“Confrontation in the Wood of Fear”
Davey’s bladder felt like bursting. An overfilled canteen leaking at the top.
All around him his fellow scouts snored. Their scout leader the loudest, a large grizzly bear dreaming of an elusive fish in a rushing stream.
It was still dark. The early morning mist laid heavy around the camp, brushing the knees of the mighty sycamores. Against his cheek Davey felt a dampness. Dew. A light shower, nothing more than a settling of condensation. The day’s hike would be cool.
With the early gloom and fog, Davey found himself reluctant to get up and relieve himself. It was cold and wet and who knows what waited for him in the woods.
All around the forest heckled his fear with phantom sounds. Hoots. Rustling. Squawking. The low rumble of… something. So many unidentifiable sounds. With a scout’s encyclopedic knowledge of the woods and the creatures–from the friendly cartoon animals to the bloody ripping predators–Davey didn’t know what could be waiting to munch his ten year old’s dick off when he unzipped his fly.
His back teeth began to float.
A sharp pain pressed against Davey’s groin. Urgent.
Davey scrambled out of his sleeping bag. He couldn’t wait until light. Until the fog thinned
Tip-toeing carefully, Davey halted at the edge of the fog pressing against the border of the camp.
Hands held out in front of him, Davey traversed the fog. The threads seemed like a gossamer web across his fingertips as he parted the thick veil.
A shiver went down his back and the cold of the early morning leaked into his body.
Somewhere ahead of him Davey heard a snap. Like a branch being stepped on.
He glanced over his shoulder. Still in view his fellow scouts slept without alarm.
His urge to pee gripped his groin and twisted like a merciless bully.
Despite the creaking movement of the forest that warned him off, Davey marched on in search of bodily relief.
Several steps ahead the fog closed in. Davey looked back again. His camp was nowhere he could see.
Just be quick, he told himself with little absence of fear. Just pee and be done. Walk straight for the nearest tree. Pee. Turn around and walk straight back. Easy. Easy peasy.
With his plan firmly set, Davey would no doubt run back in to his troop’s camp. Right?
Branches raked at his exposed arms as he passed through a thicket.
A log nearly hidden by soft earth caught his Converses. The stumble had him reach up and make sure his hat remained firm on his head. It did.
Underneath his feet mud and grass made a gross sucking sound.
All around the forest seemed to moan. Which wasn’t helping the cold shivers.
Faceless sentinels wandered in the dark. Some fading as Davey drew further from the camp. Others closer as he proceeded. Davey marked as his destination with a particularly thick bodied shade . When I reach that tree I’ll pee and get outta here.
He rushed toward that tree, its middle extending as wide as two men, when a low hanging branch smacked Davey’ nose. A stinging welt of pain stood out from his left eye, across the bridge of his nose, to his right eye.
Davey slowed, closed his eyes, and rubbed his hurt as he continued forward.
Then the fog began to part behind the upcoming stalwart sentinel to reveal a circle of sycamores that gave way to a clearing lit from above by the dark green of twilight. At the opposite end from were Davey entered the clearing stood a demon crafted of metal. A dark knight.
Instinct urged Davey to turn back. Run. Run straight back to camp. In his head he told himself, Not real. This is not real.
He closed his eyes. Blinked. But the metal demon remained.
The demon was man shaped. A giant Davey had to crane his neck to see. Protected by midnight dark plate and darker still ringmail underneath a blood red cloak. It’s helm was shaped in the visage of a demon with curling horns, a maw of fangs, and deep set eye sockets with red pinpricks of light like flames.
Davey turned to retreat. He took two steps and hit the fog, a fence with the ringing trees as posts. Testing the swirling barrier Davey found his cage firm. He wanted to weep.
Behind him Davey heard the demon knight toss back his cloak.
Davey turned timidly to find the dark figure holding a sword, a couple inches of naked steel bared in challenge.
It breathed in a raspy shrill. Spoke with a voice like the fog itself. “Face me, little warrior.”
Terror tempted Davey to weep. To release his bladder.
The demon knight unsheathed the remainder of the sword and brandished the blade tauntingly at the ten year old scout. “Face me,” it repeated, “and you may leave here.”
Davey retreated again and hit the wall of fog with his back. His body seemed to sink into the damp cotton but moved no further.
Davey screamed. Called for help. His cries echoed as if he was trapped in a closed dome.
A grinding of rust metal. Tilt of the head back. The demon knight chortled wickedly. “Your fear consumes you. Fear me but face me. Pass me.”
Something inside Davey resolved. Perhaps it was the situation. Finite. Inescapable.
Still leaning against the wall of fog, Davey tightened his hands into fists. Then he pushed himself away from the cushy wall.
His left hand brought with it a stream of mist. A river of condensation that solidified into a blade made from the mist itself. Blade white as cloud. Hilt studded with gems shaped as teardrops.
Satisfaction settled upon the demon knight, his flame eyes dancing with mirth.
His empty hand threw back the other side of his bloody cloak and he lowered himself into a middle stance.
Davey didn’t wait. The boy crossed the space between himself and his fear.
Their blades rang like a clear bell. The forest seemed to tremble. Fall into a reverent silence like churchgoers at Mass. Davey was the raucous altar boy unsuitable for redemption.
The lost scout slashed and hacked at the demon knight. His sword flowed like an unblocked stream of water. Fell like a rainstorm.
But with every stroke the demon in black armor countered. Blocking. Turning away. Shifting around the clearing like the armor’s weight meant nothing. The matching black sword struck out hard, a smith’s hammer striking a nail. Each time Davey felt his stick-thin arms quiver with shock of the strikes. More than once he felt his own weapon threaten to slip from his sweating fingers.
Davey ducked under one of the demon knight’s slices. A broad cut meant to rend Davey in half at the chest or lob off his head.
He turned his red hat around, backwards, and gritted his teeth. His sword he brought to bare, vertically like all his video game swordsman characters. In those games the final boss was always about attrition. Whittling down the boss’ health bar one attack at a time.
Davey sliced at the demon knight’s legs, nicking the plating.
The big black sword came down like thunder where Davey had been, he’d scooted around to the side, missing the blade by a hair. His blade of fog slipped across the demon’s knight’s gauntlet.
The demon knight swung his sword around and Davey dodged, following the line ahead of the attack.
The lost scout cut up, running his blade’s edge across the knight’s armpit, in the gap between the plates.
Ichor more black tar than human blood leaked from Davey’s strike.
The demon knight brought a concerned hand up under his arm.
With the knight’s guard down, Davey spun, dragged his sword of fog up , under the knight’s chin, beneath its horned helm, and through its thick neck. There was no resistance.
An empty bucket, the helm soared across the clearing. In the deep eye sockets the embers faded dark. The armor fell apart beside Davey, as if held up by nothing and upon hitting the ground the metal dissolved into a plume of mist, the sword hundreds of dew dapples that soaked the lush green floor that was trampled by the recent duel.
Davey surveyed his hands. They were empty. No more fog sword.
Around him the fog retreated to reveal a thicket of sycamores that stood tall in applause.
Davey breathed out a deep sigh of relief and found himself laughing.
What had I been afraid of?
He started to walk back to his troop’s camp. Hoping he was headed in the correct direction.
Suddenly he remembered…
Didn’t I come out here to pee?