Flash Fiction Friday: Forest of Lost Souls

The U.S. National Archives

By The U.S. National Archives

Here we go, another flash fiction piece meant to explore one of the mini challenges I received from a writing tool I had completely forgotten about. Well, it isn’t a writing tool as much as it is a D&D/Gaming tool, but I’ll use it as I see fit, thank you very much!

Also, it is submitted to Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fiction Challenge about Hell. I think this piece fits quite well.

Please excuse the lack of deep edits. Enjoy, and please leave feedback.

Flash Fiction Friday: Forest of Lost Souls

There she is; the one I want. I can’t believe she’s actually coming here. The signs at the inn must have worked.

Of course, I am just a riverman with a plan, but she doesn’t know that, does she? Did she know what I was up to?

I hope not, it would make things worse if he knew I blew it.

I ignore the thought and wave my arms to get her attention. Good, she sees me.

I worry my smile comes off as a bad smirk or a grimace. I am awkward with my children; I don’t need to scare the one person who can save my kids from the monster.

“Hello there,” I say. I bow my head and tilt my oar to her. “I wonder if you saw the sign.”

She hooks her golden hair behind her ear, revealing the slight point that all mixed breeds do. Good, she’ll do just fine. She clears her throat and blushes when she notices me staring at her almost eagerly. “I must return to my home before the sun falls.”

I fall to my knees and weep openly, nearly capsizing my boat. The gods can take my boat after this is done for all I care. “You have to help me get my kids back. If you help me, I’ll tell you the ancient secret of the forest.”

Her emerald eyes grow wide. Naturally she would be interested in the forest secret, she is partly elf. It isn’t her fault the forest runs through her veins.

“You know the secret?” She leans closer and stares at me with a blend of interest and suspicion. “Why should I trust you?”

“Help me get my children back from him. Please, I don’t have much, but the secret is yours if you only assist me.”

She looks over her shoulder toward the village where I left the signs. She would tell them about the
strange human in their midst, looking for someone to help him take his kids back. I need her to stay put.

I don’t want to use the oar on her.

He likes them aware. He needs her.

She chews on her lip and shifts her attention once more before she nods and extends her hand. “Fine, I’ll go with you. I must know this secret. It will make me quite popular.”

My grip relaxes on the oar. I offer my hand and a warm smile. “Thank you ma’am, I really do appreciate
this.”

She takes it and returns my smile, though she is a little shy. “Please tell me about your children.”

I help her take a seat and then sit across from her, regaling her with the tale of my wife and children. We pass the time with pointed questions and theories about the abductor, but in the end I always lead it back to what is the most important. He wants her.

We arrive on the shore and I point at the tree. “There he is, the bastard!”

She turns and looks to what I am pointing at. She shakes her head and cups her hands over her eyes. “What do you mean?”

He’s right there,” I say. I am more adamant now, more than I should be. “Don’t you see him?

“All I see is a tree.”

“That’s because he wants you to see him as a tree.”

She turns to me and I watch the color drip from her face. She must think she’s made a poor choice to
listen to a crazy human like me. I know; I’ve heard other elf and dwarf maidens tell me the same thing. I open my mouth to offer an apology, but a voice cuts through my mind and wracks me with pain.

“Bring her to me.”

I whimper and shake my head, hoping she won’t run. It would ruin the plan. I can’t let her ruin the plan. I grab my ears and pull. “No, I can’t do this.”

“Do you want me to free you from this curse?”

My throat constricts until my voice is but a squeak. “Yes.”

“Then do what must be done.”

Her eyes grow wide again, but this time it isn’t because she is curious. I have seen the look before, the one most maidens give when they know they are caught in a trap. I never wanted this to happen, but he has my children. She tries to move, but I block her with the oar. “You don’t have any children, do you?”

I smile and nod, almost as if hearing the same question repeated by hundreds of women gave me pleasure. “Of course I do, I gave them to him a long time ago.”

She screams and leaps from the boat before I can connect with the oar. I laugh and lunge after her, but tumble into the water, as I usually do. I struggle for a moment, barely keeping my head above water. I watch her run to the tree and hide behind it, holding onto it for dear life as though it would save her from me.

She would find out soon enough that I was not the one she needed to fear.

I pull myself form the water and use my oar to stand. I stare at her but never move, keeping her where she is so he can have his way with her.

“You are mad!” She hides behind the tree to block my view. “I never should have trusted you!”

“I did not lie to you, my dear,” I say. I spit green water on the ground and watch his root tips struggle from the ground to soak it up. “You will soon be the part of the greatest secret these woods hold. The Forest of Lost Souls will always require someone to maintain their beauty.”

I know what was coming, and I brace for it.

The thirsty roots slam into me and suck my life away.

Finally, someone else can tend the deadly forest.

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3 Comments

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3 Responses to Flash Fiction Friday: Forest of Lost Souls

  1. Really enjoyed this! Pretty good for not even editing.

    • Matthew Eaton

      Thank you very much for the kind comment! I am glad you enjoyed this piece, I struggled a bit to frame it right but I am happy it worked out in the end!

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