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There is a clearing in a never ending forest of dark and fog collecting trees, the tallest tree stands in the center over the woods. It's twenty to thirty times bigger and older, putting red woods to shame. Its trunk is a dark brown and its leaves a vibrant green. In the massive oak there's humans who inhabit a wooded tree house among the thick branches, sharing the space with the birds. The planks of the shack are made from the smaller trees below, which are a lighter brown easier to cut into than the timeless giant. Fresh saw marks appear, bit deeply into the wood slabs when cut not too long ago. Not that the house was build in a sloppy manner, but there was obvious errors, especially when the house had to be built hastily.
Every night things prowl and lurk in the forest, monsters of nightmares. Only visible in the clearing, once in the maze of trees they seem to melt with the shadows and only make little whispers in the wind.
Being a human in the house, I'm not allowed to go out when it darkens. But it seems that my companions disobeyed that rule and went out for food, leaving me to 'guard the fort'. There's a hole cut in one of the walls, long and thin, made for overlooking the creatures below. I stand bow and arrow in hand looking at the distant slow moving objects.
I usually target practice on them and collect the arrows in the morning after their bodies disintegrate from the sun. They leave no trace that they were here, only my arrows that are sometimes mutilated from their armor or trampled to pieces is the result. Meat from the monsters has never been collected and never really fit our appetite or our weak stomachs. The hunting party goes out in the mornings and treks eight miles to a lake that harbors enough rabbit and deer for a week. After a adequate amount is taken, without endangering the species into extinction, the lightest member climbs up a tree. If there are bird nests on the way they take as much eggs as they can carry, but not before poking their head from the canopy and finding the colossal tree in the clearing. Then they make a direct path back, but game has been scarce and more hunting parties had to go out this week than in a month. Coming back empty handed twice and only a deer and half a rabbit left, Bruce suggested to try at night for our group of five. Being the youngest, I had little to no say in the decision, it was final.
I notch a red feathered arrow and aim at a centipede the size of two men laying down, there's a spot of thin skin in between large armored scales on its back and its head. I calculate the wind and trajectory before firing, even though I'm hundreds of feet up I've created a knack for hitting my mark. I release the arrow and soon it becomes hard to keep track of, but when the centipede jerks and skirts angrily to the closest creature I know I bounced a arrow off one of its inch thick shields. It rears up and slices at a greasy blob in the shape of a egg in accusation, the greenish glob turns to the large insect and launches itself at it. The centipede is completely consumed in the jelly substance, the rows of legs flutter and kick furiously inside the blob as acid eats at it in a leisurely pace.
I notch another arrow and aim for the small brain in the top left of the green egg, it jiggles as the creature crawls to the tree line. Letting the arrow fly, the shaft pierces cleanly through the beast and buries itself into the ground several feet past the monster. The thing collapses and the centipede inside stops twitching.
I sigh and twist back to look at the living room of our house, wooden chairs are propped around a grand unused wooden table. At the far right of the room there's a hatch leading to a small part of the floor under for weapon storage, which is now almost empty. The hatch in the left leads to the bed room cluttered with leaf stuffed mattresses. The first floor, the floor closest to the ground is the kitchen, filled with simple fireplace made up of a stone box to keep from setting the house on fire. Elementary utensils of wooden spoons and forks, and the carefully carved bowl made from sharp rocks, sit in cabinets and some are messily scattered on the dining room table.
Turning to the window I gasp, a bright orange thing floats from the forest and makes its way to the other side. It's significantly bigger than the other creatures, as big as a bus. Long hanging strands like a ripped robe connect to the spirit in what looks similar to multiple spiraling tails, the head is circular and the wispy tendrils follow immediately behind it, no body.
They're not going to believe me if I told them I saw a spirit, not in a million years. What happens when I kill a spirit? Will it leave something behind for my evidence or wither away like the others?
I quickly place the arrow on the string and shoot, it takes a couple seconds but then the peaceful orange spirit turns a ruby red and the strands flicker and snap out in fury. Its head finds me, darker swirls and lines outlining its face. The spirit flings out all of its wispy tentacles and flies at me in a snake slither.
I drop the bow and stumble back, a intense fear clawing up my throat. The gaps in between the wood boards begin to glow a shade of red, getting darker and darker. Until the whole room is bathed in the blood red, the spirit is just above the roof. Shadows against the chairs and under the table sway as the spirit moves from side to side like a professional boxer.
I scramble to the farthest wall as the roof is suddenly ripped off and a burning light of red bolts in. I jump to the side and fumble with the hatch, the creature whirs its massive head around the room. Once the door opens I fling myself down the next floor, forgetting the ladder. Landing in a confined room, I scoot to the wall and inspect for a weapon, but the place is deserted except for a box with a few bow strings behind the ladder. I glance up the ten feet I fell, the hatch bangs up against the living room wall and comes back down, slamming shut.
My commotion sends new red waves to coarse through the spirits being, the house shutters and brighter red filters through. A smell fills the chamber, suffocating and dense. The red is so intense that it takes a while to realize that flames lick the sides of the walls and the boards of the hatch are a silhouette of a roaring inferno set to the chairs and living tree.
When the red gets almost a blinding white that I know for sure that the spirit is behind the entrance. A cold beat of sweat rolls along my cheek, and if someone could see me now they could mistake it as tear.