Bogleech.com"s 2015 Horror Write-off:
"The Creatures of the Woods"
Submitted by Thomas F. Johnson
First of all, I must state that, in the interest of academic inquiry, all creatures and their properties described therein may be used freely. If you want to directly adapt-upon my work, or use my name in a Significant matter other than creditation, I would require proper Recompense thereof. A professor has to eat you know.
Well, for now anyway.
The Woods I speak of may of course seem a vague, but I do not speak of any normal, conceptual woods. For where the blood meets the soil and the mind meets with nowhere, there is a place where the trees grow thick and black, and the sky and mists are one, where the light is swallowed by dusk and where the blank pages of the world lost their text to, a palce referred to as The Woods
And I, a journeyer into the unknown and a teratonaut, have gone on expeditions into and through this place. Some by narcotics, some by blood, some by stone, some by foot, some by electro- and some by means I cannot speak of here. And I know of these things that walk, and of the people they follow back.
This is but a statement written for public viewing. For the teeming masses, you understand. A professor must eat, you understand. My research is thorougly backed up via the multiple charts and test logs attached to this paper, for the purposes of quelling public skepticism. Though, in my experience, the readers of such "fine" publications as the New Yorker and National Geographic-under-Murdoch are not exactly "picky" about proof.
-A Statement Upon Humanoids in General- Much has been made of the highly varied humanoids originating from here, specifically of the type resembling a faceless being in a business suit, who has many names, including Mr. Insemble, Lord of The Burned Redwoods, Old Lamp-Pole, Face-In-The-Crowd, The Operator, Nobody Walker, and (for some bizarre reason) President Crowley Tallywacker, amongst many; many others I do not care to name.
Each one is unique in its own way, and they are indeed one of the higher ranked "species" within the woods, but any hack could write a mere paper about these creatures as singular entities. Indeed, many hacks have.
But, these many names, and the many aberrations in the creatures actions, do not dispel the theory of a common relation, as a part of my exploration of the field. For my ultimate proof positive, I have only seen two of them meet one time. It was a chance sighting, while waiting for a sighting of The Marquis (Who we must speak of in low tones).
They were both wildly different in appearance aside from their lack of facial features; one in an outfit akin to a motorcyclist in pig-iron armor the other in something akin to a combination between a ballgown and a spacesuit. They moved to directly face each other as they got within a yard’s distance of each other. The looked almost identical until one of them appeared to begin a process of necrosis, while the other sloughed off a form.
They tangled together much like the orgy-balls of some ophidan species, and seemingly fused. After an unknown amount of time rooted themselves to the ground. and slowed down movement. I could see a tree growing from betwixt them; more kalidescopic in color than the black trees surrounding them. Upon observation; I saw multiple forms "budding" from within the tree; all different in silhouette from the others; but still all tending towards a humanoid form.
I have returned to the place within the cities metaphysically “adjacent” to where this had happened. There was a vast increase in cockroach populations, noticeable even to the non-scientifically-inclined dwellers of the city. And, looking into the data further, an unusually high number of suicides.
Though, recent data suggests that this is perhaps only a single method of "coupling," if it indeed even is that, of many but my findings are too tentative to discuss further.
There are various other humanoids that we may cover individually, but before I digress, I must mention a humanoid of a type similar enough to lump in before we continue to more thoroughly.
He is squat, in a tophat and tails, with a similar pallid (lack of) visage. He will tell you his name is Rhode Roundhill, and he will tell you to follow him away from the roads (Or from your path of choice); for he will lead you to the truth.
Do not believe his lies. He is the most dangerous of all the humanoids, and the most commonly encountered specifically within the woods. If you follow him you will never leave. And that is all I have to say on the matter.
Most of the ones are of the common suit-wearer variety, which has increased in number enough that However, there are several other variants of the humanoids, each one different enough so that another paper could be written thereof that has not, such as the Black Samurai, the Velliraz/Ol Ole, Ragspaper, Hairriaxe, but this is for various other papers, many of which I have written, and all I am willing to sell to the right bidder.
Anyway, continuing on,
-A Word About The Trees- The trees are the most obviously overlooked specimens, but they more than the humanoids are the keystone species of the forest; resembling deucidious trees; but entirely black in both foliage and bark, but seemingly able to maintain excellent health even without water. They have almost metallic qualities, and many of the interns have compared the feel of the bark samples I have brought them to that of a streetlight pole. Though they are highly chemically reactive, the chemical reactions seem to tend towards the endothermic, leaving an almost flamelike blackish antioxidation.
They also seem to exhibit stimulus-response akin more to animalian life than plantlife, but they do so very slowly. I do not know if they are photosynthetic, given that the skies are greyish during the "day," so it is unknown if this is indicative of any coverage of "sunlight," if there even is a "sun".
They also do not appear to reproduce by any means, whether it be fruiting or vegetative, but seem to instead almost spring from the ground like Pallas from the head of Zeus. They can be destroyed, as I have learned from chance encounters with humanoids, but upon looking away from them; all remnants disappear; including stored samples.
They seem to undergo a process of individuation and specialization as they go on, each enough to build a paper upon similar to the humanoids, with one semi-infamous individual bearing a human face and nooselike protrusions hanging down from its branches. I would call it a tryhard if it was human, but apparently some lesser minds have trouble with it. But the most dangerous; in my estimation; is the Tree of Lights.
It is simply a tree that appears to be covered in Christmas lights; in actuality metallic "veins" and small bioluminescent spots subtly glowing. It is not the most ostentatious effect, no, but it is the most subtle, via its method of spreading. It spreads through sight, via the lights lingering in the viewer's sight, spreading to other vegetation, in a memetic phenomena experienced most profusely. There's a reason why they boarded off that room. Shame really, he was one of the ones I almost thought "got it".
IT spreads mostly in domiciles, causing extreme drops in temperature; increased occurrences of Fortean precipitation phenomenae, and an increased percentage of Woods-related phenomenae within a distance of several kilometres (as shown in one of the attached charts), and severe complications in a notable percentage of births within the vicinity involving internal growth of abnormal bioluminescent plant matter (Which I have not sufficiently analysed yet to speculate upon). I, of course, have been lucky enough to avoid becoming a carrier due to extenuating circumstances. No humanoid will touch this tree, and if you see any sorts of multicolored lights faintly shining in the distance, run in the opposite direction.
-Little Ones- Let me start by talking about how much I absolutely despise deer. Mundane dear I mean. They are nothing so much as oversized hooved rats that smell of musk, shit everywhere, and they fucking scream. God do they fucking scream.
I bring this up because, as much as I hate the fucking "real," deer, these little bastards occupy a similar ecological niche, and thus a similar niche of absolute loathing in my view. They look like nothing so much as a combination of human brains; goathead burrs and (of course) fucking deer, with huge chunks of neural tissue with osseous spikes coming out of their cerivne bodies, with the largest ones being on their head.
They feed off of the "trees" in various capacities, mainly via attaching to the largest surface area of the aforementioned "trees," and screaming. And screaming. And screaming. God that screaming will never leave my head, how many times I had to hear it when gathering data from the largest specimens of "tree" "life".
But that is not the part I despise about them. That would be the burrs of brain tissue. Which stick in your skin and cover it like nothing so much as a hateful fungus. And which are fucking everywhere in the fucking forest thanks to the fucking Little Ones. I have had many a time I have had to treat the infection through the use of sulphuric acid and to remove them via controlled necrosis. Upon testing, I have determined that the DNA of these is 100% my own.
The humanoids can digest them within their skin, because of course they can. I have seen one discarding its skin to cover one of the Little Ones, ironically the largest specimen I have seen in such time, turning the Little One into a crude facsimile of its original form, before scrabbling off. Beneath the skin, I determined that what it left behind was a stunted specimen of a little one, missing all its brainlike covering to reveal only the crusted; spongy "core," deformed in a manner similar to he skin of those affected
I have once met with a student who had somehow become 'infected" with similar symptoms as the brain-covering. I had used the the admixture of narcotics (Which, I must remind you, are completely legal) I have used for several trips to the woods under the pretences of "treatment," but actually for the purposes of seeing the effects of an accelerated progression. I will tell you that; yes it is a reproductive process, but no it is not in the way you would think. The sessile "womb" created is something akin to a tunicate by the simplest possible standards, and serves more as a "womb" than a true offspring.
Call this a confessional yes, but I do not believe in sugarcoating my work for the general public. And, besides, there is a reason I plan to publish this under a pseudonym [Proofreading Note: Delete this part. Also, I must find a proper pseudonym. Lagrange Pardo maybe?] and I have tenure.
-Black Squirrels- You've heard perhaps of the stories of squirrels hiding acorns for the winter and losing them, which then produces new trees. Thusly, perhaps through the powers of convergent evolution, the black squirrels.
You may recall seeing several abnormally large squirrels if you observe such things, perhaps assuming that they are merely melanistic specimens. Indeed, I have dissected enough to know that a significant amount of them were those specimens (And; on another note, I have acquired a significant loathing for squirrel meat), but a few are not.
They are mainly identifiable outside of the forest via their aberrant musculature, not merely visible in dissectionary practices, but also in the way they move to the trained eye. It is very much akin to the differences in the ways birds and bats fly, and how so few people notice it.
They seem to ferret miscellaneous items two-and-fro between The Woods and the Grey Zone, burying them within loose soil. But, I have dug them up, I have done several tests using interns, noting instances of lost time and spacial distortion on both mine and their ends, along with various cranial haemorrhages and zero-point necrosis.
[Proofreading Note: Should I use the term Grey Zone in the article? On the one hand, it is the the commonly accepted term for "our world" (HA) within the parapsychological sciences, and it is one of the only pieces of professional jargon I use within the essay. On the other hand; perhaps the general public is not perceptive enough to understand its meaning from context; and may confuse those amongst them into mistaking my rhetorical flourishes/paratextual references for other terms of paranatural phenomenae. Ah well, that's for draft two to decide on]
The testing of these items has confirmed that they do grow plantlike, at first maintaining the appearance of "mundane" objects such as soda cans or digital watches with minor internal discrepancies, growing to much larger heights of complexity; size; sentience or all three within the "soil" given certain increments of time.
I have a hunch, given the comparison between certain groups' records and the items I have managed to acquire/test, most notably [Proofreading Note: Dammit I will have to find those papers with the specific notes on the origins of artifacts. Stupid foundation and their stupid exhaustive-yet-needlessly-redundant classifactory catalogue]
It is unknown what purpose they serve, though the fact that specimens have been observed gaining weight as their attached "objects" progress indicate they may feed on the process of the secrecy itself. They often appear with items containing the seal of The Marquis in tow, and the few things that spend significant time around these areas have her seal also. I must investigate this further.
There are, as with all species, they have their shoddy mimics. With a pathetic cry of “SKORIL” these man-sized buffoons lumber about in crudely shaped plush “costumes” with no seams whatsoever. Though this may be perhaps a sound strategy, given few creatures of the Woods will touch a Black Squirrel, most of the time I have seen them, it has been them being eaten by the other creatures. I would suppose something has to be at work here to a more complex degree, but hell if I know.
I need to do more dissections.
-The Wandering Windows- The Wandering Windows are one of the simplest organisms of The Woods Between, appearing as nothing so much as wandering video screens. But then again, dysentery bacteria are also simple creatures and look at how much shit they cause.
They exhibit images like a television screen attuned to some god-awful channel. Boar-headed humanoids are a major motif, as are huge forests of melting wax candles, shrines with properties akin to the trees but also to human teeth and keratinous growths, and huge gory sacrifice machines. Said sacrifices half the time are nonhumanoids, but all those humans who have appeared in these rituals; I have been able to find in missing-persons databases.
The major cases of their manifestations have appeared first to humans through windows, usually due to contact with other Woods-related beings. They follow, as one can see from observation of trends, with occurrences of Woods-related phenomenae almost like chokepoints akin to the classic Broad Street Pump. These papers, of course, are all attached to my report.
My observations within the woods have shown them to have a soporiffic effect on Humanoids, but a repulsive effect on human viewers (Not that it has done them any good in my experience) and; oddly enough; on the Black Squirrels. Perhaps it is an in-bred survival mechanism, given how many of the people who have reported to me the phenomenae of the things who have gone missing and have appeared in later instances of the phenomenae.
Smaller still-frame images appear in their wake, timed exactly twenty-seven days after a related disappearance, each singular frame depicting the sacrifice from a different angle as shown. Both the larger ones and these "offspring" can be dissuaded with a shotgun shelled with rock salt and bath salts, though as of late they have been requiring more shots to dispatch. I must increase the potency of the formula.
[Proofreading Note: Should I mention the Marquis' sigil on the ones I see? I am not sure if it is a singular perceptual phenomenon or a genuine full-perception threat. I know she is taunting me, that is for sure]
-The Whale- One of the more, this singular entity seems to be an apex predator of its environment. It is like nothing so much as an enormous whale made of sticky syrupy glowing-amber slime, with a "skeleton" of some indeterminate prismatic material and a black mudlike mass at its "core", brachiating through the impossibly tall trees and lashing out with tendrils of its corpus at other beings.
Humanoids and specificaly-Marquis-marked specimens have been seen post-devouring by the creature; but exhibit a temporary alteration in activity. Though, given the amount of times I have seen this creature; and the only slightly lesser amount of times I have had to run for my life from this creature, perhaps repeated traumatic consumptions account for the aberrant behavior of certain specimens. I must do more research.
The one "colleague" who I took to explore the internality of the whale using my speciality "tethers" reported "the color of sun to black out the world" and "the consuming light that hates the darkness," rambling about this or that apocalypse and a thing that seeks to gain purchase into the Grey Zone and "enlighten" all "dark" life, as if I hadn't heard that before. He did this while naked and crying and covered in Whale-slime.
For the record, I consider his asylumization to have been a necessary step, for my research could not afford a few of the more significantly "troubling" things or actions interfering with my research. Science, of course, comes before all else. [Proofreading Note: Should I imply what it is he told me, or have I exposed myself to enough legal liability here]
From samples I have gathered of its hide, it exhibits properties similar to tree resin and ambergris along with a bioluminescence brighter than any other known organism, along with an anomalous radiation; the closest analogue of which has been several accounts of nuclear fusion. Given the reports from my "late" colleague and the few half-manifestations of the creature in the Grey Zone and their occurrences during night time/dissipations in the sun, it appears that this creature is unable to stand conventional sunlight, but in fact seeks to replace the sun in a more "hands-on" capacity. Perhaps, for all we know, it is the manifestation of The Woods' sun. More research is needed.
-Bloodfalls- Precipitation is a common sight in the Woods, but when it does come, it comes in Fortean forms. But, while there are many kinds that come, there is one consistency between them that must be discussed. And that is the Bloodfalls.
They appear without fail during every precipitative event, with an intensification of precipitation the closer one walks to it. Pillars of red; sticky; clotting liquid falling from the sky is the simplest summation of the whole thing Chemical analysis has determined that this fluid is indeed a kind of blood blood, though the species it is from is unconfirmed and matches with no known species on record.
This would be a minor phenomenon except for the phenomenon of the Newts. These newts come out crawling from the pillar; en-masse; during the phenomenon, to the point where it is impossible to observe without crunching at least a few beneath one's boot heel.
And then; they disappear. I've attempted to place a simple radioactive; injectable tracking device on them several times, the kind that they would be unable to shake off, only to find it several feet beneath the "soil" with the newt unattached.
But, this leads into another phenomenon I have noticed, that I have found perhaps as a link as to where they go. They call this phenomenon "Sewer Newts," anomalous newts of an apparently "new" species in the sewers and storm drains; over a wide range of urban areas; in places where newts should not be.
But given the black-and red coloration of their skin and red eyes that they share with the Bloodfall newts; as well as anatomical anomalies that distance them from other newts as shown in other dissections, the connection should be obvious.
But; there is a third phenomenon at play; one that occurs within urban areas with a one-to-one correlation with appearances of the Newts, and that is the phenomenon of Phantom Payphones, standing; fully-operational payphones appearing from nowhere in places where they should not be (For example, within public restrooms; storm drains or in the middle of the street).
These phones usually linger for only a matter of weeks; until they spontaneously combust and leave a fine; gritty ash (But; curiously; no wiring connecting them to the telephone lines/power grid at all). Which; as shown by comparing my own data to others (Read the attached paper for more on that) bears a temporal relation of exactly twelve minutes to the occurrences of the Bloodfalls.
Experiments trying to establish a connection between the newts and the phones have been inconclusive; but have established links of a biomechanical nature. But, I do think that my hypothesis of a direct link may be well supported, and this phenomenon is indeed worth studying further.
For, while the phenomenae may seem benign; the increased appearances of the most human-hazardous (And ONLY the most human-hazardous) inhabitants of The Woods in areas where the Newt-Payphone Phenomenae are occurring is worthy of concern.
-Black Dog Lodge- The Black Dog is an unsettling woodsy phenomenon that is far wider-reaching than even the Humanoids, an ominous black-colored canid who; through the sheer act of appearance; presages death in its wake. There have even been a few; accurate in my experience; accounts of them having no internal structure; but only more fur; skin; eyes and teeth as revealed by external injury. But; through my studies, I have concluded that not only does the Black Dog exist as a species native to the Woods, but also exists as a sub-entity of a larger being.
To my observations; not only do they appear in greater quantities in this location than any other, both Grey Zone and Parapsychological, but the Woods is also the only location in which I have recorded them hunting in packs. Large quantities of them have been recorded as surrounding and staring at various Woods creatures until they drop.
Through both personal experience and personal experimentation; I have concluded that this is due to their stare essentially having the ability to will one's internal systems to fall apart. The effects of this on physical structures has yet to be tested, though anecdotal evidence appears to suggest a similar working.
However, the Black Dogs do not appear to consume their "prey," if it can even be called that, but instead drag them within the doors of what appears to be a simple wooden cabin. Scoping out the areas of its apparition (For data shows that it has shifted locations multiple times) has shown an increased density of Black Dog appearances within the vicinity. However, while they are drawn to the building; they show no particular interest in guarding it; though it likely helps that the building appears to be impervious to damage by all known methods (including explosives)
Research by myself and several interns has shown that the cabin's interior is mostly empty save for a singular bed; and walls upon walls of canine heads staring from the wall; mounted as if by taxidermy. Five minutes within causes dizziness. Ten causes drowsiness. Fifteen causes complete blackout.
Upon awaking; the accounts become scattered; due to the varying experiences of the participants. The main universally agreed upon detail was that upon waking they were tied to the bed; with a nude woman with a canid head with white tendrils growing from her skin on top of them; forcibly attempting to commit intercourse with them. As a side note, if any one of you reading this finds that prospect arousing; seek psychological help.
At times there are multiple individuals attached to the bed if both are "fallen" at the same time. It is definitely known that the bindings can be broken through psychosomatic connection; though the specific factors relating to which differ from instance to instance.
Some said that their bodies began changing, internally and externally, usually temporary upon escape. There were instances recorded of the taxidermied heads falling off the wall while moving as if they were attached to living canids; while other accounts state that the walls themselves were sprouting and bubbling with similar canid heads; with the mountings as mere coverings for it. One account even recalls the walls falling apart to reveal a thick sheet of hair and skin; with white tendrils similar to the woman bursting out as the woman continued.
What is known is that; once the changes are past a certain point, the bindings will not break, and the changes progress to a further point; not completely akin to the Black Dogs; but to something else entirely. The fractious evidence of this speaks to something more humanoid. I will not confirm or deny the rumors of a mercy-killing in one partially-abortive case. [Proofreading Note: should I bring up the possible connections to the Humanoids; or are the findings perhaps too tentative on that matter?]
There is no evidence of what is done with the final results; but the fact that the lodge appears to have a securely locked external cellar; with clawmarks on the sides not akin to any other organisms within the Woods but most similar to the Black Dogs, may provide a clue. Activity within appears to be growing.
On the side of the entryway it appears to have direction to the Mansion of the Marqis; which I have taken note of in more ways than one.
-Tyger/Tyger AKA Blast-Shadow AKA That Fucking Cat- It is a cat that is a shadow that looks like a man that is on fire. He does not belong here and I despise him. And that is all that will be said on the matter.
-The Man In The Moon/The Shibboleth of the Insomniac- While there is no true sun in the woods, there is a moon. Its light is akin to the Marquis in that it is both everywhere and nowhere at once, but unlike the moon of the Grey Zone, the main body of the moon itself is imperceptible in most circumstances. Perhaps this is a perceptual difference due to myself being a Grey Zoner, considering the amount of times I have seen other life standing and staring at nothing in particular during the "nights" in the area, in angles that seem to have a distinct relation to the angles of the shadows in this area.
The reactions are varied. The humanoids reactions vary most, although they mostly tend towards genuflecting and vocalizing. The squirrels react in fear and scatter. The Little Ones tend to either melt or explode. But, regardless, most creatures reaction is one of paralysis; usually temporary in nature; within a certain period of shadowing; after which they promptly run and leave the area. This may be either a show of fear or a show of awe, more research must be done on the subject.
However, as a Grey Zoner in most circumstances, it is not an image that one wants to see. There has been an earlier incidence of one of my interns encountering it with[Proofreading Note: How much of this story can I reveal without even further exposing myself to legal liability]. Through this, and another incident that has since been resolved, I have discovered enough to write conclusively on it.
It appears to be an emissary of The Marquis, wearing something between her sigil and a visage like nothing so much as a toothsome human grin on its face, appearing only as a reminder of her will like a Damocles sword, and only deadly if it has had something stolen from it or its mistress.
It will go to any lengths to possess the object, and gradually overwrite the moon in the Grey Zone. It does so by preventing sleep by the one in the full light of its face, with the name the "The Shibboleth of the Insomniacs" printed within the few written-reports found lying hidden within the woods. It also actively follows people back to the Grey Zone to an extent troublingly extensive compared to the wood's lesser creatures, with only the impacts wrought by the humanoids being even close to comparable.
Amongst other; minor paranatural effects; it overwrites words within all mediums of communication, causes increased unprovoked animal and human attacks and accellerated nightlife plant growth, but most notable is the way it replaces the light of the moon with its own visage. This last effect is visible not merely to its targets but to all others; changing the light to make items highlighted with it seem almost monochromatic. When its victims are claimed; it disappears, and all the memories of the change in the light and the moon's replacement fade, though all records of its other effects and all written media of its occurrence remains.
The moon has never fully changed to the Man In The Moon's full aspect in the Grey Zone, at least as recorded records and personal experiences indicate. It is unknown whether the full manifestation has any other insidious effects, though evidence I have found suggests that Borges may have based his metafictional setting of Tlon on the rare written records of this; with the one Credence Clearwater Revival song and at least several Blue Oyster Cult ones [Proofreading Note: Should I mention what the Magna of Illusion really was?] also possibly sharing this as reference.
Though, I fear, there is a religious order devoted to a full summoning of the Man In The Moon, and their members are shocking in how far across society they go. They are the [Proofreading Note: How high is my chance of being sued if I bring these people up. They've been declining for a time, but there's always a risk...]
-Smokeweed- I was almost not considering speaking of this particular specimen, given the amount of impudent pseudocomedians who would take this as an opportunity to incessantly jabber the mockeries of scientific-terminology they call memes. Ha-ha yes, four-and-twenty blackbirds blaze it in a pie, let's move on.
Certainly, however, the effects of the organism can be analogous to narcotics, though its appearance is nothing so much as like translucent; powder-skinned buffelgrass, sticking out through the emissions of its blindingly white smoke to the point where it seems almost as if it is native to a completely other biota.
[Proofreading Note: Should I bring up the Desert? Or any of the non-Greyclot-based ecosupersystems for that matter? That would be a discretion with a likely possibility of selling follow-up articles, but I am only barely within the grace period provided by the one potential publisher; thusly time runs short...]
It's effects are simple to describe, but difficult to understand. It essentially creates several strange wooden dolls from its corpus whenever some creature or another steps into its smoke cloud, which then near-instantly dissipates. These dolls are different depending on the specific instance, but there is enough of a pattern (Which can be seen in an abstract yet again attached to this report) on a species-by-species basis and on a situation, along with personal testing with myself and several interns, to show that they are likely manifestations of the psychology of the beings stepping in.
Perhaps on its home centre these have some dreaded effect, but on this plane it appears to merely be a matter of fascination to the creatures, who appear to get some temporary soporific fascination. Certainly the dust and sproutings of it I see far from mature specimens indicates that it is surviving plenty fine on its own, and the increased prevalence of the dolls I see in Black Squirrel "digsites" is a fascinating development.
I have one figurine here upon my desk. It is of the Marquis. It is disquieting. I use this as a means of persuasion to those recalcitrant of my methods. It is appropriate, perhaps, because of what I saw when I was within that cloud. And I will take the secret of what I saw to my "grave" [Proofreading Note: Remove quotation marks]
-Spiderweb Alturach- The innovativeness of the woods can perhaps be compared to the ocean, given the fact that it could be considered much "deeper" than most areas of the Grey Zone, so it is unsurprising that the place has equivalents to things such as our mimic octopus. But, unlike the mimic octopus, it has gained the wide spread ecological status it deserves.
It looks absolutely nothing like a mimic octopus, but rather more like a spiderweb, translucent and floating in air, able to twist its shape into forms near infinite in amount. It can make its form hidden within foliage or flooring to consume Black Squirrels; Little Ones; and even at times Black Dogs, and it can make itself mimic greater creatures like the Humanoids; or The Black Dog Lodge, or even the dread Moon itself. They feed in a process that causes disintegration, necrosis of a dry; spreading kind, that is fascinating to watch.
It is also able to take these abilities to the next level of course, via communication and even downright control with these creatures via a series of electrical signals. They appear to be able to use this ability to "trick" other creatures (if it can be called so crude a term) into allowing them to follow into the Grey Zone, where it feeds on Grey Zone prey. For, humans are such easy prey.
In the Grey Zone, they do not merely speak and fool other species, but they control them. Pigeons to blacken the skies, wild rats and alligators to clog the sewers, oh how they have baffled those foolish Forteans for years; never bothering to check what is at the center of the swarm as they chew and devour the rabble away from the bones of the world.
They are not nearly as commonly spoken of as the Humanoids, but I would say they are far more beautiful as killing machines; at least compared to the ones so many talk about. I admire their guile, their slim beauty, the way they will spare you if you give them a consistent food source. Perhaps it is because of how they have all the qualities which I do not have, which I may never have, and I admire them from envy. But, I am not good at introspection, so I will leave this only in passing.
I did, of course, at one time attempt keeping one as a pet. But then the lab aides started disappearing and then things got awkward with the police so they had to go. Thank god in this economy it's always easy to get aides.
-Evangelist Lightning- I will admit that, in the course of this article, I may seem to be a morally obtuse man, one who has forsaken sympathy, in the eyes of those judgementally inclined. I have few regrets. Those who criticize me have not seen the things that I have seen, nor have they done the things that I have done. Though, there are those times I look upon my life and I wonder what I have made myself. What I am making myself as I write.
But, this passing fancy comes up due to the fact that, while few things trouble me now, one of the things that does is the series of beings known as Evangelist Lightning. Like pillars of lightning from the skies; gathered in bundles like the fasces of the Romans; they travel throughout the forest. They abscond from the company of the Whale but little else; because it is all other beings that run from them. Even the Marquis' seal gives way to their path, because perhaps even its mistress knows their power.
These beings are smart you see; ambush predators, and they feed through the dissolution of prey into ambient light. The sounds that can be heard are unbearable as they dissolve in a slow lument burn; and if I was one prone to anthropomorphism I would almost call them screams of pain. These creatures are also, perhaps, the reason why there are so few other researchers in this area of study; which is why I give them their name.
In a disturbing number of instances, researchers exploring the Woods have come back mad; but mad in a specific sort of way that matches no known mental disorder in the books. Ritual murders have been recorded, all bearing a specific seal and multiple metallic protrusions of a nature similar to lightning rods. There is also a distressing increase in lightning strikes/lightning storms in the areas in which these occurrences have been found.
When caught; the murderers almost always have a background in this sort of research; at least until recently; and all speak of the same phenomena, being struck by "bundles" of lightning similar to this description; and being indoctrinated to this sort of "truth" that "you wouldn't understand." When pressed further; they almost always used the same words to describe it; most notably that it "took away the thoughts and filled them with blood" and that it "gnawed us into the air where we burned and came to burn with the hope of memories"
Distressingly; while all recorded manifestations of them outside the Woods are often the shortest recorded of all Woods creatures; they are also amongst the most commonly occurring; and the most likely to affect humanoids; even though recorded instances of their manifestation has only began to increase very recently. Indeed, if the evidence I have gathered is true; there has been an alarming spike in the number of the murders induced by these beings have been committed by those who have never ventured in the woods.
-Inflatable Bunyans- Bizarre as they may be, it feels oddly appropriate to have these giant inflatable Paul Bunyans in a region between the worlds. They resemble the fiberglass Paul Bunyans of the Grey Zone that infest many a garbage diner I have gone to when seeking provisions. There is a plausible reason for this that I will get to later.
The fascinating part about them is not the statues themselves. This adult form is mostly sessile, breathing gas in and out their bizarre artificial mouths, occasionally uprooting themselves approximately every thirty-seven cycles to find the largest tree in their vicinity and chopping it down with their axes. The tree then spontaneously combusts into white flames, contrary to its chemical properties, which it then devours with its mouth, tightening its skin via the heat-inflated air and smoke. This ability to chop and chew has lead me to speculate that their outer "covering" has non-Newtonian-fluidlike properties, though my research to this point has been inconclusive.
I have seen multiple Black Dogs working to bring them down and deflate them, carrying them back to their lodge, and indeed most species seem to exhibit hostile if not flat-out predatory responses to these creatures, adding to my speculation that they are most definitely recent comers to the woods.
You may have heard of the incidence at Smilin' Lemmy's (I'd be contemptuous if you didn't), and I think I know where the statue may have gone. I saw it at a part of the woods I was unsure if I had only half-remembered, and I saw it. A huge thing, a giant above the treetops, eerily smiling, an enormous lichen-covered fiberglass Paul Bunyan, many times the original size of any recorded specimen. It was covered in pieces of paper, when examined they had a slightly tacky quality and were covered in what looked like an imitation of text.
This quality of the papers, the resemblance to other recorded "Fortean papers," and simple tracer-marks revealed my hypothesis as true that these were able to phase into the Grey Zone. These papers also match in appearance, at least generally, the papers that I have sighted several times falling off of the Bunyans. Through specimens captured and marked, I have also observed this migration as a key point in their lifecycle, the point where they abscond to attain prey for their general growth, featuring the larva-as-superior-ambush-predator lifecycle that has resulted in one of the most prolific yet most invisible species to come from the Woods. Their use of mimicry is astonishing, even to me, and the way they dispose of their prey is nothing short of masterful.
Because, who would really expect a wacky inflatable tube-man to eat people?
-Mutant Armor- Shambling; hulking; rusting bulk is what I would use to describe these things. Though I have done many things that have caused the hatred of others towards me, I have never seen such depths of vehemence from any other creatures.
They look akin to plate armor gone cancerous, with limbs and helms and other armor pieces jutting out of their metallic bulk in one connected; jointed; dragging mass; though the limbs do not look like any armors within the historical record and the metal they are composed of matches no known alloy. When the armor is pierced; a bright light is emitted from the wound and a process of compression and suction towards the wound is enacted. It is unknown if they derive any nutritive value from this.
Examination of fully severed chunks to be hollow except for a nugget of a pliable; moist; luminescent material; perhaps adding the trademark rattling sound to its scraping; clanging walk. They are shockingly fast despite their bulk though; and will pursue their prey at lightning speed, grabbing them and crushing them with their bare hands; or emitting light capable of causing varying effects depending on the individual armor.
The light varies in color pattern by the individual, usually based on the many variations of coloration of the species. And while all species of the Woods have some degree of variation both in appearance and abilities [Proofreading Note: should I bring that up as a possible point for Part 2], the Mutant Armors are amongst the highest in terms of variance between individuals; perhaps even on the levels of the Humanoids.
They have a vehement hate for the Humanoids and the Lightning within the forest; but a respect for most other creatures; and even adulation towards The Whale and The Man In The Moon. But it is when manifesting outside of the forest they are most ruthless, destroying utterly anything that is "outside" or "unnatural" (Except for, of course, themselves). They are perhaps the longest-lasting of all manifestations in the Grey Zone; and near the top of the list of the most commonly occurring; usually in conjunction with other phenomenae.
They are not a species able to vocalize; but they are able to make their intentions known via subliminal suggestion by way of unknown spacial layering methods. In most circumstances; they take the effort of replacing the "abnormalities" they have deleted with "pure" materials; which have included in the past marble; gold; silver; and stem cells from an unknown species of equine. The mechanism by which they accomplish this is unknown.
The list of things that are considered "unnatural" includes any area or Grey Zone organism altered by the phenomenae of The Woods (Though curiously no other outside Zones) which has lead to a good amount of Forteana (A list of which is attached to this paper) and what the more banal amongst my interns have termed as "body horror," a term of which I grow more and more weary the more I progress in this field.
In a phenomena perhaps unrelated; but of which I must take note; on one voyage my interns and myself found a suit of an unknown make of armor standing upright in the Woods; which differed in color and make not only between our individual perceptions; but also between positions relative to its location. The similarities between its various configurations and the designs of several of the recorded Mutant Armors makes one wonder. It did not budge despite our best efforts to move it; and judging by the effects it had on the one intern who physically touched it by accident, it would be best if that endeavor was not attempted in the future.
-Lantern Bearers- These ostrichlike beings who wander through the trees leave no footsteps and erase all those behind them; leading one to speculate the possibility that they feed off of the footprints left behind or indeed from the process of travel itself.
They most certainly are unequipped for any sort of active predation, given their appearance as something like mechanical beings with a long jointed neck; ending in a hand carrying a lanternlike organ. My dissection of them revealed that they are essentially biomechanical in nature, looking like nothing so much as if the biology of a mollusc was combined with the mechanics of a clockwork in terms of internal workings.
They appear to humans and try to lead them down a path of their own devising; the color of their lanterns changing depending on a combination of circumstance and the human they are leading; to the point where I feel safe in calling it a determinant of their "mood". They seem to be able to lead humans out of the Woods, usually favoring locations adjacent to the Grey Zone location where the person first "entered," usually unharmed; though accidents do happen where the person is buried up to their neck in the Earth or fused with a wall.
Even then, they have been recorded as disappearing and later reappearing unharmed; located right outside the point which they had been merged; usually with a minor anomalous object in their pocket; several of which I have acquired for further study.
Though they run from attack from other species of the Woods, they are very trusting of those they try to lead, even after others of their kind have been dispatched by the same individual. A singular specimen is easily able to sneak up behind and incapacitate via chemical combustion; and to take away in a simple containment apparatus. Their signs of life are subtle enough that one barely even notices whether they've ceased to function. Several times in fact I have come to realize that they've been alive during the time I've been dissecting them only after their vitals have ceased.
-The Marquis- There are those who say the Humanoids are the lords of the Woods; akin to the Cerrunos or Green Man of lore past; but they are wrong. The ultimate being; the acme; the apex of the living within this place is The Marquis.
Her power can be felt everywhere her mark stains, for it is in the patterns on the trees, the rustling of the leaves upon the earth, the stones laying upon the soil; her pattern emerges when studied enough. Upon the beasts as they age within the Woods somewhere the pattern emerges; more prominent in those who . She is both a being and not a being; one who is nowhere because she is everywhere; and all beings pay her homage. The patterns wane in the days and wax in the nights of the Woods when the shadow grows long and The Man In The Moon gives off its horrendous light.
The Humanoids all pay her homage, they are moved by her sigil; they are puppets of her will when the bright blazing face of her sigil; her face; appears upon them. Even their shadows in the right time; at the right spot of the lunar light casts her sigil; and her eyes upon the world.
Her sigil may leave; it may burn; it may kill; it may live outside the wood; but it is departed of her; growing in power only the same way the limbs of a starfish grow another after severance; such is her power of genesis. Were she to come here; the world as we know it would end; the time of man and steel reborn into the time of woods and beasts and red and black.
My scientific manner may appear to be wavering in adulation of the Marquis, but I speak of her not in reverence but out of the understanding of the blurred lines between outside entity and a God. The beings of the woods certainly treat her as such; even the filth that is Rhode Roundhill. But so-called Gods can be taken from.
Her mansion is within the woods, a place where she breaches like an iceberg beneath the sea; a place made solely of her sigil and of the hunter's accoutrements; of her mastery over beast and wood. It is from there I have acquired her finger, her finger amongst many from which she directs the darkness of the Woods; her finger that points from MY left hand, the very left hand I use to write this. This is why the woods; the sad, pitiful woods bears my enmity.
But; it cannot consume me; for all the other accoutrements from the other windings of the universe adorn me like finery; so as I dare to accumulate many more. Because, I have a special plan for this world, a plan that is the name of the Universe; for which I will be freed and where I may run to the truth. [Proofreading Note: Delete that last paragraph. A bit of self indulgence; may give the game away]
So concludes my public; base-level summary of The Woods for now. I may come back for a Part Two, given I still have Hiving Haiman; the Hermit's Ring; the Pattern Stones; the Infrayellow and the Black & White Hunters to cover; amongst other major phenomenae. Until then, I must say [Proofreading Note: Come back to this when I have a proper article ending in mind. I am terrible at ending these damned things]