The murky fog made it difficult to see where the forest ends and the road starts. It was late dusk but the tree lined road had trees whose branches sheltered the road from any sunlight. Twilight was soon approaching so the walk became darker and darker. To the left of me was a forest and to the right was even more forest, the trees were so close together you couldn’t see anything only black shadows. As I walked along that long and lonesome road, I kept my mind blank and tried not to creep myself out. I looked up at the canopy above me, and to the left and the right of me, I really am surrounded by trees, I thought. That one narrow road in the centre of an intimidating forest was probably used by travellers, strolling players and traders wondering from one market or village to another. Or maybe the road was used by cunning highwaymen gunning down their victim to either take their money and goods or their lives.
I tried to keep my mind blank to drown out the whispers of the trees enclosed on me. Imagine all the secrets those trees new, every secret about every person who strolled down that road. If trees could talk would they tell us everything or remain quiet as they did now? Would they tell us about all the events that happened there that they have witnessed? The mercenaries, highwaymen and robbers who murdered all of the travellers, strolling players and tradesmen were forever watched by the surrounding eyes of the tightly packed trees. There were murders on this road, I thought, in this very spot where I’m walking. Oh stop it. I was starting to scare myself.
I listened around. There was no wind. No birds. No crickets. Why is it so quiet? No noise. It was just me, the surrounding forest and my thoughts. I had forgotten about the murky fog I was in. It had become even denser. Quickly it became almost too thick to see through. I couldn’t feel any wind but the bushes and branches behind me were rustling. I quickened my pace. The forest seemed to go on forever. Every tree was identical and the rustling followed me like a creature running through the bushes. I couldn’t understand how the bushes would rustle without the wind. Is something following me? Or someone?
I flinched as a huge branch suddenly snapped and echoed through the forest. It rang in my ears and I immediately stopped in my tracks. I stood there frozen to the spot. I did not move a muscle and I could feel my heart pounding so loudly. I strained my ears to listen for any movement behind me. I sensed the presence behind me. Someone was following me. I started walking subconsciously. I pressed on in a straight line and quickened my pace. They quickened. I slowed down to hear their footsteps but they sped up. I panicked. I ran down the pitch dark road. I ran between the forests either side of me. I ran over the cobbles of the road, which hurt my feet as I sprinted without thinking. I didn’t want to think. I didn’t want to turn around. I knew I would freeze if I saw somebody behind me. I was exhausted and couldn’t even tell where my feet were going. I slowed down slightly but tripped on a loose cobble lying upright on the road. I fell to the ground and smashed my right elbow on the cobbled ground. I cursed my clumsiness. The road was damp from the fog and cold to the touch. I sat up and examined my elbow as much as I could. It was dark so I tried to make my eyes see more clearly but failed. My elbow was throbbing with pain and for a few moments I forgot about the follower. As I stood up I searched for any figures. There was no one here. I either out ran them or I imagined it.
I took two steps back and bumped into what looked like a sign post made of extremely old rotten wood. I couldn’t make out what some of it said at first but what I could make out said ‘The Old Mill’. A mill. Excellent. Human beings. Or at least a safe place to be. I could just stay there till dawn; surely it wasn’t a long way off, I thought. I had walked down that road for hours. I looked up at the sign, it pointed diagonally through the forest. At first I thought somebody may have bumped it to point away from the road but then as I followed where it was pointing I saw there was a path buried and entrapped by thorns, nettles and bushes. It must have been a shortcut, or a walker’s trail. I didn’t know whether to follow the road onwards or risk getting hurt by thorns and nettles and follow the trail to the safety of a mill. I thought it over for a minute, still facing the horizon of the road. I was about to leave and follow the cobbled road onwards when a dark shadow loomed over me. I saw it appear on the floor in front of me. I could sense that someone was behind me. No. It didn’t feel like someone, I thought. It didn’t feel human. I just stood there, frozen, staring at the shadow that did not belong to me.
A fog-like smoke floated around my feet clearly visible through the previous fog. In only a short amount of time did it completely cover my feet and the strange shadow. I could still sense that something was behind me. If it wanted to kill me wouldn’t it have done so already? I thought. So I inhaled a big breath and swung around sharply to see what was behind me. There was nothing here. No person. No killer. No inhuman monster out to get me. My eyes searched my surroundings looking for anything, anything at all. I felt so happy. I smiled. I turned and looked at the trees next to the sign post. I was trying to see through the trees as far as I could but it was just darkness.
A sudden chill flew through the air which wiped the grin off my face as fast as a pendulum swung. I was still staring through the darkness between the trees when, I don't know what, but a shadowy, smoky demonic face came hurtling towards me. The face felt as if it literally went through me and I screamed as I saw my fears before my eyes. The impact threw me onto the floor. I sat there dazed and petrified as I pulled myself together, struggled and scurried to get up and ran as fast as I could through the thorn entrapped trail heading towards the mill. I have never run so fast in my life. I just kept running. The fears and the face were still burned into my mind. My legs were being scratched and my trousers were ripped in many places. I was bleeding everywhere. As I ran through the forest following the trail, I ran up and over a small hill. As my eyes adjusted to light there it was; the old mill. I’m nearly there, I thought. Come on. The nettles and thorns disappeared and the forest floor turned into soft grass. I was in open air. No forest just an old mill. I still pictured that demonic face. I was still petrified. I could still hear rustling in the forest. Maybe that face was following me again, I thought. No. Not again.
I finally reached the mill. I stammered to open the huge barn doors. I pulled up the heavy wooden bolt. Opened the door and raced in. I walked away from the door, backwards. Nothing is going to hurt me here, I thought. I’m safe. My heart was pounding so loudly I thought it would explode. I heard a low rumbling behind me. I slowly and hesitantly turned around. A huge strange shadow emerged from under the door. It glided slowly towards me. I stepped backwards against the wall. There was nowhere to go. It came closer. And closer. And closer. It was like nothing I ever saw. I was cornered, trapped. The shadow was at my feet now. It sucked itself up through my legs. It froze me to the spot. Tears were running down my face as it made its way up through my body. It felt like it was sucking everything out of me. The pain was excruciating, unbearable. I could feel the shadow flowing through my veins but felt like sharp knives instead of an untouchable shadow. The monster flowed up through my bloodstained legs. Through my hips. Through my torso. My heart stopped. No heart beat. It made its way up my neck and into my skull. As it hit my brain it felt like it was sucking all the life out of me. It floated out of the top of my head and as the last inch of the shadow left my body I fell to the ground. Nothing. No heart beat. No life. No warmth. No soul.
That’s what it does. The Wraith. It takes multiple forms to manipulate its victims but it’s commonly seen in its shadow form. Either as a stalking shadow upon the ground or a rotting corpse in the guise of a shadow. The Wraith does not know the meaning of mercy, by causing unbearable pain, it sucks the soul out of your body and your body disappears into the ground. The Wraith takes your body to feast on in the underworld. All that is left is your shadow imprinted into the ground. Permanently.
Credit To – Gina Hollaway