The Woods, 1918


The land had gotten a taste for blood.

He stood alone in the shattered woods.

Some of the unit I was with called out to the man, despite my advice to leave him be.

A few of my new squad remained silent beside me.

The others, though, shouted and waved their arms, but he remained still.

I bade them stay where they were, to not approach, but like my admonition to keep their mouths closed, they ignored me.

A group of six headed off towards the stranger, picking their way through the shattered wood that had so recently been held by the Germans. There were three men left with me, and when I sat down, they did the same.

None of us spoke. We didn’t have to. The men walking through the destruction were making enough noise for the entire battalion. There was no joviality in their calls to the stranger, no concern for his well-being. They were only angered at being ignored.

When they were only twenty or so feet away from the man, he turned to face them. His face was immobile, stone-like. Not a flicker of emotion passed over his features, and an uneasy feeling stole across me.

One of the men beside me felt the same and asked if we should call our comrades back.

I was about to do just that when the situation changed.

The broken trees groaned and shifted.

Shattered edges and splintered branches turned to face us, creating a rough barrier that we would have been hard-pressed to cross without serious injury.

None of the men who had not listened to me heard the forest move. They were focused entirely upon the stranger.

The stranger who had done nothing more than turn since we had spotted him.

One of the men yelled out in pain and came to a stop, looking down at the earth. A heartbeat later, and the others did the same. Their shouts of pain transformed into shrieks as roots shot up and dragged the men down.

The shrieks were silenced as great gouts of blood exploded into the air.

As the blood rained down, I got to my feet.

My surviving squadmates did the same, and we left the woods.

I would mark the area as heavy with exploded ordnance and hope that no others would be foolish enough to enter.

#horror #fear #paranormal

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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