"Careful, LeeAndra! Don't go too far!" my mother calls out to me. I just respond with a giggle and barely a glance back. Living thirty minutes from Albany, New York had its advantages, one of them being plenty of woods to explore. Of course, to a five-year-old, the same stretch of woods could be explored millions of times and still seem exciting.
Usually I went in the woods to the left or the right of our house so my mother could see me. But that day I felt like a big girl, so I went behind our house to the woods there. There was something about an unexplored patch of woods that sent a chill up your spine.
I played in this eerie, unfamiliar wood until the sunshine no longer shone through the trees. I knew it was time to get back before my mom and dad started to worry.
But which way was back?
I started to panic. I ran, left and right, trying to find a way out. Then, I heard a noise, one that still sends chills up my spine to this very day. A feral snarl.
Then, I saw the figure. It was a man. As he stepped into the moonlight, I could see he looked ragged. His eyes were pitch black, and he looked as if he wanted to eat me.
"Hello, child," he said with the strangest voice I'd ever heard. "What are you doing out in the woods all by yourself? Don't you know there are horrible creatures out here?" Then he gave the most horrible laugh you could ever imagine. And lunged straight at me.
I shrieked and covered my face, waiting for him to kill me.
As I waited, I heard what sounded like two heavy objects colliding. When I opened my eyes, there was another man with blonde hair and slightly tanned skin fighting him off. The ragged man looked to be no match for this new man. The ragged one lost when the blonde-haired man pinned him to the ground.
"Don't you know better than to take advantage of little girls lost in the woods?" the blonde one said with, I noticed in relief, a completely normal-sounding voice. When the ragged man struggled, the blonde one put both feet on his wrists, causing the ragged one to cry out in pain. The blonde one pulled out a stick that glowed metallic in the moonlight and extended it to full size. Then slammed it, with great force, into the center of the ragged man's chest.
What happened next surprised me. The ragged man did not die screaming and bloody. He simply turned to dust before he even had the chance to think of crying out. His remains blew away in the wind.
The blonde one out the extendable rod into his coat pocket, and turned to me. "Are you okay?"
I got up and started to run to the left. The man locked my path. "You're going the wrong way, you know." He sunk down to my level and wiped away the tears I didn't even know I cried. "I'm not going to hurt you. I'm not bad, like the other man. I just want to get you home. Your parents are probably worried." He extended a hand.
This man looked to be about eighteen, and looked like someone I could trust. Though I don't know why, I took the stranger's hand.