The full moon flickered through the tall conifers, partially illuminating an old unnamed trail, casting unearthly shadows on the forest floor. This was a thick ancient forest stretching several miles in all directions. A person could easily become lost or fall off a cliff if they weren’t careful. There had been several vicious assaults and murders in recent years so most travelers avoided the area.
A man named Roman, a bear of a man, crashed through the bramble trying to stay on the trail in the intermittent light. At six foot four and strong as an ox, he wasn’t afraid of very much. And because he didn’t enjoy the company of others he often chose to wander the forest at night believing he could avoid people. He relished his time alone in this forest, taking in the beauty of the night while others would panic at the slightest sound.
As he strode forward something caught his eye: a hare, grazing about forty feet in front of him. He silently reached for his bow and pulled an arrow from the quiver. He crept towards the hare, trying to find a clear shot. The hare seemed oblivious but Roman knew this wouldn’t be easy. In a moment of carelessness, Roman’s stepped on a dead branch, cracking it in two. He looked up and the hare was gone. He cursed under his breath. He was hungry and still had several miles left to get back to his home. He took the last sip of water from his flask. Nothing left.
He continued on, stopping periodically to listen to the forest and its creatures. He could hear bullfrogs in the swamp to the West and several wolves howling a few miles away to the East. The wolves didn’t concern him; if anything, their ruckus might drive some deer into his intended path. He had once ambushed and tackled a deer when he was half his age. His father, also a big man, was very proud of his son that day.
Passing a babbling brook, Roman bent down and cupped some water in both hands. He smelled it first but decided against taking a drink. The water was thought to be poisoned in this area. Roman didn’t always believe these tales but he figured he could handle his thirst till he got back home.
As he neared a large Oak tree, he could make out the shape of an owl sitting on a dead branch. Suddenly, a man jumped out from behind the tree, flashing a knife in Roman’s face.
“Ye’ll wish you hadn’t done that laddy” roared Roman. The man swung the knife menacingly as Roman ducked and veered out of his assailant’s way. Roman picked up a rock, threatening the man with it.
“Yeeve got a knife but I’ve taken down worse people than you!” Undeterred, the man continued swinging the knife but Roman was too quick for him. He backed up against the oak hoping the assailant would make a mistake. Just then, the blade got stuck on the tree trunk. Not wasting a moment, Roman pulled the knife from the tree, wheeled around and plunged it into the man’s back, puncturing his left lung. The man dropped to the ground. Roman finished him off, smashing his head with the rock. It was over in an instant. The man would later bleed to death, alone by the oak, becoming the subject of yet another dark tale from the cursed forest.
Several minutes later, Roman came out of the forest, and entered a clearing. As he walked along the path a man approached him. “Roman is that you?”
“Aye it is, Thomas. What ye been up to on this dark moonlit evening, hmmn?”
“Natasha and I were listening to the wolves. We could hear them clearly tonight. It’s such a timeless experience. Don’t you think?
“Hey, if you are interested, she made a roast this afternoon so come on over. We got plenty.”
“Thanks friend Thomas but I think I’ll order me a pizza. And I don’t want to miss any of the hockey game. It’s almost 7 and Montreal is still in the playoffs. Have a good evening.”
“Ok. Take care, Roman. Maybe next time.”
Copyright: © 2010 David Darragh Binks
David Darragh Binks lives in Ottawa, Canada with his wife, Anna and big grey cat, Calpurnia. He presently (and grudgingly) works for the federal government but only to pay the mortgage on his little bungalow in leafy Riverview Park. He hopes to live long enough to retire one day, move to a creepy old house in the country and write horror full time.