bisected. It dropped only a few feet from me. I could run miles and be breathing as hard as I was. I swung to the left and fired the last shot into the other that was following the now dead monster. It's right arm was severed from right below the shoulder.
At that moment it stopped. It was maybe ten feet from me. Then it just....turned around and walked to the other two. It had no concern in its step, no panic. It didn't seem scared. It just left with the other two, as though nothing had happened. As the wooden abnormalities strode to the nebulous brim of the forest and faded into obscurity, it dawned on me. Their entire purpose was to terrify me. Intimidate me. To let me know they were there, that they were always there.
In a way, they were reinforcing what my Dad always told me. That there was something there to avoid in the unfamiliar dark. To stay away.