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The Forest of Shadow

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Prologue

Class was boring as usual... I lack an interest in pursuing a career in arts, why make it compulsory and not just something we can choose to do in the curriculum? As i left class, I noticed something. I went over to it, it was some sort of key. It was blue with some numbers engraved onto the blade, maybe someone dropped it.

I considered handing it into the school administration, but something told me not to, I decided to keep it with me and see if it unlocks anything here. I noticed a locked door in the boys toilets, probably led to a power supply or something, I thought I might try the key on it.

The key slipped in noiselessly, a perfect fit! I turned it and pulled the door open to be greeted not by a brick wall... but a misty blue forest. Filled with confusion, I yanked the key from the lock and stepped into this strange forest.

As I walked in, the door slammed shut behind me.

Chapter 1: The Forest

I turned and tried to push the door open, it wouldn't budge. I banged on it, calling for someone to open it to no avail. I looked up at the wall it was connected to, not very tall, but too tall for me to climb over. The wall stretched left and right for as far as the eye can see, there was no way to get back through the door. Cursing, I turned around to face the forest pathway, resolving that there may be a way out if I follow the path.

I felt like something was watching me... I begin walking into the mist.

Chapter 2: Strange sounds

I'd been walking for about 10 minutes, the mist was getting thicker and thicker. My watch said no time had passed at all, odd... My pace quickens as my impatience slowly grew, my curiosity had been replaced with a strong desire to get back home.

I stopped as I heard something, a twig snapping. I turned around quickly and saw something disappear into the fog, maybe it was a bear that got startled by me and fled. I chuckled and continued walking, however I began to grow uneasy as the feeling of being watched grew and grew.

The Forest of Shadow

I jumped as I heard a howl, rather close, it didn't sound like any wolf i'd ever head of... My walking turned to a slow jog as more and more sounds come around me.

Chapter 3: Zero Visibility

This fog is ridiculous! It has grown so thick that I cannot see the trees around me, all i can see is the dirt pathway. With a growing bitterness, I trudged on.

Chapter 4: I'm not alone

Uh... what was that? I swear I just saw something in the mist... 2 small yellow orbs it looked like... like eyes...

They disappeared quickly, my mind must be playing tricks on me... I swear I saw the shadow of something running on the edge of the treeline, big, not a Bear this time. It resembled some sort of giant panther... with bark for skin...

I need to get out of this mist

Chapter 5: The pathway splits

I came across a crossroad, my path split into 3 options. I had the feeling that this was a trend in this place, we all know the rule of mazes though. I chose the left path and continued walking.

Later, I came across a note, someone came here before me. I couldn't make out much, other than that he'd found the same key that I did. This key fit into any lock depending on the co'ordinates engraved on the side which spontaneously changed at random intervals.

He wrote about the feeling of being watched...

Where is he now?

Chapter 6: A discovery

I found the one who left the note... or what was left of him...

He lay on the ground, stomach split open with decomposing entrails hanging out of him. A weird Gas mask in his hand that glowed faintly. I major in medicine, so I went over to him to confirm his death and try to determine the cause.

Whatever killed him merely sliced his entrails out, he'd been left to die by something sadistic.

I did a check of the gas mask, military grade equipment. I put it on in case there was some noxious gas around here somewhere. It fit me perfectly, and as I put it on I felt really energetic. I began running in case whatever killed him was to find me.

Chapter 7: The Shadow

Another sound from behind, I spun around on the balls of my feet and came face to face with my stalker.

Yellow glowing eyes, a skull like face, bark like skin, purple leaves on its back, Blood on its claws and strange markings around its body that glowed yellow. Its growl was like a loud hum, needless to say that I came to the decision of flight rather than fight.

I ran through the misty forest, sheer terror was propelling me faster than I could ever run. I could hear its own steps as it ran after me, its own breath, I even felt its breath.

No way was I going to suffer the same fate as the other guy!

Chapter 8: Dead End!

I turned a corner and ran down the path, the mist was clearing slightly. That... or I just ran into a bloody dead end.

I heard a twig snap behind me as it slowed down to walking pace, there was no time to lose. I tried to climb the slope that separated me from the treeline, but felt it grab my leg and pull me down. My mask was lifted off by a rock in the slope as it dragged me down.

As the mask went, so did my energy, I turned to face the beast which glared at me. It roared and I made the futile gesture of raising my arms to shield myself from the killing blow.

The one that never came

Chapter 9: Guidance

I waited for a few seconds, cowering in fear. What was taking this thing so long? Why wouldn't it just kill me and get it over with? I slowly looked up, the beast stood there looking at me.

As i lowered my arms, it leaned down and approached me, gently sniffing me. I was too afraid to move. It began to gently nuzzle me, its long tail swaying from side to side. I lowered my left arm to rest on the beast's head, it was relaxed, the creature's skin felt soft.

It stood up and walked back a meter or two, allowing me to stand. It crouched down and beckoned me. I was distrusting, but i felt that if I did not obey, it would kill me... I grabbed the gas mask and climbed onto its back in front of the leaves. It stood up and leaped into the trees, I strained to hold onto the horns on its head.

Chapter 10: The doorway back

As it took me through the forest, I began to learn things about it. It was the guardian to the forest, those it deems to have good intentions are guided through the forest. It kills those with bad intentions. It was its own prisoner, it wanted nothing more than to leave the forest, but it can't. Many don't make it to the exit door.

For some reason, it seemed to like me, like the way I eluded it for so long. That's why it was so friendly earlier, it wants to accompany me out of this strange world.

It didn't take long to reach the door, i hopped down and walked to it. It resembled the door that I entered this world in. I inserted the blue key and twisted it, pulling the door open.

The creature stood back, a sad expression on its face. It was bound to this world and it couldn't leave. I stroked its neck comfortingly, it nuzzled me again. A thought materialized in my head, not my own. "Keep the key close to you, and we shall never truly be apart". It stands back up and gently pushes me to the door, I take the key from the door and take one last look at it.

I nod, turn away and walk through, the door gently shuts behind me. I push the door back open as the light fades from it.

I have returned home.

Epilogue: 6 months later

I spend many art lessons trying to perfect one piece. My grades in art were soaring as a result. My experience in the world beyond doors unlocked with the key has given me much inspiration in Art.

They say that when I do perfect this piece, they'll keep it in the school art gallery and photocopy it, sending it to me. But I don't care, why would i need the painting?

The key has stayed with me, on my Key ring, it's a secret I keep from everyone.

After all, the world in the painting is only an unlocked door away...

The world beyond an unlocked door

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