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It was a gloomy day. The sound of the heavy raindrops hitting the roof filled the otherwise silent cab. Occasionally, there would be a bump in the dirt road or a splash from a puddle, but otherwise, the forest of towering trees was calm and silent.
The closer they got to their Aunt Mary's house, the uneasier Jessie and Jack felt. Her house was in the middle of nowhere. They had to go down a winding, circuitous road, that felt like it would never end. When their uneasiness was at its peak, they finally saw the house.
Mary’s house looked more like an abandoned haunted house than a place where people lived. The once white paint was chipping off, the garden was overgrown and the lights were all off.
“Are you sure this is the place? It doesn’t look like anyone even lives here…” Jack said. Jessie nodded along. Would they really be living here from now on? As they approached the house, they realized a small, frail looking old lady was sitting on the porch, who was rocking back and forth in her rocking chair. Her eyes continued to follow them as the chair squeaked loudly beneath her.
The uneasy feeling wouldn’t go away even when they had gotten out of the car. They trudged cautiously towards the house.
“What were your names again? Jay and Jace?”
“No. Our name is?”
“Well, your room is here. Unpack and come downstairs.”
Before Jessie or Jack could say anything else, she disappeared into the dark hallway, where the wood beneath her creaked under her every step. The house smelled like rain and had a strong unrecognizable, but unpleasant scent throughout it.
When they finally got to see the room, they were disappointed, even though they had expected it. The room was empty except for two small beds, a window in the middle, and a drawer.
“It’s so dusty,” Jack said, picking up a dust bunny from the corner.
“Has this room ever been cleaned?” Jessie said, as she opened a window.
Just as they were starting to get settled, Mary called them downstairs for dinner.
After dinner, they finally had some time to look around the place. The house was nothing special, but it had an attic with box upon box of old objects. In a place with no other entertainment, the boxes of anachronistic objects looked like treasure. Though they were excited, they were too exhausted by the trip to stay up any longer.
The next day they decided to revisit the attic. There was only one window that was lighting up the dim room. As they were looking around, there was the constant sound of scurrying or shuffling. They initially had thought it was a rat and didn’t think much of it, but when a spectacle slid across room towards one of them, they realized it was more than a family of rats. They both stopped, their focus shifted and they stayed silent, waiting for just another sound. After minutes of silence, Jack and Jessie were about to doubt themselves, when a small elf like creature came out from the stacks of furniture and books.
“Jack do you see that too?” Jessie whispered, doubting his eyes. Jack nodded, his eyes still glued to the small creature now standing in front of them.
The elf was impatiently tapping his foot, seemingly waiting for them to greet it. Jessie quickly held out her hand, before realizing the elf was about the size of her hand.
“Hi I’m Jessie and this is my twin brother Jack.” Jessie said, trying to lower herself to the elf.
“Hello. Nice to meet you, I’m Cloyd. May I ask why you are here?” Although Cloyd spoke politely, his tone and gestures signified to them that he obviously was annoyed by their arrival.
“We were just looking around the attic. We wanted to see what was here.”
Now that it was clear Jack and Jessie were not leaving, Cloyd became impatient with them. “Well, this isn’t a place for children. Why don’t you go outside and have fun, or maybe you can read a book. Go do whatever children do, instead of looking through my things!”
At this, Jack became slightly angry. He simply ignored Cloyd, moved the elf to the side, and continued to search through the boxes of treasure.
“Hey! I found something”
“What is it?”
“It’s a book. It says ‘(book name)’.” It was a book about the size of a human’s hand, probably as tall as the elf itself. The book smelled like dust and old paper, but it was almost like it was somehow casting a spell on the children, they just couldn’t put it down.
“What does it say on the inside?” Once Jack opened the book, it was almost like the pages were glowing. There were pages and pages of elaborate illustrations of weird creatures they never had seen before, with extensive descriptions of each one.
They were so mesmerized by the book, that they didn’t even notice Cloyd jumping up and down, shouting angrily at them to put the book down. Only when Cloyd climbed up on to Jack’s arm, did they both notice that he had still been there.
“Put it down and never come back! It’s dangerous here!”
Cloyd ignored Jessie’s question and said, “Never go into the woods.”
This time, when he shooed them off, they decided to listen, but of course brought the book along with him to their room. They looked at the book all night.
The next morning, Jack told Jessie, “Hey I want to go into the forest.” Cloyd’s advice had made him even more curious about what lies inside the forest.
“Don’t go in there. Cloyd told you not to, and probably for a good reason.” Jessie told him, but at that point he wasn’t listening.
He dismissed himself early from breakfast and decided to sneak out. It took 30 minutes for Jessie to realize Jack had disappeared, but by then he was long gone. Panicking, she ran up to the attic and searched for Cloyd.
“Are you looking for your brother? Well, you might as well give up. The Jahvs probably already ate him up.” Cloyd said, emerging from a hole in the wall. At Cloyd’s remark, Jessie burst into tears.
“Please tell me how to find him!” she sobbed. After watching Jessie cry for a while, Cloyd sighed and told her to bring the book they took yesterday.
“These are called Jahvs. Jahvs are smaller than humans, but you shouldn’t undermine their ability. They hate humans, they especially hate anyone who comes into their territory - the woods.” Cloyd said. Over the course of a couple hours, Cloyd taught Jessie how to use a rare poison to her advantage and how to attack them. Jessie felt she was being overwhelmed by all the information, but her determination kept her going. Jessie and Cloyd practiced the various attacks she would use.
“Turns out you’re good at something kiddo.” Cloyd said kind of jokingly. The sun was about to set, and they were running out of time. Both of them knew Jessie wasn’t ready, but she knew she had to save her brother.
When she entered the forest, it sounded like a sea of murmurs were surrounding her. As she went in deeper, the louder it got.
“Jack? Jack where are you?” Jessie called out. Everytime she said Jack, she thought she heard faint screams from further into the forest.
“Ah!” she screamed, when she tripped on a wire. She was confused, but soon the Jahvs angrily surrounded her.
“Where’s my brother!” she demanded and screamed while they carried her off. When she arrived, she was tied onto a tree trunk and beside her Jack was also tied to a tree trunk. She was delighted, but soon after, a repulsive smell wafted around the bonfire.
“You’re our dinner.” one Jahv smiled. At this point, Jessie had been sawing at her rope vigorously. She waited for the Jahvs to turn their attention to something else, then also freed Jack, while giving him another weapon she had hid in her pocket.
They had started a weird, ear piercingly loud chant. Jessie saw the chance to run, and she took off, pulling Jack along with her. Of course, the Jahvs were not fooled so easily. Though they were smaller, they were nimble and were good shooters. One of the arrows managed to nick the side of Jack’s face and left a gash on her shin.
“Run Jack!” Jessie said as she felt the army of Jahvs getting closer, she then quickly turned around and sprayed the poison in their direction. The smell was reminiscent of roses, something the Jahvs seemed to hate. Their repulsed reaction gave her enough time for her to get out of the forest. She was finally home!