(Sorry. Holidays. Christmastime takes priority)
The forest was dark and thick like it had been before. Damp and cold. I could hear the crows above us, flying in circles. Sometimes they would land on the tree branches, high up where they bent under the crows’ weight.
We headed straight, at least I hoped we were heading straight.
Surprisingly Donny kept quiet. Maybe it was because the crows were so loud, or maybe because the forest itself was, well, dismal. Only grey patches of light slipped through, and at the moment it didn’t looked like there was anything green, or maybe it was just too dark to see.
For a while we wandered on, straight as we could make it. The forest didn’t change much, till I had a feeling that if the forest wasn’t there we would be down the driveway and out of the property.
Donny noticed too, I supposed that was why she spoke up.
“Is this still the forest? I mean, the Double forest?” she asked. We both had paused.
“I think so,” I answered.
The trees were less crowded, but it was still dark because of the overcast. But the ground was green with undershoots and moss, brightened by the dampness.
I stood there for a moment with my hands in my pockets. They were cold, as was the rest of me.
“We’re still heading east,” Donny said from behind me, probably checking her digital compass.
“And you positive we’re going the right way?” I asked. I felt like heading east wasn’t direction enough.
“Well, if we don’t see any tall buildings in the next hour or so, we’re lost,” she answered. She started forward, walking out onto the moss.
I followed with a sigh.
“Ick,” she said ahead of me, holding her sweater around her and stepping carefully. “My socks are wet.”
Stepping out behind her, I found the moss was wetter than the rest of the forest had been, like a sponge, a green sponge with brown soap foaming at my feet.
“Oh, well,” she muttered. “My shoes are already muddy as it is.”
I caught up beside her. There was another patch of dark woods ahead. And it looked like it was going up a slope.
We walked out of the sponge and into the woods again, going uphill now. I started leading the way, but Donny still kept her dubious compass out. And the further we went, the quieter the forest became. Before the crow’s had followed us, always above us, always cawing down at us.
Except now the noise drifted away. I didn’t see any above us when I looked up, and it bothered me when I did.
I didn’t say anything. Donny noticed for herself when I had paused to look up.
“Feels dead, “ she muttered. “Do you – you think the Double Effect, stopped?”
I shook my head, looking around us for any sign of the crow’s.
“I just wonder if we’re too deep in it,” I said. I walked on and Donny followed hurriedly.
Eventually I figured out that we were climbing up a hill. The question was whether it went down the other side or just kept going, or dipped straight into a cliff. It looked like it would be last, after I saw the sharpness of the crest of the hill.
When we were close to the top I started a brisk run, to see what our doom was going to be.
It was a cliff, but not quite as bad as my imagination had run. It wasn’t nearly as large as the countless ones I had run into on the moon.
Mist was seeping below me, in from the opposite forest. The cliff went down to a thick underbrush, the slopes of it lined with crumbling dirt and root sticking out like hairs. All around the forest was as thick as ever. Except ahead there seemed to be another break in the forest.
It seemed it would be easy enough to drop over the edge of the hill. Along as there weren’t any thorns or sharp rocks hiding in the mist below.
Donny ran up.
“Look! There’s another clearing ahead!” She pointed forward.
I dropped on my knees and swung myself over the edge.