Here is the edited version.
By Fire and Light
Alone into the deep woods I went wandering. It was a beautiful night, illuminated by the moon so bright. How it sat quietly in the arms of darkness,
was unforgettable. All that one may say was “what a sight”. The trees surrounded me with their lush green majesty, and made thoughts of my home in
the city feel like a travesty. I looked around to observe nature’s beauty, and while I treaded softly upon her earthly purity, I found myself in awe
of this wonderful reality. From afar were hoots of an owl, perched upon a branch, surely, while observing the ground diligently for a meal.
I had walked by majestic pines, towering above me, giving the feeling, not of inferiority, but of security. Security in that I was, by the nature of
man, properly fixed into the ordering of the world. My existence was not of mere insignificance because my size relative to the trees or for the
infinity of the cosmos, but my worries had seemed to ease. They, much like me, found a proper place. It was not of great significance, nor
insignificance, but rather of quite simple ignorance on my part for allowing such things to consume, overwhelm, and engulf me.
There - there among the countless trees, insects, and animals, I was truly free to be me. Free from the pollution of mind, body, and soul, that comes
with urban frenzy, atomized individuality, and complacency inducing leisure. The city is a place where man trades his irreplaceable bond with divinity
for soulless anonymity, built upon safety, money, and moral anarchy. In these forests one may find refuge, perhaps in silent contemplation or sincere
jubilation of physical liberation from urban dilapidation. Abandon the smoke stacks, factories, automobiles, and technologies, in turn to see trees,
bees, streams, and nature’s honesty.
Finally ahead laid a beautiful spot wherein I could work upon my poetry; a glorious combination of moonlight grandeur and encircling trees. I removed
my socks and shoes; my feet had touched the plush grass. Each blade of grass, standing erect as though in salute of a great presence, was felt upon my
soles. Then I sat next to a log of a deceased tree retaken into that from which it sprung. Leaning against it with my note pad in one hand and pencil
in the other, I begun to observe that which was around me, to harvest it’s bounty for my imagination’s journey.
When I was in deep consideration of my potential poetic masterpiece, something had startled me from the wood line. Leafs were crunching under the
footsteps of what I had suddenly imagined to be a ferocious beast, with fangs dripping from salivating over the thought of my deceased corpse. Panic
ensued. Quickly I did leap to my feet, standing firm, enlarging my chest, and trying to hold back the almost crippling internal scream of “run, run
now!” Eyes then appeared before me, bright glowing eyes, burning with the passion of a thousand suns, and whose heart and stomach had set its sights
upon my pale skin.
“Be gone beast from the deep wood!” I recall declaring in a shaky voice. “Come towards me no more. Withhold your temptation to devour. Set thy
back against me and pursue a path of return from whence you came.” Yet the beast did not move; neither towards me nor away from me. It stood, almost
frozen with eyes fixed. There was no sound. All was still. All was quiet. All was dread. The eyes had blinked, perhaps the slowest blink ever
observed. As they returned from behind that thin curtain of concealment my panic had begun to subside.
In an unexplainable way, fear’s cold grip had loosened. The beast stepped forward into the shadows, only so far as to reveal a silhouette. In all
my years, never did I observe the shape of such a thing. The shroud of mystery had both piqued my sense of curiosity and unchained my imagination.
Having believed it may be fearful of my towering stature, I kneeled down. Then, out came “would you come closer?” That such words had been uttered
were striking. What was I doing, calling forth an unknown best from its cloak of darkness? To have asked that its form be scribbled in by the light
was nothing save insanity.
Piercing the silence came these words, “for in darkness I did make my life, thus in darkness must I remain.” Stunned, I had nearly loss my
balance. The beast, or better described as, being, could speak. With a voice, sounding as though it knows of suffering beyond any that I may
comprehend, and commanding of attention in tone.
“You can speak?” is all that my mind could conjure.
“I may, it has yet to be taken from me,” it said in response.
“What exactly are you, if I may ask?” I pressed.
After taking a deep breath, then pausing in silence for a few seconds it had proceeded to respond. “I was what you are now, except of different
character. As a man I spent my life in pursuit of that which has earned my rightful damnation. For what I had done was a perversion against nature.”
This it said before breaking to clear its throat. “For in the shadows of life did I do my deeds, so in darkness I now live; a just punishment suited
for this beast”, it had declared.
“What is your name – or was your name?” I inquired.
“My name has been etched into the surrounding trees, but I have for long forgotten it.” It proclaimed.
“Your name shall be Ater, for the time being, at least until sunrise when the light shining upon the trees shall reveal your name.”
Ater then spoke again, saying, “Not many have spoken to me before. We are awfully lonely in this deep, dark wood.”
“Us,” I inquired, “who is ‘us’?”
“It is not just I confined to these woods, many live amongst these hills and trees. All attached by chain to the house atop the hill. For series of
unfortunate events brought us here, and here we are cursed to forever remain.” Ater announced in a depressed tone.
“Who, or what, has bound you here?” I asked.
“Long, long ago, an old man lived in the house atop the hill, deep in these dark woods. He was unlike most others. After years of causing pain to
the townspeople they gathered together and sought to hang him in the square. I remember the event, for I was a young boy and my parents were part of
the mob. He peaked out a window, only to see dozens of angry townspeople climbing over the fence into his yard. Rounding up the servants, he commanded
one to guard the door with a shot gun.”
“Out the back door the rest ran, deep into the woods behind his old lonely house. Gun shots could be heard as the poor servant left to the savage
mob killed two men before the others took his life. Fleeing into the woods, while attempting to not draw attention, a servant girl’s young child was
screaming in her arms. The master did not want any to alert the mob to their whereabouts so he commanded her to cover its mouth. She protested,
knowing it would deprive her infant child of air. But the babe would still not quiet.”
“So the master ordered another servant to kill the child, and kill the mother too if she cried aloud. Without hesitation the servant took a knife
and finished the child in its mother’s arms. He then put the knife to her throat. The poor mother kept quiet, following master and the other servant
as they hurried away. I know of this only because my parents refused to take me into the mob, keeping me back from the house but at a place where I
could observe the master and his servants making their escape.”
At that point one could have sensed there is an emotion pull upon Ater’s heart. “Did you speak up?” asked I.
“I did not. Although now it is the one event in my life I truly pray could be altered. If only I had declared, ‘there he runs now, into the
wood!’, then perhaps confinement to the darkness would have not occurred. But that past is unalterable.” Ater said.
In response, from my lips had flowed; “is that why you are chained to his house? Because you aided in his escape or because he felt you were a part
of the mob and sought revenge?”
“Neither is the case. Foolishly, I returned to the woods many years later in my early 20s, thinking the old man had to have passed by now. This was
not a mistake, for he had been deceased. When stumbling upon the old house I ventured inside, as it appeared abandoned. Ignorant of what was actually
there, my curiosity dragged me inside. After walking some fifteen feet into the kitchen, the door through which I entered had closed. Panicking, I ran
towards the door only to discover it was locked. Running through the first floor of the house, all the other doors were locked as well.”
“Then, in the corner of my eye, was a corpse. Nearly all the flesh had been cleaned from its bones. This corpse belonged to the old man, I could
tell by the scant amount of flesh still upon it permitted features to be displayed. ‘Clearly,’ I thought, ‘the servants must still be alive.
That was who locked the door.’ But a noise had come from behind the door to my right. It was an old wooden door with a gold colored door knob.
Peaking inside the key hole, a most interesting yet unsettling sight could be seen.”
Ater had stopped speaking, which was proceeded by the faint sound of a piano being played. After having looked toward the source of this noise, I
readjusted my sight and Ater had disappeared. “Ater,” I had called out, “where did you go?” There was no response. Seeking the source of this
noise, I proceeded to venture into the woods. It was very dark beneath the covering of the towering trees. Then it seemed, the further into the woods
I went, colder the air became. After walking around for a while the air became bitterly cold, it sent a chill down my spine and caused me to
All the trees around began to dance… yet there was no wind. The cold air was still, not even a light breeze passed my skin. Even having walked for
what was presumably ten minutes neither that old house spoken of by Ater appeared, nor Ater himself. At least the temperature ceased to descend any
further. ‘Now I am lost for sure,’ I had said to myself both upset for being lost in these deep, dark woods and also for not finding anything of
interest. Yet there was no turning back, for that piano continued to play… luring me in with its sweet melody and my perilous inquisitiveness.
Out from the dark wood into an open field I stumbled. Finally, there was light again. A brilliant moon sat upon its inferior throne in the sky. Around
was a beautiful landscape of rocks, surrounded by trees, and dotted with gentle hills. Yet the most magnificent tree in all the wood sat ahead of me
in its lonesome. Finally, the piano stopped playing its tune. This did not distract from the beauty of the tree. It was a lovely weeping willow and
behind it was the moon, with its shadow cast upon the ground before it.
I decided to sit down away from the tree. At just the right angle I could see the moon form a halo around the tree. There, sitting, admiring the
splendor of this tree which captured my attention, I became lost in its mesmerizing magnificence. Out of the quiet came a noise – sobbing. It
sounded like a young woman sobbing nearby. Having leaped to my feet, I scanned the landscape in search of this distraught woman, yet no person could
be seen. “Is there anyone here?” I called out, hoping for a reply. Unfortunately the only response was further sobbing.
edit on 5/9/2012 by Misoir because: (no reason given)