The Enemy Within

forest clearingI tend to write a lot about fear. The following snippet or very short story was written in October 1984 and explores how our own mind can be our worst enemy.

The young lad sat on a tree stump, sniffling. He was weeping over the fact that he was lost. He was in a clearing, but all around him the trees seemed to be an impenetrable wall of malice. The oppressiveness of the scene seemed to crunch in on him. Why are they all staring at me? The little boy thought back to how he had gotten here in the first place.

He and his friends had been playing a game of dares on the way home from school. His dare had come up as they were walking by the forest. The Forbidden Forest, by name. His friends had dared him to go into the forest — not very far, just ’till he couldn’t see them anymore — then come out. They didn’t want him to get hurt, but they had to dare him to do something in the vicinity –that was in the rules.

He had agreed and gone up to the forest. The trees towered over him like evil giants thirsty for his blood. He almost cried “chicken” but he didn’t want them to think him a coward. He turned back to his friends, waved then stepped into the forest.

No sooner had he done so when it seemed that someone had turned down the sun. He turned in terror to look at his friends. He couldn’t see out of the forest.

That can’t be, he thought. I only took one step in! He took a step in the direction he thought he had come in. he was still in the forest.

Panic took hold of him and he ran. Even though logic told him that he was running toward his friends, it seemed that he was only running into the center of the forest.

It had seemed like he had run for hours when he finally reached the place where he sat now. He’d been crying for a long time now.

“What have I heard about this forest?” he said aloud to himself.

The forest seemed to come alive with sorrow. Sorrowful, sad voices moaned out, “Only those who believe in themselves ever escape the Forest. The voices you are hearing are those of the many inadequate souls who are trapped like you, forever.” Then, just as suddenly as the voices had started, the moaning stopped.

The young boy was left alone to ponder his own faults, his own inadequacy.