The Forbidden Forest

Be careful of the curse that falls on young lovers
Starts so soft and sweet and turns them to hunters
A man who's pure of heart and says his prayers by night
May still become a wolf when the autumn moon is bright
-Florence and the Machine

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1. Chapter One

The evening had been light blue with little swirls of bright cloud in the hazy sky. The sun’s last light was still glowing on the western horizon when the girl stepped out into the garden to enjoy the warmth of an early spring night. The grass had grown back green, vibrant, and wild, and the day had been quiet and moderate in temperature. She had spent most of the day outdoors, relishing in the release of winter’s grip.

Sundown had been her signal to return home. Though she hadn’t actually returned home at all. She let her mother know she was there through the open kitchen window. Then she stepped out onto the grass, kicked off of her shoes and sat down to enjoy the heat before the night whisked it away. After spending the entire winter locked in her house, it had been a perfect day and a perfect afternoon. She would always remember that day as being the most peaceful day of her entire life. Not because the day had been any different than all the early days of spring, but because it was the last day she would ever know peace.

She laid on the grass, feeling the breezes cool by the second and little bugs that tickled her skin as they returned to life after the long winter. Her mother had told her the moon was to be the brightest one of the year so far, and she found herself eagerly awaiting its rise over the trees. Her family had even planned to spend the evening eating dinner in the garden. It was something they used to enjoy on lazy afternoons before the peace was shattered forever.

Elise was looking forward to a night camped out under the stars in the tall grass. She could smell supper cooking as it wafted from the kitchen window and over to where she was seated. When Elise was older, she would relive that night many times in her mind. She often wondered what it was that brought him into the garden on such a peaceful and perfect afternoon. She wondered if it was the scent of the meal her parents were preparing. Or the scent of the lavender perfumed soap her mother had bought just for her. Maybe it was the moon rising slowly beyond the trees. But she knew in her heart that she had just been in the wrong place at the wrong time.

There was no proper fence to separate their garden from the field. It was a short and small fence where the grass changed from neatly trimmed to wild and tall like an ocean of green and yellow. She had heard the man before he appeared. He let out a groan as he wondered from the coppice of trees and dropped into the sea of grass just as the moon began to rise over the trees. She sat up, leaning on her elbows, and looked out as a breeze made waves through the grass. The light left a hazy glow on the garden that didn’t reach far enough for her to make out the shape of him. The sun had disappeared and left nothing behind but a splotch of pink the western sky.

Then a growl traveled over the grass to where she was seated. The shape moved and stood. He was tall as a mountain of gangly limbs and snarling teeth. The growl came from a place deep inside of his chest and sounded like a dog that had gone rabid and wild. She felt the hair on the back of her arms rise as he slowly stumbled on two legs and moved toward the light, crouching and half crawling like an injured animal.

The moon reflected off of his eyes and she told herself that it was nothing more than a stray dog. She stood to her feet and stepped back cautiously, preparing to run into the house if the dog should bolt toward her. But instead of a dog, she saw a beast of a man. He stretched out an arm that was more like a hand than a paw. His fingers were long and twisted and resembled sharp claws. His eyes, though manic and animalistic even from afar, held something human inside of them. There was wisdom and knowledge that she had never seen in a wild animal. Something she could only describe as self-awareness. As if he knew exactly why he was there and what he planned to do. Then the beast crouched, turned it’s long snout toward the pinkening sky, and let out a deep and haunting howl.

She leapt over the small fence and ran for the back door, screaming for her mother.

The howl broke off in a snarl as the creature crashed through the garden after her. She made it into the house before it could reach her and shoved her body against the door as she struggled for the locks. Her mother, having witnessed the chase from the kitchen window, reached for the knife she had left on a nearby counter and screamed for her husband. The man rushed into the room and slammed his body against the door to secure the locks into the place. The knife slipped and fell to the floor, clanging loudly in the now silent kitchen.

Elise often blamed herself for what happened next. As if she could have known the creature couldn’t be stopped by a locked door. All she could remember about that moment was the clang of the knife as her mother pulled her into her arms and she buried herself there, wrapped in safety and comfort and the belief that the creature would never harm them.

But the window was still open, and the animal was determined to finish what he had started. The creature crashed through the open window and smashed into the kitchen table. Elise would never forget the sound of her mother screaming as she was shoved aside. She watched her mother reach for the fallen knife, but it was already too late. The monster tore through her father, ripping him apart in several quick motions, and she was next in line.

Over the years, people would ask her what the pain was like. She didn’t remember pain, strangely enough. Just gleaming white teeth and looking into those unusually human eyes. She saw him sink his fangs into her right thigh, but she could never recall the exact sensation. As if fear and shock had consumed all other senses. She remembered only the way he had looked into her eyes as he tore into her flesh. She was told that they had no control over themselves when they changed, but she could never bring herself to believe it. She had felt his intention when he clamped his jaws around her leg.

Her mother had reclaimed her hold of the knife and leapt on him before he could tear Elise apart just like her father. The blade struck him in the shoulder, and the thud of the metal against his bones had reverberated through both their bodies. The creature yelped, much like a dog, as he released her from his jaws. Then he clamored onto the counter and disappeared out of the window and into the night. The room fell silent again except for the sound of Elise’s own panicked breaths. The knife slipped from her mother’s hand and hit the floor. It didn’t clang this time, Elise remembered. It splashed in the growing puddle of her father’s blood.

Some part of her hoped there was still a chance to save him. He couldn’t be dead because she had just seen him. She could still hear his voice as he shouted, moments before the creature took him. She could recall the scent of his cologne and imagine the comforting feel of his favorite cotton shirt as he carried her to bed. She tried to crawl toward him, to see him breathing, to hear him tell her everything was just fine. Her fingers stretched through the blood and then a loud snap broke the silence and froze her in place.

A group of strangers had appeared in the kitchen quite suddenly. One moment it was just the three of them, and then the kitchen was crowded. Her vision slipped and her fingers dropped. Darkness filled her eyes and she fell into unconsciousness to the sound of her mother screaming in her ears.

 

 

(Note: I'm currently editing this. Please excuse inconsistencies in perspective until they are all rewritten)

Fair warning: I am literally making this story up as I go.

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