The Haunted Forest
Well, that was the stupidest thing I've ever done.
People who've known me for a long time would challenge that. They know how many stupid things I've done. There was the time I tried to create a slinky dress using duct tape. I even bought the designer blue. Hey, it was a thing on the Internet. To be honest, it wasn't totally stupid until I wore it to a club one night. Who knew one small tear in just the right place could wreak so much havoc? At least I met the cop... Joe ... mmmmm I have goosebumps.
This time, however, I think I've eclipsed my previous follies.
Last night I couldn't sleep. I tossed and I turned. Finally, I stumbled out of my bed and plodded into the kitchen. As I stood at the sink and gazed out the window into the dark, a faint light, shimmering beyond the trees, caught my eye.
I'm not sure what possessed me, but I pulled on my belated father's old wool hunting jacket and headed outside. The crisp night's air carried a promise of snow, but I didn't bother returning for shoes. My feet sunk into grass, goo sluicing up between my toes, yet I continued. The waning moon played with the fall breezes, the trees joining with them, creating nature's symphony, casting shadow dancers past the forest's edge.
Everyone in these parts knows the forest is haunted. It even says so on the local maps - "The Haunted Forest". But I didn't let that stop me. Perhaps it's more accurate to say I didn't care. The light was growing brighter. I could not stop.
With my next step, though, an eerie silence descended. Trees stilled, crickets quieted. My mind registered only my harsh breathing, although I couldn't say whether it was ragged because I was hiking or because I was scared. Another step and a huge owl swooped down, the tip of its wing fluttering not more than three inches from my eyes. My cry seemed to wake the forest. A cacophony ensued, so loud and discordant I covered my ears. Moving forward, the forest answered with a trio of raccoons, grunting and scurrying across the branches above my head. I shuddered and approached a glade I'd never seen.
There, in the middle of the woods, which I tried to remind myself were in my own back yard, stood six, no nine, perhaps even twelve creatures, surrounding a flickering fire. Even now I hesitate to call them elves, despite their pointed ears and decidedly greenish skin. Whether it was my gasp that alerted them to my presence, or the clumsy way I'd tripped over a branch to sprawl into their midst, I cannot say.
I will tell you this. No matter what books tell you, elves are scary, especially when firelight reflects from their too large eyes and their lips draw up to show you pointy teeth. Probably the guttural noises coming from their mouths didn't help either.