Well, that was uncomfortable for me! I’m very careful with my language and don’t usually say things you couldn’t let your children repeat. That being said, this title spoke the truth of the story. Our prompt this week was “I hope you enjoy this week’s prompt – something buried must play an important role in the story.” I had seen a story about the pods used to bury people and grow a tree and I thought that there could be some unforeseen consequences to such a burial. Thus, the Forest of the Damned was born.
The sensors sounded. I had almost fallen asleep. I got up out of the chair and headed out the door. “Forest keeper” they called me. Really I was a people protector. I saw him heading for the forest. “Hold on there, young feller!” I called out.
He musta been startled to know someone else was around. He stopped and came back to me. “Looking for my dogs, mister. They got out and I thought they might have decided to enjoy all the trees there.” He pointed.
I shook my head. A newcomer. “No dogs passed this way, son. If they got in there, you best forget ‘em.”
He looked at me strangely. “I don’t forget my dogs.” He headed towards the forest.
I grabbed him. “Sonny, if your dogs went in, they’re dead. If you go in, you’ll be dead. Trust me.”
“Whatcha mean?” he asked. He didn’t try to hide his defiance.
“That’s the Forest of the Damned,” I said. “No one who goes in there survives.”
He looked at me and laughed. “Superstitious old man!” He headed towards the forest. The click stopped him. He turned around and stared at the gun I leveled at his stomach.
“You can survive a gutshot, but it’s plenty painful,” I said matter of factly. “That’s why they pay me to stay here.”
His eyes widened. “You’re serious old man! Why?”
“Just trying to keep your sorry butt alive.”
“I mean what’s wrong with the forest?”
Everyone knew the story, so I hadn’t had a chance to tell it in a while. “Back in 2015 they began burying people in pods with trees growing from them. It seemed like a good idea.” I sighed. “Then in 2025 we had a shootout over there,” I pointed at the forest, “drug cartels got into it.”
“And…?” the kid asked.
“It was war. Three hundred people died that day. The put ‘em in the pods and buried them.” I looked him in the eye with an intensity meant to frighten him. “The trees grew and soon the wails began to grow. Windy nights, you could hear the voices screaming. Birds disappeared in the forest. After a couple of years, we realized that the forest was haunted. All the damned souls of the cartel members were protecting their turf and fighting each other when they could.”
He shook his head. “Do you expect me to believe that old wives’ tale? Move it buster! I’m going for my dogs.” He started to walk past me.
“Check the lic…” I started to say when a couple of dogs barked from the road. “Them your dogs, kid?”
He turned around and a smile lit up his face. “Yes, sir. Now that I found ‘em, I’ll be heading back home.” He turned and started walking the way he had come, the dogs bounding at his heels.
I went back to my shack. The kid reminded me of my son and I teared up a bit. I didn’t want anyone else to go through what I had after my son and wife had disappeared there.
Hopefully you’ll take the time to vote Saturday or Sunday! There are always some interesting stories!