Lurking Beasts: Part 2

15 Mei 2017 Pojok Cerita   |    Vania Cheryl Antono


Forest green.

That’s the only shade that Alex’s eyes could see as he gazed all around, attempting to spot a mop of chocolate brown hair belonging to his sister, Lou.

The more Alex searched the forest, his eyes darting here and there in a frenzy, the more he felt lightheaded. His eyesight blurred, the green trees and shrubs and bushes melting away to form a flurry of green, undivided and mixed.

The forest appeared to be spinning around him...or was it him that was spinning like a piece of paper swept away by a tornado?

Alex took a deep breath.

She couldn’t have gone far...Alex reasoned with himself, calming his panicking self.

With a clearer mind, Alex could finally observe this unfamiliar terrain well, his worried state of mind put to rest for a while.

His eyes lit up with interest.

Alex had never been into the forest before.

His mother’s warnings and his own fears had been a tall wall corralling him to stay put in the cottage and the town nearby. It made an unbreakable cage that trapped him, preventing him from satisfying his genuine curiosity of the forest.

The trees, solid wood of a varying brown shade and overbearing, hanging branches, littered the forest floor here and there, its roots big and thick enough to break through the soil and snake its way stealthily on the ground.

Alex’s gaze turned upwards, surveying the sky-

There was no sky.

Not a hint of blue or the puffy, white clouds.

It was all blocked out, shielded from his sight, by the leaves flaring out from the branches from way above him. The tree branches, along with the leaves resting on it, provided crisscross patterns which were sewn together into a giant virescent blanket (a blanket with small holes, judging by how some light still managed to stream in) covering the entire forest.

Alex’s slow, hesitant steps led him to venture deeper into the forest.

He cupped his hands around his mouth, yelling, "Lou!"

His voice reverberated across the trees, the narrow gaps of the rhododendrons and far off.

There was no reply.

Alex tried again, not willing to give up, "Lou! Come out! The game’s over!"

The trees rustled with the wind’s whispering through it.

"LOU!!!" Alex hollered as loud as he could.

The bushes started rustling as well.

Alex brushed it off, cursing the wind for carrying his voice away.

"We need to go home! Mum’s probably worried sick!" Alex started shouting again, taking a few steps towards...

Alex paused.

He didn’t even know where he was right now.

Where am I? The question danced in Alex’s mind, taunting and mocking. Alex wasn’t so sure the voice was his conscience.

He wasn’t sure of anything at this point.

The trees all around him started to shake.

Alex knew that this time, it wasn’t the wind.

In fact, since before, there was no wind.

Alex stilled at the realization, his eyes darting from one tree to another, trying to spot the thing shaking the trees.

His mother’s words came back to him.

The forest around us-it’s filled with those wild beasts...

Alex could feel sweat starting to trickle down the side of his head. His hands, both lying restlessly at his sides, felt useless and nervously clammy.

He swallowed emptily, eyes shifting between the shadows of the trees around him.

His mother’s voice echoed shrilly in his mind, Be careful...

Something flew right at him from his peripheral vision.

Alex, on instinct, feinted to the side, his body hitting the ground.

Breathing deeply, his heart beat erratic, Alex tilted his head to the side to see what that thing thrown at him was.

"Impossible..." Alex breathed out in shock. A huge boulder roughly the size of a cow (which Alex had once seen at the town) was what filled his line of sight.

If Alex hadn’t moved away right in time-

He didn’t even want to finish that horrific thought.

A low growl then resonated through the air.

Alex tensed up, his head snapping towards the direction of the feral growl.

His eyes searched a tree that stood out from his vision a short distance away, positive that that is where the sound came from.

The boy observed the tree, his head spinning with worries all the while. It was rather tall, with its trunk being rather thicker compared to the other trees around, and massive roots digging out of the ground, like vengeful fingers of the dead.

What scared Alex the most was of the shadows at the back of the tree...and the thing that lurks there, watching him, waiting for the right moment to strike.

Alex, fearing that any sudden movement on his part would cause whatever creature is hiding in the shadows to lunge at him, remained on the ground, though his legs were ready to send him running if that situation ever arose.

Another growl sounded, this time much closer, but from another tree.

Alex paled. How many of these monsters are there?

He suddenly heard a shout, "Alex!"

Lou! Alex’s mind recognized the voice coming from a different direction from the two growls.

Gathering his courage, Alex started to count in his mind.

One...

Alex slowly moved into a crouched position, carefully and hopefully inconspicuously. His eyes refused to look at either of the two trees with monsters.

Two...

Alex rested his palms on the ground, finger among the brown soil. He forced his heart to calm and let him focus on the task at hand.

Three..!

Alex shot up and raced away from his spot on the ground, all the while yelling, "Lou! I’m coming! Hang in there!"

"Alex!" Lou’s childish voice sounded again.

Alex, his legs not once faltering from his sprint, shouted again, "Where are you-oof!"

Alex felt something hard strike his head.

He could only watch as the ground came closer to him as he fell down...down...down...

Darkness enveloped him with its cold embrace.

(Penulis saat ini sekolah di SIS Kebun Jeruk)