by Lakesha Ely
There is a camping ground outside of a small town that houses an ancient being. The people who live there believes in what lies underneath the soil; a horrible creature that was burnt to ashes long ago, but was never killed. The citizens, who wished for no one to encounter the entity, placed signs around the boarders of the park to warn away visitors, and hung bibles baring the crosses of Christ from the entrance gate. Nobody from the village ever went near the place since everyone who has, never returned. The only thing that exited the forest was the trembling howl of the creature the town’s people came to call; ‘Ashes.’
From time to time there were those who entered the woods, completely ignore all of the heeding signs of danger on every corner. Usually these were travelers who have never heard of the tale. And every time this happens, none of them ever came out again.
On a cool autumn night, a group of friends decide to take a camping trip to the alleged haunted region of the woods. Not being from the area, they are unfamiliar with the truth within the forest. In their minds, they are just having fun under the stars before the start of a school week. One of them, a girl, powers up a flashlight and shines it around, looking for the matches someone had dropped. All of them searched, complaining about how chilly it was and swore in irritation as the night grew colder.
Lights covered the darkness for a while before the matches were found and a fire was started. They sat around the it, roasting marshmallows and discussing the upcoming school dance. Cans of beer snapped open and a toast to speed up time so that next weekend would come quicker, was made. One of the guys went to a car and blared music from the stereo in hopes to cheer up the sad mood. The partying lasted till midnight; that’s when the rowdy group fell asleep in their tent.
The first strange noise of the night sounded similar to a dying animal. The campers wrote it off as a wounded deer and didn’t panic because it was so far away, so they returned to their slumbers. The second interruption resembled a cry. This made the group sit up and listen closely because this time it wasn’t far, it was very close. Then later came the third disturbance which was just outside.
Something or someone began singing in a low rumble, ‘ashes.” Then a loud roar cut the air. The men stood searching for the guns they’ve packed, one of the guys found his and loaded it. A tall lanky figure stood outside of the tent; it’s contorted shadow showed in the moonlight. Everyone inside watched as it belched and groan out in an unpleasant whimper, ‘ashes.’
The head turned, sensing movement from the people on the other side. That caused it to frantically sing out again, ‘ashes, ashes, ashes.’ The thing’s large, contorted silhouette straightened, and it neared the campers, sniffing and moaning, ‘they all fall!’ Screams erupted and a gun fired twice as each of them ran out crying for help. The demon wailed out in agony, one of the shots had hit it.
The group stopped, thinking that the demon was dying. It stood, ten feet away slouched over in a ball of pain. It cried, then stomped towards them all. The campers ran into the woods and yelled as the being chased after. Into the woods they darted away from bloodthirsty fiend. The first to be caught was a man who lead the way to the exit, his friends watched as the creature ripped their friend’s chest open as easy as paper, then watched in horror as it sucked in the surrounding air, screeching excitably.
Half of its body was scorched away; its skin fell to the ground. The demon summoned the skin particles of the man’s body, feeding on it, grunting and moaning in pleasure as it began to slowly reform. Then it dropped the smoking skeleton. A pitch black, slimy figure turned to the rest of the group, laughing deeply, its fiery red eyes delighted and hungry. Ashes lunged at the remaining on all fours, twisting its body and one by one the campers met the same end as their friend.
The residents of the town gathered outside and prayed for the souls being taken by the demon. They cringed at the slashes in the distance and the demonic growls that lasted until dawn. The church-goers placed more cautions signs and crosses, it was all they could do since the burning ritual did no justice. They hammered away and wrote the words; pray and do not enter, everywhere. Even on the trees. Although they knew religion had no toll on Ashes, they still recited the bible.
Richard Edwards has a BFA in Creative Writing and Journalism from Bowling Green State University and an M.S. in Education from the University of Akron. Managing editor of Drunk Duck, poetry editor for Prairie Margins, reporter for Miscellany, Akron Journal, Lorain Journal, and The BG News. He has also worked as a professional writer and editor in the medical publishing industry for several years. For the last 15 years Richard has also taught literature and writing at the secondary and post-secondary levels. He works much of the time with at-risk students.