It is late at night, and I still cannot sleep. No matter how hard I try to fall asleep I still cannot. I tried tea that makes you dose off, a cup of warm milk, and a glass of water, but all it did was make me go to the bathroom. And I still cannot go to sleep! Some fresh air will do, I thought to myself. I slowly got out of bed, so my parents did not hear, I tiptoed down the stairs, past the kitchen, and onto the porch. I sat down on an old rocking chair, and I sat for a while. I do not know why but it felt like I had sat in there for thousands of years, just looking up at the stars peacefully. This is what is needed for sure, I think to myself. Until I heard a crack from the distance. I looked forward, across the road, there was a forest, but that was not the strange part. There was a 12 foot (144inches) tall albino moose, with, what it seemed to be, a big cloth on its head, with two white dots for eyes beaming out of said cloth. There were also two arms coming out of the cloth. With its long sharp fingers, it pointed at me. I did not move. I tried to keep eye contact with the moose. After five minutes, I move my arm, take a deep breath and slowly move away to the door. We do not break eye contact. I took a step inside, and then another step, I was safe. I slowly shut the door; my back was turned to the door. I slammed my back against the wall, I slid down in a fetal position, cold sweat trickling down my back. I held my breath, I wanted to throw up and scream at the same time. Once I finished my trembling, I walked to my parents’ room and with cold shaking hands I opened the door. My mom and dad were asleep, so I woke them up, dramatically whispering: “Mom, Dad! There is a strange moose outside!” “What a strange thing!” my dad said. I burst into tears trying to explain about the weird moose outside. “I’ve never heard of such a thing!” my mom said shocked. I can tell that they are sarcastic, of course they will not believe me, they are parents! “Never mind” I say wiping tears from my face. I walk out of their room, shutting the door behind me. As I walked up the stairs, I looked at the window – whew, the moose is gone, I thought sighing. I open the door to my room and plop on my bed, I was tired, but I could not even close my eyes…
It was morning, today was a school day so I got up, ate breakfast, and left. I left the house waving my parents goodbye and headed to the path that led to my school. But I forgot that most of my journey to school was in the forest. I stopped in front of the forest, my legs were shaking, with my chances of meeting the moose I kept my head down. I took step after step while my heart was pounding. I see my classmate’s feet trot along. Were they not scared? Why were they just walking like it was a normal day? Before I could think of another thought, I heard the bell ring, but also something else, I heard a boat like plain sound deep in the forest. I need to hurry, I thought… I shut my eyes tight, and I know that the path is a straight line, so I run. I ran and ran till I felt the sun on my eyelids. I opened them, with excitement I smiled and walked to the school peacefully. It felt like an eternity in the forest.
We had a history test that day in school, and I usually finish the test first, but today I did not. “Hey, are you good?” my friend asked, “You’ve been staring out the window for a long time now.” I nodded and smiled at my friend to show that I was fine, but my heart was pounding. My friend would not let go, “Are you sure you are fine? You look scared.”. I was going to tell her, but before I could, our teacher smacked a ruler on my desk “Do you not remember? This is a test!” she exclaimed grumbly. Me and my friend looked away from each other, we did not say a word after.
After the test, the bell rang, it was time for recess. I got up from my seat and left. Our school has a little playground surrounded by sand, and beyond the playground is an opened fence where the ‘cool kids’ spend time together, and my friend is one of them. I was relieved to not be one of the ‘cool kids’, I just stayed there because of my friend. I do not even say anything, I just watch over them. But today I did not want to go into the forest. “Come on!” my friend yelled running to the fence. I froze up, I did not move at all, but in fact sat on a bench near the playground. I started to doze off, not paying attention to anything, not even the boy who just sat next to me. He was talking about something, but I did not pay attention. I stared into the forest. Ten minutes have passed, and nothing happened, I have seen nothing. I was sure the boy had left so I got up. You are fine, no reason not to go to the forest, you got this, I kept telling myself. I started walking towards the forest, until I felt a hand on my wrist, “Where do you think you are going?” the boy asked strictly, “The forest” I said confused. I did not do much, I just got the boy’s wrist off my hand and headed to the forest. What is his problem?I said a bit angrily. Does not matter now, all I know is that I am safe from the moose and the boy. I walked past the sand, the little cement edge at the end of the park, and towards the forest. I took three steps onto the dirt ground. “There you are!” My friend yelled with excitement, “Come, sit down” she added patting her hand on the log next to her. I sat down and they talked for a while. It was two minutes before recess would end, and the whole time I was looking to see the moose, and I saw nothing. I checked one more time, still nothing, third times the charm I thought to myself, so I checked one more time. I looked behind me, and from afar I saw the moose’s hand pointing at me again, I looked back and put my head down in fright, I stood up and left. Behind me I heard “I told you she was a weirdo” from one of the girls. I did not mind that comment that my friend did not stand up.
After school, my friend suggested to hang out at the lake together that day and I said yes to the offer because I like to hang out at the lake, I guess. Later, in the afternoon I lay in my bed, resting, and I thought: why does that moose follow me? Before I could continue, I heard my doorbell ring, I sprang out of bed, dashed down the stairs, and caught myself on the doorknob of the front door. I thrust the door open with excitement just to see my friend standing there right in front of me. “Ready?” she said smiling, I nodded with a big smile on my face “that is the spirit!” she said snapping her fingers. We rushed out, the lake was up the hill, “Race you there!” she yelled, speeding up the hill. How can she run that fast? We are running on a rocky road.I still tried to run, but I ended up cutting my feet on the sharp rocks halfway up the hill, “Yes, I win!” my friend yelled raising her hands up the hill “No fair!” I say nudging my elbow at her “You have sandals!” I added laughing.
The lake was in this big open field where we raced again to see who got there first. This time I had won due to the soft grass supporting my feet. I had dived into the lake, in my clothes, I did not even bother bringing my swimsuit, and neither did my friend, because I was under the water and saw her jump in with her clothes. I started swimming to the bottom of the lake, I touched the bottom, but there was no bottom. Where is the bottom? The bottom of the lake should be here. I thought, suddenly I felt hands around me. It moved quickly, it was pulling me to the bottom. I tried to escape it, I struggled and struggled, and I finally got out of what was ever pulling me, I was shaking while swimming up to the surface, I was suffocating. I reached the top, I took a deep breath, my friend got up too, I stared at her with fright in my eyes, I wanted to pass out, without a word… I swam as fast as I could out of the water. I heard the roaring from the forest I had heard earlier. “Get out of the water!” I yelled at my friend, she got out quickly, we both ran together. She was very confused but to save her breath she did not say anything, I just could tell. I split up with her. I ran in the midway deep parts of the forest, decided to climb a tree for safety and looked around me to see where I was, and from a distance I saw the albino moose between the trees, well, not exactly it was fazing through the trees, specifically between both me and my friend. My friend was far from the moose but kept running. It passed me, and I felt the big wind the moose had created. I dropped down from the tree and continued running towards the end of the forest. But as soon as I realized I was running towards the moose, I stopped in its tracks and hid behind a tree, hoping the moose would not find me. I held my breath. I could hear its footsteps, hear it coming closer, closer, and closer, I could feel its breath behind me. How did it know I was here? Then I remembered the cuts on my feet. It can smell blood. I hoped that I would survive, and I did, the moose had walked away. I slowly walked away from the moose. I was far enough to run. I cried while running towards the end of the forest, Is my friend, okay? Please tell me she’s not dead, please tell me. I reached the end of the forest, I wiped the tears off my face and looked everywhere, I ran down the road passing street by street, and all I could find was a single pair of sandals. I broke down, I collapsed on the ground in a fetal position, I gripped the sandals tightly, it felt like the sandals were going to burst out of my hands. “Why!” I yelled; this was the loudest I have ever been, but no one heard me. I cried and my legs shook when I stood up. I walked back home with tears in my eyes. My thoughts came crashing in my head, she was my only friend, why her? Why not me? I am so stupid! Why did I not stick with her! I reached the fence of my house and I tried to wipe the tears off my face, I tried to hold it in. Step by step, shivering the whole time, I reached the porch; I looked at the rocking chair, that was my first encounter with the moose, I stared at the chair with anger… and fear. I opened the door to the house, it was empty, I thought my parents were asleep because it was already late. I went up the stairs to my room, I opened the door still shaking. The moment I shut the door I collapsed, I cried and cried all night until the sun rose.
Today was a no-school day so I stayed at home. “Remember to go outside today!” My mom yelled from the kitchen. “Okay” I muffled from my room’s carpet ground, I did not want to go outside, I did not want to go outside, I thought with aggression, my hands grip into fists, I hate that stupid moose! Why did it choose me?! Why not someone else?! “Hey! Did you hear me? Go outside!” my mom said interrupting my brooding. “Okay!” I shouted like I was mad at her, but I wasn’t, or was I? I do not know. I got up wiping the tears off my face. I still had the clothes on from yesterday, so I just left my room. I do not normally eat breakfast, but my parents encouraged me to eat in the morning. I stomped down the stairs and I did not even say hi to my parents, I just simply left. I walked past the kitchen where my parents were, “What’s with the attitude young lady?!” My mom yelling at me like steam was coming out of her head. I still did not say anything. I wanted to tell her everything, but I could not, it felt like someone was choking me. I kept my head down, I slammed the door behind me. “What is up with her?” “Eh, teenagers these days.” my dad said. I even got angrier because they did not understand, my friend died you fools! I yelled at them in my head.
I had walked for around five minutes when I reached the field where my friend had died, I stood between the lake and field, I did not even realize I was there, my brain just woke up suddenly. I looked around, it felt like I was in quicksand, slowly suffocating in guilt until I could not even move… then I felt a shock on my back, it went up my spine like a water pipe. The moose was behind me! I have felt this every time I encounter the moose, except in the water. I could not turn around, it peered over me like I was an ant, its long skinny hand wrapped around me, am I going to die? Is this it? I froze up, I wanted to move but I could not, I slowly felt its cold breath against my back, and… nothing. Nothing had happened, I was just there hanging by its arms. But I felt something, like pain – but it was not. My body felt loose, am I going to pass out. But my legged twitched, I can move! I kicked the moose, it dropped me, I fell almost ten feet down. When I dropped my legs felt numb. I tried to move away from the moose as much as I could. I heard a screech behind me, the moose was covering its eyes, did I kick it in its eyes, how? I felt a sharp pain in my back again, but it felt like I was on fire. I could not sprint, I could not run, I could barely walk. I escaped from the moose and rested in the forest. I sat down on a stump of a tree. I felt my back. Any contact my back had hurt even more than before. I tried to help my back, but I smelled something in the atmosphere, something was burning. I quickly got up and tried to run in the opposite direction of the fire, but I could not. Anywhere I went there was fire, I was trapped. Before the fire could worsen, I tried to jump over the fire. I was successful, but my leg caught on fire. I smacked the fire of my leg, like you are supposed to, but it did not work, it has done its damage. I dragged me and my leg towards the front of the forest, yes finally, I made it! I thought as I took a step out of the forest. It felt my leg had been dissolved, I tried to hold back the tears from the pain, but I could not.
To avoid the burning forest, I took the long way to my house. I passed by my neighbors. “Hey kiddo!” one of the neighbors said, “You all right, what is wrong?” the neighbor questioned. “There’s a fire in the forest!” I yelled at them. One of the neighbors looked at the forest, instead of a shocked look they looked at me confused, what was wrong with them?! They cannot see the forest is on fire! I continued dragging back home. I encountered a steep hill that leads to my home, but there was a problem…it was a rocky hill, oh come on! I thought with exhaustion, but I tried anyways. I took a couple steps down the hill, carefully so as not to hurt my legs and back even more. I was really focused on trying not to hurt myself instead of watching where I was stepping, and I ended up tripping, falling, and rolling down the whole hill. I got to what felt all my bones were broken, but thankfully all my bones were fine… I think. I got up and continued to drag myself to my house. I got there and opened the door, my parents were still talking, “Oh my lord! Look at you!” my mom gasped “Are you okay?!” my mom said walking towards me. “Yeah, I’m fine” I said nonchalantly, “I just fell down a hill that’s all” I added. “Well just clean yourself up and go to bed it is getting late anyways.” my dad said flicking the newspaper he was reading. I cleaned myself up and tucked myself into my bed.
Later that night I felt my leg, it stung when I touched it, I tried to avoid sleeping on my back but no matter what, the sleeping position I was in still stung even worse than a wasp.
In the morning I woke up to
my mom shaking me. “Hey, wake up” she said loudly whispering. “Huh, what is it”
I say rubbing my eyes. “We’re going to the carnival” she said smiling, “But I
thought we go to the carnival for special occasions?” I said narrowing my
vision. “Hurry and dress up.” She said as she left my room shutting the door
behind her, I got up with confusion, what was the special occasion? I thought
long and hard about it, I put on clothes that would cover my back and leg so my
parents would not ask. By the time I got downstairs my dad was waiting in the
car. I grabbed a banana and joined my dad in the car, and soon after, my mom
got in the car. Since we lived in a small place and the carnival was in the
city it was a long drive there, and about half-way through the car ride my dad asked,
“Want to know why we’re going to the carnival?” he said with a big smile.
“Why?” I asked looking at the window. “To make you feel better after your
friend left” he said humming. My eyes widened; how did they know? I
thought, but for the rest of the car ride I stayed quiet.
We finally got there, and we parked next to an
ice-cream stand, “Want to get ice cream?” my dad said licking his lips. “It’s
fine, I didn’t even bring my wallet” I said sighing. “Oh, come on kiddo, I am
your dad Not your boss!” he said laughing, after we got ice-cream. I stayed
quiet and looked down at my feet. “Hey what’s wrong” my dad said kneeling down
towards me. I wanted to burst in out in tears, “How did you know she died?” I
asked my dad, “Dead? What kind of joke is that!” he said laughing anxiously.
“How silly, what I meant by she’s gone, I meant she went on a little vacation with her cousins, she’ll be back though. We knew how much she meant to you so we figured we should go to the carnival to cheer you up” my dad said giggling. “She’s not dead?” I asked “But, the moose, it killed her” I started to ramble. “It tried to eat me and everything!” Before I could take another breath, I looked behind my dad, the moose was there, watching me. “Look its right there!” I pointed at the moose; my dad turned around and turned back “Where’s the moose?”
Written and illustrated by An Gi Nakan Kunan