Into the Woods
She was alone. Trudging through thick snow, each step she took she could hear the crunching of snowflakes beneath her ice cold feet. Her breath was a wispy white smoke, the kind you would imagine a dragon to breath. The branches of the trees around her were twisted, climbing high above the ground, the roots firmly anchored, spreading across the ground like a spider's web.
An ear splitting bang grabbed her attention. She felt afraid but her curiosity got the better of her and she ran towards it. A tree lay dead and snapped in half, she climbed over the slowly rotting, splintered wood that lay scattered on the ground.
She reached a clearing in the forest with a strangely engraved stone arch in the centre. “Protect yourself before it gets you” she read aloud. “What does that mean? Before it gets you? Before what gets you?” She mumbled to herself. A strong gust of wind hit her. She started to frantically look around “ before what gets me?” she screamed. This time she got a reply.
A cold, raspy voice whispered in her ear, “me”. The blood drained from her face. She ran. Faster than she’d ever run before, then she tripped. The voice let out a laugh “look around you, look at what you just tripped over!” She looked down at the frozen body of a boy. He blinked and mouthed the words ‘help’.
She screamed as she saw hundreds of other frozen bodies strewn across the ground. “Who are you?” she shrieked. The voice replied “I've been watching you, in fact I brought you here. Did you find those trees luring you in? And that bang, did that make you want to investigate?” she paused for a while.
“ Yes” she replied, “but that stone, why didn't you freeze whoever wrote that?” “That is the last time someone was able to finish my little game. You see the date on there? That's right, 1824. If you can win my game, you will set all these people free, if you lose you are stuck here.” His laugh made the hairs on her neck stand on end. “I'll play.”
“ The game is What am I? Here are the clues but listen carefully, I will not repeat. I am light in color but dark inside, I'm ice cold, a million years old, the forest is where I lie. You have exactly two minutes to answer” “Dark in my soul, light in colour, a million years old…”
Sarah trailed off. She frantically tried to patch together the clues. Sarah could feel panic rising within her and hear her pulse, louder than ever. She could feel the foul beasts excitement growing. Then something clicked “You're a ghost!” she shouted. The voice shrieked like nothing Sarah had ever heard before.
Then she saw it, a pale figure just visible. She turned her head in fear, he was young, maybe in his teens she thought, but this did nothing to diminish the terror when she looked into his face, contorted in rage. He looked like he was fighting against some bonds, perhaps bound by the rules of the game, but still trying to reach out and claw at her as he faded into the gloom.
She was surrounded, lifted gently by strangers and embraced. Nearly 200 years of victims freed from their frozen state. She felt bewildered, confused but elated. She worked her way through the crowd surrounding her and set off to the safety of home, hundreds of freed souls trailing behind her. The ghost watched from the shadows, angry, furious, but he would start his collection of frozen souls again, as he had so many times before.