Bogleech.com's 2016 Horror Write-off:
The Mirror in the Forest
Katarina liked wandering in the woods, away from her stodgy home. Being only nine years old, her parents forbade her from straying out, but she felt compelled to.
She knew that, behind the boughs and in the mounds there dwelt the little ones. They were a furtive sort, always doing mischievous things behind her back. One time she fell asleep while playing hide and seek alone and woke up covered in dolls.
It had been a dreadful night. Papa and Mama were arguing again. She shut her ears but still couldnt shut out the noise. So the next day, she had snuck out. She entered the woods again.
The first thing Katarina noticed was the sound. Or rather the lack of it. She heard no birds chirping, not even the sound of insects humming and buzzing. It was as if the entire world had turned mute.
The forest was darker than she remembered too. The sky looked odd...almost as if it were painted. It all have her an uneasy feeling. The briar patch. She had to find the briar patch, then she knew home was near.
Except it wasn't there. There should have been a field nearby too-but the endless forest rolled on, devoid of life. She walked forward, uneasiness growing in her stomach.
She saw the first pair of eyes gazing at her and nearly jumped. But they remained there, unblinking and unmoving. She soon realised that those eyes belonged to a stuffed fox, the kind Papa Hung over the fireplace. It stood quietly; still watching her as she left. She found more stuffed animals, a few rabbits and even a deer. But no living animal, not a single one. The dry moss beneath her feet easily scraped off as she walked on.
It looked darker than before, despite the clouds not moving a bit, and She couldn't see the sun. She told herself she was not going to get lost, that she was going to find her way back home. But it was only the beginning.
It was not long before Katarina saw the tent. It was quite large, about six feet high and eight feet across, made of dried mud, twigs, leaves and other forest matter. She approached it quietly, hoping not to disturb anyone whom might be sleeping there.
The place was deserted though. The remains of a fire still smouldered, ash and cinder dying in the wind. A small metal pot still hung above the fire, filled with something thick and slimy. It smelt bad. More stuffed animals were around here too, but someone had arranged them in a large circle around the camp. All of them faced the tent as if watching. Being here made her instantly feel uneasy. But she was still curious and wanted to know who would live so deep in the woods like this.
She looked towards the tent itself. There was a man's jacket and boots lying just outside. Inside the tent itself was a man's clothes and pants......and an assortment of children's clothing, little dresses and shirts thrown around. All looked dirty and soiled, as if the people wearing them had been rolling in the mud. The wool blanket looked to be covered in some dark fluid. Katarina didn't know why, but she suddenly felt cold. She turned and hurried away from the camp, all the while feeling like she was being watched.
Katarina found the mirror in the woods as dusk was nearing. It was a large, ornate piece, with brass engravings flanking either side. It was.....odd why someone would leave such a pretty household item in the middle of the wilderness like this, but given the other events of the day she thought she was ready for anything.
She looked into the mirror, watching her own reflection. She definitely looked more unkempt than she first thought she was. Her dress was ragged, and her brown hair looked messy and tangled. Her cheeks had sunk. Oh, Papa and Mama would be so angry, she thought. She was almost afraid of going back to them, but this forest walk had scared her far more than it should have. She shivered.....wait, was it getting darker? She looked around, realising the sun was about to set soon. Soon the forest creatures would come out of their holes. She told herself she wasnt going to be scared by them. She would find her way back to Papa's home and apologise for everything. She hoped they would forgive her.
But when she looked back to the mirror she couldnt see her own reflection anymore.