Once again Jeff B has set a challenge to write a story about a given theme. I personally do not use the photos that have been provided but if you'd like to see them them, please go to to his new blog at Portrait Of Words and check out the rules. You might like to have a go. It is good fun!
Kirsty and Donna ordered a lager and a packet of peanuts each and settled into a quiet corner of the pub.
Several years had gone by since they last met up, though they exchanged email occasionally, but now they had decided to see each other, it was as though they'd never been apart.
As children, they had been inseparable and had remained best friends in the same class for years until eventually further education split them up and they found themselves in different parts of the country. New interests and friends, pressures from their studies, as well as boyfriends, helped them to drift apart.
After filling in each other's account of the years apart and they'd caught up with all the news, the question then cropped up, "What had been happening in the woods all those years ago?"
Both Donna and Kirsty confessed that they had often thought about the occurrence and it turned out that both of them felt guilty about leaving the child.
"We were only children ourselves," Donna remarked. "Twelve wasn't it?"
"Yes, we were twelve," Kirsty confirmed. "It was a family holiday and we used to play in those woods all day long. Remember that derelict cottage? We spent ages playing in the ruins. It was probably quite dangerous."
After ordering more lager, the friends exchanged more memories and concerns about that holiday twelve years before.
The girls had named that place The Whispering Wood on account of the leaves rustling in a whispering kind of manner.
One day, while they were playing near the ruined cottage, Kirsty had been aware of a child watching them. At first she thought she had imagined it and tossed her red curls out of her eyes and squinted into the shaft of light that shone strongly through the trees. Both girls saw the boy, who was younger than they were, with the tangled mop of black hair and the raggedy clothes.
He looked as though he was crying and he beckoned to them to follow. Donna and Kirsty quickly ran towards him but no matter how fast they went, the boy always seemed to be ahead of them. He had kept beckoning for them to follow. There were now no paths in this part of the woods and the tree trunks were becoming thicker and everything was darker. Both girls realized that they were lost and were suddenly very scared.
"I don't know why," Donna remembered, "But everything was really eerie in that part of the wood and it felt positively evil there."
"Do you remember how we looked for the boy?" Kirsty reflected."He just seemed to disappear into thin air."
"It was the crying that got to me," Donna remembered, "And I wish we hadn't run off like that. What do you think happened to him?"
When the boy had vanished from sight and the wailing had started, both girls had panicked and fled, not knowing which direction to take. In their haste to get away, they almost crashed into an old, rusted vehicle that was practically covered in shrubs and undergrowth. The girls both scratched their arms pulling away some of the branches to see what it was. Their efforts had revealed a rusty wrecked camper van and all the seats inside were charred and burnt. It was a complete burnt out wreck that had obviously been someone's home or maybe had been used for travelling. By the look of it, it had been hidden in this state for years.
As there had been no further sight or sound of the boy, the girls left the vehicle and ran on, still feeling unsettled and uneasy. They had eventually seen a path that led back to the cottage but they had not stopped there, but had run straight back to the house were they were staying.
Neither girl had mentioned anything about this incident to anyone, not even to their parents. They both felt they had done wrong by leaving the crying child and knew they shouldn't have gone so far into the thicker wooded area. They hadn't ever gone back to the cottage and soon the holiday had ended and they had returned home.
Donna came up with an idea. "Let's go back to Whispering Wood. We could go up next weekend. I'll drive you if you like."
Kirsty thought about it for a while and agreed, "Yeah........ why not?"
True to her word, Donna picked up Kirsty and travelled the thirty or so miles to Whispering Wood that had provided them with such pleasure and then such fear during their childhood holiday.
Things looked slightly different, but they recognized the clearing where the derelict cottage had been. They were surprised that it had been replaced by a large modern bungalow. It was very grand, so they walked over to take a look. No one was around, so they peeped through windows and found the whole place to be empty.
"How amazing that such a grand building has no one living in it." Both women agreed.
They decided to go into the deeper part of the wood to look for the burnt out caravanette, but they had no idea how to get there.
While they were walking they noticed an old man leaning on a stick, watching them with interest. He nodded when they got closer and although she thought he looked a bit eccentric, Donna decided that he looked approachable, so she asked him if he knew anything about the new building where the derelict cottage used to be.
"A lot of money was wasted building that," He retorted, "No one ever wants to stay long and its empty more often than its not. You see, these woods are haunted by a child, who screams and wails and keeps appearing and disappearing. Its unnerving, you see and people can't stand it for long."
The man went on to explain that there had been a murder in the woods, years ago. A couple of travellers had been trapped in a camper van and there was a child in there with his grandfather. They were burnt to death. The child had been heard screaming on a number of occasions and he had also been seen by several people, a scruffy boy with black tangled hair.
Kirsty and Donna were horrified by what they'd learned and they spent a while talking to the man. Eventually, the two women thanked him for the information and turned to go.
Donna immediately turned back to wave goodbye, only to find there was nobody there. It was as though the old man had vanished into thin air, just as the boy had done, twelve years before.
It was only then that they realized that the man who had talked to them, must have been the ghost of the murdered grandfather, just as the boy had been a ghost.
They felt history was repeating its self as they turned and ran away from the woods.