A lonely man. Wandering through a forest. Trying to complete his goal. But what is he trying to achieve? (Short story)
‘Sea of Trees’
The brisk afternoon breeze piercing through the dark underworld of the canopy is stinging my cheeks. The vast acre of land crowded by myriads of over-grown roots and shrieking caverns sigh in the wind. My thick, brown, leather boots crunching down on the autumn hummus echoing throughout the forgotten land, as I think to myself over and over and over; have I completed this? Check. Have I completed that? Check. With the weight of my bag pressing down upon my firm broad shoulders like I’m attempting to wrestle gravity and withstand the weights above me, I decide to slowly pull out my poorly written checklist and run through it one last time.
* * *
Before I fed the last of my equipment into my bag I checked, again, to ensure my electricity and gas bill were finished off and my phone bill came to a halt. I threw over my long, leather, coat and turned to gaze upon my isolated apartment and placed a clean, crisp, letter onto the dusty piece of mahogany. I finally turned to leave for my car, which has seen better days, and for once my mind felt a sudden sense of control and organisation. I left the dirt and dust that would grow, squirm and devour my home behind. Life was not worth living since my salary was unable to bring joy, cleanliness and warmth.
* * *
I come to a halt, hastily stopping my worn-out body and call forth my eyes again to analyse the surprisingly large thicket I have roamed into. I turn to witness a gaping cavern call out to me with evil and darkness conjuring in its throat like a wild beast craves to devour its prey and regurgitate the left-overs. My mind lingers on it before exiling it. As I shake it off I begin to wander around feeling the thickness of the branches hanging out from the gigantic pillars of bark which surround me. Constantly reminding myself of the advice that was bestowed to me; “If the branch is thicker than your thigh, it won’t break”. I search for a suitable anchor. Although this acquaintance has provided useful advice my heart has no feelings left for them and I continue my objective.
After countless attempts and multiple firm grips I finally find a durable branch and a small dose of relief surges though me. I throw my bag to my feet and allow my hollow water bottle to make its daring escape as I reach into my inventory for the most essential piece of equipment among the rest; the rope.
I wrap the rope around the muscular arm of the tree and the two fit together perfectly. Stepping onto a small, pedestal-like rock, I reach up to the rope and prepare the noose as I breathe carefully, heavily, and prepare.
My breathing is short and sharp now. Struggling to swallow air. Vision blurring. A final step and it shall end. One last look.
Through the veil of tears I see a dark figure. It lies motionless on the ground. I’m not thinking as my hands fumble on the rope above and I set myself free.
I remove the layers of dead leaves and lifeless plants and my heart, soul, mind and body freeze and shriek at the foul image presented before me. A corpse.
This, decayed, disgusting creature barely even a corpse glares at me with its cold, agonising, eyes and shattered bones with stained blood which appears to have trickled from the elderly wounds. My body unable to resume into working condition, I feel my soul being taken away. I continue to stare upon this demented figure with skin, rough, like sand paper along with nails and teeth as black as death itself joined by the horrid odour inhabited within the body, insects prancing all over its torn clothes.
Suddenly, infused with hatred towards the corpse I release a sudden wave of emotion and scream so loud the gods could hear me. I fall to my knees, waterfalls of emotion sailing down my ice cold cheeks. Slowly, I pull a photograph of my dear mother and father from my pocket as I allow tears to fall onto the image as the guilt stirs in my heart. My mind tries to inherit the idea of how someone could perform such a selfish act and leave their family and friends petrified, unaware of their location. Slipping the image back into my pocket I look upon the body once more and notice the snapped, deceased rope hugging their neck and I lift my head high, and walk towards the exit.
This story was inspired by the Japanese forest Aokigahara – Sea of Trees - which lies at the northwest base of Mount Fuji, famous for countless suicides.