“You think mom will notice we’re gone?” Tyler asked, kicking through a pile of fallen leaves as we walked.
Giant, our Dalmatian, raced on and off the path, circling trees like mad.
“Maybe,” I said doubtfully, looking up into the massive red-orange trees around us. Chances were, mom was either talking to the police or having a heart attack. Or both. We were supposed to be home a while ago.
I hated to admit it, but after thirteen years of living in the woods, I was lost.
I looked around for some sign – any, really – but there wasn’t anything.
I sighed. If only I hadn’t needed to watch Tyler – I would probably be home right now, little brother-less and-
I was interrupted when Giant took my jacket sleeve in his big mouth, trying to tug me off the path.
“Not now, Gi,” I said. “Go away.”
“Tristan…” Tyler called my name. I turned in surprise. He was a few feet behind me, still as a statue. He was looking into the woods, completely still. Being six, he was never this still. Ever.
“What’s the matter?” I asked, worried.
“Do you hear that?”
I frowned and walked over to him, listening.
“Tyler-” I stopped. Faintly, in the distance, I heard a clacking sound like dropping drumsticks on each other.
I glanced at Tyler, who was slightly afraid. He took my hand. The sound stopped, and the forest went back to being quiet. Except, almost unnaturally quiet.
“I’m sure…its fine,” I said, reassuring him as much as myself. “Come on, I think I found the way back. When we get home, we can tell mom what an adventure we’ve had.” Complete lie. But my nerves were making me jumpy, and I just wanted to leave the woods
He calmed a bit. “Giant!” I called.
No rustle of leaves, or crack of branches. Silence.
Frowning, I noticed something about the right side of the path.
All the trees to my right had a big scratch in them, but when I looked to the left, they didn’t. I was pondering why this would be, when Tyler let out a little shriek.
I turned to tell him to stop freaking me out, when I noticed what he was looking at. On the right side of the forest, a light was shining between the trees. I couldn’t tell where it was coming from.
“Let’s go,” Said Tyler. “Let’s get Giant and go.”
“Giant probably went to that light,” I said, making a decision. “We should go too.”
I walked in, dragging Tyler along behind me. As we got closer I noticed it had suddenly gone chilly. I shivered, pushing through the last of the branches and arriving in a clearing where a little cottage stood. Hanging from the corner of the house was a little metal lantern – the source of the light we saw.
Looking a little to the left, I noticed a couple carved wooden chimes. So that was the sound.
But…where was Giant?
“Ugh! More people!” I jumped a foot in the air as the front door of the cottage burst open and out came a very disgruntled looking woman. She was Asian, maybe in her twenties, with black hair pulled into a bun, a bikers’ jacket and jeans. “I just put up a barrier for this sort of thing! All I want is privacy! Is that too much to ask?”
“Um,” I said. “Sorry, we’re looking for…”
“Yes, yes,” she said. She whistled, and Giant came bounding around the house. He ran past us and circled the woman, barking loudly.
“On second thought,” she muttered. “It’ll be easier if you’re not here.” She snapped her fingers and Giant disappeared. My mouth fell open, and I took a step back.
“You’re a witch!” Shouted Tyler with more glee than I thought necessary. “Can you turn a pumpkin into a carriage?”
She rolled her eyes. “Why would I do that when I can just call a cab?”
“W-Wait!” I shouted. She turned to me. “Where’s Giant?”
“Oh, he’s back at your house.” she dismissed, and started to push us back towards the path. “Now – leave! I need quiet.”
I was about to ask her another question when she gave one final push, sending us sprawling on the wet ground.
When I looked back, she was gone. And so were the trees with the marks on them.
We were back on our normal path, and I could see smoke from our fireplace in the distance. I gulped.
“You saw that too, right?”
Hello and thank you for reading my short story! I wrote this short story for my online writing course called Gotham Writing. It was 500-750 word limit, and the theme was ‘a light in the distance and a weird noise’. It wasn’t anymore specific than that.
What did you think? Advice is appreciated and I love reading your comments.
If you liked that short story, check out this one that I did for a writing contest: A Writers’ Rock Bottom | 1000 Word Short Story