A mild night in the New England countryside. An empty field with an omnipresence of untrimmed grass and wild weeds left to grow unabated. The field is surrounded by a lumbering audience of trees. The moon casts its glows of judgment, the dim light graciously cast is swallowed by a carpet of fog on the grassy floor.
The moon illuminates a young man sitting on an old long forgotten crate. Though the man is young he appears aged and shriveled, his once astute posture eroded into a hunch. His once vibrant and eager eyes were now tired and strained. He wears an old ragged red fisherman’s coat, dotted with off-color red patches from the previous patchwork. Poking out from under his coat is an old faded pair of jeans with the bottom covering an old pair of duck boots.
The man holds his head in his hand, using his leg to prop up his arm. His other hand runs through his short hair, then traces his orange stubble beard.
He looks down to his side, eyeing the rifle and lantern he had brought. The lantern’s flame is extinguished, instead of holding a young flame, it holds emptiness. For without its flame it is useless. Almost as if an allegory for the man.
The man reaches into one of his coat pockets and pulls out an old tarnished locket. He doesn’t open it, he just clenches it in his fist while his brow furrows and his eyes clench.
Reciting memories in his head, some that make him laugh, some that make him angry, some that make him giddy. But they all lead here. They all lead to this field. The best of story’s conclusions take place where they all started, back to the beginning. But life in all actuality is not a story fabricated by an author who possesses the power to turn words into brilliant tragedies and comedies. Yet the man is here.
Clouds cover the Moon, the once timid light has been completely retracted and the earth is left in complete darkness. The man is pulled from his stupor by a faint sound. A beautiful sound of classical strings, reminiscent of Beethoven gingerly penetrates the man’s hearing. The music slowly grows somewhat louder as the man makes out a dim light in the tree line.
The man, almost startled, slowly gets up from his resting place. He reaches down and picks up his rifle with caution. The light slowly emerges from the foggy treeline with the background drum of classical music.
There are supposed to be no houses or buildings for 16 miles of this field.
As the light slowly wafts towards him the man can make out the rough outline of a human figure. But the figure does not move, it seems to glide. It moves in such an elegant manner, graceful almost. Accompanied by the soothing sound of classical music.
The man is almost paralyzed like he’s under a spell unable to move. All he can do is watch as the angelic life figure ever so slowly moves towards him.
Within 30 yards the man can somewhat see the figure more clearly. It is reminiscent of a woman, one that looks familiar. Although she is no woman.
As she approaches she becomes more clear. Her face is grotesque as if someone tried to replicate a human face but didn’t truly know what a human face looks like. Her arms are long and bony, unnaturally long, bent in ways they shouldn’t bend. Her eye sockets are empty, devoid of the most human feature. In their wake there leaves an empty abyss of nothing, a horrifying nothing. The music was still accompanied by her, growing ever louder the closer she drew.
The man’s breathing escalates, his heart starts to palpate with fear. Everything should be telling him this is safe, the soft and calming music, the comforting glow in a sea of darkness. But the man knows better. The creature stops 20 feet from the man, allowing him to make it out in all its horrifying beauty. She’s so close the man can clearly make out the song that she emits, Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven. Then like a dying fire her luminescent glow begins to fade until it’s out completely. But the music still remains. The hauntingly beautiful melody gingerly pieces his ears. It penetrates his most inner and sacred thoughts, it engulfs him.
The only audible noise that can be heard is the classical melody, but a new noise quietly erupts a soft yet undeniable sound. The sound of leaves crunching. Then again, and again the sound can be heard. The crunching remains continuous, almost methodical in its delivery. The man counts at least 12 steps in total.
A lone tear begins to run down the man’s cheek. Only a singular tear, but this tear is not the tear found from joy or sadness. This tear comes from anxiety, loneliness, and fear. The only action his body can muster, not an action to fight or to run, but one of repressive dread.
Out of the darkness comes an audible sound. A word, a name. “Miiichael”. But the way it’s spoken, in such an unnerving manner. As if a dying woman spoke while inhaling, a feeble yet terrifying delivery.
The word caused the man to break from his lull, like an old sleeping dog woken from his seemingly endless nap. The man quickly turns around and runs towards the woods, rifle in hand. His boots pound across the grassy floor, one after the other like two cars racing each other, the lead constantly changing. The music still follows him though, he can’t escape it.
He finally reaches the treeline. He runs into the forest, hoping it to be a safe haven, an area the creature won’t follow, or will lose him in. An area where he can be free, where the past of the creature won’t haunt him. Yet he can still hear the music. As he runs through the forest the trees look down at him, casting their gazes of judgment like an unamused audience watching a single beleaguered actor desperately try and save his one-man show.
As he runs he passes nothing but trees and bush, no animals or any living presence that he can detect. As if the forest was from a different time, a time long before man’s interruption of nature.
He runs seemingly forever until he can run no longer. His body begins to ache, it calls for him to stop but he won’t relent, not while he can still hear the music even as it fades.
He runs until the only sound that can be heard is the orchestral thud of his boots against the ground.
In his desperation and exhaustion, he comes upon a large old decayed Oak tree in the middle of the woods. It sits atop a small hill in a minuscule clearing in the woods, like the centerpiece of a once-decedent display that’s been forgotten to time and left to decay. Its trunk is massive as its rotted gray branches jut out like the arms of a desperate man reaching out for salvation.
Finally, at last, he’s escaped the sound of the music. The man falls to his knees before the hill, utterly exhausted. Deep within himself, he finds the last saps of strength as he ascends the indomitable hill. Though it is not steep nor high it’s a challenge nevertheless for a fatigued man only fueled by fear. Though fear is the most potent, the most driving emotion a man can feel, it can cause the most rational of man to act in the most irrational and erratic manner. But it can also act as fuel to an exhausted body and mind as the last driving force.
Upon his ascension the man sits and rests against the belly of the tree, leaning his head back and closing his eyes for a minute. The Moon once again pears its head from the clouds, casting dim rays of light on the man and his surroundings. The man takes a deep breath as he opens his eyes and punctiliously examines his surroundings, ever looking for the creature to see if he truly escaped or if his ears had played a cruel an untimely joke on him. Only now does he realize the expressionless beauty of the forest. Like paintings from the renaissance, beautiful images of endless landscapes unscathed by man. Perfect yet flawed, but the flaws only add to its beauty, like the placement of this tree in the forest.
As the man rests his aching body against the lonely tree an all too familiar sound can be heard faintly in the distance, Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven.
Credit: Jacob B
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