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When I first saw the lady, walking by herself in the woods, I was four. My parents had just moved to a new neighborhood having completely relocated our apartment. My cousins came with us as they always did. They were brother and sister. They had lived with us since I was two, their parents having gotten drunk and killed themselves in an automobile crash. Their stupid decision forced me to share my things with their children, but I didn’t mind them too much, for we got along quite decently.

The kids’ names were Zander and Anabel. Zander was a year older than me, and Anabel a year younger. Anyways. About this lady – well she was the same age as me when I first saw her – so, the girl. My parents were off at work, they held office jobs that kept them away a lot. The three of us were playing in the backyard. Our house was on the edge of the woods, so we had a nice stretch of wilderness to look out on.

The babysitter had left us alone for a moment; she had to answer the phone. The three of us were playing soccer on our clumsy little legs, when Annabel, like the stumbling idiot she was, kicked the ball out into the woods. The smart thing to do would be to wait for the babysitter to come and get the ball for us, but we couldn’t wait. We were having innocent fun. Zander the biggest troublemaker among us would normally be the one to go get it, but for some reason that day he refused.

“Why?” I asked him.

“Don’t wanna,” he said. I looked at Annabel, but she shook her head. They seemed uncomfortable, but why, I didn’t know.

I looked at the woods; all I saw was trees. I glanced back at my cousins, but their heads were turned away. I did it myself then. I climbed to the bottom of the ditch between our backyard and the woods, got my shoes dirty, and climbed towards the ball.

The woods were quiet, all but a light wind blew through the air, but even then it strangely didn’t even ruffle the trees. The ball had landed at the edge of an oak tree that was close to the edge of our backyard, but when I arrived it wasn’t there. I glanced around trying to find it.

There it was! Somehow, maybe by the breath of the wind, the ball had gotten blown away farther down. But it was still pretty far off. It had entered a clearing, and I was a bit fearful to go into the woods myself. I looked back at the backyard; Zander and Annabel had gone inside. It was just me, by myself, alone at the edge of the woods, and only four years old. The babysitter was probably still stuck in her on the phone argument. But I wanted to be a brave little child, so I ran to the clearing.

I could have sworn that the ball was there before, but it had disappeared. There was no way the wind had blown it that way; I hadn’t felt any blasts of air. I looked out and saw that the ball had again been blown further into the woods. I was determined to get it this time. I did what every instructor tells you to do when you learn how to catch – I kept my eyes on the ball. I don’t know how I missed it that time. But that’s not what bothered me the most.

When I got there, hands were holding that ball and they weren’t mine. It was a girl, about my age. She was pretty with blonde hair and green eyes. She wore a white dress, which flowed gently in the breeze. The ball was held up to her chest with her small hands. She smiled at me, and held out the ball for me to take. I smiled back, and noticed that despite her good looks, her happy face had no warmth, that it was almost wooden. I reached out to take the ball, when suddenly she pulled it away and I ended up grabbing thin air. She kept her same look and held out the ball again.

I had had enough. I was already deep enough in the woods and this strange girl was playing games with me. I smacked the ball from her hands and picked it up. She looked shocked. Her eyes widened at me and she opened her mouth. Her teeth looked a bit sharp, but I wasn’t sure; maybe I was just slightly scared. Then she broke off and started running. She dashed towards the woods so fast, that she didn’t see the tree in front of her. I opened my mouth to warn her but I was too late and the most bizarre thing happened.

She went into the tree – literally. The bark absorbed her, and she became part of it. When I looked closer I saw the tree had her facial features. It scared me greatly. Before I ran I saw her open her mouth and indeed, she did have sharp teeth.

When I got back to the house, I ran all the way to my room, closed the door, closed the windows, and took a nap. Through my sleep I had nightmares. I wandered through forests, endless forests. And when I looked at the trees, I saw they had eyes and mouths with vicious jagged teeth, dripping with saliva.

I woke up with a start. My heart beat constantly. I didn’t know what it was about the girl that disturbed me so. Was it her false deceiving wooden smile? Or was it her mysteriously sharp teeth? I opened the blinds in my room. Coincidentally the window of the room faced the woods. I scanned the forest, but nothing strange seemed to wander the woodlands. However, I felt that the woods were watching me.

The girl was in my thoughts the whole time throughout dinner, and at night when sleep crept over the world , her eerie green eyes haunted the blackness of my dreams.

The next day when I came out to play, I saw her. My cousins didn’t, but I did. She raced through the woods, melted into trees, and flowed out of them. I watched her and she watched me. It was bizarre but I got used to it and my fear began to decline. This happened for months, and then years. Not once did I cross over into the woods, nor she into my house.

When I was 12 years old she suddenly disappeared. Vanished into nothing. She had aged with me; she would have been 12 years old too. But she was gone. I had never entered those woods. I had never told my parents, or my cousins, or my friends about her. But she was gone. I thought about looking for her, but quickly removed the thoughts from my head. The woods now looked more eerie than ever.

So I waited. I waited for another five years until I was 17. But she still didn’t appear. Then after I graduated high school and on the day I was to move out to college, I decided to take one last look. I climbed the ditch to the forest, and wandered that same tree ridden area until I came to the same clearing where I had first met her.

It seemed so strange. After all this time, age had not disturbed my memory of it. But she wasn’t there. At times, I thought I saw something move through the branches of trees, but I dismissed it as the sun illuminating the dust. I decided to wait, to wait to see whatever would happen. I sat down against the trunk of one of the trees and dozed off. All the time, my sleep was filled with images of the strange girl running through the woods. In the last vision, she stopped, stared at me innocently, then opened her mouth baring an arsenal of sharp, wet, bloody teeth.

I woke up with a start, hitting my head against the trunk. I clutched the back of my skull for a few moments until the pain wore off. I was about to stand up, but something stopped me. A branch had grown over my leg.

This was bizarre to me, for I hadn’t noticed it before. Slowly I worked my foot out of the wooden coil, but something stranger happened. One of the roots of the tree – a thick one – grew over my hand, holding it in place. My heart skipped a beat.

Suddenly, I heard a wild screech, and the wood began to dig into my back. I screamed and yelled, but it was no use. No one would hear me this deep in the woods. My back stung for I was bleeding. The roots wrapped tighter over my legs. Then I felt something different – a human hand. It caressed my chest while the wood maimed me.

But I saw a chance. With my freed hand, I grabbed the human fingers and twisted them , popping each of them out of their sockets. And with every finger I broke and dislocated, I heard a scream, a scream older than the woods, something more ancient than even the pioneers, and the crusading knights, and the Romans. When I finished with the fingers, I gave the palm of the hand such a good squeeze that I felt the bones crunch. Then it was over, the hand retreated and the tree let me go.

Without pausing once, I ran straight out of the woods. All the way back to my house the image of the girl stuck with me, terrorizing my sanity. I made it home, rolled down the ditch, and sprinted to my room, the same way I did when I was five. In fact, I did everything that I had done when I was five. I closed the door, closed the blinds, and curled up on the bed. But my back hurt too much to go to sleep. I was too disturbed to treat myself, shaking wildly, sweating, and shivering. It too a full fifteen minutes of lying rigidly still to regain my composure.

My back was cut. I saw it in the mirror. Three bloody slices had been dug into it. It stung like turpentine, and the blood had soaked into my shirt. I didn’t tell my parents or Anabel. Quickly I found some antiseptic and rubbed it in after I had taken a shower. I dressed my back as well as I could, and bandaged it up, the lay on the bed and lost consciousness. I woke up with a dreamlike memory of the event and could not recall it clearly enough. When my parents saw me they asked me why I was acting very strange, but I told them nothing.

We then drove to my new college. I never bothered to ask to see a doctor, for there was no good explanation to say why I had cut my back. The wounds would heal over time; I just had to hide them. Somehow, through my years in college, the spectral memory of the girl and the woods faded from the recesses of my mind. I guess it was the haze of hemp and the consumption of other drugs that managed to drive out the frightening thoughts. But at the age of 28, when I had found myself a job as an independent filmmaker, the girl began to haunt the canvas of my dreams again. She wandered through the ghostly woods, beckoning me on, baring her sharp teeth at me. Once again I lost myself to the strange allure, and I forgot all about that incident from the past, now no more than a speck in my recollections.

I visited the house. My parents had moved out, and it was up for sale. But the biggest surprise of all was the woods. They were gone. What remained was the broken branches of the trees and their shattered trunks. Several construction workers were wandering around the rubble. I walked up to one of them.

“Why’d ya tear this down?” I asked him.

He snorted. “To make room for housing developments,” he said, “who the hell are you?”

I pointed to the house, “I used to live there as a kid.”

He shrugged. “Well, just don’t get in the way.”

I wandered around the torn-up woodland. It was so sad. I had known o something that most of the world had never seen (or didn’t want to see, for that matter), yet now it was all gone. Torn away from under my nose. As I walked I came upon a place of rubble that seemed less in one area. Memories flooded back… the meadow, the clearing. And all that remained… a tree trunk.

And I felt the presence again – simultaneously strange, mysterious, and sinister. I called the construction worker over.

“This is a nice trunk,” I said.

“It’s more of a bitch,” he said, “we haven’t been able to chop it down and cut it up. Our tools keep breaking. Here, I’ll show you.”

He went over to his truck and got and axe, then came and stood over the trunk. He raised it in the air and there was sound, a hideous shriek, then the sound of something shattering. Sure enough the axe was lying on the ground shattered in many places.

“What was that sound?” I murmured.

“What sound?” he asked.

“Didn’t you hear a scream?” I asked. He looked at me as if was mentally disabled and shook his head.

“That may have broken that axe, but I wonder if it will stand up to a chainsaw,” he said.

I suddenly had a bad feeling come over me. “Wait,” I said.

“What’s the matter with you?” the worker said.

“I don’t think that you should do that,” I said.

“I don’t see why not,” he responded giving me that look again, “I need to clear out this trunk anyways.”

I closed my eyes, moved away, and turned around, for I didn’t want any chips and splinters to stab me. He put his goggles, gloves, and helmet on, then revved up the saw, and it started its electric, metallic symphony. I could hear its sound moving closer, closer, and closer into the tree. Then I heard some scream.

I turned, expecting to see the girl. Instead I was greeted with the grisly sight of the construction worker on the ground wailing in pain, his leg having been severed of by the chainsaw, blood flowing out in rivulets. A few of his colleagues saw him and rushed to his, aide. I, for one, decided that it was in my best interest to leave the scene at once.

I went down the other side of the hill to sanity, the cries of his colleagues attempting to chase me, but whether I could find any sanity to grasp was uncertain, for the thought of the woman was forever branded into my mind, and that shriek embedded into my ears. The girl, whatever she was, would follow me forever.


Written By Ludovicotechnique