A lonely crow sat cringed on top of a tall desolate tree. His horrible croaks eloped with the eerie psithurism of the trees in the wind to birth a grotesque hybrid of sound. The soft jelly of an eye, the remnant of his last meal slowly trickled down his beak, wetting the feathers coating his throat. His bloodshot eyes surreptitiously followed the struggling young girl down below as she made her way through the thick haze that dimmed her path. He canvassed her body; blood lusty desire salivating in his mouth as he eyed her pale skin and her plump figure. A craving for fresh meat burned inside him as he sat, mesmerized by his agastopia of her heaving breasts and her swollen belly. He clenched his claws, constricting them around the cold hard bark of the lifeless dry willow tree and debated whether he should fly down below to sink them in her skin. His insatiable appetite for wet blood begged him for a taste of the young girl’s flesh. His talons twitched in anticipation, his breathing quickened in prospect and his wings jerked in ardor. But he decided to stay put in the end. Curbing his thirst, restraining his hunger; he simply decided to spy on her from afar. The forest provided him with enough warm blood already.
The struggling young girl’s name was Caroline Smith. But everyone called her Carla. She lived with her husband in a small rufous shaded house in Carmel, Indiana. It was a nice place – plenty of green, a couple of decent landmarks and nice weather too. The sky above was usually a beaming blanket of baby blue and wisps of white. Their house, a modest structure stood next to a small waterhole in the ground which for some reason everyone seemed to think was a lake. On Sundays the neighbor’s kids would usually go for a swim in it. And her husband Charlie, unable to stop himself would follow them in too. He would return back just before the sun set in the west and the sky above blushed to a majestic shade of breathtaking orange-red. He would come back, dripping wet with the widest ear to ear smile on his face, tracking mud and water all over her clean door mat to reveal a humongous rainbow trout for her eyes to gorge at. She would go kiss him then, planting her soft statuesque lips on his hard robust ones while he ran his fingers through her chocolaty dark brown hair. On bad days he would return home dismal and empty handed. But she would go give him a kiss anyway.
They had a good life. Theirs was what people called a happy life – a content life. Their bills were always paid. Their neighbors were always nice. They had a promising future ahead. They were going to get a new car next month too; a new Camry – green to match her eyes. Their old Volkswagen was too run down to serve them for much longer.
And she was pregnant.
She was eight months pregnant which meant she had no business trudging along this cold barren wasteland. She could feel the chills running down her spine as she staggered through the blinding puffs of white. Her whole body quivered in fear as she looked around her, absorbing all the minute grisly details of the macabre place surrounding her.
About two things the girl was absolutely sure. One; she had stepped into a dream – A nightmare to be exact. She’d gone asleep in her bed, on those soft pink and yellow bed sheets that she adored so much. Her husband would be lying beside her with his face buried in her hair. And his hands – his hands would be lying motionless on her hips as he snoozed away peacefully – not knowing that she’d been dragged into this hell hole.
And two; she had never felt this hopelessly, despairingly and dejectedly alone. Apart from the unborn child she carried in her womb and the bloodthirsty crow that watched her every move, there was no sign of life anywhere.
“It’s only a dream,” she consoled herself. Her voice was tremulous with the brunt of her dread. She looked around her, eyeing the forest, observing her inanimate surroundings when recognition struck her. She knew this place. She’d been here before. These ghastly winds, the appalling ambience, she had a dream about it once. The forest – this forest was an infernal place; full of evil and despair, where the very air you breathe works its way to poison your system. Her blood curdled in her veins by just the very thought of it.
She wrapped herself in her arms. The cold was making her shiver. The cream white night gown hanging loosely on her shoulders was too permeable to fight off against these winds. The icy gusts bit through her skin, freezing her bones to the marrow. All around her she saw trees dressed in shadows, cowering in towards her, their leafless branches, their naked arms swaying in the coming and going breeze. There was darkness too, too much darkness. The faint glimmer of moonlight and the pitiful shimmer of starlight were all that illuminated the girl’s surroundings. And they too were sometimes filtered out by the tall barren branches that sprung out high above her head.