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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The enchanted forest

    It had been a long day and it felt good to be home. It had been a cloudy sky when I had left home many hours back and I expected a downpour. During my journey, the sky cleared up a bit and looking up I saw a sickly yellow full moon leering back at me. The pale yellow moon still hung in the sky and it always gave me a chill whenever I saw it hanging there as if following me around. Being a superstitious man, it gave me chills as it was a bad tiding moment. These long drives on long dusty back roads always wore me out and the unexpected car problem in some back road surrounded by a corn field added to my woes. Opening up the hood, I looked inside and could not figure out what was wrong. Slamming the hood down, I went back inside and turned the blinkers on and waited for some passerby to lend a hand.

    It was a lonely stretch of land where nothing could be seen for miles upon miles. The moon still seemed to glare at me through the clouds and at other times through the tops of houses as I walked through the field looking for a house where the folks were still awake. Looking up, I cursed at it telling it to go away and leave me alone and not add anything to my misery. It seems like I’ve been through this area many a times yet something was different. I could feel it in my bones, but I could not put my finger on it. I felt like a leaf caught in the gently flowing river called time which gets swept along vainly struggling to find it own path as it gets swept along at ever increasing rate until all control is lost.

    A huge patch of dense trees in the distance caught my attention. I could see some flickering light there and I changed my course hoping some help could be found. It was an old forest and if it could talk, it might have a tale or two to tell the passerby. I looked around and it seemed like it was alive and could sense me looking at it and walking around. I swore I saw many pairs of large yellowed eyes some distance away staring at me which disappeared when my attention turned towards them. A soft breeze started to rustle the leaves and ruffled my hair ever so gently, yet died down as quickly as it had risen. In this enchanted forest, it seemed like a thousand voices talking to each other and I could not name the source. The voices seemed everywhere. As I walked deeper into the woods, my uneasiness grew in the near total darkness broken at times by the moon peeking through the tree canopy every so often. I heard the sound of water gently flowing down some creek and the sound of a startled deer hoping away.

    Off to a side I saw what seemed like some lanterns going by while some people were whispering to each other. I called out and the voices died as quickly as they had appeared and the lanterns were turned off. I could not make out what was happening as total darkness engulfed me once more. After what seemed like eons, the lights came on once more and the bodiless voices with lanterns seemed to chase each other through the shrubs, weave through the trees and finally disappear some distance away. As the voices fade away, I wonder how so much time in this timeless forest has flown by and how do I find my way home.

    In near total darkness which is intermittently lit by moonlight, I stumble across the forest until I come across a creek. The strange gurgling sound draws me closer and I kneel down to wash my face and fill my water bottle. Yet before I could do so, the sound of hoofs drew my attention. Soon a black buck appears from the dense forest clearing as if being chased by something or someone and races across the open field. As it nears the stream, it slows down and seems to hesitate and finally heads back towards the darkness from where it came from. A shrill cry emerged and the forest was till once more. Startled by the site, I drop my water bottle into the stream. The flowing water seems so black even in this dim moonlight. The splashing and rippling caused by the water bottle subside soon yet I hesitate to pull it out as I see strange lights in the water of what seems like reflections of star constellations even though the sky is covered by forest cover. Losing interest I back off and great full that I have an extra water container.

    Discovering a beaten dirt track alongside the stream, I start wander down it hoping to find the end of this forest. I eventually come to the end of the dirt road after what seemed like an eternity and discovered a village located in the clearing. It seemed very odd one from the distance and looked completely deserted like one of those towns where all have gone to work leaving behind locked houses.

    A toad on a bicycle wound his way through the dirt tracks selling caramel coated fairies on a stick to anyone who was interested. Off to one side, elf kids could be seen scrambling up and down trees effortlessly while the Minotaur lurked in a patch of water lilies looking for another battle. Endless dark forest stretched from one horizon to the next and I wondered how long it would take to cover this distance and what lies beyond. Someone opened a door as I heard the wind chimes twinkle and the sounds of little kids as they ran down the dirt track to buy either a vanilla, chocolate flavored fairies or the caramel coated fairies on a stick from an ice cream seller who was riding past and madly jingling the bells on his cart.

    As I wandered down the dirt path which followed the water way, I eventually found myself at the end of the village. A small patch of land with a boundary wall around it drew me as if I was in a trance. There were dried leaves all over the place and a crunching sound was heard as I walked across the path. As I near the faded bronze gate which has a lion head emblem, a gentle wind rustles through the dried leaves and opens the gate.

    Upon entering the compound, I notice a cot on one side under a shaded area. The bearded man seems to be seemed to be in a deep trance with mind numbing weird symbols floating around him and levitating a few inches above the bed. As my head gets soar from watching the glowing symbols appear out of nowhere and disappear once more, I look around and see that there is a Red Bench of to one side under an old bearded tree which seemed like the grandfather of all the trees. A pair of yellow eyes blinked and one of the thick branches beckoned me towards the chair as if it knew all along that I was coming.

    Sitting on the wooden cot, I wondered how long it would take for my sore legs and feet to recuperate so that I could continue my journey once more. Something about the old tree set me into a relaxed mood as the tension, stress and tiredness flowed out of me effortlessly unmindful of the giant red eyed crows which were going caw caw on a tree branch on top of me. My eyelids started to grow heavy as sleep slowly overtook me and I slowly got pulled into a vortex.

    The shrill cry of many hawks on the hunt woke me up from a horrible dream and I woke up with a gasp and I realized that it was late in the afternoon and the sun was burning away the last remnants of the dream I was caught in. Sweat was pouring down my face and into my shirt which was soaking wet. The dream was persistent and still seemed to pursue me into this world and I toppled backwards and fell out of the chair breaking the roots from the tree limb which was attached to my head until a few moments ago. The evil glint in the yellow eye which was there a moment ago receded and upon rubbing my eyes I saw an old leafless tree surrounded by crumbling walls, broken gate and a rotting broken cot by the corner.

    Not wanting to linger in this haunted forest anymore, I trace my footsteps back to my car in the corn field patch. On the return journey, I see the same houses and yet they seem more alive than the previous night. I walked slowly back towards the houses and the sound of activity was evident even from a distance. The sound of children playing in the streets and smell of food was gently carried over to my general area.

    As I neared the houses, a solid permanent black top road started and my pace quickened. My body was tired yet my mind wanted to go on. Reaching the first door, I knocked on the door. A short while later it opened and an old man stared back at me. He just stood there and gave me a long hard stare as I stood frozen to the spot. After some time, he finally asked if I had been in the woods. Looking back over my shoulder and then back again, I stuttered back yes and asked how he knew. As I was pulled inside, I was told what a fool I had been to venture to those woods and was lucky to come back whole. As I stood in front of the mirror, I saw a white haired wrinkled man who had the haunted look in his eyes. A hot steaming plate of food and some coffee was offered and I was told that I could stay till my car was fixed. The old man went off to the field and I was left on my own to dwell on what happened last night. I found my way to a room upstairs and took a long shower to wash off all the mud, leaves and filth off me.

    I couldn’t fall asleep as the same dream was eating me up. It was the same dream as always. I was roaming around the woods like I not only owned the place but it was the lord and master of all I surveyed. I happened to pass under witches tree house unaware that it was at home. Sensing me under the tree, it hopped out and gave me a chase on its turbo charged broom while throwing all types of nuts. Pretty soon I was outgunned and out maneuvered.

    Looking for some type of safety, I spied a house in a clearing. I dashed towards it and ran inside as the door was open. The witch was in hot pursuit and followed right behind. The lady who owned this house was startled by the commotion and called for help. Help did come and the people tried to scare away the witch through the open door. I was mighty frightened by all the commotion and somehow managed to find a safe hiding place in the luggage space just above the door and it refused to come down no matter what people did.

    The lady of the house decided to take charge in order to bring things under control and hopefully shoo me away in the process. They somehow managed to get hold of the witch and sniped off a small clump of hair. Tying it to a broom stick, they tried to shoo me away. It seemed like a clump of hair just doesn't do it anymore...So a whole witch was needed. Initially, everything is working out well. The witch was under control and it really doesn't know what's going on. As things quicken up, the poor witch becomes mighty confused and disoriented. It starts to squeal like a pig and flap its legs to get away. It’s held tighter until the work and hand is done. Things slowly go out of hand and the noise increases to very high level. Pretty soon, fur is flying all over and they see a very nakkie witch in her hand.

    Everyone realizes that getting a real witch, tying it to a stick and stuck it up there hoping that I would venture out and eventually come down does not always help. I did see the witch and vice versa. The witch on the stick just got a bit agitated ….but I stayed put in its place as I was too scared to come out.

    At this point, I always woke up drenched in sweat and looking around making sure it is just a dream. The day wore on and the farmer came back. He took me to the barn and I was ecstatic to see my car all fixed and humming like new. I tried to offer some payment for the help given, yet the man refused. He did give me a magic charm to wear to ward off the evil dreams as well as a voodoo doll. I had to go back to the woods and to the same tree when the moon is full once more and use it to banish these spirits from my mind and soul. I feel lighter now and there is a spring in my step. No more dreams to haunt me and I feel like a free man. No more short cut nor wandering into enchanted forests unprepared. I finally drove off to my destination having learned something new and hopefully I will be able to return the favor one day.