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The Chorus

by Jacklyn Casey about a month ago in psychological
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Listen to the warning signs

The cabin in the woods had been abandoned for years, but one night, a candle burned in the window.

The trees grew tall, and intertwined around it, through it, cracking open the wood that aged as long as a lifetime. The light from the burning wax ignited as something awoke from its deep slumber upon the first day of fall when the trees changed from greens to reds. They would chant like a chorus through their vines and moss, it’s coming, it’s coming, warning those around, only their voices would merely mix and sway with the wind, branches creaking, breaking.

Birds would flee for winter, only the crows would remain. They’d sing, it’s coming, it’s coming, run far away.

But only those who spoke in nature’s tongue could comprehend just what they were trying to say. Missing people’s reports numbered five-hundred and two, campers, and hikers who had thought to go through. Not even their belongings were left behind, just a trace of footsteps vanished along with the pine. Rustled leaves and fallen trees blocked, the forests warning those passing by, ‘DO NOT ENTER’ would be etched if trees could speak – but all they could do was chant the chorus, 'it’s coming, it’s coming.'

Beyond the path were cabins lined, once lived in, but vines splintered through, holding them in time. I knew it was too good to be true.

‘’We’re lost,’’ I looked at you, you looked at me, and then our mother, or where our mother was supposed to be. We weren't supposed to separate, we'd wandered too far on our own. ‘’We’re so lost,’’ I repeated, my brow furrowed, lip drawn back in dread. I knew it. We were dead, going to be.

‘’We are not lost.’’ My brother shook his head, the look of trepidation evident in his eyes, but his face secure in one direction. ‘’-we cut through these woods, down the path.’’

‘’But there are warning signs.’’ I pointed, noting the snaked vines, the once lived in cabins and the lack of break in the path. ‘’If we go that way, we’re dead.’’

‘’We won’t go where we’re not supposed to, we know the rules. Humans don't like us.’’ He cried, but it wasn’t a cry at all, it was determination, but the way he said it made me doubt – maybe he was already losing his mind. I thought I was losing mine.

Our mother warned us of the unfamiliar light that burned bright, she said it only happened when the trees lost their shine, and the heat from the sun vanished as their leaves turned from greens to reds. Then they’d chant,

'it’s coming, it’s coming,' the crows would sing, 'run, run far away.'

Mother stayed away from the twisted pine, the man-made cabins stuck in time, beyond that point where the footsteps declined, mixing with the pine and the fallen dead crunch of the oak’s warn leaves. I could feel the hollow ground beneath my footing with each step, one foot in front of the other, head down, I wouldn’t dare look up.

Man-made cabins no longer resembling cabins but moss, and vines with wooden windows, nothing but blackness beyond. They stood high above the ground, lining the path on and on. ‘It’s coming it’s coming,’

The wind would sway with each breath, the further we walked, the louder the noise. I could feel my heart racing as my mother’s warning filled my mind. ‘Don’t go down that path,’ She’d whisper, lowly, cautious as if she spoke too loudly her voice would travel to that of what slumbered so deep within the wood.

The further we walked, the longer it felt, I looked back and then ahead to the back of my brother’s head. I couldn’t see his face, but I could sense the fear as it crept in the further we went. The cabins soon vanished only to be replaced with moss crawling up the thick base of the trees that soared high in the sky, branches overbearing you could barely see the blues in the sky.

I swallowed. We were lost. We were going the wrong way.

‘’Are you sure we’re going the right way?’’ I asked, my voice seeming louder than before, I didn’t account for the lack of noise as we came to the end of the cabins, as if the trees moved closer together when we weren’t looking.

‘’I’m sure.’’ My brother assured, taking a left turn, and then a right.

The trees moving, their roots not so deeply imbedded, but we were too distracted by the chanting pine, the cry of crows. It felt like circles, clockwork rotation, following the light of the sun – or what was left of it. We needed to find our way out before the snow. If it snowed, we were dead. Definitely dead. You cannot hide when all things are covered.

I swallowed, hurrying up to his side, his eyes wide, pupils black, like mine as we traced the path. There were no footsteps, only moss, our steps silent with each stride. The glow of summer fading with the cool breeze. ‘Don’t go down that path,’ My mother’s voice echoed in my mind again and again the further we went, the branches thicker, closing off the blood-red sky.

It was getting dark. I didn’t have any light, just my eye-sight, not that it would do me any good.

‘’We can’t keep going,’’ I whispered, and my brother didn’t deny it. He knew it too, he heard the stories about the thing that slumbered, about the path and where it resides. He knew about the campers, the hikers that disappeared amongst the pine, not even their belongings left behind.

He knew we’d be dead if we didn’t hide.

‘’We’re lost,’’ I said, and he looked at me and I looked at him, swallowing.

‘’Mum is probably worried.’’ He mumbled, and that’s when I heard it.

The silence. There were no chants, no warnings, no sighs from the trees. No caw from the crows, their black silhouettes of wings stretched wide. We’d been separated before. Lost, but always found our way back. But we knew not to go down the path, the path covered with footsteps that declined into the moss, the pine. Overlapped with branches, and the crunch of fall as the summer lost its shine.

Mother’s warning echoed in my mind, seeing the look of fear behind my brother’s eyes. I couldn’t breathe, speak, or move. My footing sunk beneath the wood; the vines twisted thick – you can’t stop moving.

'It’s coming, it’s coming,'

I shut my eyes, tight. You can’t stop moving, the cold creeps in as the sunlight fades, and that’s when it wakes. It awakes when the trees turn from greens to reds when the sway of the leaves are no longer alive, but dead. Leaves breaking from the limbs as winter whispers when the trees become hollow, lifeless it creeps, its shadow is overbearing as it drags its feet, trees creaking as the last of their leaves fall away, the ground covered, color faded from green to red to brown, into decay.

‘’We’re lost,’’ I whisper once more, but I don’t see my brother or the path anymore.

He was never there, to begin with, it was just a trick of the mind.

Madness even as I find myself lost amongst the pine.

Then I see it. The very putrefaction of it. The looming darkness as it swallows the path, the trees, the crows even with their wings stretched wide, there’s nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. Five hundred and two hikers and campers consumed, not even their belongings left behind. I never heard the screams or the cries, Hibernation is the only way to hide. Beneath the ground, out of sight, out of mind.

The hunger of it from slumber only waking now as summer dies, the cool of winter taking stride. It’s why my mother was always warned. I started digging into the ground beneath my feet, heart racing, breath uneven.

Each heartbeat rippled, and I could hear the silence growing louder the deeper I dug, nails practically raw, I dug, and I dug. The crackle of the leaves only to be replaced with dampness, and then blues, greens, silvers, blacks, cloth tattered and wet, the smell bitter, musky, campers, hikers, with no belongings left behind all dead beneath the mud. The ground was soft as colors followed straight down to rocks – not rocks, but bones, endless bones, cracked and worn.

It explained the moss, the vines, the scattered pine. The thick of the trees and the warning signs – it was a path to death – a path to giants who consume flesh and souls, and I was on it.

The chenoo was coming and there was no where to hide.

psychological

About the author

Jacklyn Casey

Methodical writer.

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