Some stories are true, cocooned by the earth, kept safe by the trees. Only those who truly listen to the wind will learn the stories others refuse to hear. Only when you listen will you understand the horrors of humanity.


The inferno enveloped my body, escaping my lungs devouring my entire being. I had to keep running. The trees ridiculed me as they stood together. Stationary. Watching as I sprinted through the woods, tracing my steps with their roots, threatening to bring me down, working with him, against me. I had to keep running.

The foundations of my childhood buckled under my feet. The only rule in the village, do not enter the forest, and yet here I was running, isolated in my cage of spruce. I had to get away from him before he caught me, sometimes you have no choice but to break the rules to protect yourself.


I was raised alongside my family’s farmyard, in a town trapped between the ocean and the woods, unable to escape the looming prison of mountains that circled us. I had never been a happy child, I had spent my life craving exploration, losing myself in the stories of women who had escaped, who had fallen in love. I had my freedom, I roamed as I liked, apart from the forest. Something, my grandparents had always warned, had taken my parents from me, and its spirit resided in the forest. Illness, I professed routinely, did not reside anywhere, it was unfortunate but natural. Suffocated, I found myself constantly surrounded by family, the only other residents of this quiet village. I had no friends; all my loyalties sang in my blood, my connection to my home.

The morning was like every other, until it wasn't. A phaeton rattled up the stoned farm path stopping outside of the house that bordered my own. The first man to exit the vehicle, an older gentleman, was dressed as I had expected aristocrats to dress in the classic tales that I found myself reading again and again, until my copies fell apart. He had a clear, bright face, shades of white and black fell from his head. He greeted my neighbour, a distant cousin of mine, with kisses; long forgotten acquaintances I assumed as I watched from the attic window, confused how anyone from our village could know anybody from the outside. His shadow took human form as his companion found his way into the sunlight. Not an inch of skin was touched by the golden rays, a void of warmth. I felt my entire body freeze at the sight of him. He neither regarded my cousin nor did she regard him, he stood on the pathway devoid of emotion, of light, a figure of isolation, still. Until he raised his eyes to find mine. His eyes were a piercing blue emulating their owner in their empty stillness. A wound traced his left cheek, down to his jaw, five jagged white lines. I found myself trapped under his gaze, as the feelings of security and joy were leached from the forefront of my mind replaced with frost. I forced my body away behind a curtain, out of his line of sight.

Once warmth had returned to my consciousness, I gathered the courage to return to the window, but they had all entered the home next to mine. Where the man stood, his shadow stayed as if he had captured the light from under his touch.

As the village was so small and inhabited by a singular family, news of the arrivals spread quickly, rumours flying about the man and his mysterious companion. People spoke of the scar that covered the left half of his face, scratch marks of white that traced from his eye to the corner of his mouth, forcing it into a permanent grimace. Whispers that his eye had been torn from his face in some sort of animal attack followed me as I walked to the solace of my donkeys. I had not seen the man since he had trapped me under his gaze, and I did not intend on doing so either. Yet, there he stood at the border of the forest; his back turned but less than a mile from my bubble of peace.

I attempted to step backwards, watching him as I went, praying that I could leave undiscovered. As I stepped however, he turned around; from this distance his body looked distorted, as though his head was moving at a different rate from his body. A monstrosity faced me. The scar rippled down his face, pale and yet I could almost see the blood that pumped beneath the five claws... no nail marks. He stepped towards me, and I stepped back in a malicious waltz, avoiding him as he attempted to approach me. I could not place it at the time, but something, an instinct told me this creature wanted to harm me.

“Allura,” his voice sliced through the air.

“You have the wrong person, I’m sorry,” I called back, my voice faltering under the violence of his own. “I know nobody by such a name.”

“When our eyes caught through the window, and I saw the cascade of copper sunlight that surrounded you, I knew your soul had been returned to me once more.” His steps became broader and faster, each step he took I had to take three backwards.

My hand gravitated to my red hair subconsciously, the shade had always made me feel alienated from my family, all brunettes, but now it felt as though it was working against me, making me a target for these unwanted advances. “My name is Ela, you have the wrong person, I’m terribly sorry, my grandparents are waiting for me I must leave.” I pleaded, and yet could not turn my back to him, fearful that once I took my eyes from his, I would find him immediately at my back.

“Allura, you need not lie to me.” He snapped, poisonous saliva darting in my direction, he was approaching faster than I could retreat. “Our time together was cut short by your misbehaviour, do not make me punish you again.”

“Sir,” I choked around the panic smothering me, “I do not know you, please let me go.”

At this point, he was almost upon me, malice shining in his face in all but his dead eyes.

“Allura.” He barked, as my skirt’s hem caught under my foot.

Falling to the ground, my heart leapt from my chest, straight into the hands of this creature. I wasn’t even sure of his name, I realised in the moment I reached out instinctively, foolishly handing over my stability to this man. As his hand wrapped around mine, I felt the freedom I had grasped onto so desperately, bleed from my fingertips.

As I hit the ground his grimace became a snare, “see Allura, you are destined to grasp on to me.” I ripped my hand from his grasp, and he shook his head at me. As I pushed myself up to my feet, he shook his head.

“You have dirtied yourself Allura and for that you must be punished.”


There was no one else but us and yet a voice, a woman’s voice, whispered at me. Was it my mind? Could it be the forest talking to me? I didn’t know but I had no choice, so I listened. I ran. I ran straight into the forest I had, my entire life, been taught to fear.


The inferno enveloped my body, escaping my lungs devouring my entire being. I had to keep running. The trees ridiculed me as they stood together. Stationary. Watching as I sprinted through the woods, tracing my steps with their roots, threatening to bring me down, working with him, against me. I had to keep running.

I could hear the thud of his feet behind me… or was that the sound of my feet following me, bouncing from tree to tree, tricking me.

“Take a peek,” the whisper returned. “Just a second, it won’t cost you anything.”

But it cost me everything.

As I turned my head, desperately trying to gauge my advantage, to see if he had even followed me, my foot caught on a treacherous root. Serpentine, it slithered out around my ankle, pulling to the ground, and deeper into the dirt. Earth flooded my orifices as I clawed desperately around me, choking. Darker and darker, the world faded from view as my eyes, deprived of oxygen, failed me.


I awoke, mystified. My back to the dirt, the sky clouded over. I wondered for a moment how long I had been out. If I was still on the ground clearly, he hadn’t been following me. Momentarily I began to question myself, falling through the dirt, did I think I was in a fairy tale?

“Stupid, stupid girl.” I reprimanded myself.

Sitting up, I cradled my head in my hands, rubbing at the crown, where I had hit it. Hadn’t I fallen forward? I used my free hand to dust off the dirt that caked my skirts, I knew grandmother would be livid, having to wash this out. She would be even angrier when she found out where I had fallen.

As I began to rise back up, I noticed a shack that I hadn’t seen whilst running, straight in front of me. I had been running, not paying attention, but still isn’t it bizarre to not notice such a thing?

I walked towards it and, almost simultaneously, a woman opened the door. She kept her head down as she gestured for me to approach her.

“Hello?” I called in her direction, timid of the forest woman.

Silence followed.

“Hello!” I called again.

She did not respond. As I walked towards her, I noticed a darkness around her eyes. Wait. That darkness was her eyes, or at least the absence of them. Pity absorbed me.

“I’m terribly sorry, but I have fallen, do you have any water I can use to clean myself down?”

Again silence.

“Can you hear me?”

This time the silence was interrupted, the whispering voice returned.

“There is no need for that.”

Baffled, I attempted to ignore it.

“I have been so lonely for so long, I am sorry. I was desperate for company. It was not me that chose you, it was him.”

“What? What is going on? Who are you?” I looked around trying to find the source, but she was right in front of me.

“I am Allura. I am the woman of this forest. He took me first, and now he has you. He will take you apart until he finds another.”

“Get out of my head!” I exclaimed. “Speak to me properly.”

At this Allura opened her mouth, where I expected to see a tongue, there was nothing but a stub of decaying muscle. I gasped, stepping backwards.

“I must get home.” I forced out, conscious as always to not make a scene, not to startle her but equally not to offend her.

“There is no home,” the whisper replied. “They may look for you forever, but they will never find whatever parts of you he leaves behind. You belong to the forest now, just like the rest of us.”

As the whisper spoke, a chorus engulfed my brain. Trees became women, the ground opened to allow other women out. All were missing parts of their anatomy, some barely enough to be recognised as human. All with cascading red hair and dark eyes.


My family did search for me, they searched for months. My grandmother searched every day and prayed every night until grief took her away. The trees whisper to me, they tell me how my grandfather mourned me, and grew disdainful at the world for taking us both away. As time progressed parts of me began to disappear, as my true body, tucked away, was torn apart by the man, my legs first, a punishment for running, and then the hand that touched him was also stolen from me.

I lay in pieces cradled by the earth. Wherever he goes we disappear, fuelling the regrowth as darkness pervades over us.