Georgia slowed to a pause as she approached the sturdy wooden bridge with its riveted iron railings, her brow furrowed, peering into the gloom of the forest ahead and listening hard for the slightest sound. She heard the river gurgling and rushing below, heard the swish of the trees as their branches swayed gently in the breeze.
Arms by her sides, fists clenched, she moved tentatively forward, one step at a time, soundless in her hemp-cloth slippers, wooden short-bow tapping on her back with every movement. She reached the point at which the bridge turned a corner, sloping down to the path which led into the Old Forest – a place in which all manner of beasts and spirits dwelt.
She felt her heart beat faster as she scanned the shadows where the trees met the path ahead; she froze, suddenly uncertain if she should continue or return…no. There was no return; she had to reach her grandmother’s cottage, tell her what had happened to the village – to her parents and her little brother…
Taking a deep breath and exhaling hard, she marched into the eldritch woods.
Under the thick canopy it was twilight as she ran over leaves which crunched and rustled around her, twigs snapping underfoot, branches and leaves everywhere whispering as if the entire forest was watching her.
She heard a twig snap where she had not stepped on one. She turned her head, saw shadows moving behind her, heard that awful sound she’d heard back in the village; that spine-chilling shriek…
…ran as fast as her little legs could carry her, breathing in ragged gasps as she darted between the trees.
Just as she felt the earth tremor behind her, she was blinded by incandescence, covered her eyes with her forearm, relieved as she heard her grandmother shout.