|Glataður í Skóginum
Author: James Hiwatari PM
Three brothers are lost in the forest. One is terribly afraid of animals, one thinks he is too good to be bossed around and the other just wants to help everyone. How are they getting out of this mess? And what is their cousin doing with that knife?Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Family/Hurt/Comfort - Words: 3,140 - Published: 01-01-10 - Status: Complete - id: 2758919
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N: Here is one "lost in the forest" tale inspired by Deviantart's Humon's pics, more specifically, "SatW in the Big Screen".
I hope you enjoy it. Happy New Year everyone!
Glataður í Skóginum
'I think we're lost.'
'Shut up, Daniel.'
'No "buts". We will be home soon.'
Daniel sighed. He felt an urge to point out that he had been hearing that constantly in the last hour, but decided against it in the end. His brother was already angry, there was no need to make the situation worse.
'Why don't we stop for a while? We've been walking around for…' Norman tried to ask, following his younger brother's lead.
'I don't want to hear it! You know what? I've had enough of you two! Stop telling me what to do! I'm your older brother, I decide when we have to stop!'
Svartur exploded and walked away, and Norman sighed. He and Daniel exchanged worried glances, letting themselves lag behind their irritated brother. They had been in the forest for at least half a day. At first it was suppose to be just a regular boys camping holiday, but somehow the brothers managed to get lost from their cousin and uncle, and were walking aimlessly ever since.
Lost in the woods. There was no way they could find their way back when they were surrounded by a sea of twisted trees in many shapes and sizes spread absolutely everywhere. The ground was covered in amber leaves, which prevented the formation of footprints in the muddy ground. There was little room to walk, and stray branches were tearing their t-shirts and slashing their faces and bare-arms. The trees were so many and so close together that it was impossible to see what was left behind and what lay ahead. Even the sky was hidden by the treetops. So, not knowing what to do, the three lost brothers decided to walk until they found help. So far they had had very little success.
'How long do we have until sunset?' asked Daniel to his nicest brother. He and Norman were still a few paces behind the oldest one.
'A few hours, I think. Hopefully Svartur will realise we need to find shelter before that.'
'I'm not so sure…'
Suddenly a big brown bird came down from the sky and flew just a few inches over Daniel's head. The boy screamed and clung to Norman's arm, trembling badly. Norman's reaction was instantaneous: he embraced his little brother, using his tall and strong body as a perfect shield for him.
'It's ok, Daniel, it's ok. That thing is gone now, you can relax.'
'Really?' asked the child in a weak voice. Once he had been completely covered by his brother and could no long see the forest his trembling stopped, but he was still holding Norman's shirt tightly. His breathe was slowing calming down as well.
'Yes, it's gone. I swear.'
Daniel waited a few moments, and then slowly crept out of his brother's embrace. Once he was able to confirm that there was nothing else in the forest apart from the two of them he smiled and finally let his body relax. Norman smiled as well, and then looked up to call Svartur.
But his brother was not there anymore.
Svartur did not realise he was on his own. Still angry with his brothers' outrageous attempt at giving him orders he kept looking ahead, marching over the dead leaves and mindlessly stepping over the undergrowth as he went. He paid no attention to the spiders on the trees or the snakes on the ground, ignored the curious squirrels that followed his movements, and remained oblivious to the multitude of birds that kept flying over him, making an incredible noise. He was going to find his family no matter what and get out of this labyrinth of woods before nightfall.
He was forced to stop, however, when the exuberant forest gave way to a huge, dark lake, spread further than Svartur could see. The water surface was covered in big green leaves, completely still; the whole place was silent. The sun had already descended below the trees, so it was getting dark even with no trees to cover the sky. The young man carefully approached the shore, not sure of what he would find there.
Then something pushed him and he fell in the lake.
'ARGH! WHAT IS THIS?'
'It's ok, Daniel, it's just a squirrel.'
Not for the first time since they had been separated from their oldest brother Norman and Daniel came accidentally too close to the native fauna, forcing the youngest into yet another panic attack. This time Daniel hid behind his brother, getting as far away as possible from the little creature that had appeared in front of them. Norman was half-way into his ritual of calming down his brother when the squirrel started squeaking. The noise called his attention, not only because it was very high-pitched and somewhat irritating, but because suddenly the squeaks were turned into words and sentences he could actually understand.
'Your brother is in trouble!' said the little creature over and over again. Norman looked at Daniel, who looked just as terrified as he was before, and then back to the squirrel. Quite obviously something was wrong, and for it to be fixed he had to ignore his brother for the time been and turn his attention to the talking animal. Norman knelt down to get closer to the squirrel and Daniel followed suit, not keen on losing the protection offered by his brother's huge body. He closed his eyes and turned his head to face the other way.
'Where is he?' asked the older boy, trying to sound natural even though he was talking to a squirrel. Daniel coiled behind him, holding tightly on the hem of his brother's shirt. Norman could not see, but his brother's eyes were now wide open, full of fear and surprise.
'He is on the lake! Someone is after him! It's trouble! We know!' the squirrel squeaked again. Norman would have been impressed by the fact that the little thing could understand human speech, but the information about his brother reached his brain first, so he took the squirrel in his hands and stood up.
'And where is that lake? Can you take us there?'
'Yes! Follow us!'
The squirrel jumped from Norman's hand to a tree branch close to them. Immediately a dozen of grey squirrels emerged from the same tree and started moving forward. Norman was about to follow them when Daniel's hand on his shirt forced him to turn back.
'No. Don't go. Stay here with me.'
'Please. I can't… I can't…'
Daniel had stood up as well and was looking at the ground. His hands were still firmly clinging to Norman's shirt. 'I can't move' was what he was trying to say. Norman knew this, and so turned back to embrace his brother once again and wait until he had calmed down enough. Maybe it was too much to ask Daniel to follow the animals after all, but if what the squirrel was saying was true, then Svartur needed their help, and they could not give it if they stayed there.
Svartur got up with some difficulty. The water was up to his waist where he had fallen, even though it not so far from the shore. His glasses were probably permanently lost, but his blurry vision was still able to identify a young man standing were he had been not so long ago. He knew this young man, they had come to this forest together and were separated by accident a few hours earlier. His cousin was just a bit shorter than him, and less than a year younger. His very short brown hair was covered by a green woollen hat and he had a goatee that made him look much older than the sixteen year-old he really was.
'Hey, Filip! It's good to see you! Where had you been?'
Filip did no answer. Instead, he raised his right hand, revealing an old kitchen knife. Svartur stepped back upon seen it, not really sure of what his cousin had in mind.
'Wow, careful there, Filip. You don't want to harm anyone with that, do you?'
Again, Filip did not answer. He stepped in the lake instead, walking towards Svartur with both hands raised above the water. In his left hand there was a half-empty bottle of vodka, and he was surrounded by an aggressive aura that forced his cousin to retreat even more, until he could barely feel the ground below.
'Perkele' was the only thing Filip said before charging against his cousin.
'Are you feeling better?'
At least a few minutes had passed, but Daniel was yet to do anything. The fear had paralysed him, and because there were so many animals so close to him not even his brother's protection was enough to help. Norman sighed. Part of him wanted to squirrels to go away so that his brother could recover, but he also knew that those squirrels were his only hope to find Svartur, so he said nothing to the little creatures.
'Tell them to stop.' whispered Daniel. It was so sudden and his voice was so weak that Norman almost did not hear it. 'Please.'
'Tell who?' Norman asked, trying to make sense of his brother's words.
'Them!' Daniel almost screamed. His body begun to shake again as he pointed towards the squirrels in the trees. Even looking at them seemed to be demanding a great effort for the boy. Norman intuitively tightened his embrace upon seen the new wave of distress overcoming his brother, but was still confused about what was going on.
'What are they doing?'
At first Daniel did not answer. The shaking stopped and he looked at the ground. His breathe was becoming faster, sharp intakes of air that soon developed into something similar to dry sobs. Norman tried to calm him down by caressing his hair and gently rocking his body back and forward. It was only after a few minutes of this that Daniel finally relaxed enough to be able to speak:
'They talk to me, all the time. I asked them to stop, but they never do. They call me names and… and…'
'Shh, it's ok, it's ok.' Norman was at first surprised by the answer, but then all began to make sense. Daniel's zoophobia had been diagnosed when he was still very young, and attempts to cure it had all failed. Every time they tried to talk to him about it, he would refuse and sometimes panic, just as he did when he was facing any sort of animal. A few hours ago, upon hearing his brother's confession Norman would probably think he was schizophrenic, but now that for some reason he could also hear the squirrels he was sure his brother was telling the truth. Because Daniel could hear animals, he was afraid of them. It made sense, in a way, more than the conflicting explanations given for most phobias. But still, understanding his brother did not mean Norman was any closer to helping him, at least not anymore than he had done already by making sure he was always there to stop Daniel's crisis.
'We will stop if you come with us.'
Both brothers looked up when one of the squirrels talked to them. The furry thing climbed Norman's shoulders and accommodated itself on the teen's head. The other squirrels all began to talk at once then, making a deafening noise. Daniel's body trembled again in Norman's arms, making the older boy wonder whether his little brother was always hearing things like this. It was really scary to an extent.
'Can't you all speak in turn?' suggested Norman, trying to make his voice loud enough to be heard amidst the cacophony of squeaks. Apparently he succeeded, for they all fell quiet almost immediately. 'That's better.'
'We need to hurry! Your brother is in trouble!' exclaimed the squirrel on top of Norman's head. He climbed down again and tried to get closer to Daniel, but decided to simply settle on his shoulder instead. 'We just want to help, for real! Daniel, we are sorry for all that happened, but now your brother needs you and you have to do something!'
Daniel felt dozens of eyes turning in his direction, waiting for his answer. It was not as easy as they thought. It was not like he could bring himself to face the squirrels suddenly as if nothing had happened. He felt his hearth beating fast, spreading an uncomfortable heat all through his body. Of course he wanted to help Svartur, he was his oldest brother and, although a nerd freak nearing OCD, he was still very good to him most of the times. Yet, it was not just a matter of will. His body was rooted to the ground, it would not move even if he tried. As long as he could hear, see and even smell the squirrels, his body would have a life of its own and make decisions by itself.
'I… I can't…' he wanted to explain everything to Norman, make at least him understand what this was like, but the words were stuck in his throat and he could not get them out.
'Well, then, if you won't help on your good will, we'll have to make you help!' said the squirrel. Again all the little creatures began talking at once and making too much noise. When Daniel once again clung to Norman's shirt, the squirrel ordered the older brother to pick up the small one and run with them. Norman hesitated for a second, then murmured an "I'm sorry" to Daniel and lifted him up from the ground, putting him on his shoulder as he ran after the squirrels to find his other brother.
Svartur had to dive to avoid being hit by the knife. He tried to return to the shore, but Filip grabbed him from behind. The bottle of vodka was thrown away as the younger boy tried to hit the other with his knife, branding it as if it was a sword.
'Filip, stop! You don't know what you're doing! You're drunk, for God's sake!'
Filip did not speak. There was a dangerous gleam in his eyes as he attacked and attacked, missing Svartur's body for less than an inch every time. When the knife finally managed to rip through Svartur's shirt Filip grinned widely. From then on the very expensive blue polo shirt was mercilessly ripped to shreds as Svartur tried to defend himself from his cousin's increasingly accurate strikes.
Dive, resurface, try to run away. Svartur was running out of ideas for what to do. His cousin was getting more and more aggressive as the fight went on, and Filip would not answer his questions. Fighting in the water was tiring, soon Svartur would run out of energy.
'Please, Filip, stop this nonsense! I don't know what you…' Svartur was forced to dive when the knife came dangerously close to his neck. From under water he had the impression he heard Filip laughing, but when he resurfaced the young man was silent again.
'Perkele', and Filip charged again.
Daniel and Norman arrived at the lake just in time to see Filip's last attack. Shocked to see that the one threatening Svartur was their own cousin, Norman's knees gave way and let go of Daniel, who was quick to act once the squirrels were out of sight. Filip had his back turned to the two newcomers, and in his haste to attack did not realise that Svartur was looking at his brothers and mouthing the word "help". The little boy ran to the margin of the lake and found the vodka bottle. An idea crossed his mind and grinning with mischief he grabbed it and threw it right on Filip's head. The impact knocked him unconscious, and the young man fell on Svartur's arm.
'Daniel!' bellowed Svartur, not sure if he should be happy that his life was saved or worried that his cousin was unconscious. He slowly began to move towards the shore trying to carry Filip's body with him.
'What is going on?' asked Norman, hurrying to help his brother. He got in the water and took Filip's body away, carrying him on his shoulders just like he had done with Daniel before.
'I don't know. I got here and Filip came from nowhere to fight me.' Svartur tried to recover bits of his beloved shirt, but in the end decided to leave it behind, there was nothing he could do to fix it anyway. 'How did you guys find me?'
'Oh, you wouldn't believe it.'
'We brought them here!' said the dozens of squirrels still surrounding the area. Luckily, by then Svartur was already stepping in firm land, for as soon as he heard all the little animals talking to him he felt all the blood ran away from his head and everything became dark. Lifting his eyebrows in amusement and looking down at the dishevelled body of the always so neat Svartur Kalmarmann, Norman decided to answer to his brother's challenge even if he would probably not be able to hear it:
'You won't believe it, Svart, but Daniel can hear animals. That's why he's zoophobic. Today I heard them too, and they told me you were in trouble. Isn't that amazing?'
Daniel laughed quietly despite the circumstances. They were still lost in the forest surrounded by talking animals and now also in the company of an unconscious potential psychopath, but for some reason it did not make him feel worried. He had the feeling things would get better soon.
And indeed, not ten minutes had passed when their uncle, Filip's father, finally found them in the lake. Daniel and Norman did not say anything about the fight in the water, telling the man that Svartur and Filip had been playing a new game and had been exhausted by it. Norman and the uncle carried the two back to the family's camping sight and they soon gathered their things and left the forest for good.
No one noticed when a little grey squirrel sneaked his way into Daniel's bag.