Forest of Past Voices

Elliot was reading when he heard a knock at his door. Despite being drawn in to the biography of a knight who fought in the war with the gnomes, he put a leather bookmark on page 93, stood up, and answered the door. He exchanged small talk with the postman and took the singular letter delivered to him. For a moment, he was excited. He rarely got letters because he lived so far away from his family and it was expensive to send mail. The man quickly opened the letter and read the short, upsetting letter.

Dearest Elliot,

I regret to inform you that your aunt Rosy is gravely ill. The physician has informed me that she has about one week to live. Please get here as soon as possible.

Much love,

           Uncle Mark

Elliot couldn’t believe what he was reading. Aunt Rosy had practically raised him; she was the only mother he ever knew. He imagined her, sick in bed, waiting to see her nephew one last time. He quickly did mental math. Letters are delivered once a week and if she had a week to live, he had no idea how long it had been. “For all I know, she could be dead by now.” Elliot made the decision to head out that day, he didn’t have a minute to waste.

He wanted to take the boat across the lake to the city his aunt lived in, but it only ran on Wednesdays and it just so happened to be a Thursday. She’d be dead before he even left his town if he waited for the boat. Elliot only had one choice: take a three day walk through the forest of past voices. He shuddered at the idea, the forest was known for being haunted and had taken more lives than it had spared. Despite his fear, he quickly grabbed his coat, two loaves of bread, a jar of jam, a few bits of cheese, a pack of matches, a compass, a small bundle of gold coins, and was out the door.

Elliot entered the dense forest with only mild terror and great reluctance. He walked ten minutes, jumping at every small noise. When nothing came out and ate him alive, he started to calm down, continuously telling himself, “it’s going to be okay. Think of Aunt Rosy; everything is going to be okay.” He walked for a few hours, stopping periodically to rest or eat. After a while, he noticed the sun was going down and he didn’t have long before sunset. “I need to find somewhere to rest for the night.”