The Anonymous Path
Once upon a time, there was a place that was not beyond the usual, a standard town with residences, businesses, and schools. It was before the internet and smartphones were invented. There were portions of the town that had never been discovered, just as there were in every other town, and there was one trail in specific that had never been travelled. This was due to rumours that people who attempted to travel that way never came back.
The town didn’t seem to mind because there was nothing of significance there; the path was shaded by tree branches, so there was no light to direct them; and yet nothing lay far beyond the track, so they never attempted to cross it for any purpose. Even in the daytime, the tall trees hindered the sun, and the availability of such vegetation attracted a diverse range of insects, bugs, and birds. Nobody in town could tell which species each of them truly belongs to. Even though the town was full of schools, stores, and residences, this path through the woods always remained out as if it had never shifted. It was as if nothing had changed since humanity first discovered this village.
Folks have always avoided that route for dread of not having any idea what awaits them. As years progressed, the trees grew taller, yet the route remained clear, even when no one went through it. It was odd since the vegetation on both edges continued to grow, but that never blocked the pathway.
It was a lovely morning when the young boy who had always enjoyed the road on his way to school walked by. He had liked the trail for a long time, expecting that it would be an exciting experience to discover new sights. He was curious to discover where the trail leads, but he was also wary of the claims that no one would ever come back. He intended to go down the route for one basic reason: nobody has gone down it before, therefore no one appears to know where it ends or what it has to deliver. He consistently keeps his eye on the trail as he walks by, prepared to venture down the undiscovered path and see what lies ahead. The school year came to an end, and summer break began. He seemed to have a lot of free time on his palms, and he was eager to discover what the pathway has to present, so he entered.
It was ten o’clock in the morning, but because he was surrounded by trees, not a single beacon of sunlight penetrated, rendering it as gloomy as nightfall. He was aware of this, so he brought a torch with him. He illuminated the torch and then saw the route prompted directly ahead. The tales were accurate, the pathway has never been coated with grass, so he continued forwards, glancing to both ends to see what was hiding in the vegetation. Till now, he’s only been able to identify a few bugs that were somewhat larger than typical bugs but otherwise unremarkable.
In the same way, he spotted some birds he had never encountered beforehand. He sensed something move behind him as he moved further, and because he couldn’t tell what it was owing to the inky blackness everywhere around him, he started flashing the torch to see what all the fuss was about. Because he couldn’t see a thing, he decided to turn back and began walking, but his foot tripped on a stone, throwing him off control, so he grasped onto the nearest tree to restore his stability. He was capable of maintaining his equilibrium with the support of the tree, but it was a reptile, not a tree.
Fearful of the reptile’s hissing, he tossed it away and began running. Shortly after, he was certain he had dispatched the reptile, but terror hit when he lost track of which way he had begun sprinting. He was terrified; if he returned, he might be able to get out there and return home, but there was also the possibility that his residence was in a reverse way. He struggled to remember the path he had taken by flashing the illumination from his torch. But it was pointless because his home could be in any way. After all, it was surrounded by woods on all edges. Dread gripped him, but he pushed through randomly, expecting to find a path that would bring him someplace.
He cooled down as his fright decreased and realized that, even so, it was a muddy pathway, and his tracks would still have been visible. He kept sprinting in the same direction he had come because there was only a single pair of footsteps, indicating he had not run in the other direction. He intended to return to the house, but as he walked, something dropped on his scalp, like if an insect had fallen upon that. He bashed the insect with his foot in panic and sensed something chilly liquid slide down his face as he tried to punch it out with his light. He tried to drive the insect off with the torch, so it may have been blood, but it wasn’t blood, it was rainwater.
When he glanced it up, he noticed that it had begun to rain. As the rain began to fall, he sought shelter beneath one of the massive trees. He was swinging his torch on the surface to make sure no one was coming close to him. He found cover, but then it occurred to him that the downpour had wiped away his footsteps on the surface; yet, he was grateful that he had at least discovered the direction he had come from so that he might return home safely after the storm. After a little while, the downpour stopped and he began walking back to his residence. He kept moving ahead, but it seemed as if there was no end in sight. He made progress, but it seemed a lifetime, and he was still nowhere close to the very end, so he began to run and run. He gradually came to a halt to gather his breaths, and when he glanced down, he noticed a squashed insect. He was frightened since it resembled quite identical to the one he had smashed, but he was still desperate to find his escape route. To be sure he wasn’t going in circles, he inscribed the tree with a rock. He managed to move and began to walk, anxious and fearful in his head; he began to think about the stories, which increased his terror.
He could see something as if there was some light at the end as he moved further, and he was delighted, so he began to run towards the illumination. He’d made it, he’d finally gotten out. He was overjoyed, and he dashed towards school as if he were going to be late. He didn’t pause to consider why he was doing it; perhaps he wanted to please his classmates and gloat about getting out alive. As the school day progressed, he stayed in his seat, putting off the clarification until further, as the class was ready to begin. He could not even contain himself as he gazed at the watch, eager for the recess to begin so he could tell his story. He was fast asleep, gazing at the time when it flashed to him.
Was not he late for school if he walked indoors at ten o’clock in the morning?
Should he be dressed casually rather than in his school uniform?
What was the purpose of the school? Wasn’t it the summer holidays that did it?
He awoke that way; there was no classroom and he was seeking refuge from the storm. He had destroyed the insect, yet it was all there. He hasn’t been seen since. He tried to stand up and go but couldn’t; when he gazed down, he discovered his legs were submerged in the swamps. He was being devoured by the earth; he attempted clawing through it, but his hands were consumed by it; he was sinking further and further into until only his head was viewable. When he attempted to turn around, he discovered that he had merged with the tree, that his legs had become the tree’s roots, and all that was rendered was his face, which had become the massive tree face, and that he couldn’t tell if he had skin across his eyelids or if it was the tree trunk that had become his face.
He was left with only his eyes, but an insect, similar to the ones he had squashed before, was blocking his vision. He spent hours looking for the crushed bug on the soil surface with his left eye, but it was nowhere to be spotted. Perhaps it’s the same issue; after all, with only two eyes, and there was not much he might do. He’s stuck, and he’ll be stuck for a long time. The beetle blinded him as it went from his right to his left eye. Everything turned gloomy instantly, as gloomy as midnight without the moonlight or celestial objects. It was pitch black and eerily quiet, and he could not sense his thoughts any longer.
Originally published at https://vocal.media.