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The Forest of Wings and Tails

I walk down the center of the path. The fence lies on both sides of me, stretching on endlessly. There’s room for only one person to trudge this trail. A solitairy journey. And a dangerous one.

A faerie wing jammed between the links brushes against my arm. I give it a slight tap and continue on my way. I keep my eyes focused on the gate.

A girl juggling a soccer ball kicks it over the fence, but I head it back. Nope. Not the right one. I ignore the alligator snout snapping at me. I keep my eyes focused on the gate.

Maybe I should head back. This could be just another dead end. I’ve seen too many creatures scraping at the fence, trying to get at me. They only want one thing. I jump to the left as a dragon tail sweeps across the path. A baseball whizzes past my face. I keep my eyes on the gate, ignoring the smell of popcorn.

The clashing of swords, the laughter of girls, the howls of nightmares press against the fence, against me. A clawed hand shoots out and grabs at my ankles, leaving a black scrape on my skin. Blood, like ink, drips to the ground. If the infection gets into my blood and reaches my heart, I’ll be sucked in. No chance to back out. I scurry down the path, my eyes on the gate.

But I stop. A moan drifts from the forest. A moan that holds the color of a hundred emotions. A tale to be told. Hearbreak. Of what kind I’m not sure. I press my cheek against the cold metal fence and search the darkness. But all I see are shifting shadows. I cry out. Tears prick my eyes and I don’t even know why.

I keep on the path but more slowly. My senses ready. A puff and swirl of cigar smoke make me cough. It is followed by an evil chuckle. I wave the smoke away with my hand. Not for me.

Finally, I arrive at the gate. My feet ache. My throat burns. I press the latch and walk through. A cool breeze dries the sweat on my face. I smell the salt air and hear the rush and roar of the ocean. I run. I don’t look back.

And there, washed up on the beach, it lies in the sand. Waiting.

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