Peaceful Autumn Wandering, or is it?


Image by Epona Schweer via Flickr

I have been somewhat lax with my posting here.  Tis only because I have been having so much fun with The Inferno.  We posted the results of our first writers challenge over the weekend.  Some excellent stories were submitted, some from regulars we all know and love.  Ponderer, Rogue, LouCeel, and many others who take part in The Artists challenge regularly.  Please swing by and check out our Writers Gallery for the challenge “Curiosity Killed The Cat”.  The following is a story I did for the challenge.

Be mindful what creatures cross your path in the shadows of a misty night.  For they may not be what they appear!   The mists distort,  changing the perceivable   vision, causing illusions or phantoms to be seen. 

An Autumn Saturdays sunset rested pleasantly on the horizon.  Such beauty and temperate atmosphere should always be enjoyed.  What better way to enthrall the senses than a quiet stroll along familiar roads.  At least that’s what I thought.  Little did I know there would be scarcely anything familiar and pleasant about this evenings events. 

I snatched my jacket from the hook near the door, grabbed my walking stick and set out.  Pausing at the gate to sooth the feelings of my faithful companion, Destiny, who wouldn’t be joining me this evening.  A decision I may regret for all eternity.   Destiny, a Sheppard of faithful obedience, was disheartened.   Exhibiting her concern and displeasure, in ways that were new and worrying to me.  She was bordering on the frantic, as if she could see what was about to happen.  I should have taken heed, and given in to her worries.

I started off on what I thought was going to be a short walk, exchanging greetings with neighbors as I went.  A wave and well wishes here and there, until I came to Matilda’s house.  An old Victorian, seemingly falling down in a slowly progressing dilapidation.  Matilda got up from her rickety chair on the sagging front porch.  A darkness in her eyes, deep, seemingly bottomless, was the feature I remember most.  She struggled to the porch rail, leaning hard against it with a faith in it’s stability I would have never had.  “Use caution in your wanderings Louis… Autumn evenings are seldom as peaceful as they seem.”  Matilda’s voice had an aged quality that added mystery to her statement.  Errant strands of  unkempt grey hair falling over her forehead as she hunched precariously against the rotting railing.  Creating an emphasis on the darkness in her eyes and framing her face in shadows.

I paused at her overgrown drive, with it’s faltering fence and dangerously slanted gate.  Holding up my knotted and knurled walking stick.  Simply an old Oak limb polished by years of handling and many miles.  “I’ll be careful Matilda.  I have my sturdy walking staff to defend against the forest critters.”

“Tis not critters you need be concerned with.  It’s the creatures, phantoms of the night, with evil in their thoughts that should be halting this evening stroll.”  There was a resonating hollowness to her statement that will haunt me ever more.  An image of her dressed in black, glaring into a fire darkened cauldron; filling my cognition.  The resounding laughter of a wicked old witch wafting to my ears with illusionary, I assumed, frightfulness.   Ones imagination can add warning if  they simply choose to listen.  Had I paid attention to that demented old woman, perhaps I would not feel compelled to share this tale with you.

Shrugging my shoulders, I politely waved, and continued along my evenings route.  Dismissing her warnings as the ramblings of an addled mind.  Conceivably, it’s the confused mind that sees the illusions of reality more precisely.  The distortion of sanity, seems to cloud ones vision, preventing the sights more difficult to believe.  Is not reality, so very often, unbelievable and truth veiled in fiction.

The sun had descended below the horizon as I approached the forest road, casting shadows of curiosity along my path.  A bloodshot sky was ablaze in the ferocious fire of an Autumn evening.  The narrow forest road with its trees forming an impenetrable canopy, appeared cave like and darkened.  Concern flitted across my consciousness as I thought once more of Matilda’s warnings.  Shaking off a cloud of  precarious feelings, I walked on, entering the darkness.

It was as if someone had lowered a heavy curtain, an eclipse complete and encompassing.  I paused just inside the entrance, staring into the blackest of shadows allowing my eyes to adjust.  An unwelcome cold, seemed to penetrate my very bones, making the hair on the back of my neck stand on end.   It seemed early in the season for such a frosty air.  After all, just moments before it was temperate and warm.  As my eyes slowly became accustomed to the gloom, it seemed to me everything was surrounded in a misty fog.  The familiar and fragrant scents I was used to, were missing.  There was a dank, musty, and perhaps even rotting odor in the air.  Wrinkling my nose and pulling the jacket closed, I continued my stroll.  It was only a short distance to the back road leading around the other side of my neighborhood,and I now wanted this hike to be over quickly.

As I walked, I saw an odd form run across the road in front of me.  Curiosity being my continual downfall, I followed to see what it was.  I could hear the mewling of a woman crying with such intensity and pain.   “Are you alright, do you need help?”  I called out in my naivety.   Trying to quickly catch up, I stumbled and fell, tripping over a limb that seemed to come from nowhere.  I could see what appeared to be a huddled woman.  The heaving of her shoulders from tearful sobbing emphasizing her posture.  My compassion drew me closer, allowing me to see the veiled beauty before me.

The sumptuous form of a purely exquisite female anatomy, partially hidden by a hooded half cloak with what appeared to be split tux tails.  Not quite concealing the shapely body, undoubtedly female, with buxom full breasts and shapely sculpted legs shrouded in fishnet stockings.  It may have been compassion that drew me in, but it was lustful desire that sealed my fate.  I reached out to touch this vision of wonder with crimson hair flowing out the sides and and corners of the hood.  She stood and slowly turned, showing me a face, void of expression, vague in form.  The only thing I truly remember is her eyes, slate grey and seemingly sightless!  Reacting in fear and repulsion, I backed away, quickly trying to distance myself from the horror in front of me.  She advanced, seemingly floating over the ground.  A huge scythe appearing in one hand, and a pale white skull, held captive in the other.  A slight prick at the side of my neck is all I felt, that is until the burning agony of her poison began its embalming path through my bloodstream.  

I now am indentured to her, fetching new souls, delivering the weak and curious.  Destined to travel this darkened mist filled forest.  I may be doomed to an eternity of servitude to Le’ Femme Death, but you still have a choice.   Beware the illusions created by  a deceptive reality.  Perhaps it’s best to push sanity aside and embrace the confusion of insanity.

“The boundaries which divide Life from Death are at best shadowy and vague.  Who shall say where the one ends and where the other begins.”

Edgar Allen Poe; The Premature Burial, 1844


Jena Isle said...

He he he, that's a fitting ending Eric. I was wondering what would happen from start to finish. You were able to hold my attention and arouse my curiousity.

Wonderful, titillating work of art - the next Stephen King? We have also the next Sci-fi writer in the person of Zorlone with his Zorlonites story...

Way to go!

Eric S. said...

Thank you Jena, I appreciate the comparison. And Zorlone, I think he could write just about anything he wanted and pull it off with out a hitch.

zorlone said...

This is a cool story Eric! I'd think a hundred times before I approach such beauty. Only if I can resist the temptation and curiosity within me. Of course, the doctor in me would want to see if she's okay and the man in me would simply run to aid her.

So, I guess there is no escape huh?

BTW, thank you for the compliment.


Sandee said...

I see you got spammed by some sleazy site.

Loved the story. Very well done. I too wondered how it was going to end.

Have a terrific day. :)

Eric S. said...

Hey Zorlone, Thank you and your welcome of course. I know what you mean, I would be hard pressed not to offer aid to a damsel in distress. The big question becomes, are they really in distress!

Eric S. said...

Hello Sandee, yep they got me, but I deleted them promptly. I don't like the spam at all.

Thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed the story.

AngelBaby said...

I just found your other site - the Inferno. I really like it. Can't wait to read all the stories there. Now all I need is the time to do the reading. LOL!

Love and Blessings,

The Inferno said...

Hi AngelBaby, I know what you mean. Time can be an issue, but we're having fun anyway. It's a really neat site, and theres lots of fiction to be read.

tashabud said...

We can never be sure, are we? Damned if we don't; damned if we do. Be ware of the wiles of men, women, and of this lustful world around us! He,he,he. They're always on the prowl. No escaping them, unfortunately.

I've felt the intensity and scariness of such an event happeninig. I was captivated throughout. Great writing. It made me atart thinking of the "What Ifs."


Eric S. said...

Thanks Tasha, I had a lot of fun writing this one. It was a challenge to write in Poe's style, but ever so much fun.

Kel said...

Cool story! Most appropriate for the Halloween season approaching.

Must correct the French usage though, it would have to be "La" Femme. "Le" is the masculine form. And if you want to play with the French completely, it would be "La Femme Morte," or perhaps "La Maitresse Morte," Mistress Death.


Sorry to have been absent so long--have been gone weekends, and up to my poor eyeballs at work.

Kel said...

P.S. Dig Poni's sketch inspire the story? Or was finding it amongst her things a lucky match?

Eric S. said...

Ohh, I like "La Maitresse Morte"! The story developed from my delving into Poe's literary creations. To get into the mood for the challenge, I went and read a few of Poe's short stories and poems on Wowio. It struck me how many of them were told as if he was trying to warn people of his experience. It had been so long since I've read any of his work, I'd forgotten his talent.

The sketch is one I asked Pony to do. A friend of mine is going to have it airbrushed on his motorcycle.

Kel said...

Ooooh custom niece art. Nice!!!


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