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Rated: ASR · Fiction · Dark · #1772446
This started as a poem, but has grown. Not a full on story yet, so I'm keeping it here.
Faerie Road

Criss Dane

I’ve walked those woods hundreds of times. Never saw this place before – or since.

I remember walking on a regular path – somewhat worn, familiar. I could hear the stream nearby and a few birds. I had been looking down when I first noticed the mist. When I looked up, it was everywhere.

The mist had a heaviness to it. It seemed to mute all the sounds. No birds, no wind. Even the stream sounded miles away.

And I wasn’t alone.

I felt a presence, many presences, all around me. The mist had thickened. I couldn’t see far, but I could feel something there just past my line of sight. I could feel them staring, really glaring at me in absolute silence. A feeling washed over, “I’m not supposed to be here”. I’d have been happy to turn and leave, but I couldn’t see the path. Had I turned? Hard to say. I realized I couldn’t find the way back.

The throng of presence thickened. They were everywhere, hiding in the mist; excited and angered. I felt them staring at me with glowering eyes. Staring with a silent hunger. In the stillness, I could hear their silent contempt. I couldn’t imagine what they would do with me. Nor could they!

I wanted to leave, to be anywhere else. The mist had closed me in. I had lost all direction. The mist had changed everything. I was a stranger to this path. Yet I felt as if I had always been there. It was both alien and familiar. I felt the mist move in closer, with a growing malevolence.

The mist swallowed everything, even sound. The pound of my heart seemed miles away. My entire world was bathed in wait – every molecule frozen in anticipation.

I peered deep into the mist, trying to determine if it was moving or if something was moving in it. Was it a trick of the light? Was something there (or many somethings)? Time and again I thought to just reach out and just initiate what felt inevitable. I never found the nerve. I felt the presence move closer, still not touching, but closing in. I had never heard such malice, in utter silence.

They were on top of me; thousands upon thousands of whatever they were. Creatures and entities from a forgotten time and place. Ever silent, ever glaring. All converging here in this small forgotten area near a babbling stream.

I closed my eyes – realizing only then that I hadn’t since I first saw the mist. Resigned and very much alone, I stood and waited. I swore I could hear whispering, all around me, yet somewhere else. As if many lands and many times all converged here in this one spot.

I remember my chest tightening; the way it does on a ride when you know you’re about to fall. I remember breathing in sobs. Eyes still closed; I couldn’t bring myself to open them again. I was like a child in the dark. Everything was closing in on me; the air, the mist, time itself. I couldn’t face what was glaring at me unseen. Desperation grew. I just wanted them to take me; whatever they planned, I wanted it done. Anything to break the silence.

Then the air shifted, a gentle breeze. I suddenly realized I could hear the stream again. I opened my eyes and saw my regular path, as it had always been. No mist. No presence. Just me and the woods. I turned and made my way back to the trail head. A few times, I stopped and looked behind me, then just kept walking.

It was some time ago now. I can’t remember exactly when. Now and then, I walk the paths and ask myself, ‘Is this is the path I took that day? Are they still there? Were they ever?’ Brief flashes of déjà vu pass my thoughts. And when they do, I stop and look around. But there’s never anything there and I just keep walking.

So little of what I saw and felt that day has stayed with me since. The occasional impression in sleep; never sights or sounds, only that feeling of impending approach. I want to believe it was just a dream, that I was never there, that they were never there, and that they’re not still waiting for me somewhere along the path.
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