1 Among the Treeline

ATTENTION L: THIS IS A SHORT, ONE CHAPTER STORY. DO NOT EXPECT A SEQUEL OR ANY NEW CHAPTERS

that is all

๐˜–๐˜ฏ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ฅ๐˜ข๐˜บ

๐˜›๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ฃ๐˜ถ๐˜ญ๐˜ญ๐˜ฆ๐˜ต๐˜ด ๐˜ฃ๐˜ญ๐˜ฐ๐˜ค๐˜ฌ ๐˜ฐ๐˜ถ๐˜ต ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ด๐˜ถ๐˜ฏ

๐˜ž๐˜ฆ ๐˜ข๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ง๐˜ฐ๐˜ฐ๐˜ญ๐˜ด

๐˜—๐˜ฐ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜ต๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜จ ๐˜ข๐˜ต ๐˜ฆ๐˜ท๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ๐˜บ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ๐˜ฆ

๐˜‰๐˜ถ๐˜ต ๐˜ฐ๐˜ถ๐˜ณ๐˜ด๐˜ฆ๐˜ญ๐˜ท๐˜ฆ๐˜ด

'๐˜Š๐˜ข๐˜ถ๐˜ด๐˜ฆ ๐˜ธ๐˜ฆ'๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ๐˜ญ๐˜บ ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ๐˜ฆ๐˜ด ๐˜ต๐˜ฐ ๐˜ฃ๐˜ญ๐˜ข๐˜ฎ๐˜ฆ

๐˜๐˜ต'๐˜ด ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜ด๐˜ข๐˜ฏ๐˜ฆ

'๐˜Š๐˜ข๐˜ถ๐˜ด๐˜ฆ ๐˜ฏ๐˜ฐ ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ฆ๐˜ท๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ ๐˜ธ๐˜ข๐˜ฏ๐˜ต๐˜ด ๐˜ต๐˜ฐ ๐˜ค๐˜ฉ๐˜ข๐˜ฏ๐˜จ๐˜ฆ

"I used to roam these parts of the forest with my wife, me and her. Before she got all finicky, mind you." says Aronald to his partner, Wilson. Wilson and Aronald (Are-ON-alld) are two hunters gathering food for Thanksgiving, a tradition started centuries ago. Aronald was born in Hobart, a city on the island of Tasmania. When he was about 3, he and his family moved to a town in Glasgow, Scotland for the next few decades of his life. A couple of months into the Valeksni Invasive War, before the public found out about it, Aronald smuggled himself into Missouri, where he lives now. Wilson had also moved to Missouri, but for different reasons. During his age from child to adulthood, he had been running from a group of genealogically related gun-runners. They had been hunting him since the death of his father; for Wilson was the heir of an unfathomable fortune. The father had removed the three hostile brothers from his will, as they had been caught in felonious actions. He's been running since. Wilson and Aronald had met each other from a blind-date set up by their wives. Since then, they had been good friends and even better hunting buddies. The pair quiet down as a large flock of eastern turkeys strut into a clearing of trees. Wilson silently loads the chamber of his hunting rifle. As he looks down the scope, Aronald pushes the barrel of the weapon down and points to a brush of trees a few meters away. A large, creme-yellow colored, almost dog-like creature is prowling low on the leaf-covered ground,slightly hidden by a huge, leafless tree. "Let the borielalies get one," Aronald says, "then take it out. I'll ping one of the turkeys so we can follow them." He pulls out a small pistol-shaped weapon and loads a dart tipped with yellow feathers. He fires it at one of the turkeys. The tracker imbeds itself into the turkey's torso. Startled, it gobbles and runs off, encouraging the rest of the flock to follow. The borielalies pounces onto a stray and, as it's mandible jaw splits open into three strips, sinks it's rows of razor sharp canines into the turkey. Wilson fires as this happens and hits the borielies square in the heart. The shot of the rifle rings out across the forest. Noticing that the carnivorous monster isn't dead, both hunters walk out of their hiding spot and observe the beast. The sight it presents is horrifying. The legs are still kicking as the beast attempts to stand, but to no avail. The wound where the bullet entered it's chest cavity is oozing a magenta colored substance and black tendrils are quickly spreading, wrapping themselves around the borielalies body. It's slim eyes are bloodshot and wild, and it's foaming at the mouth. The turkey, too, has started to grow these tendrils from the puncture wounds. The two hunters are dumbfounded. Wilson puts another round from his rifle into the borielalies head and it goes limp. The spreading tendrils have slowed dramatically, but are still moving; the oozing liquid is draining in larger torrents from the two wounds. Not only does this shot echo around the forest, it also rings in Wilson's head; Whatโ€ฆ was that? He thinks to himself. Aronald marks the two corpses for the N.F.F.B to inspect. The pair walk away towards the direction of the flock of fear-driven turkeys. A half-mile later, Wilson gets tired of trying to rationalize what they just encountered in his head and asks, "W-what was that back there?" Aronald, being just as confused as Wilson, simply responds with "I'm not sure. Spread of this new 'virus', I've heard. Nobodies sure what it does or who it affects, but it's the best I can come up with. We need to keep going, shouldn't let the turkeys get too far." He stops and checks his map. "We're close to a river. We'll travel there and if there's nothing worthwhile, we can head back to camp." Wilson nods and they continue onward. About half an hour later, the pair came across the river. Aronald pulls out a pair of binoculars and scans the clearing. There are no visible animals, but a desolate looking campsite is on their side of the river, shadowed by a huge, dead, leafless tree. Aronald notices the almost identical appearance between the borielalies was stalking under, but he brushes it off as a coincidence. Aronald then motions for them to move forward as he stores the binocs in his backpack. Coming upon the camp, they notice the overpowering scent of decease.

After a quick look at the camp, Wilson says quite suddenly: "Somthin's not right," He points to the campfire and the tents, "The fire has recently gone out by itself, no one stamped the flame. Both tents look undisturbed, with no sign of them even being opened. It's like everyone just disappeared." The pair start to search the camp to find clues as to where the campers may have gone. Almost immediately opening the first tent, an overpowering smell of death blasts out of the tent, along with an army of flies. Wilson stumbles away from the smell and hunches over the ground, retching quite loudly. After vomiting his last meal, he covers his nose and slowly walks into the tent. A corpse lay mutilated on sleeping bag, its faces and sex undisernable. Obviously, liters worth of blood have splattered every possible surface, still trickling downwards by gravity. Although Wilson doesn't notice, some of the entrails are lined with streaks of magenta. He finds what has to be the diary of a "Michael Corduroy" on the floor and flips to one of the few legible pages:

Day 4, November 14th, 2197

Molly and I heard some odd noises last night. Sounded something like a wolf but 3 times bigger. It's grunting was so close to our tent I wouldn't have been surprised if it peeked in to say "hello". When we woke up this morning, our food was either opened and eaten or just gone completely. What's worse is that it took our portable charging outlet! Like, why would it take a freakin portable charging outlet?! Anyway, Ariana said that Henry went to go use the restroom outside and never came back. I told her I'd go look for him. Obviously, I didn't. Why would I anyway? He took my girl when we were younger. Twice. Like, how do you even do that? I think leaving him alone with the animals in the forest would teach him a lesson.

Day 7, November 17, 2197

Ok, I'm starting to get a little worried. Henry's been gone for a couple of days now and we haven't heard a thing. I expected him to find his way back, considering he had a map and knew we were next to a river. Ariana is worried sick, and Molly keeps telling me to go find Henry. I'm sure I'll have to soon, but for now i'm going to let this pass over.

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Wilson tries to read the rest of the text, but he can't make out the bloodsoaked words. He skims the rest of the book until he reaches the last written page.

day ???

oh god it's coming i can hear it it's coming. i'm hiding in my sleeping bag i can hear it's panting it's so close they're all dead i can't think straight. molly died right next to me it's evil it wont die it's made of pink and magenta stuff

...

oh my god it's in the tent

im not going to make it im not going t- The page ends there splattered with dried blood and a magenta substance. Wilson tries to imagine that night but it's such a foreign image his brain casts it out immediately. "Aron!" Wilson says loudly as he walks out of the tent, diary in hand. Aronald is nowhere to be found. "ARON! C'mon, you need to read this!" Still nothing. Wilson scans the tent he was supposed to be in. It didn't even look open. Wilson starts to panic, but then remembers the rule that he and Aronald set up when they started hunting together: If one of us goes missing, meet back at camp. Almost immediately, Wilson heads the direction of their own makeshift camp; it being nothing more than a buggy. The monstrous crack of thunder startles him and causes him to jump; it being followed by heavy rain obscuring Wilson's vision, the timing beingโ€ฆ convenient, considering the circumstances. How ironic he thinks to himself as he rolls his eyes. Suddenly, he hears a guttural, tortured scream. No, not a scream, a death rattle, that of a human. Its too deep and barbaric to be anything else.It's deep and long, and it sounds human. Wilson knows that it has to be Aronald. He hears thrashing in the bushes a few feet away from him, accompanied by animalistic grunts and breathing. Backing away slowly, he chambers another round in his rifle and aims it at the foliage.

Aronald pops out from the bush, yelling, "Don't shoot! Don't shoot, it's me, your buddy!" Wilson's body visibly relaxes.

"Aron," He says breathlessly, "I thought you were a goner." A flash of lightning lights up the forest for a short while. Wilson scans Aronald's appearance quickly, and almost immediately recoils in surprise and horror from the sight. Aronald's skin is pale. Deathly pale, as if drained of blood. Several puncture wounds line his neck and arms, which are covered in magenta-streaked blood. Patches of skin on his right arm have been replaced by a stone-like material. He also realizes something. Aronald's voice is usually filled with lighthearted character, but as of now it's lifeless and vacant. Also, he's never used the term "buddy."

"Y-your notโ€ฆ" Wilson says weakly. "Aronald's" face spreads into a serial killer-esque grin and he approaches him with an intent of similar nature. Wilson raises his rifle to his shoulder, tears flooding his eyes.

"Don't make me do thisโ€ฆ please." He says quietly. "Aronald'' is almost in grappling range of Wilson before he pulls the trigger. The shot echoes through the forest, though dwarfed by the sound of the storm. The impact of the bullet flings the creature beast to the ground. It no longer shows any signs of life, if there were any natural ones in the first place. Wilson drops the rifle and slumps against an odd feeling tree, his face in his hands. He recollects all the times he had with his partner; their first kill, all the double dates. All of that gone in a split second. One spike of lead filled with gunpowder to end it all. How will I tell Maggie? He ponders to himself. Or his own family? The thoughts race through his brain, barraging him with guilt and self-loathing. His tilts his head against the bark of the tree behind him and hears a tough thunk. He slight sits up as he reaches his arm behind him to rub the tree. The bark is smooth and perfect, but also has a rough, rocklike texture to it.

A sharp, searing twang of hurt shoots through both his shoulderblades as he gets lifted into the air. The pain almost makes Wilson lose consciousness, but he can still see his attacker. It's body is slender and resembles stone, with magenta streaking across it; though it has dirt and tree bark all over it, as if it was disguised as a tree. The being's height is definitely comparable to one, topping over thirteen feet. High above its head are two massive hook-like limbs, the tips imbedded into Wilson's back. There are several pairs of smaller arms running all across the length of its torso, all armed with sharp talons. It's head has a noticeable tic to it. It's face is blank and has two hollow holes, which could only have been eyes. At first it seemed it had no mouth, but only a fissure running vertically across its "face". But, the crack opens to rows of crooked teeth spattered with blood. Wilson then realized it's the same tree shadowing the bloodied camp. And the one the borielalies was hiding under. Not only from horror but of both mental and emotional exhaustion as well, loses consciousness. The monstrosity gobbles the hunter up and implants itself back into the ground. A hard layer of bark forms over it's frame, seemingly out of nowhere. The two hunters Wilson Aragon and Aronald McDervish are still missing to this day. The hunt is still ongoing, but it is believed to become a cold case within the year.