's 2013 Horror Write-off:

" Woods "

Submitted by Zombard Zombramble

A hollow sound blows in through the small window, I glance out it, watching the wind blow across the grass beyond. The tree’s leave ripple like water and I smile a bit, breathing in hard before shoveling another baleful of hay downwards. The yellow glints and shines as it falls, and really I wonder who would call this boring.

I moved here when I was fourteen, while my parents argued and argue, my uncle offered to give me a quiet life. School isn’t far away, and I don’t mind the distance. I don’t mind working here, either, and neither does my uncle. We work together, some of the time. And some of the time I help my auntie inside, preparing and cleaning. I don’t mind.

I do mind that they won’t let me in the woods. It’s the only thing I mind, because the woods are so elegant with how they transpose against the sky, with the colors they change in Fall. I hear a creek somewhere beyond my sights, a bubbling noise that rebounds within my heart. I want in, to climb and run and feel the soil under my feet.

It will probably disappoint me, a small forest, only a few feet before I find a trailer park or junk yard. But still, if they’d just let me in, to ascertain for myself that it’s not worth caring about anymore. And here I am, stealing off for a moment, crossing the wide gap of grass to see the trees. I press my palm against one, feeling the warmth inside and push in, bracing myself to jump over a root. Then I run, tripping, smacking into limbs, I run. I hear birds chirping and slow, looking back I see a small patch of pure green, the grass, framed by wood and limbs and leaves. I’m in.

I pluck a leaf and wander, breathing in the soil hanging heavily. I’m relaxed now, breathing steadily and letting my hand dance over everything. Something taints the air, a smell that makes me gag. I follow the trail, and the scent, to find what has ruined my beautiful grove, my sanctuary.

I can see it, dressed in flowers, a partially decomposed body, it’s flesh bubbling up from underneath. I feel myself falling, staring at it, the pallor, my mind boils, reeling, echoing the gurgling I’m sure the blood makes, sitting stagnant is the veins. I inch myself upwards and run, I run all the way home.

The sky is noticeably darker, and my auntie holds me close, she pets my hair and making shh’ing noises to calm me. My uncle isn’t angry, he just looks out at the woods and tells me to relax. I hold my auntie’s arm and for the first time in a while I can feel the tears stream down my face. They both hug me, then send me to bed. “Keep the light on.” They add.

The night is still, just like the following days. I don’t look at the woods anymore, averting my gaze anyway I need to in order to look away. My uncle sends me inside often, and I stay in to help auntie. She always cleans the windows now, and lets me clean the floors. I want to ask “Who was it?” but they won’t know, just like me.

I’m finished for the day, it’s high summer and the sun is casting shadows out of everything. I soak in the orange light, keeping myself warm as I finally look out the large windows. Beyond my view is the tree line, but this time I try not to be afraid. After all, they’re dead, they can’t hurt me. They’re dead and forgotten. Unconsciously, I cry, my auntie hugs me and helps me to my room, where I cry and cry. I find myself awake in the night, with only one thought:

They need a burial.

The path is obvious, and so is the corpse. I’m wearing clothing that covers my entire body right now, with another layer so I can ditch these. With the shovel I struggle to flip the body, and when I do I scream. The face is bloated, deformed and misshapen. I begin to drag it, feet first out of the woods, bumping over stones, scrapping bits of flesh off with limbs. A light illuminates around me, like a halo. I turn to be blinded, the light shining over everything untouched.

“I didn’t want you going in there, because every time on of you do, you bring back one of those back.”

I drop the body, my uncle pulls it for me. Holding the torch I can see the bits of gore already on the path, aged on to create texture, the stains already so seeped into the soil. While he digs the hole, I wait, looking at the form. It’s the first time I’ve met it. It watches me back, one eye partially open, glazed over and made of clouds. I push the hair away, something striking me as similar with the nose.

“Looks just like you.” He mumbles, dropping the shovel, “they all do.”