Flygtning

Do you believe in ghosts?
Do you believe in coincidence?
Do you believe history repeats itself?

Struggling to fit in after fleeing his native country, Divij sees these ghostly figures wandering in the forest. The next morning he dismisses it all as a dream until it repeats the following night.

Why do people avoid the woods at night?

Based on characters created by Mercury Chap

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2. Visions of Angels

 


 

The urge to pee was way too intense, waking me from my slumbers in the middle of the night. I tried to get back to sleep but the cold seeping up through the ground made me feel cold, intensifying the need to urinate. At first, I struggled to get my bearings and couldn’t understand why it was so cold and hard below me. It was a few seconds realising that here I was in a tent. It evoked memories of the last few months, some good, some bad.

Cursing drinking so much coke the night before around the camp fire, I struggled out of the warm cocoon of my sleeping bag. Raul stirred next to me mumbling something incomprehensible in his sleep. Typical Raul, always quiet except in sleep where he’d rabbit on twenty to the dozen. We all did it, I guess. Involuntary thoughts in our dreams, nightmares of the past, we all carry baggage around with us stowed away in the lockers of our minds.

I unzipped the tent and looked out. I could see the lights on at the farmhouse across the field. They shed a mellow yellow hue over the area between the tent and here, diffused by a mist that hung at ground level. I felt the relative coolness as I put my shoes on, searching before I did in case some bug had crawled inside. Standing up outside I reached for my phone. No signal, but then again there was no credit available to. However it told me the time was 1am.

The toilet block was by the farm, way too far to go to just pee. I opted for the woods at the back of our tent row. Skirting the guy ropes and a potential trip, I hopped over the wall into the woodland beyond. Instantly the faint light from the farm disappeared and total darkness set in. The moon shed no light through the rich canopy of branches. I paused for a moment allowing the eyes to become accustomed to the vagueness. Slowly the trees started to focus more into view. I wandered into the wood slowly my progress slow due to the roots poking out of the ground.

I could have gone by the wall, but didn’t want Ralph or Inga, our leaders, to catch me. They’d given us the lecture a couple of days ago about urinating too close to the tents. Finally, I could no longer see the wall and felt safe. It was quiet, no hint of any animals wandering. All that I could hear was myself peeing. I kept flicking my head from side to side checking nothing, or no one was creeping up on us. The ghost stories we’d told by the camp fire last night seemed funny while we were all sat by the fire, but now in the middle of a strange wood those seemingly innocuous stories took on greater terror.

I breathed in before setting back towards the tents. The mist had got thicker, I could hardly see the ground, so close did it hug the terrain. A wood at night is disorientating and the fog was the final straw. I realised that I was lost and drifting further into the woods. I stopped, feeling anxious about finding my way back. How could I be lost? Rationally I knew that I could find my way back, after all I hadn’t gone far, it just needed thinking about. I’d come all the way from Uttar Pradesh in India to England, getting back to a tent wasn’t going to be hard. I laughed aloud nervously, the noise a relief from the quiet.

Standing quietly, I closed my eyes trying to remember the exact way I’d come in. It wasn’t the first time I’d got lost. When I was a kid I’d got lost in the mountains near the village. That time I’d followed a dog back down the treacherous slopes to safety. What I wouldn’t have done to see Bhotu by the side of me right now, but I knew he was there in spirit and would guide me back.

I heard a noise from further in the woods. Undiscernible at first, a mumbling like someone talking and a sense that someone was coming, although I couldn’t work out from what direction. The fog was swirling around causing the view I had to turn from a few feet to a few yards rapidly and then back again. The voices were getting louder though, as if getting closer. I crouched down next to a low tree and pushed myself deep into its foliage to avoid being seen. I guess the past few years had made me suspicious when something happened out of the ordinary. You never knew who you might meet or worst still what they might do to you.

The voices were indistinct, so I couldn’t tell what they were saying. Then I saw two people walking not far from where I was hidden. I strained my eyes, through the fog, to try to work out if I recognised them. However it looked like a boy and girl, about twelve or thirteen years old, no one I’d ever seen before. I wondered what they were possibly doing in the middle of this woods at night. I saw them change direction heading towards me. I froze hoping they wouldn’t spot me, mainly because I didn’t want to frighten them by stepping out.

I couldn’t work out what they were saying, their accent and language wasn’t anything I’d come across before, but then most people in this area had a weird way of talking. They were moving slowly. The fog was making it difficult for me to make out clearly what they looked like. Their clothes were unusual, not the sort of thing I saw many teenagers wearing around here. It seemed they were wearing some sort of top made of a brown material, possibly a coat. I couldn’t see what they were wearing on their legs due to the fog which gave the impression they were floating in the air. Both had longish fair hair tied in a ponytail behind them.

I could feel my heart beating fast, so loud that I was sure they would hear me. A twig cracked near me. Unbelievably I realised I’d stood on one as I tried to get further into the tree. Luckily, they didn’t seem to hear it. It was almost as if they were unaware of their surroundings. They seemed to move through the wood with grace not disturbing anything in their path.

They were close now, and I examined their faces. There was a fuzziness to their faces, probably caused by the fog that swirled around them. There was a weariness to their expressions that I knew only too well. A kind of apprehension that came from worrying. Their speech was more distinct now and I realised they weren’t talking English as I knew it. They were obviously foreigners, like myself.

They wandered past the mist seeming to follow them as they walked. There was something strange. An uneasiness inside me that made me more anxious. If I didn’t know better they were dressed like those recreationists we had seen the day before at Sutton Hoo. They’d been dressed as Saxons. Maybe they’d come from there. I shook my head, how absurd a thought, way too late and far for them to be wandering without parents.

I craned my neck to see where they were going. As I did I saw the girl glance back at me. I held my breath and saw her look directly into my eyes and smile. Then they disappeared, walking straight through a tree. I screamed at this point, more out of amazement than anything. I half expected them to come back to see what the noise was, but there was no one.

I stood rooted to the spot, unable to move as the replays of what I had seen played out again in my mind. What had I really seen? Was it a dream where I’d wake up soon and be back next to the mumbling Raul? I pinched myself, why I don’t know, but it’s the thing I read in books that people do when they’ve seen something they can’t comprehend.

It took me a few minutes but eventually I recovered enough to move. So not a dream, I was still here. The fog was lifting as well, now just consigned to the ground. I moved slowly and quietly, still unsure if they’d suddenly jump out on me and it was all a joke, although for the life of me I didn’t know how they’d done that trick of disappearing through a tree.

As the mist had lifted I started to get my bearings again and could make out where I’d come. At least I’d be able to make it back to the tent. I moved quickly through the trees away from the spot I’d seen the two teenagers. An overwhelming realisation was starting to hit me.

What if they were ghosts? Figures from the past somehow wandering alongside me through rural England? Did ghosts exist? My Nana used to always say that our ancestors from the past walked beside us. I thought that was just in India though. Had the girl really seen me and smiled or was that just my imagination.

I made it back to the camp site. I climbed over the wall and took a quick glance back to the trees. Had I really seen ghosts or in the cold light of day will I realise that I’d seen a couple of pranksters?

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