Category : Stories
Sub Category : Thriller
“This way, Jack!”
A young woman in a red hooded cloak ran ahead of the young man. He ran as fast as he could but it seemed she was always several steps ahead of him no matter how high he picked up his bare feet.
“Hurry, you’re going to miss it!”
“I’m hurrying! I’m hurrying! You’re too fast!”
The woman ahead of him didn’t respond. Soon her distance from Jack grew and he was left alone in the darkened, deep forest known for its grim stories.
“Red?” He halted, realizing he was alone now. “Red, where’d you go?” His voice a mere whisper as not even the crickets joined in his callings. His dark brown eyes lifted to try and see in the forest he infiltrated and suddenly there was light. Just up ahead a dancing flame and distant chatter coming through the greenery that separate him from others.
I didn’t hear that before, he thought to himself. Making his way through the thick green leaves and branches, he snapped snapped a few twigs under his bare feet until reaching the campsite.
This campsite was unusual, dancing elders and seated young watching them make fools of themselves in their drunken stupor. The young man in overalls stood quietly in his dirtied overalls, scanning to see if he saw his friend from earlier. His standing caught the attention of a girl child who walked over to him.
“Sir?” He looked down to see her large blue eyes staring back up to him. “Are you hungry?”
Jack shook his head. “No, I’m looking for my friend. Maybe you have seen her? She is wearing a distinct red cloak with a hood that covers her-”
“We haven’t seen anyone passing through here except you, mister. Are you hungry?”
With a second shake of his head he declined the offer of nourishments again.
“No, thanks. I just need to find my friend. She’s helping me heal my sister.” The young man began to walk around and toward the campfire. The elders didn’t seem to notice him as he took a seat and watched a white haired man stumble over the wooden seat beside him.
Two children could be heard giggling and as one pointed to the old man’s incident, it became clear what she was laughing at. The little girl sat beside Jack and fixed her two braided pigtails to lay flat on her back.
“What’s wrong with your sister?”
“She’s sick, of course. Lately, all our townsfolk been getting sick and mama wants me to bring back the medicine. Red was supposed to help me but she ditched me out here in the forest.”
“You’re a brave, soul, Mister.”
“Call me Jack.”
“Well, Jack, you’re a brave soul to be out in the forest by yourself.” The little girl looked up to see the elders dancing for what seemed to be forever.
“This forest as some magical happenings, you know?”
Jack raised his eyebrow and laughed. “Magic is not real, child. Shouldn’t your parents teach you these things before letting you out of the house?”
“Parents?” The girl scoffed and stood before the seated Jack. “My parents aren’t exactly here, but I bet I can help with your sister. I can heal her.”
Jack stood up to stand taller than the girl. “Look, child I have to get going-”
“Sit down,” she said in a firm tone. This caused all at the campfire to cease movement. The children looked toward Jack and the girl while the adults froze in place in the middle of their dancing. The young man’s eyes immediately noticed the eyes on him and the frozen air around them. He took his seat again and looked back at the girl.
This time, the girl wasn’t a girl. Instead, she had turned into an imp with goat-like legs and small skeletal wings. her skin a grey, leathery look and her eyes staying the bright blue they had been earlier.
“Y-y-” Jack’s words choked him and he couldn’t speak as well as he wanted. “Imp…”
“Yes, yes we are.”
We? He then looked past the girl to see the other children had turned into imps and the elders had disappeared. Mama was right… This forest is cursed!
“Please don’t eat me!” The young man yelled at the top of his lungs and the other imps laughed.
“We don’t eat people!” One yelled out.
“Yeah! We are vegans!” Another yelled.
“Well what do you want from me?” Jack’s fears started to creep into his mind and visible shaking was noted by the little girl he spoke to. “I don’t have anything to give!”
The imps laughed and the girl spoke again.
“We don’t want anything from you. If you can see us, that means you are the one in need of saving. Not us.”
Jack remained silent as the others started circling. There were five all together and each of them held on fist closed and out to him.
“Open your hand, Jack,” the girl said calmly. When the young man opened his hand she placed a small yellow bean onto it. The next placed a bright green bean and the others placed different colors to follow; red, purple, orange.
“W-what are these?” He examined the beans carefully, counting all five and taking note of their odd color. “Why are they different colors?”
“These are the beans of impentry.”
“Yes. We are the five imps banned from Neverland. These beans grow once every fifty years over there and we were their collectors. These beans are rare, we go back every fifty years to steal them and you are a lucky one.”
“What do I do with them?”
“You plant them, take care of them, they will give you what you need so long as you love them as you love yourself.”
He stayed put for a while. The look on his face full of disbelief and yet hope. “How can I save my sister with these? Won’t they take too long to sprout?”
“Plant them outside and everything will be fine.”
The other imps started to back away, but Jack didn’t notice. The vines of the forest grasped his leg as a familiar voice yelled his name. “Jack! Look out!”
“Red?” He looked up quickly to see a red hood in his face, but before he could react he was smashed in the face with a large rock- dropping the beans on the ground beside his now limp body.