“If you go down to the woods today, take a moment to consider what happened.” The screen had turned on when I walked into the dark room, bathing everything in a sickly glow. Broken beakers lay scattered on the tiles, cracks running amongst them like rivers flowing to the sea and everywhere you looked there were shoots, the tiniest patches of green fighting their way through the grey. “My name is Doctor Jerome Flynn and I am leaving this as my last will and testament. And, I suppose, as my full and unedited confession.”
“What the hell is this?” I asked, taking a step forward towards the face on the screens. The glass crunched underfoot and I paused, casting my eyes from left to right. Just in case.
“You are standing in our main research facility. Officially, it was known as Section Seven, Horticulture. We always called it the Orchard. We were investigating reforestation techniques. Richards was working on a chimera of the English Oak tree with the common bindweed, trying to isolate the genetic markers for the increased growth speed of the weed, along with the hardiness of the weed.” The man on the screen smiled sadly and raised a hand to his glistening forehead, blinking his sad brown eyes against the spotlight. His face distorted as the screen erupted into a sunburst of pixels before settling back to the picture again. “Any chance we could turn the light down, Marika? I’m going blind here.”
I whirled around as I heard a noise behind me. It could have been glass shifting on the floor, or a rodent snuffling around for food. Either way, it just added to the creepiness of the whole affair. All I’d wanted to do was find out what the light was, luring me deeper into the wood. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m not stupid. But I had to know.
“Thank you, Marika.” Doctor Flynn lifted a glass of water to his lips and continued. “Richards’ work was groundbreaking. The computer models located the gene within months. Then it was trial and error until we found one that took. If you look into my office, you should see subject Oscar-Tango-Six-Three-Three. A bonsai tree, as long as it’s still there. Our very first Bound Oak.” He smiles at somebody off-screen. “We threw one hell of a party that night.And the next night after we discovered the Six-Three-Three had produced saplings.” His smile faded as whatever painful reality had come forced its way into his memories. “The saplings grew quickly, grew tall and strong. We planted the first forest just outside the Orchard and it doubled in size within two months. We planted more forests, believing we could contain the growth.”
I looked out into the forest outside. “I guess you couldn’t.”
He echoed my sentiments. “I know now that we couldn’t. But that’s not where the problems ended.”
There was the noise again. Was that something breathing? Or just my blood in my ears?
“There’s a reason that nearly every society has stories about the woods. Stay safe, whoever is watching.” I watched him lift a pistol to his temple and heard a scream, then screen cut back to static and this time, it stayed that way. I reached down into my boot and wrapped my fingers around the handle of my knife. I held my breath and listened closely.
All I could hear was the thudding of my heart.
“If you go down to the woods today…” I bolted. I was out of that place quicker than you could say woodland. I could hear Doctor Flynn’s recording trailing off but I wasn’t paying attention to it anymore. All I could focus on was my panic.
I didn’t stop until I’d made it all the way back home.
So, let’s go for a little more wishy washy science. I know that my idea as I’ve described it here isn’t possible, but I am curious as to if this could work in any form. What do you think is waiting in the woods?
The Idiot in Tin Foil