ĎVanessa Smythe! Vanessa ...Vanessa, donít go into the forest!í
Someone is calling out my name; but who? Where am I? Is this real? This has to be a dream. What else could it be? Iím in a place that I donít recognise. The enveloping dark mist makes it hard for me to focus on what is real. What I know is that the forest that surrounds me is familiar but I know that I have never been here before. Iím on a motorbike; which is strange as I donít like to ride them. The trees that tower above me seem to hold me on the tracks beneath my feet. Itís as if they are trying to push me along a path. I am used to walking in the forest. I have always felt safe being alone in the sanctuary of the woods but now Iím wondering why I feel dread.
As I ride on ahead into the deeper part of the woods, my perspective seems to change. Suddenly I donít feel like myself. Am I here or watching myself or perhaps, Iím watching someone else? Whoever was calling me has now stopped. My instincts are telling me to keep riding; to find the person that was calling my name. The breeze is picking up in the treetops. Leaves are rustling, drowning out the sound of birds and creatures scurrying in the trunks that have been there for thousands of years. Beneath me the track feels like sand that is growing softer as my bike is having difficulty keeping traction. Finally it stalls and I have to get off.
A sound behind me gets my attention. Turning around to see what it is, I notice nothing out of the ordinary. Caution enters my thoughts but there is nothing that I am fearful of. The distraction has led me to a new track where I have an overwhelming feeling of relief come over me, the moment I place my feet in that direction. Maybe this is where I am supposed to go to meet the person that is calling out for me!
The track narrows and the sand, now replaced with rocks, crush under my feet with every step I take. All around me the wildlife is disappearing, leaving me alone on the journey ahead. The surrounding woods are dense; blocking out any hope of light. I realise that it is night as a gap in the branches reveals the moon shining brightly up ahead. With this shining globe dissolving the darkness, dread hits my stomach as I know that something wants me to turn around and head back.
My heart stops beating as I am faced with three snakes. Where did they come from? Are they the voice that led me to this path? Fear does not enter my mind as I stare into their wide open mouths revealing fangs the size of my head. Stepping forward into their gazing eyes, I notice two of them back off. The leader in the middle does not. Unperturbed by them, I continue on this track that I now somehow feel at ease with. For some reason, I know that they are unable to attack me and I shall play this to my advantage. The leader with a body the size of a carpet snake is striking at me; his fangs donít penetrate. He is angry with me as his striking fangs and body lash out in every direction. The frustration is obvious to me as he canít stand not being able to hurt me. Now he is trying to push me with his giant bulk onto a different track but Iím not going. I can tell that he is getting angrier by the second but I stand my ground. Feeling free of their anger, they decide on another course of action. For some reason they donít want me to take the track leading to who knows where.
Up ahead, it looks like the sun is shining. As I draw nearer, I leave the darkness behind me. Every step closer fills my heart with happiness and warmth. I can hear my name being called again. Relief comes as the trees are now sparse in the distance. Trees disappear as I walk closer out of the forest towards a bright light. Green grass is now soft like carpet under my feet. I am not scared as I get closer. The crispness in the air makes my eyes water; making me blink. The more I focus, the more the light subsides leaving a vision of a tree that stands alone, gleaming with gold from the sunís rays. Sounds are back from the woodland creatures. Birds are playing in the branches of the golden tree as I look at it thinking of better times when I have felt safe and loved. I am able to breathe a sigh of relief knowing that the tree is the point of my return out of the forest. I donít know why but I know that this tree will help me.
As I approach the golden lighthouse, a figure appears. This blonde-haired boy with the most amazing blue eyes smiles at me. He is the one calling my name. He is telling me to take care leaving the forest. He knows about the snakes and tells me to keep away from them. My soul is being dragged towards him as I stand motionless on the grass. My body wants to go to him but it wonít move. Every effort is needed just to be able to speak to him but I somehow manage to force the words out. Although I have never seen him before, he feels familiar to me, so I ask him if I know him. My body turns to jelly as he tells me that I will meet him soon. He is Jack.
Whether it is a dream or not, I know that I want to stay with him. I have never felt so safe, so free. I have to pull myself together to talk to him, to find out more but it is too late. He has gone. Confidence takes over me as I stroll back to the exit. I feel protected knowing that someone is watching over me. The words that he spoke, telling me that he will meet me soon, keep running through my mind. All my fears are gone but it is short lived as my attackers have not given up. Losing my balance as I stumble over one of the slithering beasts, I am taken by surprise by the ferocity of their attempt to squeeze me to death. Slowly and firmly they spiral around my body, crushing my bones with their weight. Normally I would be screaming, but not today. I canít feel anything. Am I now invincible? Then it suddenly hits me. The unearthly boy, the white light and the golden tree; I am dead. Panic sets in as I try to run through the events that would end my life. My mind is empty but then of course it would be; I am dead! Why the snakes? Why are they trying to kill me if I am already dead? There has to be more to it but I have to stop thinking and start escaping.
Struggling seems futile as they have me trapped. Meeting their stares, I am now changing into one of them. Being at ground level changes my perspective of the forest. Trees that already seemed huge are now like skyscrapers surrounding me as I slide along the tracks. I have joined them but they are still angry with me. Shocked that they have let me go, I now realise that I was not supposed to change. They have been taken by surprise but it is short lived as they are now in full motion. Their bodies twist and curl as they gain momentum. Soon they will be with me again and then what? Can a snake kill another snake? Will they try to eat me? Not knowing what to expect, I feel scared. Then it occurred to me that I might be able to change back to myself. I wasnít sure how I would do that as I have no idea how I ended up like this in the first place. If I am a snake then I might be able to speak to them and ask them what they want from me. I turned to face them as the leader opens his mouth to devour me.
I can hear myself screaming now. This is my only option as I look to see my stepbrothers staring at me with their evil eyes. Blinking again, they are gone. Surrounded by darkness, I am left wondering if I am in the forest or back at home in my bed. Where are my stepbrothers? Did I really see them or was it just a dream? If they were there, then it was a nightmare. Automatically my hands reach out to grab my curtains. Reassurance is what I feel as I open the heavy drapes that reveal that I am back in my bedroom. Tears of happiness well my eyes as my confused emotions take over. My bedroom is my place of solitude. The one place where I can be left alone and feel safe. For years I have taken it for granted but now at fifteen, this is my place of peace.
A creaking sound is coming from the hallway as I sit up hoping that I have locked the door. The moonlight is dim and manoeuvring myself through the obstacles of my desk, chair and bedside cupboard will be difficult in such a confined space. This room had once been a study and the only room that had a lock on the door. Since my mother had remarried and moved here a week ago, I had been the first to pick this room to be my bedroom. I had known right from the start that my stepbrothers werenít to be trusted. They gladly let me have the smallest room in the house, apart from the bathroom, as they were in no way needing a lock on their door. It was pleasing to them to think that they had the best part of the deal by having the larger bedrooms to themselves. I was just happy that they were down the other end of the hall.
Seeing them at the end of my dream made me think that they might have snuck in here. My hand is under my pillow as I feel for my key. Luckily it is still there. If they had broken in then they hadnít thought of looking for it. It must have been a dream. Besides, the three of them in this room, in the darkness, would have been disastrous for them to say the least. They would have knocked something over for sure.
Looking around at my out of place furniture crammed together and wrapping myself up in my luxurious white fluffy blanket, I suddenly felt safe again. It was just a nightmare and I shouldnít think too much into it. My stepbrothers hated me but they wouldnít kill me. Snakes were the only thing that I didnít get. What did the snakes have to do with anything? Had I seen any, while I was out walking in the backyard? I donít recall seeing one but then again, snakes would not be hanging around with my stepbrothers riding their motorbikes all the time. All the forest creatures disappeared when they felt the vibrations trembling through the ground. Iím sure that once they felt a motorbike coming towards them, they would slide out of the way very quickly to a safer area. There had to be something else but I couldnít even remember seeing a snake on the television that would play on my subconscious. It had felt real but I had to let it go.
Tears were overflowing again as I remembered happier times when my father was alive. If only he hadnít taken up drag racing; he would still be around today. My mother wouldnít have married a man that was money hungry with sons that were like him. Going from being an only child to having three stepbrothers was not easy. To think that I had always wanted siblings. I should have never asked for any as I would give anything to have things back to the way they were. Iím too young to leave as I donít have anywhere to go. I donít have a job as Iím still at school and wouldnít be able to earn enough money to survive on anyway. Then I think of my mother and how she has let me down. While she was dating this horrible man I heard her tell him, in her drunken state, that I was to inherit some money when I turned eighteen. When I asked her about the money, she dismissed it. Not answering my question made me wonder if there was any money coming my way. Had she already taken it without telling me? If not, would my stepbrothers kill me for the money? I had to find out about it. I didnít know how I would go about it but I had to try.
My dream keeps playing itself in my mind. The tree with golden leaves was there keeping me safe, showing me the way home. I can still remember the track that gave me the feeling of dread but happiness at the same time. The one that was dense. I had to see it for real in the day time. After school, I would go for a walk or maybe even ask if I can ride a motorbike to see if the track really does exist. If so, then I will follow it to see where my stepbrothers didnít want me to go. It had all been too real for it not to have any consequence. The eyes belonging to the snakes were definitely the eyes of Gavin, William and Richard Macleod.
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