Sunlight plays in twisting patterns across the forest floor, twigs and leaves revealed and hidden in splotches of light and darkness. The air itself vibrates with birdsong, and the temperature is pleasantly warm. Perfect weather to chill a bit in the forest, especially if you want a little time alone. Just like Richie-boy and his current girlfriend, Funmi.
Richie-boy, obviously not his real name, is a terrible womanizer, a guy who loves to live life in the fast lane.
A fast talker and committed hedonist, he’s known for every vice you know and some you probably don’t. Alcohol, hard drugs, women, he has sampled them all and greed keeps him lusting for more.
Which brings us back to the moment. After a long chase, much cajoling and outright manipulation, his girl has finally agreed to sleep with him, and he intends to make it memorable. What better place than the little patch of forest everyone avoided and claimed was evil? The possibility of danger adds extra thrill.
The love birds are stumbling through the forest, not making a lot of noise- their aim is any concealed spot just in case the forest isn’t as empty of humanity as it seems.
Soon, they arrive at a spot that meets their requirements, a hollow in a huge tree and Richie-boy offloads his backpack. First, he produces the lightweight mattress and unrolls it. Poking this leaf out of the way, uprooting that shrub, the space is quickly made comfortable. He gets a bottle of alcohol out of the bag and they share it, first taking small sips, then huge gulps.
Then they start giggling and clothes start coming off. Minutes later the deed is done, and the clothes are retrieved and worn, buttons unbuttoned and laces unlaced.
A pack of cigarettes comes out of the bag, followed by a lighter, and soon smoke drifts out of open mouths and nostrils in lazy clouds, floating upwards.
Time passes by, with no notice given to the hours slipping away or the gradual darkening when day fades into dusk. There’s a flashlight somewhere in the bag and no need to hurry anywhere. It’s the weekend, they’re university students free from the watchful eyes of home. They answer to no one but themselves.
At this time, three packs of cigarettes lie discarded on the forest floor, which is also littered with cigarette stubs, some of which are still smoking slightly. Funmi retrieves a medium-sized container of food from the bag and they dig in, first spooning rice and plantain into open mouths, and when that’s done, the fried chicken follows, and then they’re left with cracking bones and sucking out the marrow.
More time passes and dusk turns into night, and sleep claims the duo. Funmi is the first to wake up, a certain undescribable feeling of being watched nagging at her. She wakes Richie-boy up.
“Let’s go home.”
“Hmm?” Still groggy with sleep, he’s not really getting what she’s saying.
“Richie-boy, let’s go home. Now.” She shakes him even harder. Now he wakes up, fully, but he’s still slow, having consumed the lion’s share of the cigarettes and alcohol.
“Okay. Pack our things.” He gets the flashlight out and they repack the lightweight mattress and the food container, leaving the bottle of alcohol and the cigarette stubs behind.
Just as they finish packing up, a twig snaps somewhere in the forest. They freeze. In the absolute silence blanketing the forest- all the birds are asleep or gone deeper into the forest or something- another twig snaps, ringing out as loud as any gunshot.
“I don’t know. Point the torch in that direction.” Funmi obeys and the light falls on something. She screams and the torch falls to the ground, still on, still illuminating the creature.
It’s huge. That’s the first thing that comes to mind. It’s huge, with green skin stretched taut over bunched muscles and ropy veins. It’s arms are long, finger tips almost touching the ground. A closer look would reveal that the fingers are not fingers at all, but claws, razor sharp and as hard as metal. It has a slender trunk in it’s hand and snaps it into two, flinging it casually into a heap behind. The dry snaps of breaking wood must have been part of what woke her up. Funny enough, it’s smiling at her, grinning from ear to ear, showing sharp, needle-like teeth.
Her eyes dart from place to place and then light up. She suddenly understands why it was gathering wood, for that’s what it was doing, gathering firewood, and scooping up the flashlight, she takes to her heels with Richie-boy following closely behind.
Panting heavily, heart pumping, legs moving so fast they almost blur, the couple flees the forest.
At first she hears Richie-boy grunting as he tries to keep up, but after a while, she realizes she can’t hear him anymore. She risks a glance back, with the flashlight, and sees the creature still chasing after her on all fours. She screams and adds a burst of speed. Or attempts to.
At that precise moment, still running, she’s not looking at where she’s running to and her foot gets caught on a tree root and she trips.She falls. Her ankle hurts but she’s not about to let that stop her.
Scrambling to her feet, she looks back to gauge the distance and yelps, the beast is almost on her.
She’s about to run again when it catches up to her and taps her behind the head with a heavy claw. She blanks out.
When she comes to, she’s tied up. There’s a fire burning close by, and something on a stick being roasted. The air is full with the smell of cooked meat. The beast that caught her prods the animal softly and grunts. The meat is done.
Something clicks into place and she recognizes the beast as a storybook creature, a troll. It lifts the stick from the spit, with it’s huge load and removes the meat, handing it to another troll holding a huge cleaver that comes seemingly out of nowhere. There’s more than one!
It’s as the other troll takes the meat to carve it up that she recognizes a piece of fabric sticking to what was once a leg. Richie-boy.
Her mouth fills with bile and she vomits. Spitting profusely to get the taste of vomit out of her mouth, the soft thuds of someone approaching gets her attention and she looks up.
The troll lumbers up to her and as it grabs her, her screams rend the night.
But not for long.
The air is soon filled again with the smell of roasting meat…