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The Woods

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The stench of death plagued every corner of my mind. Seeping into my memory. Creeping through my eyes. This horrid sight before me. It is not there. It’s only in my head. My deformed youthful imagination. My eyes open. Every muscle in my body is twitching violently. Hands close around my throat cutting off air to my lungs. They are my own hands. In the midst of this commonplace spastic attack I lose the horrific memory for a matter of four point six moments. Four point six moments of serenity. Peace in which my mind freezes as cold and hard as the rest of my body. As minutes pass, my heart slows and my mind races faster and faster still. The death came back from every corner of my mind ten fold. The violent attack throws me to the ground clutching my burning skull. My attacker, however, does not pause. He breached my mind. He scorched every inch of my brain and pounded at my temples. He weakened my will and brought me humbly to my knees. He is not even here. This sudden realization allowed me to laugh at the thought of my worst fear. The thought, however, is not the fear itself. The fear is every ill word my mouth will spew today. My fear infiltrates my translucent soul and continues to scalding the far corners of my twisted imagination. I rise to my feet calm as a shallow pool as ice. The image of my face, dead and frozen, haunts me but it cannot be true. It cannot be. This shallow fear will not defeat me. I begin to breathe again. The luminescent numbers in the dark flick to five AM and the real hell begins.

The scorching heat of the Floridian sun is allied with my night’s attacker. My enemies who wish nothing more than my downfall. I silently step hastily down the burning street of this presumed paradise. I felt welling hatred toward the steaming ground of my new home. Relocation was evident, of this I was sure. I was moved here for my own safety they say. Consequently I know not what I am protected from in this earthly hell. My shallow breathing stressed by heat stop as I am pulled forcibly into another dream.

A labored heartbeat pounding in my ears as I ran blindly down a pitch black corridor. The scent of death stalked me. It is coming. Suddenly the corridor leads outside. I open the door and run and run into the woods and run from my mind. An unseen enemy protrudes from the ground. I fall.

Reality returns in an instant as my body hits the pavement. My limbs sprawled across the scalding street. Unwanted strangers flock to my inanimate body and hasten my already shallow breathing. I rise from the pavement, blood dripping from my left elbow. A concerned murmur echos through the legion of onlookers. I did not wish to confront the tenants of my own physical hell. I attempted to move through the stifling crowd alone when a cold hand gripped my forearm and led me away from the mass of worrisome strangers. Once in the clear, my breathing slowed and my heartbeat evened. The woman’s silver hair tightly back in a bun. The cold, bony hand released me however her frozen gray irises captured mine for a long moment. This ice would not melt in the punishing sun. Suddenly confusion swept over my fatigued body. The confusion turned to fear as my mind continued to race through the woods. Running, beset, by death.

My face morphed into the face of a fearful child. Reflected back to me in the eyes of the skeletal old woman. As soon as her mind registered my horrified expression her frozen eyes released me. My entire body shifted and dashed through the Floridian heat so fast I feared my heart would fail me. I stumbled once and my long straight strands of pale hair enveloped my face and I fell onto my shaded porch. I brought my shaking knees to my pounding chest and sat huddled protectively on the middle step until my breathing evened and the pounding decreased. My mind secured itself and regained control of my renegade thoughts and fatigued limbs. Dried blood encrusted me elbow and stiffened my pale blue tee shirt already soaked with sweat. I lifted my controlled body with much effort and entered my home to dispose of any and all evidence of today’s episode.

Trees blew by me one by one then two by two as I ran blindly through the dark woods. My heart hammered loudly and clouded my thoughts. I feared what was behind me as I feared much. I fear the unknown. I knew nothing of my pursuer yet I feared his presence. I saw light in the distance and was unwillingly full of shallow hope. My revolting legs raced faster as I neared the luminescent source. The light began to take shape as I got closer. The trees thinned and enthusiasm swelled in my chest. The light took the form of a woman. A skeletal womann with thin flowing silver hair blowing in the evident breeze. Light radiated from her and the thin white gown that encompassed her fragile body. My eyes met her cold gray eyes that did not match the rest of her luminescent form. They were fearful. They were lifeless. They were a warning. The shallow exuberance was abruptly replaced by terror. My foot caught an unseen matter and I was falling.

I hit my bedroom floor still tangled in my bed sheets before I fully awoke. Repetitive, scalding attacks punished my skull. Sweat poured from my skin though I was ice cold. I was fighting the specter in my head with every ounce of energy my restless sleep had provided. The first rays of the unforgiving sun infiltrated the window shades and penetrated my eyelids. I was impetuously thrown back into a corner of the room grasping my knees to my studdering chest. A few more breaths and the everlasting pain subsided. I gently and gracefully rose from the floor and slid out of my sanctuary.

My light, gentle footsteps led me down the hallway and around the corner to another narrow corridor. The silent, empty house muttered a complaint as my foot stepped on a creaking floorboard. My darkness adjusted eyes found the hanging cord to the narrow staircase leading to the stale attic. The ladder lowered with less complaint than the stressed floorboards and my hasty climbing brought me silently into the dull, crowded room.

The piled boxes cluttered the musty attic although my family and I only occupied the house for several days since an old relative passed away and left the ancient house to us. The attic window gave a clear view through the warped glass. An old-fashioned, dust-covered trunk that sat in the far corner caught my eye. I progressed across the feeble attic floor toward the ancient trunk. A bad feeling swelled in my stomach but I ignored it. My shaking hands gingerly lifted the heavy lid. Slightly yellowed papers filled the massive trunk. I sifted through aged documents aimlessly and curiously until I arrived to matching birth certificates. My eyes froze when one said my name. Then reluctantly moved to my sister’s name. My secret twin sister. Stolen from me at birth. Ice cold burning resumed in my head but it was insignificant. I pawed through more documents and found adoption forms. My own parent let her go. Our parents. I fled from the attic. Our mother’s pale blue Honda warily pulled onto the gravel driveway. I could not bare to face them now. I dashed out the back door.

Trees blew past my slender body as tears swelled up in my eyes and flowed down my pale face. The woods grew thicker but I kept fleeing. Heart racing. Head pounding. Encircled on all sides by unseen attackers. I fled deeper into the woods. The trees thinned as the clearing drew nearer. Fear filled my desperate body. Suddenly, I was falling. The pale, straight haired slender body lay beneath me. Her pale skin covered in cuts and bruises and blood. She was warm to the touch. A faint heartbeat pulsed through her veins. Her weak, horrified expression tried to warn me. Tried to save me. Her labored breathing faltered and her frail heart stopped. I let out a pained cry for my lost sister. Tears flooded down my face and I shouted at darkness. Just then a cold, steel knife penetrated my back and my lifeless body collapsed onto my identical twin. Silence rose from the trees and darkness resumed. Night continued alone.





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