Estimated reading time — 3 minutes
Jake shouldn’t be outside tonight. Let alone walk through the woods by himself.
But he’s just gonna drop by his friend’s house real quick to pick up his phone, which he forgot there a few days ago. How much harm can that really do?
A damp, blue tinted fog silently prowls the night, meandering through the towering trees. The moon has deprived the sun of its throne in the sky and the repetitive sound of his sneakers hitting the dirt road is the only thing accompanying him. With the soft harmonies of solitude cascading through the forest comes complete tranquility.
You can really tell that there’s almost no one outside right now. A different kind of smell drifts with the wind and a different kind of air fills his lungs each time he takes a breath. The sensation of undisturbed nature is a pretty rare thing nowadays. Maybe the rumors of this night and why you should stay inside was all made up by people who wanted to enjoy this once every year.
A bush rustles somewhere behind him.
Jake stops in his tracks and pricks up his ears. Nothing but the distant hooting of an owl. Trying not to make anything of it, he continues walking the narrow path in front of him. He only gets to take a couple of steps, though, before he hears another rustle, and freezes instantly. The sound is a little closer to him this time, but when he spins around to face the bush, he sees nothing. Must be a squirrel or something. Maybe a cute little fox. The bottom line is: it’s nothing to worry about.
Jake presses on, but the air that fills his lungs is now flavored with paranoia, which pumps out through his veins like a malicious virus. He tries to calm himself down, but when the third rustle comes, there’s no doubt that he’s scared. He quickens his pace and keeps his eyes steadily on the road.
Maybe he should have stayed inside. He could have just gone to get his phone in the morning. Why does he always feel the need to be a rebellious idiot?
That was a footstep.
Yep, that was definitely a freaking footstep landing a few meters behind him. He knows now that something is there in the forest with him—something that’s not a cute little animal. But he won’t look back. That’s what you should never do.
Instead, Jake keeps walking determinedly towards the edge of the woods with fear rising up inside of him like in a thermostat. The rhythmical footsteps keep closing up on him. It seems like no matter how fast he walks, the footsteps behind him are set to always walk just a little bit faster. He can’t get away from them.
And when he starts hearing the wheezing breathing filled with gurgling fluid from the unknown being creeping up on him, panic breaks loose.
Jake runs. He runs as fast as anyone of his height and weight can, but he knows in the back of his mind that it won’t be enough. The thing behind him keeps the same rhythm to its footsteps but now moves like a galloping horse—inhumanly fast.
The rapid and shallow breathing coming down his neck sounds excited, and he can almost hear a little bit of crazed laughter emitting from his pursuer. The trees of the forest fly by quickly, and the outer parts of Jake’s vision blurs. He feels the air around him get colder, and the light from the moon getting choked by dark clouds.
A hand violently grabs his hood, and his head is thrown forward before he falls heavily to the ground.
Jake slowly turns his head as he lies there, helpless.
He is met by a lucid pair of big white eyes, and the tall body of a man, looming over him. The man’s hair is disheveled and under the long, dark coat, his skin is pale and filled with deep cuts. The mere presence of his lacerated soul makes Jake dizzy.
Even now, while standing still, the man taps his feet in that same rhythm, and the shaky smile on his face expresses maniacal delight. He bends over slowly and takes Jake’s hand. His fingers feels bony and frozen. Then, all of a sudden, an electric feeling bolts through Jake. It’s like nothing he’s ever felt before. Jake stands up with eyes wide open and feels euphoria flow through him. The rhythm seizes him.
And while preserving the peace and silence of nature, he and the man dance away through the forest together.
It is said in Jake’s town that once every year, the dead rise from their graves. For one night, the ones who lived miserable lives get the chance to experience fun. And what better way to have fun than through dancing? The children are taught to stay inside on this night, however.
Because everyone knows that dancing is better when you’re two.
Credit To – Daniel. S