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The Beast Within the Dark Forest

Evil lurks in the shadows of darkness

For a thousand years there have been tales of a creature that roams the dark woods alone, a creature so dangerous and terrifying that not even the bravest of our countrymen dare to go near the edge of the mystical forest that was sprouted and grown from the deepest sorcery of black magic. Everyone tells the tales of the evilest being known to mankind keeping a watchful eye on our small town that resides just a mile away, waiting for any unlucky soul to enter, whether it be man, woman, child, or animal, and those of whom have dared to enter the inhospitably cursed woodland in the past have vanished without a trace, never to return, be heard from, or seen again, for they had entered the territory of the most dreadful being to ever walk this earth, which only goes to prove that the tales are true, and that everyone shall stay away if they value their life.

I grew up hearing these tales just as anyone who has lived since the beastly year of 2017 has. 2017 was when it all happened, the year that the forest was born, and, along with it, the beast. “It was the year of utterly untamed chaos!” as the elders whom had lived to witness it would say “From start to finish, a year well-rounded for the doom and destruction of life as anyone had known it before!” Those chants have since been passed down through generations upon generations as part of the tales, not a word of it forgotten or fiddled with. August 27, 2017, that was the day that the world as we know it now was born.

If ever my family found out that those tales so commonly told had ignited a curiosity and desire within me to enter the woods and find the creature, even if only to see it with my own eyes moments before I’d perish like the rest under its merciless, malevolent whims, they’d surely call for the matrons to come and whisk me away until sense had been brought back to my mind. For that very reason I have kept my thoughts and desires to myself, never have I shared any of this information with anyone, not even my closest friend Hyungwon, not even before he had gone missing days ago. Maybe he had ventured into the dark woods, I nor anyone else would be surprised in the slightest if that revelation were to be true, maybe he had wanted to see the creature for himself like I had, there’s only so little time before people, even the most cautious ones like myself, get a bit curious about it, or very.

I know that my curiosity cannot hold out any longer, it can no longer be contained, therefore I shall leave for the forest tonight. Without a word, without a sound, without a trace, I shall let my curiosity drive me into the abysmal depths of hell that lie beyond the sanctuary of my home within the small town that resides just within reach of the accursed realms of the creature’s domain. Tonight I shall go and I shall not return until I’ve seen the beast, if I am to ever even have the chance to return at all that is.

The sun is setting, my small hometown becoming smaller from behind me as I trek through the fields that lead to the forest. I have nothing but a backpack filled with water bottles, and food, and several flash lights, the clothes on my back, and the shoes on my feet, as my possessions now. No one shall notice I’m gone until the sun has gone down, I was summoned to run an errand to inform old lady MonMon that my family is out of radishes, and would pay handsomely for a batch of hers come tomorrow morning. By the time anyone has become suspicious of my disappearance I shall be far from sight or reach, for I shall be beyond the rows of the dark forest that call to me evermore as I come nearer to them.

Upon my arrival at the entrance of the forest I stop in my tracks, but only to spare a final glance of the town behind me. Even from this place, afar I can still spot the roof of my house, its chimney releasing fading streams of black smoke into the air. This is the last I will see of my home, this is the last time I can say an unheard good-bye for I will not step down, I shall not back away and chain my curiosity any longer, this is the last time I will head the warnings of those who tell the tales, I will go into the dark forest and I won’t come out, dead or alive, until I’ve seen the beast!

I know not the reasons for everyone’s worry. The tales have been lies as of yet. Surely I would’ve been dead by now if the beast were real, I’ve trekked through the dark forest for hours, and not a living soul or sound has been seen or heard. If this so called beast were so dreadful and was the cause for the vanishings of those who’ve entered before myself then why has it not come to rid me from this world like it supposedly had with the others? A fraud, a scam, a true tale of tales, nothing but dark humor preached in such a way to make that it seem believable, a true master of pranks is what it is. For a thousand years everyone has been told lies! This dark forest is nothing but an abnormal forest that just so happens to appear as if it was cursed, well I tell you what! I shall return home with the truth, this is just another forest, with nothing to fear other than, possibly, the same predators that reside in this sort of habitat—bears, wolves, rabid squirrels and such!—There is no curse, those who have vanished have vanished not from being sighted by the beast, they have vanished in other natural ways—probably dying of thirst, or from losing their way, but not from being offed by a beast! HA! To think everyone has been so gullible enough to believe such nonsense! There is no creature! There is no Bea...

A twig snapping off in the distance grabs my attention, bringing me out of my infuriated quarrel. The sound is not too close, but not far. I stop in my tracks to listen, if an animal is close, then I will hear another snap of a twig somewhere before it is upon me if I am its target. I dare not move, for if I do, I could draw attention to myself and might not hear the animal approach closer. I must stay still, I must find the whereabouts of the following creature with only my ears as my aid. My senses fail me, however for there is no following sound to be heard. All is Silent. All is sound. I let a few moments pass, speedily giving my scarcely lit watch a quick glance to check the passing time. Three minutes, I let three terribly long minutes pass before I straighten myself out, feeling vacuous for believing that anything would happen to me. Once I’ve shaken my limbs from their stiffened state, I resume my travels, turning around to head home to bring awareness to the dim-witted fools before the light of my flashlight lands on something before me stopping me in my place.

The sight of my eyes lands on the torso of a male counterpart, particularly his clothed chest. He wears a burgundy button up shirt with a black jacket covering most of it. A studded belt wraps around his waist where the pants are tucked over the remainder of his shirt, it matches the rest of his clothes perfectly despite the offset of the grey studs against the otherwise red and black toned outfit. Remembering to be polite, I refrain from shining my light directly in the man’s face as my eyesight aims upwards, but I do have the urge to look up and see who it is that has followed me, therefore I shall.

A gasp escapes me as the profile of the male’s face comes within view. If not for the unfortunate circumstances I find myself in, I'd dare claim that he is stunning! Gorgeous even! If it weren't for the fact that I knew this man was a horrible being with a soul so ugly and sinister, then I would consider him as an ethereal sight for eyes that have only ever seen men with dirt-dusted beards and mud-stained faces.

Surely his clothing should’ve given me a hint that this man was like no other that I’ve ever seen before, he must be a partisan of a higher family to afford walking about in such an a’ la mode manner, especially this deep within the oh-so-cursed woods. I feel doltish for not thinking of it beforehand. My eyes want to avoid him for the poor act that my mind had played, but his sharp gaze enchants me, captivating me to continue gazing at him. He has high set cheeks with a mildly sharp jawline, his nose is properly set—not the sort you grow accustom to seeing when you live in a place such as I had where men’s noses are often crooked, sporting a broken look—his eyebrows are thick, his eyes are cat-like and narrow with just a slight touch of roundness to them. He doesn’t seem overly muscular or emaciated like the men back in town. There is a word for people with structures like his that I’ve heard from overhearing conversations when I’d run errands in town, what is it?, ah yes, lean, this man is lean—well, at least in the sense that I’ve come to know that it means.

When I look back up to his face again, I see a smirk played across his lips, his eyes narrowing with a gleam of mischievous intent. That’s when I notice the color of his irises, they’re an unnatural candy apple red with a gold traced ring around them.

“Who are you?” He asks with the same smirk, his head tilting from side to side slowly as his eyes seem to devour me. His voice is like smooth silk that could churn any woman’s heart to butter when he speaks, “What’s a beauty like you doing in so deep in these woods?”

“I’m…” I reply, remembering to be kind, but becoming cautious as he continues to stare me down, my nerves sending an edgy shiver through my spine, “I came here in search of the beast from the fairy tales, but I’ve been made a fool just as all the others. I shall make my return to town to inform every one of their silly, nonsensical beliefs. Good day to you sir, or, if you’d like, you can follow me back. I see you have no flash light with you, it’d be a shame for you to lose your way if I left you behind. I’m sure your family will be looking for you at this point in time. Join me if you’d like.”

“Ah but it’s you who shall be joining me. Not the other way around,” he derides briskly with a chuckle. His eyes becoming daggers as they scrutinize me.

“Pardon me?”

“I said, it’s you who shall be joining me,” he restates with a stern tone in his voice, the smirk fading as he lifts a foot to approach me slowly, menacingly, like a predator sneaking up to its prey, except I am facing him and can see every move his body makes.

With every step that he takes towards me, I take a step back. 

“I don’t know what your intentions are mister, but I’m not here to cause any trouble, and I don’t intend to be made a fool again by falling for someone’s cruel pranks, so you can stop what you’re doing and go back to town with me, or I can leave you here to fend for yourself, I won’t let myself be a victim to anything any longer, and I won’t deal with anyone threatening me.”

The man halts, but the gleam in his death-staring eyes continue to stay locked on me. 

“I thought you were looking for the beast,” he deadpans with a minuscule quirk of his head to the side, the smirk returning as he sees the surprise and unnerved nature that he has put me in, my body ready for a fight or flight show down.

“I am.”

“Well, you found him, or rather I found you,” he replies with a sinister smile creeping onto his face. 

Only then do I notice the anomalous stretch of his mouth where elongated canine teeth have stretched the skin as they nearly protrude from his mouth. His nails are long and pointed at the ends like claws, and his skin had seemed to be inexplicably pale when I first noticed him, but now everything was putting itself together, and the more I thought about it the more this man presented the exact profile of a creature they define and talk about in those terrifying tales to the older children in the town, “Vampires.” No, No, No, this is all a prank, vampires aren’t real! Even if they were what would be the odds that this man is one of them? Surely this is a prank as I expect it to be.

“So you’re not going to run huh?” he asks in a quizzically amused fashion as he begins approaching me once more, “from the look on your face you’ve already figured out what I am. Most people would’ve begun running for their lives at this point.”

“Ha!” I snicker, “you’re only pretending to be a vampire!” I spit out, “vampires aren’t real! You’re just using the surroundings and the fact that I’m alone as an advantage to pull whatever prank it is that you’re trying to pull. I may run, but it won’t be because I believe you’re going to suck my blood or any of that rubbish!”

He laughs whimsically at my outburst, it is a long throaty laugh that sends chills down to my core, a laugh with evilness laced within it that reeks of doom. 

“Ah, my sweet darling, you really are such a fool.” 

He shakes his head at me, his lips pursed in a fine line that clearly states his disapproval at my brazen temper and denial of the occult that he claims to be a part of, his feet still carrying him towards me, while mine stagger backwards to ensure that a distance is kept between him and I. 

“I wonder if you will think the same as I do actually suck the blood out of you.”

When my feet have failed to keep a significant distance between me and the menacing stranger, my flight mode triumphs, and I find myself running in an unknown direction. All that’s known as my feet carry me away from the stranger is that I’m racing away from a threat of ultimate danger and death as I blindly jump over fallen logs that I see moments before being upon them, and I scratch myself with the thorns of wild bushes and low hanging tree branches as I run past them. The more I seem to run, the more dense the forest becomes around me, it’s like it is growing and attempting to swallow me alive as I run through it, trying to get a sense of which way I should go to get home. Before long my clothing is caught by a branch of a tree, but as I jerk away and tear at my clothes to be released, the situation only becomes worse, my clothes become tangled in the branch, and I’m left with the choice of risking being killed by the psychotic stranger, or stripping out of my shirt and light jacket to escape.

As I begin to pull my trapped hand through the sleeve of my jacket, a branch from another tree strikes at me as if guided by magic to prevent my escape. The strike manages to catch the back of my free hand before the limb wraps itself around my wrist, and pulls it until it is spread at an angle above my head that hinders it useless. I then attempt to tug my other hand out of the caught clothing on its own, since there is no other way for me to release myself from the branches grasps before the man will be upon me, since I assume he isn’t far behind. I can feel branches slithering up my legs like snakes wrapping themselves around their preys and I try to shake them off, but they too, just as the branch binding my hand above my head, have a firm grasp on me, then tug at my legs until they are spread as far open as they’ll go.

Once I’ve become completely trapped, I have no other way to escape other than to risk someone, like the man hearing me and coming to my rescue. I scream as loudly as I can for help, and struggle against the holds of the branches keeping me in place, but all is silent and the limbs won’t let me budge all that much.

Fear and defeat begin to settle in when the same silence that I was met with when I entered the forest, welcomes me as I catch my breath. As I continue wheezing for air, I hear a noise from in front of me. When I look up, hopefully I’m only met with dread as the man from before steadily makes his way towards me. I struggle in my binds as I meekly beg to be let go, but he only sends me the same sinister smile as he had when he had threatened me.

“Now, Now darling, there’s not much for you to fear. I promise to go easy on you if you do something for me in return,” he offers in a cheery tone with a dash of slyness intermixed.

“Oh yeah, and what would that be? You want me to be your slave or something?!” I hiss, trying to seem unperturbed by my impending doom, once again struggling against the holds of the branches as he comes nearer and nearer to me.

“MM, something like that,” he affirms, “be good and stay still while I take my fill from you, and if you do I will let you live, but as my blood slave. I can smell you better than any of the others I’ve had in the past, your scent is so delicate and delectable, I can only imagine how you truly taste as my mouth waters for you. You shall live with me here in the forest within my mansion until it is time for me to track down others who have entered the forest, then you shall help me capture them, and bring them to their doom, as they had so willingly signed their lives away once they entered my domain. You shall live a lavish life with top of the line clothing, and you shall dine like a queen, but you must be with me as my slave. What say you to my offer?”

As he now stands before me, mere inches separating us from each other, I glare up at him. The vile words on my tongue, as sharp and harmful as the strongest poison of which I wish to spit out at him are stuck in my throat. 

With a deep gulp, I only let out a daring “NO.” 

I would rather he suck me dry, fill me back up with my blood, and bring me back to life only to suck me dry again before letting me really die than be his slave, and let him touch me and help him murder others.

The man doesn’t look surprised at my turn down of his deal. 

“I expected as much,” he shrugs nonchalantly before that irking smile appears again, the smile I so badly want to wipe off of his face “but in the end I’m the one who seals the deal. Sorry sweetheart, but you’re mine now.”

Before I can protest, the man sinks his teeth into the flesh of the nape of my neck. The elongated teeth descending deeper into my flesh until they’ve nearly stabbed through my external jugular vein. The pain blinds me, my screams silent from shock. I can feel the rush of my blood being forcefully sucked into his fangs as he laps at the areas where extra blood spilled into his mouth with his tongue. When I feel myself becoming weak, fading away from consciousness, I feel a tug from the holes where the vampire’s fangs had bitten into me before the lapping of his tongue intensifies over my neck. Before I completely succumb to the darkness washing over my body as I faint ever so slowly, I hear a voice speaking to me.

“My name is Elias,” the voice say with impassiveness, “I am your master now.”

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