• Tag

    The forest was relatively close to civilization, but now, while the city slept, it was as wild and untouched as the deepest forests of long ago. This midnight forest, this world of grey and black, where colors are strange and unfamiliar, where silver patterns danced on the forest floor, revealing treacherous roots and rises otherwise hidden by an unbroken black veil, a forest where sound turns to silence rather than being amplified and the air is thick with the smell of damp wood and soil. It was an ancient forest, one that had seen the times where the words wild and magic shared a meaning and could still, at times like these, reproduce that physical bond between two already like-minded words. My friends and I gaze at the scene. To our eyes, each shadow hid a mystery that spelled adventure, each promising a treasure of its own. The fearlessness of youth and the daring of age both urging us to leave the familiar path and explore, but still we waited for a reason.
    “Not it!” we yell, our voices echoing after one another. We scatter, leaving the one who echoed last behind to count to fifty and watch our freedom spitefully.
    I became a shadow moving among shadows, darting from tree to tree. Here I found my adventure. A bunch of red wildflowers, the blood of their petals dried and darkened by the veil of night, a white stone that glowed in the moonlight, a blue feather, bright against its dark background, all unexpected flashes of color in a place that tried so hard to appear colorless.
    But I did not stop to examine these. I did not dare. Some part of me I was never aware of had awakened deep inside, so deep that it seemed archaic. It taught me to fear the hidden predator, taught me to stop only where there is safety or when it was absolutely necessary. This new part of me fascinated me more than any beauty that could be discovered in this forest, but it was strangely weak and scared.
    I found that I had become that word. I was suddenly aware of the silence and the danger it carried. The glaring moon caught every shadowy movement, turning my surroundings into a chaotic, black whirl. The enormity of the dark overwhelmed me, causing me to do the unthinkable. I stopped. The world was still, the silence intact, if only for a moment. Then I heard it: a hunter’s stealth, not matching the silence that surrounded it, but smooth and graceful enough to blend in to it. Animal panic filled my being and I bolted. The hunter took off behind me. I ran blind, crashing through the brush around the trees, all notion of secrecy gone as the silence of the midnight forest is shattered. The pursuit lasted only a short while, but in that while we, predator and prey, became part of a never ending chase. An eternity stretched out before us, both of fear and of dark passion, as if time melted away leaving one moment at the pinnacle of the hunt.
    But time, not to be forgotten, reminded us of our mortality. I tripped over the root of an ancient tree. Sprawled over the ground, I awaited the death that could only come of this lost race. A shadow leaned over me, hesitating only a moment before swooping down and…
    “Tag, you’re it.”
    The words, though whispered, echoed through the silent forest. The shadow left to join the other shadows, without the barest hint of the predator left in its stride, just another potential prey left to its own adventure. I rose slowly, recovering from the shock of an unfulfilled promise. Instead of a prey’s death I am reborn the predator. Predator. The power of the word filled me. I stood completely still, listening to the rustle of my prey. I began to follow, waiting for the next chase to begin.