Nightmare

August 16, 2011
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I ran as fast as my legs would take me. Pushing aside all the empty, ugly tree limbs, I barely noticed the scraggly, malnourished rodents scampering out of the way. I began to sweat and gasp for air. I turned my head, peering down the moonlit path of freshly snapped twigs and branches that I had just traveled. Relieved to see a bare forest, I collapsed on a hollow, rotting log with moss and slime growing on it. Trying to calm myself, I closed my eyes and breathed slowly.

Finally, after what seemed like ages, I felt somewhat recovered, at least, enough to plan my next move. I cast my gaze over my surroundings, spending a great deal of time staring at the deeper shadows that seemed to be boring into me. Maybe they contained the creature I was actively avoiding. Tilting my head back, I noticed the trees were tall and strangely barren of leaves. They curved downward, as if at any moment they would grab you with their dead, thin, finger-like branches and throw out the unwelcome guest. Earlier, the wind caused them to slowly sway, but now it was unnaturally still. Not even a wisp of relief could be found on the warm, summer night.

The ground wasn’t much better. The rocky earth had provided an unpleasant landing when I tripped on a haphazardly-placed honey jar. Of course, it was empty and being thoroughly enjoyed by beetles and bugs, so I threw it aside in disgust. Rubbing my scraped knees, I painfully hoisted myself off the fallen, decomposing tree and shivered.
Suddenly, a frail twig snapped to my left and I automatically bolted in the opposite direction. Although exhausted, I persisted out of fear. I only got a glimpse of my stalker, but that was enough to scare me for a lifetime. A flash of orange fur and then white, sparkling fangs, like the Cheshire Cat in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, descending upon me.

Within ten or fifteen minutes, I emerged into a clearing. Leaving the dark, spindly forest, I hesitantly slowed, bathed in the moon’s rays. The grass became thicker with every step, having a silvery-green sheen. Then, a few yards away, a slim, pebble pathway came into sight. I weighed the odds, and decided to follow it. After all, it looked so inviting. I strolled, feeling strangely calmed. Maybe it was the freedom from the suffocation of the woods.

Coming around a bend in the trail, I saw a very tall, thick tree. It was not at all like the sickly forest I had barely survived. To my surprise, there was an abnormally large tree house perched precariously at the top. The lack of leaves made it a peculiar sight. It swayed back and forth, despite the fact that there wasn’t any wind. Tilting my head back, I studied it, not even noticing the movement to my right. By the time I turned around, it was too late. With a sound of gleeful victory, the creature full-body attacked me.

I awoke with a start. Sweating and shaking, I sighed, chastising myself for eating an unhealthy dose of sugar before retiring to my bed. I rolled onto my side, taking in the scent of my berry shampoo, and drifted back to sleep.

Running with all that was in me, I crashed through the spindly trees. Remembering to jump over the honey jar, I felt I could conquer anything. I stopped, suddenly forgetting why I was fleeing. I looked at the mushrooms, the moss, and the other sparse plants, not feeling the least bit intimidated.

A fury of snapping, crackling, and breaking came toward me. I didn’t even flinch. I knew this place. As the force tackled me to the ground again, I recognized the creature. Its feline paws pressed down on my chest, while its spring-like tail danced behind it. He grinned triumphantly and let out a celebrating “hoo-hoo-hoo”. Pushing off me for a breath-taking emphasis, he bounced away, using his circular tail. I sighed and thought to myself, “The Hundred Acre Woods is a scary place to be at night.”





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