Shadows Dire

Arthur Rackham - Comus Calling Shapes, Beckoning Shadows Dire
Arthur Rackham – Comus – Calling Shapes, Beckoning Shadows Dire

“Billy.”   It was barely a whisper.

“Billy…..” At least I thought I  heard a whisper.

“Psssst!  Billy!”  Maybe it was just the sound of the breeze through the leaves.

“Billy Boy! – over here!” the whisper said.  I couldn’t help but look.  I didn’t want to, I really didn’t.

But I had to.

I had to look.

I looked.

There was nothing.

So I kept on walking, going deeper into the wood.

The trip into town had taken far longer than I thought it would.  Selling the cow was harder than I thought too. Finally the baker bought her and I was able to start back home.  We live on a small farm on the other side of the wood.  I had already missed dinner and it was growing darker by the minute.

“Billybillybillybillybillybilly!”

The trees seemed to be throwing their limbs around against the darkening sky, especially right above the path where I was walking.

“Biiilllllllllyyy,” The sound began to echo inside my head .  I walked faster.

“Pssssst!  Billy Boy! – over here!” the whisper murmured.  I couldn’t help but look.  I didn’t want to, I really didn’t.

But I had to.

I had to look.

I looked.

There was nothing.  Only shadows.

So I kept on walking, going deeper into the wood.

Probably my Ma had saved supper, was keeping it warm under a nice clean napkin at the edge of the stove. The dog would be waiting for me and after supper I would read by the fire until it was time to climb into the warmth of my bed.

“Billy.”  “B-B-Billy?”   “Billy!”   “Billy Billy Billy.”   “B-Billy???”    “BillyBoy!!!”

Now it seemed there were more voices, more whispers.

The path appeared fainter, even by lantern light, and the trees were crowding closer.

“Psssst! Billy Boy! – over here!” the whispers coaxed. I couldn’t help but look.  I didn’t want to, I really didn’t.

But I had to.

I had to look.

I looked.

There was nothing.  Only shadows, wavering in the golden glow from my lantern.    Skittering up the walls of the forest in strange writhing shapes.

So I kept on walking, going deeper into the wood.

Tomorrow I would take the money I earned from selling the cow and buy Widow Miller’s old wagon.  Then Ma and I would spend the day filling it with the extra from our summer garden, hitch up the plow horse and drive it all into town.  When we drove back home this time tomorrow night we would have supplies for winter and seed for spring.

“B…i…l…l…y.”  Was it my imagination or were the whispers becoming louder? “B…I…L…L…Y.”    “B I L L Y!!!”

There were crows in the trees now, a whole murder of them, crows everywhere.

Why did it seem they were watching me, following me, flitting from tree to tree overhead?

“Psssst! Billy Boy! – over here!” the whispers demanded. I couldn’t help but look.  I didn’t want to, I really didn’t.

But I had to.

I had to look.

I looked.

There was nothing.  Only shadows, wavering in the golden glow from my lantern.    Skittering up the walls of the forest in strange writhing shapes; distorted shapes of horned men-like creatures beckoning to me, enticing me with their macabre dance.

But I kept on walking, going deeper into the wood.

A fork in the path ahead was barely visible along the edge of my circle of lantern light.  To the left, only a short distance away, lay our little farm, almost close enough for me to see the open front door with Ma watching for me.  The right-hand fork led deeper into the woods, into parts I had never explored before.   The crows seemed to be filling the branches above that path.

“Billy!”   “BILLY! BILLY!”   “B I L L Y…B I L L Y…B I L L Y !!!!!!”

The entire forest, all of the shapes, all of the crows,  were calling my name now.

“Psssst! Billy Boy! – over here!” the whispers harrowed. I couldn’t help but look.  I didn’t want to, I really didn’t.

But I had to.

I had to look.

I looked.

There was nothing.  Only that right hand path, covered now in beautiful shadow shapes, each of them calling my name and beckoning for me to join them.

So I kept on walking, going deeper into the wood.

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Written for the Grammar Ghoul Press writing challenge #3 here: http://www.grammarghoulpress.com/gg-writing-challenge-3/   Be sure to stop by and read all the fantastic stories! 

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