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The Forest: Chapter Two

Alex has been a photographer since he was in grade school. He has a diploma in digital photography. He thoroughly enjoys various arts.


Tom plunged his right hand deep into his jean pocket, for; opening the door had only permitted a small stream of the moonlight poor into the terribly thin hallway of that all too normal cabin. Despite his dazed state, he remembered the lighter he had been carrying. Indeed, he remembered this fact, because it was somewhat unusual for Thomas to carry such an item. He didn't smoke. The occasional drink perhaps, but never a cigarette. He had simply thought that, under the circumstances, it would be useful, and... YES! Thomas sighed without thinking about it. He felt the smooth plastic of his light-maker. His fingertips tingled. Thomas took a deep inhale and lit the thing.

From what he could see, the inside of the home wasn't derelict. This honestly felt strange to Thomas; he had been hoping for somewhere abandoned. It looked as though he was still out of luck. He took a few steady steps. There were photographs and portraits on the walls of the short hall. The following room had a small fireplace, and additional pictures were positioned above that too. The difficulty was that all of these pictures were of himself. For heavens' sake; even the portraits displayed the birthmark above his left eyebrow. How was that possible? He wasn't surprised, but he was giving more attention to his senses. That is, despite the sharp knee pains quickly being re-realized with the added focus.

Why wouldn't Thomas go back into the cold yet familiar woods? Amateurs run away from things. Professionals run towards them. Cowardice rewards the coward with suffering. However, courage is something else entirely. Courage makes the fabrics of reality pause for a moment. For Tom, this was a bit ironic. Still, even a second's advantage is a second that one's foe might need. No, even pretended bravery would be superior to getting cold feet. "And, they are cold," Tom spoke quietly. That was his queue to start a fire.

Thomas wasn't blessed with any dreams as he laid on the antique carpet. He rested close to the now billowing fire. Still, he had hoped he was dreaming when he noted the clear sound of a thoughtful knock on the cabin door. Tom knew that there was no point in hiding. Surely, the fire's flickering light was something of a beacon from outside of the cabin's window. Regardless, Thomas was confident that this wasn't the one he was running from. At least, he hoped that was confidence.

The knocks rang through the air a second time. They were not any louder or more disorderly than the initiating knocking had been. Walking through the cramped hallway, Thomas made it to the door. It wasn't even locked. He was fairly certain that this home didn't even have a lock to speak of. The steady, polite knocking took place once more. It gave Tom chills. Maybe a sane man would have barricaded the door with some item discovered inside of the humble living quarters. Moreover, sanity was just a way to keep money out of the hands of honest, hard-working psychiatrists. "Yeah, that sounds right," he thought with imagined bravery. Tom opened the door to his visitor.

Nothing. I mean, bizarrely nothing; not a color nor a sound to mention. Past the now open door was complete blackness. Thomas would later note the vivid memory of one of his the vessels in his eye bursting. Maybe this... whatever it was... wasn't what he thought that it was. Thomas jumped into the void.

There are those who say that the onlooker of the void will one day be the onlookee. Thomas wasn't sure if he was inside or out of his head. Of course, how can anyone not be in their heads. Isn't that kind of the whole point to consciousness? But, then again, no one can be inside nor outside of the totality which aids in the emergence of experience. Tom hit the ground hard. This wasn't some altered dimension or his desired dream. The moonlight was probably covered by clouds. Who had dug a pit? Was this here the entire time? The knocking though... "it must be toying with me." Fortunately, the lighter was still in his hand. Tom got to his feet, flicked the light on, and noted the dark creature standing in front of him.

It seemed to be about his own height, as they stood face to face. Its' eyes were pitch black. And, though it was hard for him to tell in the abysmal dark, Thomas noticed ridiculously large antlers protruding from its' filthy, fur-laden head. Tom may have been less frightened if it had immediately tried to kill him. After all; he was used to that. The beast's hesitation (if that's what it was) stole Thomas' breath away. The creature drooled as its' mouth twitched like an uncomfortable rat.

To be continued...


For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. What did Thomas dream of?
    • He did not dream.
    • He dreamed of the void.
    • Tom dreamed the entirety of the chapter.
    • He dreamed of a lighter.
  2. What were in the photos?
    • Pictures of the owner's family.
    • Cats, dogs, and animals.
    • Pics of Thomas.
    • A hairy beast with antlers.
  3. What is Thomas running away from?
    • Nothing at all.
    • The story hasn't said yet.
    • An old woman.
    • His greatest fears.

Answer Key

  1. He did not dream.
  2. Pics of Thomas.
  3. The story hasn't said yet.

© 2019 Alexander James Guckenberger

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