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Writing Resources from Fifteen Minutes of Fiction

The following is a piece of writing submitted by Eric on March 23, 2009


There have always been rumors about the forest near Kurtain. For a while, they were nothing but petty tales, things which grandfathers used to scare their grand-children around a campfire late at night, but since the bushfire happened, the views on the rumors have changed. Mystery had been brewing ere the fire, but now they were nothing short of ablaze. The Kurtain Forest is, and never has been, a place for the feeble or the weak. Vast spaces of open land of the dullest of the greens had the fodder of soft, damp leaves lie over it as if it were a carpet blanketing over the ground. Every few feet a skimpy tree, of width no more than a few hand spans and height which would make one’s neck crane to see, would stake its ground. A large canopy feigned dampness over any one area, allowing only glimpses of sunlight to pass through. If there ever was any sunlight.

The Kurtain Forest was a dark place indeed, and that may have partly been my reason for visiting. You see, I had always been one to fancy things which were not of the mundane – more often than not, my wife would chide me for wasting ‘money which could be better spent’ on strange, mystical things – decorations, books, pictures and the like. It was said that the word ‘timidity’ was not in my vocabulary: I was not unlikely that I would be away, planning a trip to a country where a U.F.O or ghost had supposedly been seen. Just about all of the times, the trip was for nothing – false rumors, folk lore and such... my trip to The Kurtain Forest was no different from the rest. Or was it?

From the moment I stepped into the town adjacent the forest, I knew that something was ...different. Maybe it was in the way the people always ignored each other, purposely going out of their stride to disregard, or possibly it was the way the streets were always silent – the cars didn’t even seem to make a sound as they crawled along the dirt roads of Kurtain. It didn’t matter – the more strange, the better – I was oblivious to these ... warning signals. It was only on my second day of visiting Kurtain, did I hear about the corpses.
I was walking down the street, with a sluggish, languid breeze tugging at my clothes, when I overheard two people talking – perhaps the only two people on the street. I only caught patches of their ‘conversation’ but it was enough. I had made up my mind.

‘Bushfire...Forest....Whole families burnt....corpses dragged in ... Go in at night ... see their ghosts...’
After a bit of searching around, I finally caught one of the rumors. Of course...they would probably prove to be false... but what if this time, I’d actually have gone on a trip which was worthwhile? With this thought in mind, at midnight, I grabbed some cloves and put them in a cordate box and set off in my old Holden ute.

The forest trip was cold, with each individual droplet of condensation gripping severely onto my front window. It was cold outside, but not much better inside, as the heating was making the old ute more humid every passing second. If I opened my window, however, I would only be greeted with a howling screech of the wind and a ghastly, gripping cold.

It was dark, with my headlights shining like timid scouts searching enemy’s territory. The darkness, it seemed to be one which crept up towards you, dissolving all the radiance from around it. It seemed to draw energy from the light, using it to further darken the area around it. Faint outlines of trees – pillars – could be seen, but nothing more....only darkness pervaded at every head turn. Indeed, it was a dark place indeed. Nothing could be heard over the hum of the engine...even though it was usually a quiet whisper, I could notice only the growl attacking my ears.

I was now deep, deep within the forest, with no perceivable method of exit available to me...but that didn’t matter – I’d get out tomorrow. A wire clicked, a machine beeped, and I knew it was a sacred hour – midnight. Traveling through what had been a bushfire, a forest and a death scene, among other things, I took a look at my rear mirror. My mouth agape, a shimmering, pallid, ashen person looked up at me with eyes which were the window to masses of swirling, neverending darkness... the fires of hate, brewing among what was nothing but blackness, a blackness which draws one in...a blackness which pulls at everything....all the energy, radiance, brilliance and light seemed to be sucked out of me when I looked.. Oh, but I was greedy for more. In the instant it took for me to turn my head around, the deceased was gone, and when I looked back at my front window, I saw a tree. And I was heading straight into it.

It looked like another bushfire had started.

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