Sara never liked the Woods.
It was a place where darkness reigned supreme, where wild creatures prowled, looking for their next meal, where the howlings of who knew what came from when night came. The Woods was large, intimidating. Its black trees creaked in the wind and the bare branches loomed like hands ready to snatch you up when you were looking the other way.
No, the Woods was a bad place.
But here she was, lost within its maze of trees and thorn bushes.
Every since she was little, Sara had been warned of the Woods. She thought back to her first experience with the Woods had occured when she was just four years old. Sara remembered it like it was yesterday, even though it had been thirteen years in the past.
She had been playing with her brother, Peter, who was five years older than herself, in the Glade that surrounded Town and seperated it from the Woods. Peter had brought her out there, telling her that he had caught a strange creature in one of the traps he had set up. A soft, furry animal with buck teeth. He had said it was like the rats back in Town, but it had long, fuzzy ears and soft downy fur. Of course, Sara had to see this magnificent creature, so she had followed her brother into the Glade.
The two ran into the Glade, Peter stopping every once in a while, waiting for Sara to catch up. At first, Sara was happy. She liked the Glade. The grass was long and tickled her face, and it was fun to lay in and look at the clouds as the moved across the sky. Plus, they were going to see a new creature that sounded quite wonderful.
But as they moved along, the pair got closer and closer to the Woods, and Sara was beginning to get scared. She stopped running and asked, "How much farther?"
Peter replied, "Not much farther. Come on now."
However, despite what her brother had said, they continued to get closer and closer to the Woods. She stopped a couple more times, asking the same question. Her brother's answer was always the same:
"Not much farther."
Soon, they had nearly reached the Woods. Sara could make out the details of the long branches of the trees and the snaggled twines of the thorn bushes. She reached for her brother's hand.
"I'm scared," she said.
Grabbing Sara's hand, Peter said, "It's okay. Look, its right there."
Sure enough, lying in Peter's cage was a small, furry creature. It had long ears and a small, fluffy tail. Sara squealed in delight at the sight of it. All thoughts of the Woods had vanished from her mind. "Can I hold it?' she asked.
Peter nodded and they moved closer to the cage.
That is when something happened that changed Sara's life forever.
Brother and sister had knelt down next to the cage and Peter had just begun to open the cage. Peter stopped halfway through his work though, and looked towards the Woods.
"Did you hear something?" Peter asked, his whisper barely audible over the wind.
Sara shook her head, but now she was starting to get frightened again. Why was Peter acting so strange?
Suddenly, she too heard something from the Woods, a ruffling noise, like something moving across the branches. Sara grasped her brother's arm and said, "I want to go home."
Peter nodded, still staring at the Woods. "I think we should lea..."
Peter's sentence was cut short by the sudden emergence of a creature from the Woods. It came crashing through the undergrowth, whooping madly and running right for them. The creature was a hairy mess, twigs coming out from its shaggy mane that covered its face. It had a wild look in its eyes, the only thing that Sara could distinguish in its face. The being ran on two legs and it had two arms, just like a person. If Sara wouldn't have known better, she would have thought this creature might be human being.
But that was impossible. The only people were from Town. Still, if the creature had less hair and clothing and didn't that savage, wild look in its eyes, Sara thought that it would have looked remarkably like a person.
The creature bolted for the two, yelling and whooping, and Peter immediately pulled Sara to her feet. He had yelled, "Run!" and Sara was more than happy to obey. She ran as fast as her little legs could possibly carry her, but, being only a little taller than the grass, she could do little more than waddle.
Sara's fear heightened as the whooping noise got closer and closer. She began to cry as she tried to push her way through the forest of grass. Suddenly, she heard a cry of surprise nearby and a thump as something hit the ground.
A feeling of dread went through Sara. Peter had tripped. Sara moved in the direction of the cry, but stopped when Peter shouted, "Run! Get to Town! Get help!"
Get help. Yes. That was what she must do. Sara realized now that her brother had said this in a desperate attempt to save her, to get her to run away. He had known that any help would arrive much too late. But it had worked. Sara had turned and run towards Town, never looking back. She was glad of that. Sara could not bare the thought of seeing the beast drag her brother back into the Woods. Having that moment replaying in her mind forever; it would have driven her crazy.
Sara had escaped. She had told her Father, crying, at what happened. He had gathered the men and ran to the edge of the Woods, but none dared to enter. Even Father, who had lost his only son, could not find the courage to enter the Woods.
The danger of the Woods was known to every person. It was ingrained in their minds. One of the Five Commandments was "One must never enter the Woods, for if you do, you shall meet a bitter end." It was taught by parents, grandparents, teachers, and any one else with any sense. Everyone knew that entering the Woods would mean death.
And yet here she was, running through the Woods.
She shook the memory from her head. She couldn't dwell on that now. She had to focus on surviving. That, and finding something that in all rights shouldn't exist.