Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Nightmare Fuel, Day the Twenty-Fifth - The Path

So many stories of dark woods warn of the dangers of straying from the path. The allegorical meaning can be all too obvious, but it's still possible to find a little twist.

This was another tough image for me, because it at first looks like just a monster. Monsters can get boring if one isn't careful. To my way of thinking it isn't  the monster which is interesting, but what the monster says about us.


You've always been warned that when crossing the woods you need stay on the path. You wonder if that still applies after you're dead.

Because dead you are. One moment there was the crunch of snow under rubber tires, muted by windows. Your lover's voice on the speakerphone  - hands free, of course. Headlights casting a bluewhite ribbon of illumination before, taillights dragging a bloodred ribbon after.

Did you see a shape to the side and behind, or is that a post-mortem imagining? Was the last thing you heard the sickeningsolid thump of horn on metal as your vehicle was thrown sideways, your head slammed against the window, twisted metal broken glass piercing you... did you scream? Did your lover on the otherside of the phone now the other side scream, or was that the imagining of a ghost? Of what must have been?

What might have been a shadowy shape (and perhaps nothing) stands at at the woods' edge, between you and your body. Without words it calls you to stop, to stay on the path.

You've never been once to listen. You flee the path.

There are other shapes in the wood. Furtive foxlike things, big shambling buffalothings with glowing eyes. And behind you, the stag. The antlered thing which drove you from the road. Which killed you.

So you break the rules and flee the path, something warm and sticky in your hand. The shambling shapes lumber away from you slowly, awkwardly. AS you near them they shimmer and dissolve, leaving a cool emptiness. You pause, your panic fading. The wood away from the path is teaming with shadowy unlife, but not near you and not along a red-streaked path you made from the wreckage. You turn your hand, examine the nearly forgotten object you are unconsciously carrying. A beating heart.

We Should Take The Other Road
by Nacho Yague
You suddenly realize the reason for the rules against leaving the path. It isn't to protect you; it is to protect this world FROM you.

You walk on.

Someday in the distant future, a mother will warn her child to not stray from the path.

She'll be warning about you.

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