Bad Forest is Bad
A hair-whitening tale of demonic horror and social awkwardness.
Fort Hook doesn’t really celebrate Halloween in any serious way. We do have little kids wear masks and go door-to-door demanding candy, but that’s just the heavily armed gang known as the Li’l Thumbscrews, and they do that year round.
But, in the spirit of the season, I will share a spooky story with you. This is something that happened last weekend when I made the stupid decision to cut through the bad forest that runs along the southern side of the bay.
The good forest on the northern side? Love it. Charming. Adorable. Plenty of timid woodland creatures and unscary places to camp. The bad forest? Towering craggy trees on all sides. Useless, root-clogged paths that wind like intestines. Your panicky breaths echo weirdly through the air and the piney freshness clogs the lungs. Just straight supersaturated with evil vibes.
But I needed to get to the lighthouse (for reasons I’ll cover in a future newsletter) so off I went like a jolly idiot, whistling and strutting.
I got lost after literally one millisecond. There was nothing but moonless black in that wretched hellhole. I became unpleasantly sweaty in my pits and nethers. I stopped, suddenly winded for some reason (the reason is I’m very out of shape), and leaned against a tree for support. Just as I noticed that this tree felt a little more gelatinous than I was comfortable with, it grabbed my hand.
My guts churned as I saw some kind of twisted claw digging into my skin. It was a tangle of thorny bones, clenching, crackling like campfire. Then I was yanked upward, way up, my feet dangling in midair, and I finally got a glimpse of the not-tree that had me in its grip: a skinned stag carcass, impossibly tall and gaunt, rearing up on its hind legs, veinlike antlers protruding from its eye sockets.
The thing slowly stretched its mouth wide with a viscous creak, and, in a whisper that smelled like bloody mulch, said:
« joshie hug »
OK, a couple notes here:
In the last issue I spared you a description of a particular bowel situation—you’re welcome—but I feel like we’re a little more chummy now, so I’ll go ahead and admit that at this point I peed my pants a very tiny bit, hardly even worth mentioning, but I’m loath to keep anything from you. You deserve complete honesty from here on out.
No idea how this thing knew my name but no one calls me Joshie except my uncle, long dead and buried (at sea) (well, not buried so much as chained to a depth charge) (long story) and he only did it when he was being a jerk.
Anyway I screamed for a while, but then the skinless deer demon gave me a pitiful look and I realized it wasn’t trying to terrify me, it was just an inherently terrifying creature. “You want me to hug you?” I asked, and it nodded, its writhing neck-tendons groaning like a swinging noose.
I explained that people from my culture (old anxious rude introverts) don’t typically hug strangers, but if it wouldn’t mind showing me the way to the lighthouse, I’d consider it a solid first step in forming a hug-tier relationship.
The demon thought this over for what I felt to be an overlong amount of time, then dragged me out of the woods and deposited me onto a small sliver of beach. I was so relieved to see the ocean and the stars that I shed a single manly tear, followed by a few hundred regular tears.
My new pal waved a horrifying thatch of crimson branch-claws at me and hissed:
« joshie friend »
I gave it a tight-lipped smile and promised to return soon to hang out.
But I haven’t gotten around to it yet.
Not a very chilling conclusion, you say? Well I say there is nothing more frightening than making yourself vulnerable to another person, praying they’ll be tender with your demonic heart, and then waiting with hopeful dread for their response.
Which is exactly what I am feeling as I send this letter to you. Write me back immediately.
This has been Chokemail. Dictated but not read by Fireland. Shipped from Chokeville.
Won’t you subscribe? It costs nothing but the precious fleeting moments of your life :)
Nethersweats are the worst
I like this one too, joshie friend.