the mystic wood

-Rohan Nath

Agnes sat clumsily on a shabby bed beside the only window in a cabin. The cabin was made up of timber, not luxurious yet comfortable. It was backed with heavy wood and at the front, there laid a picturesque panoramic sight of green meadow and a rivulet reflecting the blues of the heaven during summer. While during winter, the snow paints the green meadow with white and the rivulet freezes with every touch of the chills. Providentially, this whole place was too far from the view of advancing industries and therefore, discovering a person there is as rare as a solar eclipse.

“Is the dinner prepared yet?” said she while pulling the uncomfortable blanket up to her shoulder. “Nearly” said her mother from one corner of the cabin. The atmosphere of the cabin was filled with the smell of soup. Agnes’s mother stood before a fireplace and over the fireplace was a black pot filled with soup. The soup was disappointingly made with fat of a two weeks old grizzly bear and was thin and watery. Agnes looked on as her mother resembled a witch brewing a potion in her pot. Agnes then suddenly changed her observation and was currently looking outside the window. Her frozen breath laid a vapor on the glass window as she was intently observing the intense blizzard outside. It was savaging the trees with a whoosh and nothing was scarcely perceptible.

“Will father be alright?” said she with an apprehensive expression on her fragile face.

“Of course dear” said her mother with a confident tone in her voice “He will come back as soon as he is done with his hunting expedition. He is a tough man, a gentleman I love.”

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Agnes gave a slight smile and continued to look outside. She noticed that distant away deep in the wood lit a dim light but it wasn’t quite visible due to the intense blizzard and thus, she kept on staring at it to distinguish that peculiar light. Later that night, the blizzard calmed down and it was substituted with gentle snowfall. The moon has now shown its face and bestowed the snow with its gift of pureness. The moonlight shined upon the snow making it more vibrant. Agnes has now had her dinner and was lying subsequently to her sleeping mother on the bed. She was still thinking of the peculiar light. She noticed that the blizzard has now ceased and so she enthusiastically got up to glance out of the window.

Surprisingly, she found out that the light was still visible. The light was an incredibly dim white light. Agnes thought that the light must be from her father’s lantern. Her curiosities made her skip out of the bed and grab her mother’s gown hung high up on the wall. She stood up on her toes and somehow reached the gown and wore it. She also wore her snowshoes lying at the corner of the cabin. She didn’t wake up her mother because she knew that her mother won’t let her go. So she was doing it clearly lacking her notice. She silently opened the squeaky door and went outside to embrace the snow and in due course locate her father.

Her first step on the snow was like stepping on a mass of wool. The freezing zephyr kissed her body with its frozen lips and transporting a chill down into her spines. She lifted the hem of the gown above her ankle and continued her way towards the light. Initially, she was struggling her way to progress through the snow but after a short time she got used to it and was now walking comfortably. She struggled her way towards the light. After walking some distances, she was exhausted. She looked back and found out that her home was not visible anymore. It seemed that more she tried to reach the light; the more it was moving away from her. She placed her hand into the pocket of the gown to warm it up. The heat produced was not satisfying but that was the finest that the pockets can offer in this cold weather.

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A crystal of snow came declining down and rested itself on Agnes’s elbow. She looked on and observed something really extraordinary; something which she had never seen in her twelve years of existence in this world. The snow crystal was shining like a firefly, flickering every now and then. Her eyes glowed with every seconds of green light that it produced. She gave an immense smile and whispered, “Marvelous!” Just then right at that juncture, another crystal fell on her hand and she picked it up. She looked up to find that night has turned into a ballet of green light. It was snowing all over that place. She danced all around the place in exhilaration with a pleasurable laughter. She noticed that when the crystal reached ground, it loses its luminosity. It stopped snowing after a little bit and with it her joy has altered with the responsibility of discovering that dim light.

All of a sudden, she heard a faint sound. It was a tune of a musical instrument, possibilities of a flute. She knew that she was now lost into the depth of the woods, so it would be worthless to make an effort to return back to her comfortable home and not accomplishing the objective that led her here. She tried to locate the light but it was no more visible. Her face had lost its color. She had no extra decision but to pursue that strange tune with an expectation that it may guide her to her father. She dashed her way pursuing the tune. It was changing with every ten steps she took. Every other tune was melodious and cleansed her fright. She finally reached the end of the course and was panting.

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Further ahead of her, lied a great stream, gushing rapidly and striking every boulder on the river bed. Beyond the stream, nothing was barely visible except for few pine trees at the bank. Agnes heard a soft roar and began to look around in terror. At her left side, she observed two scarlet eyes gleaming at her from the darkness. She was panting due to fright and was plainly trembling in fear.

It came closer and she discovered that it was a huge white beast with blood red eyes and stripes all over its body. It had three long tails and the end of each tail was elongated into a flat triangle flap. Its head was demonic with saber-like teeth and a keen observation on Agnes. She was stunned and backed away a little bit. The beast pounced upon her and threw her back onto her bitter grave of snow. She gave a loud cry while the beast was crazily sniffing her. Some slimy saliva from the beast’s mouth fell onto her breast. Unexpectedly, the melodious tune of a flute was audible again. The beast stopped sniffing her and looked on the other side of the river. Agnes, who was bewildered, also looked there. She was awestruck with what she saw!

There, on the other side stood dark shadow of a person. She intensely observed the shadow but couldn’t figure out who it was, or whether it was a figure of a man or a lady. All that can figure out that it wore a hat and a cloak and was standing tall on the other side of the stream. The beast too looked at the shadow for a moment, unleashed a howl and scampered towards the shadow. The beast disappeared on the other side thus, leaving the little lass, Agnes on the floor of snow immobilized due to fear and chill. The icy cold zephyr had then begun to play its element and as a result, Agnes was gradually losing her consciousness and ultimately lay motionless on the snow.

“Agnes! Are you alright?!” said a manly voice, “Agnes!” Agnes slowly opened her eyes. An intense brightness was reflecting upon it. She opened it and saw that the darkness was destroyed by the morning sun. After she had completely recovered her sight, she recognized that her father was holding her on his lap. She scrutinized that she was still lying on the bank of the stream. She looked onto the other side and all she could notice was trees, snows and boulders. Even the saliva on the clothes had dried up. “Agnes! How-What are you doing here?! Shouldn’t you be with your mother?!” said her father with his beard and charming eyes, “Let’s get you back home…You got to tell me everything that happened and how you got here, clear?” She nodded her head and therefore, the giant man lifted her and carried her back home.

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When Agnes narrated the story of how she reached there, her parents thought of it as a fairy tale and told her that it was all but a hallucination. They even said that such creature is nothing but legend. But her psyche still tells her that it actually occurred. She knew that there are more mystics to disentangle in the mystery wood and one day she will unravel the inscrutability of the mysterious shadow and the beasts.



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