Wrong way home

By Steve Talley

 

My parents always told us not to go in the Horror Forest, but after school one day my cousin took a dare and went in and never came out. The forest was a flowery garden on the outside, but it was often said that the inside rival any thing from the pits of Hell.  As a kid in the 8-grade, fear of the unknown always kept me in check, but my cousin was more adventurous and would try anything.

My mom had told me just this morning before school to come straight home from after school, and warned me if I went neat the Horror Forest that the same thing would happened to me what happened to my cousin a week ago.  After school that day, I stood looking at the entrance to the forest as parents picked up their children from school. Other kids like me made for the long track home.

I turned from the forest to make my way home when I heard a voice calling for me.

“Jiff! Jiff! Don’t go; come help me!”

When I looked around, I did see anybody.

“Jiff! Jiff! Don’t go; come help me!”

I turned to walk towards where I heard the sound of the voice, but no one was there.

“Jiff! Jiff! Don’t go; come help me!”

What could it be I thought to myself — it sounded like my cousin — but everybody was sure he was dead by now,. Was he a victim to the horror in the forest that was attracting me to go in to look for him?  My cousin was not the first victim of the horror in the forest. There were others!

People in the town were I lived tell the story about a man and his dog who went hunting in the forest. The man was never seen again.  His dog was found dead days later with its throat cut, and its cuts strolled all over the ground.  They say it was a wrenched sight to behold, a sight so horrific that, the even the police were afraid to go into the forest to investigate.  Then, there was this family that was new in town, and decided to go to the forest for a picnic.  To this day, you can hear cries and screams coming from the forest on the anniversary of the day the family disappeared.

There were other such incidents, and just the thought of the horror that lie ahead in this dreadful place was enough the keeps kids my age away.  Every parent in town had warned their children to stay away from the Horror Forest, and every child obeyed.  I was no different, yet, I could never figure out why my cousin disobeyed that faithful day he disappeared.  As I turned to walk away, I heard the voice again; “Jiff! Jiff! Don’t go; come help me!”  

While I was drawn closer to the entrance of the forest looking for the source of the voice, this time it was different when I found myself on the inside.  When I turned to go back out, the entrance was gone.  Next, I found myself lost trying to find a way out.

“Jiff! Jiff! Over here!” The voice was back but it seemed closer even louder this time. “Jiff! Jiff! Over here!”

I started to follow the sound of the voice, hoping it would lead to an exit out of this horrid place.  As I followed the sound of the voice, I came upon this old ragged house.  The windows were boarded up; the porch had holds in it; the door was open, but I couldn’t see inside.  When I walked on the porch, I fell through one of the holds and landed in an underground labyrinth that made it difficult to know which way to go.

As In tired to find my way out of this eerie place, I hear a voice, saying, “I didn’t die right! I didn’t die right! When I looked around, I saw a man holding the head of the dead hunter with blood gushing from where he was decapitated.

The man holding the head was a monster who was gaunt to the point of emaciation, and his skin was desiccated like it was pulled tightly over his bones.  With his bones pushing out against his skin, his complexion was gray as ash, and looked like someone who had been dead for a while.  His eyes were pushed back deep into their sockets, so he looked like a skeletal, gaunt disinterred from its grave.  His lips were tattered with blood.  He was holding the suffering head of the dead hunter in his hands that were fangs.  What an awful sight with the flesh of the hunter’s head falling off; it was a horrific beyond belief.

He gave off a strange and vile odor of decaying flesh that was decomposing like the death of a decaying corpse.  This man who I called a monster was a horrifying cannibalistic creature that devours humans and could assume their life form.

The eyes of the dead hunter looked straight at me say, “I didn’t die right! I didn’t die right,” it said.  I took out running with the monster running behind me still holding the head of the dead hunter.  I ran and ran until I came to the edge of a ridge.  That’s when I fell down.  I was falling and falling into an abyss of hideous sounds of screams and mourning.  It seemed like I broke my legs, yet I continued to run.  Then I came to a flight of stairs that led to the old ragged house.   I ran up the stairs to reach to top, that’s when I fell to the floor to get some rest.

No sooner than I could get my breath, I heard that cry again, “I didn’t die right!  I didn’t die right! I didn’t die right!” When I looked up, there was the monster standing over me holding the heads of the dead family that went picnicking in the forest.  In one hand he had the father and mother, and in the other hand were the heads of the two children — a boy and girl.  Puddles of blood had accumulated on the floor when the monster gave out a loud and grotesque growl.

Knowing I was closer to death at any time in my life, I jumped up and started to run.  I had to find my way to the front door that was open to get the hell out of this place.  Running from room to room, I found myself going in circles with the monster only steps behind me. I couldn’t look back but I could feel how close the monster was to me.  I could smell the stench that resonated its existence.  My heart pounded like a thousand drums!  My fear was that of man going to execution!  Sweat ran from the pores of my skin like a waterfall!  My fear was overcoming me!

I continued to run until I found some stairs that went down to the bottom floor, but when I stepped on the stairs the whole thing collapsed causing me to fall to the bottom floor.  I was relieved after I hit the floor realizing that I was near the entrance of the where the door was open.  I ran to the open door, looked around to see if I could see the monster — it was nowhere in sight — that’s when I stepped on the front porch to make my way out of the ragged house.  I felt safe, thinking I could now find my way out of the Horror Forest.  I carefully took one step then another, but before I got safely off the porch, I fell into the same hold that I fell in before.  When I hit the ground, I was in the same underground labyrinth as before.  This time I ran in the opposite direction as before.

I was out of breath when I saw a clearance that looked peaceful and tranquil.  There was a big tree in the center of this place, so I went under it to get some rest.  My anxiety was still high, but the place somehow gave me peace from harm.  Sitting under the tree, I saw my short life pass before my face.  At 13-years old, my life was only things I was told by my mom not to do, yet, I disobeyed and did.

I remembered the time my mom cooked an apple pie that I had stolen from the kitchen window, but said was taken by a stranger.  My mom knew I took the pie and I got punished for it.  Then there were time when I was given money to put in church, but I took the money and bought candy instead.  There were also the many times I played hooky from school, never getting caught.

These were some of the bad things in my life.  Now, I started to think about the good things I had done.  I remember finding a baby Sparrow that had fallen from a tree.  Something told me to kill it.   However, I found a ladder and put it back into its nest.  I remembered the time I saw this kid about to drown in the local pond, so I threw him a long branch that had fallen from a tree, pulling him to safety. Thinking about the good things I had done in my short life gave me some relief,; though not taking the advice from my mom not to go into the Horror Forest made me fell that this misstep was the beginning of my end.

I started to cry.  My crying was not from fear of the monster, it was the fear I would never see my family again to tell them how much I love them, and how much I wanted to be a better person.  The tears started to pour like a heavy rain; my sorrow was so great that I failed to notice that the monster was standing before me growling something fierce.  Before it could take hold of me, I ducked between its legs running again for my life.

Since my life depended on it, my very survival, I couldn’t stop running if I wanted to.  I was too afraid to look behind believing this would slow me down and allow the monster to catch and devour me.  I felt like an animal of prey, trying to escape a doom I was certain would befall me.  A doom to horrid to think about; the unthinkable is what was going on in my mind.  I was too young to die such a dreadful death.  Too young to miss out on life, and all the good things that I knew was in my future.  Too young to leave a life at the beginning of it — is this the beginning of my end?  Is this the end of my beginning? 

I had a sense of survival like most animals in the world.  Most animals share this tools and it’s the mechanism they use to interact with their environment to survive.  Even the sheep, as week as it is, and other animals share five basic senses: sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. As an animal of prey, I must use these excellent sense to ensure my survival, as well.

So I continued to run for my life out of a sense of survival to stay alive to reap what I felt was a life too early to relinquish to the monster I knew wanted to do me in.  While I wanted to live, there was just so must I could do because I was running out of breath.  Running out of the time, I needed to get away from the monster to save my life.  I was too tired to go any further.   So I stopped to catch my breath, and then I looked around to prepare for an end I was certain would come next.  But, when I looked around, nothing happen to me.  The monster was nowhere to be found — it was like I was running in fear of my life kind of running in place.

I was so tired by now that I fell to my knees to get the rest I felt I needed to continue.  My sojourner was the same clear space with the tree at it center I had seen when I was so close to the monster that I could only escape my crawling through its legs.  Now, I knew it was time for me to pray to God for saving my life.  Since the monster was gone, I stared to pray to God for saving me, and I also prayed that the monster was gone forever.  To pray like this made me feel at the bottom of my soul that I was still a prey of the monster that wanted to devoir me. 

By now I was well rested enough to start back looking for a way out of the Horror Forest.  As I walked a few paces, I could here that voice again, “Jiff! Jiff! Don’t go; come help me!” I was certain that that was the voice of my cousin, “Jiff! Jiff! Don’t go; come help me!” I heard it again, so I started to go in the direction of the sound of the voice. “Jiff! Jiff! Don’t go; come help me!”

By now, I had come to a creek that was swollen by water coming from a waterfall.  When I across the creek, I was at the edge of the waterfall. That’s when I heard the voice again, “Jiff! Jiff! Don’t go; come help me!” I went under the waterfall to the entrance of a cave where I saw the skeletal remains of dead people.  Skeletal remains of all shapes and sizes even children; that’s when I realized I was dealing with a monster that had no sense of humanity or love for people.  As I step over the dead that number in the hundreds, I heard the voice again, “Jiff! Jiff! Don’t go; come help me!”

I followed the voice to the end of the cave, and there I found my cousin hogged tied with a knotted rope that had his hands and feet tied.  

I was very nervous and afraid hoping to untie him before the monster came up on us.  I was fumbling with the rope trying to untie the knots while my whole body trembled.  I was too afraid!  I could sense the monster was close-by.  It was!  The monster was at the edge of the waterfall getting ready to enter the cave, and I began to shake uncontrollably as I got one knot loose that was tied to his feet — now the other knot was loose from his feet — I could now hear that the monster was inside the cave.  I could hear it as it stepped over the skeletal remains of the dead people.  I could sense it knew someone was in its cave.  Now, I could smell the foul odor the reek from its body. 

“Stand up,” I shouted to my cousin.

When he stood up he said, “Jiff, I know the way out!”

We turned to find our way to the entrance to the cave holding each other’s hand to give us support, but as we turned the monster was standing in front of us.  We turned to the left to run, but the monster was there.  We tuned to the right, and the monster was there.  Wherever we tuned like magic the monster was in front of us.  The monster grabbed me with one hand and my cousin with the other; we were kicking and screaming when the monster took us to another part of the cave.  In this part of the cave there were dead bodies strewn all over the cave’s floor.  The site was so horrified I peed on myself knowing I was dead meat.  “What a way to die,” I thought to myself.  “What a way to die!”

The monster took us to an area of the cave that looked like and altar with a mattress covered with blood.  “You first, “ it told my cousin.  It threw me to the grown and place its foot on my neck while it slammed my cousin to the mattress, and pulling a meat cleaver from under its arm, and in shock, I saw the head of my cousin fall to the grown with blood gushing from the wound the cleaver made.

“You next, “ the monster growled, as it picked me from the grown and slammed me on the mattress for slaughtering.  As the monster came down on my neck with the meat cleaver, I heard a familiar voice.  It was my Mom calling for me to wake up, and get ready for school.

“Jiff!  Jiff!  Jiff!  It’s time to get up and get ready for school!”  I was so relived that it was a dream that I didn’t mind that I had peed on myself during that nightmare.  I ran to the bathroom to cover up from the mess I had made taking the sheets of the bed to hide the fact of me peeing in the bad.  I put the sheets in the laundry bag, took a shower, got dressed and went down stairs.  I eat a quick breakfast, and went out the door where my cousin was waiting for to make to walk to school.

I was telling him of the nightmare I had about the Horror Forest, and he just laugh saying that there was nothing to be afraid of in that forest. We met as usual after school to make our way back home stopping in front if the Horror Forest, we looked at each other — took each other’s hand  — we entered the forest without fear.

The end!    

 

Steve Talley is a junior majoring in accounting at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga (UTC)

 

 

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