(Read the full story here: Group Novel 2017-2018)
And so I ran. I couldn’t take it anymore. I ran from the room where my mother’s blood dripped to the floor, past the quiet solitude of the thin hallway, the one that often separated us, and stopped at the front door. Ragged breaths beating against my chest, heart pounding in my skull. I spotted the axe, leaning against the thick, inner cabin walls like it was part of the woodwork, though the sharp, red edge gave it away. It hadn’t moved since my mother first ran out the house with it – as immobile as the crazy in her eyes.
“Fuck it,” I muttered, and picked it up in one, sweeping motion. This ends now.
I held the back of the axe with one sweaty palm, took a deep breath, and pushed open the front door.
The leaves had settled now. Any indication of their terrible acts gone. Erased, like the strength my mother once had. Deceased, like my father. Forgotten, like my own sanity…
I trudged into the woods with a determination I didn’t feel I had earned. I had no idea what waited for me. For all I knew, there were faery creatures lurking in the wood, controlling the leaves as they were meant to control the seasons, my childish fantasies unfortunately realized. It was cold, the winter air causing my breath to fog up in front of me, but I barely felt it. Adrenaline kept me warm. The trees had already unleashed their weapons – dead leaves, brown and gold and red, layered the ground in dry heaps. I wondered if it made them angry to crunch them under my boots. That’s when I realized. Dead leaves. Dead…
I stopped. The sky had darkened now, the sun sinking somewhere behind the shield of grey clouds, and I wondered if that meant nature was soon about to be completely against me. The leaves on the path before me rustled and shook, stirring under an unknown breeze. I braced myself, knowing what had to be coming.
“Come on…Give it to me next. I’m right here…”
They swirled together, up and up and up, into a spiral tornado of expired autumn colors. I stared, my mouth falling open and hand going slack, as they twisted faster and faster, always staying perfectly inside their wind tunnel. Then, as if in slow motion, the wind stopped altogether. The leaves had assembled themselves into a shape, one I oddly recognized, and as it rose upward and looked right at me, I couldn’t help but scream.
Without thinking, I swung the axe out in front of me.