Authors: Richard Paul Evans
Tags: #Science Fiction, #General, #Fiction
THE DOORWAY TO THE UNIVERSE
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
KELOWNA, BRITISH COLUMBIA.
Two young male bucks darted through the trees, the white plumes of their breath the only sign of their silent passing. The two men hunting them had no sense of the change that was happening around them, but the deer felt it. Trees seemed to shift and whisper as invisible electricity danced over their leaves. The setting sun sliced the forest into pieces creating shafts of light and shadow that the deer used to their advantage. When they thought they had lost the scent of the hunters, the two deer slowed down. A massive fallen log blocked their way and the deer decided to jump over it rather than turn back and go around. As the second buck’s back hoofs hit the soft soil on the other side a shot rang out. The older deer never even saw it coming; its back hooves had barely touched the fallen leaves when the bullet tore through its heart. It dropped to the forest floor, its legs kicking out as it went through its final convulsions. In a flash the second deer was off and running but another bullet bore through the air, hitting it in the neck. For a moment its legs buckled and it dropped but the deer recovered quickly. It ran off, clipping the nearest tree with its small antlers in anger, leaving a trail of blood behind it.
Phil Morrison ran up to the deer’s corpse, breathing heavily, his rifle bouncing off his shoulder. The extra pounds he carried were making it hard for him, but he managed to stay ahead of Danny, who was dragging his feet reluctantly behind him.
“You got it Danny! Hurry up!” Phil said, waving to his companion.
As Danny reached the
dead deer he suddenly felt remorse.
That was too easy.” Danny said, disgusted with himself.
I told ya it would be! These woods are flush with animals, man.” Phil said enthusiastically.
was too dense to pick up on Danny’s moral dilemma, so he grabbed his rifle with both hands and followed the second deer’s trail.
No I meant it was way too easy to kill.”
Phil ignored him.
“We’ve got to keep on the other one. I know I wounded him and if we lose him, we’ll never find him again in the dark.”
Phil why don’t we let him go? This is not cool. I’ll buy the beer, let’s just call it a day, okay?”
I think I’ve had enough beer, Danny Boy.”
Phil smiled and grabbed Danny by the arm, pulling him along.
“I wounded it Danny. It’s out there somewhere dying. It would be inhumane to leave it to suffer now. You might not be a hunter yourself, but we have a code you know. I shot it; I have to take responsibility for it. Now come on.”
Danny nodded and pulled away from Phil, spreading out to cover more area. The deer was in great pain, it was attacking the trees and kicking up dirt as
it ran, even Phil with his amateur hunting skills could follow it. Phil liked to shoot, but he rarely ever hit anything. Danny kept up with Phil, keeping him in site for as long as he could but as night fell the forest suddenly seemed to grow thicker. One moment there was light peeking over the horizon and the next it blinked out like someone turned off a switch and darkness dropped over the forest like a cloak.
Danny quickly found himself lost in the dark. Turning in circles, he could not make sense of any direction and so he lunged forward, breaking through the trees and tumbling down the side of a steep hill. Sliding fast down the incline Danny tries to grab onto the roots and bushes but he crashed into them instead, rolling over top of them painfully. The ground dropped away as he fell over the ledge, dropping twenty feet down into a cluster of trees. He managed to let out a scream before he hit the ground and passed out.
’s scream Phil stopped in his tracks.
Danny? Where are you, man? DANNY?”
Phil headed back
in the direction he’d come but the forest looked different now. Something seemed to move through the shadows, darting away whenever he looked at it. Phil was not a spiritual man but when a breeze crept up the back of his neck he could swear it was the forest breathing a sigh of relief.
Shit Danny COME ON. Helen is going to KILL ME! DANNY!?”
Phil turned in circles, shouting his friend
’s name. As quickly as it had come, the presence left and a cold chill wrapped itself around him.
voice seemed to call out to Danny, coming not from the ears but from the back of his head to the front of his brain. Danny opened his eyes to the faces of strange white aliens peering down at him.
YEEE-AH. EARTH MAN. IT
He tried to scream but his
chest was restrained and his voice would not come. Their large inhuman eyes blinked and they looked from one another and back and him as if he were a strange curiosity. Pulling with all his strength he broke the straps that restrained him and opened his eyes, shattering the fantastic image before him and revealing the real world. He was on his back in a pile of dried branches, surrounded by old, shrivelled trees. The aliens were gone but their presence seemed to linger, he could still feel something out there in the darkened woods. Even though he suspected what he was feeling was not real, just an overactive imagination, he could not shake the idea that he was being watched.
Phil? Phil?” Danny shouted.
Danny got to his feet and stretched his sore and bru
ised back. He checked himself for any blood or injuries. Although he was covered in dirt and leaves nothing was broken, everything was still intact. Brushing the dirt off his plaid jacket, he began walking, avoiding bushes and trees as much as possible. It made no difference which direction he headed; he had no sense at all of where he was. There were no stars overhead to guide him as most of the sky that was visible was overcast with dark clouds. He had no way of knowing north from south so he simply walked, pushing through the thick underbrush when he could not go around it, more cautious than the first time. The last thing he wanted was to fall again. The forest was so silent and still that every step he took seemed far too loud, every breaking branch and crunching leaves made him jump out of his skin.
A red light flashed ahead of him and
Danny froze. The light was so bright it was impossible to tell if it was close or farther out. When it flashed it blinded him and it was impossible to see anything in the surrounding dark. It was small and intense, like a high powered laser pointer. When it did not move, Danny assumed it was some sort of beacon.
Phil is that you?” Danny asked.
As he stood in place he timed the light; it was blinking at four second in
tervals. The pattern made no sense; it was not recognizable to him at all. Looking back over his shoulder, Danny realized there was nowhere else to go but forward. Reluctantly he took a step closer but the light felt invasive and it was beginning to hurt his head. He took a second step anyway, determined to overcome his fear.
ALLAH JESUS MUHAMMAD, GOD YAHWEH SATAN. SHIVA, RESPECTED PERCEPTOR.
“Who is that? Who’s out there?” Danny shouted, holding his rifle tight in his hands.
There was no answer, just the silence of the trees and the repeat
ing pulse of the light.
Alright, relax. It’s probably just a car alarm light blinking, no reason for me to piss my pants.”
Strangely the light itself was red but the light it gave off with
each pulse was white. It was like a flash of a camera, coming from a red point of light that did not seem to get any closer nor move farther away.
There was a noise like thunder as
a massive moose suddenly came out of nowhere. Danny had no time to escape out of the way and it tossed him aside like a child with its massive antlers. Up in the air, feet over face he flew until landing on the ground, the air knocked from his lungs. The moose circled him and he moved out of the way of its huge stomping legs. Danny rolled over, desperately searching for his rifle as the moose continued its fearful retreat. It turned away from Danny and ran; whatever was out there was scary enough to chase the massive male bull out of his own territory. The animal was frightened of something out there, something Danny could not see. Danny dusted himself off a second time and looked around. When the moose had flipped him he’d landed hard on his ankle, he gritted his teeth as soon as he put weight on it. With the ankle swelling up and his heart pounding in his chest he headed toward the light again. Even though the fear in him was growing ever larger he could not bring himself to run away. Beat, beat, beat, and flash, the same repetitive pattern, over and over to the point where it began hypnotic. It was pulling him in, even though all his senses told him to run the opposite way.
As he came to a clearing he saw the injured deer lying on the ground. It was breathing heavy, a wet wheezing sound that tore at Danny’s heart. Walking closer to it, he could feel its life ebbing away. The life force within it called to him, pushing away the creeping uneasiness he was feeling. He’d shot the deer, the bullet-hole was his doing; the creature was dying because of his actions.
I’m so sorry. What a stupid thing to do,” he said, kneeling down next to the bleeding deer.
craned its head, trying to look at him as its antlers dug into the soft dirt. He stroked its neck to comfort it but it just stared at him with large wide eyes. All the fear he felt washed away, replaced with a deep heartbreaking guilt. The creature could only stare at him with wet eyes, unable to communicate its frustration as its life drained away. Danny felt pulled in by it, into its darkness. The deer did not seem to want to leave the world alone, something connected them both and pulled Danny in. Down and down, everything seemed to get darker around him; he was falling into the deer somehow. He fought with all his might to break away. Finally he fell back, or perhaps the deer had released him. Danny scrambled backwards in the dirt to get away from the dead creature. The young deer closed its eyes and the forest became quiet again.