The Wood

Posted: December 22, 2013 in Fantasy, Mystery
Tags: , , , ,
Deep Forest Image courtesy of Dan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Deep Forest
Image courtesy of Dan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Ben stood way back in the garden and peeked over the fence. There it was: No more than 200 metres away with trees seemingly towering high toward the sky was the edge of the wood. THE wood! Ben was new to the village, yet he had heard the kids talking about this wood on the rides to and from school. “Never leave the bike-park without company. And when you are on the road to the other village, do not leave the road, don’t ever stop!”, they used to say. Ben couldn’t believe that an official road between two villages was not tarred all through the wood.

He still felt lost at Osternohe, right in the middle of nowhere. He grew up in Frankfurt/Main, was used to living in the city. So far, he knew forests only from TV. Life in the big city had been quite different. Life was good – until his parents were killed in a car accident. The other driver seemed to have vanished into thin air.

His uncle Martin and his wife Diana took him in. He liked them, he could not yet get used to living in this picturesque environment. Ben’s parents had been successful stock brokers, owning a 240 square metre flat directly in the city. Ben had one of the bathrooms to himself, his own TV set, a fridge for his preferred beverages. A cleaning woman was there, six days a week, a caterer delivered food and beverages on a daily basis.

Living with Diana and Martin was quite different. Diana worked at a travel agency, Martin was accountant in a company in Nuremberg. They had built their house themselves, were still paying for it. There was just one real bathroom Ben had now to share with them. His TV set did not fit in any room – he had to sit in the living room and could only watch what Diana and/or Martin chose. He still had his laptop, was not allowed to use it endlessly as there was no flat-rate. There was no cleaning woman, either. Ben also had to take part in keeping the house clean. As a highlight of the week had seen a cute girl at the edge of the wood.

Morning Light Image courtesy of dan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Morning Light
Image courtesy of Dan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It was still early. Diana and Martin had left the house shortly after six, their usual Saturday ‘shopping’ routine. Ben peeked again towards the wood. The sun was coming out, it was still cool and misty, though. He went inside, grabbed his jacket and the key. He locked the front door from the inside and sneaked out back. He left the garden behind and ran to the wood. The trees seemed enormous. Some shy sun rays seeped through the heavy clouds and cast the area around him in an eerie glow. Ben slowly turned around. A movement in his peripheral vision made him gasp. He had the fleeting impression of a girl. He took a step in that direction. Nothing. He turned around again, glimpsed something white, then – nothing.

Ben closed his eyes, silently counting from 10 to 0. He took a deep breath and – saw a girl vanishing between some trees. He hurried over there, and saw her rounding a corner in the distance. When he reached the strangely formed tree, the girl was gone from sight. He was disappointed. Circling the tree he saw something glittering below a broken twig on the ground. There was a silver bracelet, rather muddy, with an engraved name on it. Ben wiped the tag with his thumb. The bracelet must have been there a while, yet he could decipher the name as Judith. He shrugged and let the bracelet slide in his jacket pocket. He got back up and looked around. He was alone. His rumbling stomach reminded him of having skipped breakfast. He went back to the house.

Atmosphere of Hase Image courtesy of Dan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Atmosphere of Hase
Image courtesy of Dan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Ben couldn’t sleep that night. He silently dressed and slipped out back. He had taken his torch from his backpack as it might come in handy in the wood. The moon was shining brightly, yet it wouldn’t really reach the paths. A wise decision as the torchlight lessened the misty moonlight’s eeriness. Ben tried to retrace this morning’s steps. As he looked up, he saw a girl – THE girl – moving in the distance. He carefully approached a giant tree trunk and peeked around the corner. Nobody there. He waved the torch a last time and detected a shimmer to the right of a stone. Another bracelet! This one did not seem that old. He could see the name Denise engraved on it. He slid the bracelet in his pocket and turned to go.

Back at the house – Ben couldn’t call it ‘home’, yet – he helped himself to a coke from the fridge, and sneaked to his room. Sunday morning’s wake up call came far too early for his taste. Sunday mornings in this house meant a light breakfast and going to mass. After church, Diana and Martin met some friends and decided to got to the restaurant for lunch. Ben excused himself and hurried to the house to get changed. Once again, he left the house at the back.

Ben carefully glanced around. No one in sight. He ran to the wood. He slowed down when he was sure to be out of view. The sun was shining brightly, for a change. He found the way easily. There was the strangely shaped tree. Some minutes later, he found the stone all right. He looked around, feeling watched. He passed the stone, not quite sure which direction to take, when he saw the girl – he was sure it was the same girl as before – moving about 100 metres ahead. “Wait!” Despite his exclamation, the person vanished. He broke into a run, came to a clearing. Again he saw movement on the other side of the clearing. As he got there – he was alone. Ben leaned against a tree, slightly out of breath. He turned his head to the right and saw a bracelet. This one was new, shiny, artfully engraved with the name Dana. He pocketed the bracelet and took out his cell phone. No connection. As usual. Ben sprinted through the wood, back to the house. This time, he did not care if anybody saw him or not.

He called his classmate Sebastian Mueller whose dad was a police officer of sorts. Thankfully, Sebastian was home, as well as his father. Ben told Mr. Mueller about finding three bracelets. Mr. Mueller was thunderstruck. The names on the bracelets were rather familiar to the Franconian police stations. They were three of eleven girls who had vanished within the last twenty years. Half an hour later, Mr. Mueller arrived with three investigators. Diana and Martin came back and were quite astonished and seemingly preoccupied about this visit. Mr. Mueller calmed them by explaining that this was an ongoing investigation and that Ben had found an important clue.

Image courtesy of Marin at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Marin at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The investigators and Ben set off to the wood. Ben showed them, where he had found the bracelets. A forensic investigator scanned the ground. The investigators discussed their findings and ordered a team to the site. One of the investigators scanned Ben’s prints, as Ben had touched the evidence. Mr. Mueller accompanied him home and asked him to stay away from the sites. Ben promised to keep away. He wasn’t keen on being too close to some corpses. And he hoped that the girl would stay away as well.

The forensic team detected the elven girls’ corpses. They had been buried in the wood shortly after they had been taken. Most important of all, the investigators found prints and further evidence which identified the killer. He had lived only 62 kilometres away, and one day detected how easily he could bury his victims in this wood. His last victim was Dana Bauer. She had been abducted four weeks earlier. Ben couldn’t believe his eyes when he saw her photograph. She was the cute girl who had led him to the bracelets.

 

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