Ryan Flaherty, Grade 7, Elizabeth Macarthur High School -
Excellence Award in the 'Horizon of Dreams 2018' competition
Watching. Waiting. Wrathful. The eyes of the forest. Always watching. Always waiting. Always wrathful.
I ran. Listening only to my sharp, quick breaths and the crackle of leaves and twigs underfoot. I didn't want to come here, but my brother needed me. As much as I needed to get out. I had never liked Grim Wood forest. Whenever I set foot in the forest, I felt cold and despair, even on a bright summer day. There was always something watching me. The other kids made fun of me. They called me names.
"Callum the Chicken, Callum the Chicken," they laughed.
I'd try to ignore them. It never worked, but I could never bring myself to go into the woods. Especially not at night. No one would go into the woods at night. A misty, wet fog would rise and curl around the trees. I made a promise to myself to never go into the forest at night. Tonight, would be the night I broke that promise.
"Alex?" I called out. He had gotten lost and I had to find him, it had taken all of my willpower to come over here in the first place. Once I had started in, there was no going back. Steam rose up to my eyes. The fog was especially cold. I kept on expecting to see someone fly out of the darkness and snatch me away forever. It was getting harder and harder to see. I cursed myself for forgetting to bring a flashlight. I heard a twig snap to my right. I abruptly stopped and meekly looked over. My whole body froze. My feet were glued to the ground. I couldn't breathe. A silhouette of a person was standing ten feet away from me.
I was just about to faint with terror when the fog cleared for a moment and I saw the twisted, curved trunk of a tree. I let out of a sigh of relief. I thought I was a goner.
Slowly I calmed down and remembered why I was here. Alex. I had to find him. I continued to jog. After five more minutes of pained running, I heard a soft cry of pain.
"Alex?" I called out.
"C-Callum?" came the weak reply.
I ran around the corner and saw my brother leaning against a tree, clutching his leg.
"Alex!" I cried, "I found you."
I ran up to him and hugged him. He hugged me back. He let out a cry of pain.
"Al, what's wrong?" I asked him.
"I dropped my shark necklace," he replied weakly. “I had to get it back. When I found it, I realised that I was lost. I was trying to find my way out when I tripped on a tree root and twisted my ankle.”
"Don't worry, I'll get you home."
As my life finished flashing before my eyes, I stared up at the yellow eyes that ended so many lives before me. The last thing I saw, a dangling shark necklace.