The Woods (unfinished story part 1)
by, 06-30-2012 at 12:55 PM (105 Views)
The dark wood can be very dangerous. It is easy to slip because the ground is often as slippery as a patch of ice. You canít often hear much there, as it is usually as deserted as the Mary Celeste. The birds donít usually sing; the wildlife prefers to hide away until night time. During the dark hours, when it is as black as coal, the foxes and badgers come out to find food. You can often hear the owls hooting and if you listen carefully enough, you can sometimes hear a snake slithering along as quiet as a mouse.
The trees are not evenly spaced out; so it looks very untidy. Nature has taken the area and made it look like someone has thrown plant seeds in all directions to see if thereís any chance anything will grow. The wood is completely overrun with weeds. The bramble bushes grow almost as tall as the baby trees and are as prickly as a hedgehog. There is only one path through the middle of the wood; the other paths are all overgrown now. The path is long and steep; often used as a shortcut between the village and the river. People can no longer walk through the wood apart from that one path because of the sheer number of plants around. The animals can usually squeeze through the small gaps in the plants, but thereís no room for people.
Our story begins, though, on a cold windy day in late autumn. The leaves in the woods were coming off the trees in droves; the squirrels were busy rummaging through the leaves looking for acorns. Rain was drizzling down, making outside a cold and miserable place to be. The river was close to overflowing; the water level was dangerously high. It had been raining heavily the previous day and early morning, which was the cause of the river being so close to overflowing. By the river, where our story begins and where the waters were roaring along and gushing down the waterfall at the edge of the wood, there were a small group of people watching the river gushing past. One of the villagers turned to the eldest villager and spoke.
ďI donít see her, Gerry, can you?Ē he asked.
"No, maybe she's not planning on showing today" Gerry said quietly and slowly. "She doesn't always want to show herself"
"When was the last time she showed herself?" asked one of the other villagers, who had only just moved in to the village with his wife.
"She's not been seen for over fifty years, no one knows if she's still here or whether she's moved on" Gerry explained.
"Who is she?" asked Timothy, who was the latest villager to move into the village.
"Folk round here call her the River Lady" repied Gerry. "No one knows where she came from, exactly who she is or where she's going, if indeed she's still here. All that's known is she likes the river and lives there."
The villagers watched a boat sailing past, getting close to the waterfall. They could see the poeple in the boat desperately fighting to keep the boat from going over the waterfall. They could hear faint shouts from the boat; calling for help.
"Hold on!" shouted the villagers.
Someone got hold of a long stick and tried hooking the boat to pull it to the edge of the river. Too late the villagers realised there was no way they could hook the boat. Too late the people in the boat realised the only way to the shore was by swimming. A moment later the people on the boat screamed as the current dragged them over the waterfall. There was a crashing sound as the boat smashed on the rocks below. All the villagers could hear was the sound of the water rushing down the waterfall.
Timothy was the first one down the slope to the bottom of the waterfall. He scanned his eyes to see if he could see any signs of the boaters. He saw nothing - not even the wreck of the boat. There was no sign of life.
He returned to the top of the slope, to where the remaining villagers were standing and shook his head.
"They went under. I couldn't get to them in time" he called.
The villagers who had remained at the bottom of the slope were desperately scanning the river with their eyes. After a few minutes, they saw the parts of the boat emerging, just a few pieces of wood, broken up by the rocks. The villagers stood there in shock. They couldn't believe some people could be so stupid as to take a boat out on such a windy day when the current in the river was so strong.
James (the youngest villager there) was the first one to see the remains.
"Look!" he called urgently to the others. The youngest of the villagers all sprung into action, grabbing sticks and pushing them as far as they could into the water in the hope that one at least of the boaters would grab the sticks. They felt the stick catch on something, hooked it onto the stick and pulled. There was a lot of resistance and it was hard work pulling it up. Eventually they managed it; all the villagers pulling as hard as they could. Up came a heavy chest, part of the lock was heavily rusted, but it had been reinforced at some point with bright, shiny silver.
They left the heavy chest at the side of the riverbank and went straight back to trying to locate and rescue the boaters. Timothy was the next one to hook something on his stick, or rather someone - they had finally hooked one of the boaters at long last. Sadly the other boaters had been swept away.
At first, it seemed like the rescued boater had drowned. James and Timothy got to work trying to resusitate the rescued boater, while the other villagers went back to trying in vain to locate and rescue the other boaters. After about half an hour, when it was becoming quite clear the boaters had long since been swept away and drowned, the villagers finally admitted defeat and withdrew to the rescued wooden chest.
The rescued boater coughed and spluttered under Timothy and James's efforts. After a lot of coughing, spluttering and gasping for air, the boater was finally able to sit up. Timothy arranged for the boater to be taken to the village, then with James, they opened the chest. Inside, they found two layers of various items. The first layer they came across were gold blocks, silver coins and various weapons, including a sword with diamonds and emeralds down it's hilt. They removed all the gold bars, coins and weapons from the chest, then recoiled in horror and shock. There was a body of a woman in the chest, chopped up like someone had taken an axe to her. From what they saw, she had been badly burned, chopped up and some of her bones were crushed. Her skull was nearly non-existent because Someone or Something had crushed it into powder.
Suddenly, they heard a noise coming from the woods. They turned to see who or what had found them, only to see the most hideous creature they had ever seen; green and slimy like someone had poured a huge tin of paint over it! Oh, the smell, it stank to high heaven! Timothy sank down, completely overcome with the smell. James yelled and ran, hoping to get back to the village for help. The creature, whatever it was, left Timothy lying unconscious and chased after James, looking to eat him.
James saw Gerry returning towards them alone and shouted to warn him. The creature sped up seeing a perfect victim in Gerry, due to the fact that Gerry was an elderly man. Gerry knew he wouldn't be able to outrun it; it was moving too fast. In desperation, James swung at it to prevent it from getting to Gerry, but missed. Gerry had no time to react; no time to move out of the way of the creature. It reached him in seconds, then a branch swung back and James knew no more for a few hours.
When he came to himself, he found himself alone. Someone had moved him from the woods back to the village, into one of the cottages. The door opened and in walked Adam, the rescued boater.
"How are you feeling?" asked Adam.
"What happened? How are Timothy and Gerry?" asked James.
"We didn't find either of them." replied Adam.
"I've got to get back out there! Timothy and Gerry might be in danger!" James cried, trying to get up.
"Mark has taken out a search party to find them." Adam explained. "While we wait for him to come back, I'll explain why we were out on the river."
"Go on" James encouraged, when Adam paused.
"You've heard of the River Lady? We set out to find her, she went missing years ago" explained Adam.
"We heard about that here" James admitted. "It still doesn't explain about the chest, the weapons or anything else"."
"We found the chest about half an hour after we set out. I can't speak for the others but I felt the boat grinding on something."
"Hang on, you've completely lost me. Start at the beginning." interjected James.