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Black Forest Retreat

“The colorful variety of lives keeps us alive, thrives us to withstand every storm. You are our guardian, our keeper, the ispiration of hope for mankind.”

By C.B. VisionsPublished 2 months ago Updated 2 months ago 10 min read
Black Forest Retreat
Photo by S. Widua on Unsplash

With bullies hot on their heels, Lior Arnow escaped into the depths of the Black Forest. They did not stop even after the softly whispering giants concealed them from their tormentors. When the teenage boy no longer heard the hateful voices of their classmates, they sank into the soft moss under an oak tree. Taking a deep breath, they leaned against the ancient trunk and closed their eyes.

It was not their first escape into this forest and they already could imagine how their father would punish them for entering this forbidden area again. No, this forest had become their refuge for a long time. Sometimes, when they lay awake at night, they thought they heard it calling out for them. The whispering voices asking them to return and penetrate even deeper.

Their late grandfather used to tell them the legend of this Black Foresst; however, they had dismissed it as a fairy tale, intended by the grown-ups to prevent their children from getting lost in it. But lately, they were no more sure about that anymore. Something enchanted seemed to emanate from these trees, quite dangerous, or at least it seemed like that. And they would definitely have avoided it, if it had not actually been the lesser evil.

Lior’s thoughts swirled like leaves in the autumn wind, carrying them back to the events that had led them to this forbidden forest refuge; their chest heaving as they struggled to catch their breath.

Some weeks ago…

It had started like any other day at school, surrounded by classmates who seemed to delight in making their life miserable, because Lior dressed differently. Their peers bullied them relentlessly, taunting them for being queer. As hard as it had been, Lior Arnow could endure these niggles. However, this changed when they got a new classmate. From then on, they were no longer mocked just because of his queerness, but also because he belonged to a Jewish family.

Suddenly, each day felt like an uphill battle, a constant struggle against the growing tide of hatred and ignorance that threatened to overwhelm them. Although their teachers noticed this, they did nothing about it. Contrary, some of them even joined in. Where initially they only had to defend themself against verbal attacks, it turned into physical insults. First, they started throwing things at Lior and then it got worse. They cornered them in the playground, tore their clothes and at one point the new guy even hit them in the face and meant that Jews were into that sort of thing, followed by laughter, echoing like the cackling of witches in the night.

They knew they had no chance against this superior force, so they increasingly took refuge in the Black Forest. Their classmates never pursued them inside.

As Lior sat beneath the oak tree, their heart still pounding with anger and fear, they heard a voice calling out to them from the depths of the Black Forest. It was a soft voice, filled with love and compassion, yet imbued with a strange otherworldly quality that sent shivers down their spine.

They hesitated, unsure whether to investigate the voice or escape from this place. They knew too well that as soon as they left the forest, his classmates would await them.

“Come deeper,” the forest murmured, beckoning Lior towards a small clearing ahead. And something in this mumble tugged at their heartstrings, stirring a longing within them. They either had to face the beatings of their tormentors or this rather eerie voice. In the end, it was a simple decision for them.

With trembling hands and a sense of trepidation, Lior rose to their feet and made their way through the dense undergrowth, guided by the faint sound of this mysterious voice.

As they wandered through the ferns beneath the giant trunks, they felt a sense of peace washed over them, like a soothing balm for their wounded spirit. Slowly, the fear dissipated, giving way to a feeling of hope. With every step deeper into the Black Forest, their soul connected with the spirit of it. The everlasting worries of their life seemed to fall away, replaced by a wholehearted sense of connection to something greater than themselves.

Lior lost their sense of time. They could no longer tell how long they had been wandering through the undergrowth without even coming closer to the voice.

“Don’t be afraid… come closer… come to us, our love!” The voice remained their constant companion.

“Where are you? Come on, show yourself!” They stopped and listened into the forest, hoping to detect something that would indicate where the source of this voice was. But it seemed as if it was speaking to them from the trees. The soft voice came from everywhere and nowhere, gently caressing their thoughts.

“Come closer, our brave little spirit… come closer… we’ve been waiting for you… for such a long time.”

They knew they should turn back slowly, but their curiosity got the better of them and they finally wanted to know who was talking to them.

“Come on, show yourself!” They slowly got annoyed.

“Soon… our love… soon you’ll be here…”

Lior stumbled forward and suddenly found themselves in a small forest clearing. As they realized they were no longer alone, they suppressed the impulse to back away; however, their inner voice told them they had nothing to fear. This forest and its inhabitants did not seem hostile to them.

A wildcat playfully engaged with her two kittens among a cluster of rocks. The mother’s vigilant eyes watched every movement closely while the kittens frolicked in the dappled sunlight while the kittens frolicked in the dappled sunlight. It was a fleeting yet enchanting moment that left Lior filled with a deep gratitude for the wonders of nature.

They carefully walked around the small rock formation; they did not want to disturb the wildcats, and continued through the tall grass until they re-entered the forest at the other end of the clearing.

It took a few yards before Lior noticed they were slowly walking uphill. If their knowledge of geography did not fail them, another clearing would appear from which they would have a good view of the River Rhine and the Vosges Mountains beyond. So it could not be far before the otherworldly voice revealed itself to them.

They moved between the tree trunks as quickly as the undergrowth allowed them. The teenager listened for the voice again and again, but it remained silent; yet they became aware that they were being watched like a hawk, shy eyes hidden behind the trees scrutinized their every move.

A pack of deer had found their way between the trees, forming an invisible trellis through which they walked.

Lior determined that their destination was close by. And they were amazed that they spotted the animals, even though they could not actually see them.

Suddenly, the rows of trees thinned out, revealing a rocky clearing shrouded in a light mist. The wafts of fog greedily reached for them, enveloped them until they felt lost in them.

“Finally… we waited… so long… you’re here… brave little spirit…” the voice greeted them. This time, it seemed to be carried through the fog from all directions, like an echo.

“Yes, I am here. So reveal yourself, show me your face!” Lior replied, as they turned in a circle, looking for the origin of this voice.

“We are here… We are everywhere… Come on… just come… don’t be afraid… We are there… You found us…”

A distant glimmer in the thick fog caught their attention, beckoning like a siren’s call. Tension gripped their muscles as they stumbled forward. The light resolved into a modest hut. Lior approached the weathered door and gently knocked against it with their knuckles.

To their surprise, a wrinkled old man greeted them at the door, his eyes crinkling with pleasure upon seeing the teenager. Without uttering a word, he ushered them inside, offered a warm meal and a steaming mug of tea.

Lior ignored the meal, but took a strong sip of tea. It tasted savory and sweet, which they could not identify. While they drank, their fingers gripped the cup, they looked around:

The mist outside painted the interior in a subdued ambiance, with shadows dancing gently across the worn wooden floor. The crackling fire in the stone hearth served as the focal point, casting a flickering light that illuminated the inside with a comforting warmth. The small room had simple furnishings that echoed the humble beauty of the wilderness beyond its walls.

While Lior sat down in an old, rag-covered armchair near the hearth, the old man remained standing, almost as if he had taken root in the spot. Both stayed silent.

“Welcome… child of the forest,” the old man said, his voice echoing like the gentle rustling of leaves in a breeze. “We have watched over you… since the day… you were born.”

“Who are you?” Lior asked, their voice betraying their nervousness. They did not even try to hide it. For some reasons they felt safe in the old man’s presence.

“We are you,… and you are us… We are the forest,… the ancient spirit … of this magical realm.”

Lior looked at the old man, tried to determine whether he was telling the truth. However, nothing about him suggested otherwise. An inner whisper told them they could trust him, had to trust him. And yet they found it difficult to believe his words. After all, there was a person standing in front of them and certainly not a forest, apart from the fact that not even the Black Forest could speak. And yet, they had no choice but to believe his words, no matter how strange it sounded.

“If you’re the forest, what are your pronouns?” Lior asked. They were not sure if they should ask that question, but in consideration of their own situation, they thought it would be better.

“We are all… we are nothing… we are life… we are you.”

Lior groaned inwardly. What kind of answer was that? One thing was clear now: they could not get any further with such questions. It annoyed them that the old man spoke in such riddles. They were already dealing with a complicated life.

“What do you want from me?”” They slowly lost their patience. They had followed this voice halfway through the forest. Now they expected some answers that they could do something with, nothing more, nothing less.

“We need you… our love…” As soon as the old man uttered these words, a squall shook the hut and a hurricane of whispered voices arose and flooded the room.

They are not ready yet… But they are… We have to do it… But they’re not ready yet… We’ve no choice… No, not yet… too early… no choice… soon too late… The time has come… Enough!

Lior sat in the armchair as if paralyzed and listened to the tornado of voices. Even though they were very similar, they could still identify differences. Something was going on here and Lior had long been a part of it, even if they still did not know what they had gotten themselves into. Anyway, it could not be worse than the bullies at his school these days.

The old man watched them, gave them an encouraging smile, then cleared his throat loudly. Immediately, the gust of wind disappeared and the whispering voices fell silent.

“The colourful diversity of lives… keeps us alive,… thrives us… to withstand every storm… You are our guardian… You are our keeper… The inspiration of hope for mankind…”

“But I’m a nobody. I’m nothing!” Lior gave him a surprised look.

“Silly boy… you are everything… You are loved… beyond measure… just as you are… in all… your beautiful uniqueness…” The old man reached out his weary hand, touched their cheek gently.

Tears welled up in Lior’s eyes as they gazed upon the old man before them. Suddenly, they felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude and awe. The moment his boney fingers touched their cheek, all the pain and suffering they had endured seemed to leave their soul exchanged it place with a deep feeling of love and acceptance that radiated from the old man’s presence.

Lior felt a weight lifted from their shoulders, a burden they had carried around for far too long. In the embrace of the Black Forest, and the veils of a universal love, they found the strength to embrace their true self, unapologetically and without fear. And they knew this was the place their soul belonged to. This was their home, their retreat, their refuge from the cruel world beyond the giant trees.

“Do not doubt yourself… our brave little spirit… We need you… we need you so much… We…”

“How can I help you?” Lior interrupted the old man.

“Your species… threatened us… in our existence… We need you… to help us… thrive and survive…” The old man, the incarnated forest, ran his bony hand over their eyes. “Our guardian… our keeper… our hope…”

Lior fell into a restless trance, haunted by visions of shadowy figures lurking among the ancient trees. Their eyelids fluttered as they navigated through a surreal landscape unfolding before them.

Men with torches, flames licking hungrily at the forest’s greenery, casting an orange glow that danced across Lior’s closed eyelids. The crackling if burning wood reverberated through this trance, sent shivers down their spine.

With a murmur, Lior shifted uneasily. Their subconscious tried to break free from the nightmare’s grasp.

Amidst the chaos, other figures emerged, wielding axes with merciless determination. Each blow echoes in Lior’s mind, the sound of splintering wood reverberating like a thunderous drumbeat. A low moan escaped Lior’s lips as they witnessed the destruction unfolding before them, their heart heavy with despair.

Lior’s subconsciousness continued to observe helpless to intervene as armed men walked between the trees, their weapons aimed at unseen targets. Lior’s brow furrowed in restless agitation as the intensity escalated, cracks of gunfire punctuating the air with sudden bursts of violence; washed away in blood.

Within this brutal chaos, a flicker of movement caught Lior’s attention, drew their gaze to a small hidden clearing where young people celebrated carelessly. Music, alcohol, fire. A catastrophe in the making.

With a heavy sigh, Lior shifted uneasily, a sense of terror settled over them like a suffocating blanket. Their breath quickened as they struggled against the terror’s grip, the weight of fear and despair bear down upon them with crushing force.

Dead animals everywhere, suffocating children in the arms of their dead parents. A planet, once green and blue, fell into dust. A last breath, a moan, and they tore open their eyes.

Lior awoke in a hollow of moss, covered by gigantic ferns, that lifted to reveal them again. The hut, the old man, disappeared in the mist of the Black Forest.



About the Creator

C.B. Visions

An author, who writes tales of human encounters with nature and wildlife. I dive into the depths of the human psyche, offering an insights into our connection with the world around us, inviting us on a journeys. (Christian Bass)

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Comments (2)

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  • Ameer Bibi2 months ago

    Splendid story with incredible characters. Wishing you good luck for challenge.

  • Oneg In The Arctic2 months ago

    WOW! You did an incredible job with this. I love how I could really see the forest, see the inhabitants and the movement of each character and bit of nature. You did a really great job! I wonder how Lior will emerge from the Black Forest, and what the future will look like for them.

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