SILENT TORTURE: THE CLOCK-TURNERS CURSE
UNDER THE SLEEPING TREE MONSTERS LIE
The mirror showed a reflection that wasn’t my own.
“It wasn’t my own…it wasn’t my own…it wasn’t my own…I swear.”
Small jewel-like thorns grow from the veins glittering the ground like the dust from diamonds. Some say you can see your soul in the reflection, others say it steals a part of you. No one has ever lived long enough to tell.
It’s well known that Wolf-Firs protect the heart of the tree. Each of them grows with splinters of mirrors that twist and braid themselves into the rings of the trees like ticks on a clock—they will last hundreds-of-thousands of years and are virtually indestructible. Many people die trying to steal a piece of their trunks—very valuable parts in these lands. BUT, if you ever spot a Wolf-Fir do not let it lure you in, do not…. for you might not escape the hands of time as each passing attempt traps you further and further behind, sinking it's poisonous teeth in you until you disappear forever.
The gruff-raspy whispers of multiple voices filled my ears. Stories of old—stories my father and mother bore into our heads long before we were ever old enough to wander the woods alone. We’d been warned.
Of course, no one ever told us why the trees were so dangerous and I hadn’t set out planning to find out it just sort of happened. I always thought I would be strong enough to resist but the glowing, persuasive lull of the shimmery bark called to me.
Drops of ice-cold water tickled my face in sudden stirring splashes, running into my eyes as I shook wildly.
“Wake up Lenny, wake up…”
The words hit me like a ton of bricks—well, not the words themselves but the feeling—that innate feeling like something’s about to go seriously wrong and the shoe was about to drop. I couldn’t remember if I’d looked into my reflection or not. I never could recall what clocks had to do with mirrors—something about luck, or fate, or fortune—now I’d wished I’d paid more attention.
None of that mattered now, before I’d even opened my eyes, I knew things weren’t right. The air was strange, you could taste the fog as it settled in your nose, the tepid soft dirt padding your back. A few silent flowers crept around the tops of leaves to see what all the stir was about.
I HAD to be dreaming.
“Lenny you hit your head, or maybe we both did?” She sounded nervous, scared, frightened.
“I don’t know where we are, you have to wake up…”
“Nora, why are you always so worried, it’s just a little thunderstorm,” I whispered, much more sure of myself than I should have been. When my eyes finally adjusted I realized we were no longer in Ekress, this place was much, much older. It was a similar still, maybe a city over or so—but different nonetheless.
The only familiar thing about this new place was the tree.
There it was, just like I last remembered—the stuffy, oversized Ulufdorn Tree, a Wolf-Fir variation with fanged layers of bark, crawling willowy vines and hidden hazel-berries; it was a ghoulish thing if one wasn’t expecting to see such a monstrous sight. In the center where the branches forked was something beating, glowing, flashing and reflecting light from the sun above.
“Oh no…no, no, no, no, no, no, I have to get closer…” I felt this sudden urge to walk under the weighty branches and touch whatever that shiny object was. The hanging willows didn’t object. Hordes of Scented-Hornbeams scurried out of the way as my feet moved forward but Nora fought to keep me back.
“Careful Lenny—it bites.”
“Don’t you think I know that…” I felt myself hiss—fearful of what might happen if I made any sudden movements. I watched a long tongue roll out and snatch a Scaline Moth out of the sky before spitting it out in disgust.
“Cantankerous thing isn’t it…” Nora continued as though suddenly oblivious to the current perils we were in, “they typically attract lightening and Moon-Larks…as well as other meatier bugs that aren’t so bitter…” she began, bantering nervously about what would happen if we tried to mess with it; it being the Sleeping Tree, of course, a normally harmless thing that children play on and climb inside nesting in the hollow branches building forts and tiny homes.
“I know what a Wolf-Fir is Nora, mom made sure we were well-versed in case you forgot, she told me the same things she told you. Besides, I don’t quite think it can fit both of us in its mouth.”
“Thank god for that…I didn’t think you’d remember…” Nora sighed as I took a deep, drawling breath and held it. Drops of icy rain fell heavily against us, I knew we didn’t have much time—the lightening would be next.
Just then, a school of vibrant Damselflies passed by, flighty, peppy, hoop-skirted fairy-like creatures that feasted on varying sorts of plants and berries. They were buzzing along in sordid high-pitched conversations as the Wolf-Fir’s tongue lashed out again sending the Damselflies into shrieking popping plumes of dust, barely missing them for dinner.
“That was close,” I gasped.
“Too close,” Nora screeched, clutching tightly to my jacket sleeve as though she knew something I didn’t…as though she knew what would happen next.
For the first time I sensed my sisters growing fear, she was after-all only eight. I myself, barely fifteen. We should have known better than to go crossing the woods too close to sundown.
I waited for the Wolf-Fir to grow bored, half-an-hour must’ve passed as the clouds grew darker and heavier until I saw the trunk of the tree swelling with slumber. Wolf-Firs look so peaceful when they sleep. Their lush willowed vines covering them like a shaggy rug.
“Lenny remember what mom said about Wolf-Fir’s? Their crawling willows are modest, purple veined stems that branch out from their core, they bloom near dried out volcanoes. Summer is the best time to play—Spring the worst. She always told us to never show fear, to wait till the beast’s asleep before making a move.” Nora paused.
“You grab hold of the mirrored center but never look directly at the reflection…” I added, failing to take my eyes from the tree.
It felt instinctive, it seemed I knew what I had to do if we were going to leave this place alive. I grabbed hold of Nora and pulled her close, practically picking her up as I lunged towards where the sharp fangs of bark waited.
I also waited for the pain, the feeling of fangs digging into my skin, instead—rough edges of the twig-lined mirror stung like a thousand splinters as a blinding, burning wave of light knocked us back into the ground and everything went black.
From somewhere overhead I could hear Nora begging, pleading with me not to give up—“we have to do it again,” Nora cried, grabbing at my jacket collar. I could faintly hear her voice over the ringing in my ears.
“Do what again,” I murmured, confused.
“Lenny…don’t you remember? You were…we were just…oh never-mind,” Nora continued—more confused than ever as she sat back defeated.
Large, silvery drops of rain pelted the tops of our heads.
“We have to try one more time,” Nora cried but it was no use, my body felt like lead. My hands covered in shimmery splintered pellets—as was the rest of the nearby foliage.
“Try what one more time?” I hissed but it was too late, the crack of thunder roared as lightening ripped through the clouds. The Wolf-Fir stirred, whipping violently against the wind.
About the Creator
Writing my escape, my future…if you like what you read—leave a comment, an encouraging tip, or a heart—I’m always looking to improve, let me know if there is anything I can do better.
& above all—thank you for your time
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