Shishir 2022 Stories - H.L. Dowless


The Girl In the Crooked Woods
By H.L. Dowless


She was an adolescent girl, a rather melancholy figure, while her intellect was that of a highly educated woman who walked confidently from the woods on Dover Hill. She knew not exactly where she was going, she only moved to a point where the comforting feeling led. When the light day wind puffed, she suddenly felt cheer filled. When it died back down into a somewhat humid sweltering of noontime heat, her gloomy cloud settled in from above once more again.

The woods trail wound upward around noble oak trees, then back down into slightly muddy grassy areas, transforming into fine white sand as she ambled along. While on the hills, she could see quickly flying intelligent song birds zipping passed. In the low areas she heard distant crunching footsteps in the wood stand, often detecting startling movements in the knee high grass all around her.

She paused, straining her eyes into the distant trees, and into the greening grass standing all around. She saw nothing, but continued to hear heavy footsteps and crunching creepy movement. She sensed the weight of eyes upon her body from an unseen distance around her and before her, as she gazed across the lowland meadows when the time-honored woods path dipped into them. Who was following? she wondered in silence as the gentle wind hissed through the leaves above.

“Persephone?” called the small child into the woods and grass all around her, “is it you in the beyond who seeks to incorporate me into your gathering? Is it you who is designing for the rising of falling seeds from their wooden sepulchers, so that a prevalent world of death and destruction might have a new life? Are you in need of more help?”

A warm abrupt burst of gentle wind uplifted her spirits as they descended gradually, offering her the sensation of an approving answer to her question.

“Who moves about all around me, then? Why do their footsteps give me a sensation of impending harm? What manner of spirits from the great yon mountain has enveloped this wooded land tract, this open area? Who rides forward upon the wind?” the junior girl asked into the open air, the woods, and the grass all around her. “Is it you, Aite? If it is, then why? I am nowhere near being a grown man; I am only a petty girl. Why do you torment me? I am not guilty of any wrong!” spoke the girl aloud into the warm whispering wind.

There was no answer, no more stir in the wind; only an unsettling stillness, and these eerie covert movements in the grass and the leaves of the woods. So the junior girl continued walking as the knee high grass sliced her delicate fair legs, protected only from the knees upward by her white and red checkered linen dress. Her brilliant shoulder length crimson hair protected her delicate neck, as did the white collar of her dress. Her clear, gentle cheeks abruptly flushed with the tint of wild roses.

Her small toes flicked the fine white sand through her sandals as she moved along down the woods path. When the path carried her upward again into the dense oaks, she always felt with far more energy. She sensed the juices of creativity to move throughout her entire body. She smiled unto herself as she wondered why in the silence of her mind.

“It has to be you, oh holy Eirene!” the junior girl spoke into the wind as she moved along. “I feel that I could dwell here in your midst for all eternity. I take it you are beckoning me into your warm embrace, since I only fear while down in the valley of death below. I breathe in deeply, secretly hoping to inhale your ghost. I feel your divine presence! I sense that you are immediately beside me!”

The response to the girl's words was only another light burst of wind. A peach sun was now up high above the treetops, beginning to peek above the mountain line on the horizon. The wind burst with an increasing frequency as the sun inched its way upward, gradually transforming from peach into a golden midday orb.

“Behold, as the beautiful Eos melts when the great celestial orb transfers back into the hands of Helios, I receive the unspoken message that I am at perfect liberty to move forward along. Surely the rising form of Helios shall preserve me from all unseen danger lying in wait on the path ahead,” spoke the pretty girl aloud, as she resumed her walk down the timeworn woods path.

The perfect goddess, Selene, had preserved her when she started her walk. A full silver glow above guided her way superbly. The junior girl thanked her on a faint whispering breath as she ambled forward along into what would have been a thick bleakness otherwise. The walk had been pleasant, the hoot of an owl in an oak tree high above, verses a man’s raging scream. The call of bull frogs and night bugs, verses commanding adults. A multitude of spectrum in the bleakness of night spoke to her softly from the thick blanket of darkness between the tree trunks as she walked, relaying their will unto her, which she cheerfully obeyed.
“Oh Eos and Eirene, give me a sign of your approval, please. I desperately need it,” she spoke aloud into the wind.

Aite had infected the minds of men, she thought in silence unto herself, who often screamed insulting commands for her to engage. The collective following who gathered around her father not only sickened her in the pit of her stomach, but bitterly angered her at the same time. Anger was not a positive emotion, taught Eirene in the divine scriptures. These vile men spoke harshly and gave her rude commandments, yet refused to listen, even when she could show where the sacred scriptures conflicted with their crass orders.

They commanded unto her who it was they expected her to bow down before and worship. They ordered specifically to bow down. What, specifically, to say in prayer, and how to dress. They commanded that she wore silken robes and sandals, when she preferred denim jeans and tennis-shoes. She was to remain by a pool side facing a marble statue of Athena sitting proudly upon a six foot tall pedestal of the same magnificent stone. A Doric colonnade always surrounded her, with a comfortable couch near her. In retrospect, it wasn’t a negative experience in its totality. She sighed to herself as she reflected in silence, attempting to give her life its own form of justice.

The living plants around her inside the open area above the pool were pomegranate, blue lotus, and brilliant scarlet colored hulgil plants. Often the men commanded her to consume these herbs, with the blue lotus as a wine tonic, and the hulgil in the form of cake. The euphoria emitted forth from this consumption was magnificent; the reality compelled her to admit. Few words in any language could ever describe her arousing sensations. During her bathing sessions by the poolside, she had many pleasant visitors, although her recollections appeared now more than fading unsettling visions beheld in gently rippling water.

When the sun arose to greet her in the comforting gentleness of morning, all of her playful visitors had mysteriously vanished. There were always countless gifts of rubies, emeralds, and diamonds set in golden bracelets and necklaces, piled high all about her. Seldom could she even recall specifically who these visitors were, but she only felt them to be at least somewhat slightly beyond her age. She could recall numbers of males and females, frolicking leafless all about in the gentle water of the pool. Cheerfully and unabashed, she joined with them in their seemingly innocent play. Somehow their mere presence caused her to experience a bizarre giddy euphoria, a cheerfulness perfectly familiar to her, but one that carried a certain nervous discomfort with it at the same time. She often struggled with herself, having no sufficient explanation why this naturally pleasant experience was simultaneously so unsettling.

There was this one certain person, however, who entered the general scene of events. She knew this person as a Xenos by her Pythia kindred in the sacred family of a temple priestess. He had eased passed her father for many months on end now, his reality only recently being discovered. He filled his words with passion and blessings for her, and her personal endeavors. They expect her to remain faithful to the Fyli, or Klan, removing herself always from encounters with the Xenos, and especially the subhuman Evoc.

This person, however, was only a Xenos, who dwelt somewhere inside the outer realm in a place referred to as Dallas, she thought she heard him say. His name was Oikismou Polmistice. He had charmed her with his tales of life on the outside. This realm appeared it was an Elysium oasis somewhere on secular earth. People there wore jeans rather than robes, and tennis-shoes rather than sandals. These citizens in this outer realm could do whatever they desired to. She would never have to swim about in an air of feigned contentment, and frolic about in any pool with strangers, who made her somehow feel uneasy, even though they were gentle and fun to be around.

Over time, she had become drawn into this person, Polmistice. She could tell that he was in reality only a Xenos, by the way that he walked, talked, and moved about . He could speak the native language well and good enough; but language is only one part of a person, and a heritage clan When he would leave her side, often she would only hang her small head and weep bitterly, while on many an occasion refusing to eat for days on end.

Her father had really upset her recently, however, like three nights ago. He informed her she had a suitor who was a business associate of his. This man had besought him for her hand in marriage, and he had eagerly agreed to his request. She had overheard the conversation in her father’s backroom parlor, as she played in the primary living quarters. The man’s exact words to her father seared into her mind just as he had spoken them on that night.

“I have a hearty dowry to offer. Your daughter shall be well treated, Hector, I promise. Making you all the perfect connections is well worth me having her company. I shall educate her in all the proper mannerisms that should accompany a woman of wealth and status, such as she shall become. Just look at me when I speak to you, Hector! You know perfectly that I speak the truth. Your daughter is so talented, Hector; and what do I receive from it, people may ask? Why, she holds the perfect key to my greatest addiction, besides every other consideration in beauty, intelligence, and raw potential to be honest with you about this matter, as no other ever has before her.

I apologize if I offended you with my descriptive words, but it solidifies your connections with the business underworld in this bond between me and Omorpho Doro. I can offer you perfect assurance that it destines her as being a magnificent addition to my personal charemi, and shall I shall totally accommodate her for the duration of her natural life. You and your betrothed shall possess an ever abiding blessing of the same! Think about that now, only for a single moment, Hector. Genuine offers of such seldom come about in this world.”

There would be no way out of going through with these plans. This man was wealthy and he would treat her like she was Helen of Troy, or some other queen of timeless renown. The problem was that she did not love this man. And all the money on Plantis Gi can’t buy genuine affection.

She had informed Polmistice of this unfortunate development in her life. He had told her where to meet up with him. She was to rendezvous in a shack way up on Nephilum Mountain. He would carry her far away from the realm where she dwelt, somewhere deep into the outer transcendence between dreadful Hades and Elysium perfection. None of the Klan would ever locate her where he was taking them both. They both would then wed, he pleasantly related, living happily ever after somewhere in his castle on a hillside by an enchanted emerald sea.

Soon this winding wood trail would carry her near to the shack. She only had one more chief point to ascend, and the old clap board shack stood perched ‘neath a fir hedge in a valley immediately below where she would soon be standing. She raced along the path as the sound of a circling machine echoed in the overhead distance. This machine seemed to chop the wind violently as it gravitated along. The Klan described this machine to her as a Griffin, and said to be wicked, intending to swoop down upon her, transporting her somewhere down into Hades where she would never see mortals again, including her own Klan. She had found a magazine in her own language, speaking of machines, with pictures of the thing she witnessed circling overhead. That was how she knew it was a machine, rather than a Griffin.

When she made it to the top of the hill, there lay a flat rock so large that she could barely overturn it by struggling with all of her might. Eirene was said to adore flat stones on hillsides, where one's feelings lay concerning immanent positive future events. Mortals were to always seek her blessings in these situations before advancing forward. Underneath were fist sized piles of laurel leaves, mistletoe, and verbena. She turned as she glanced backward into an angering sky with a confident smile of conviction in her choices.

“Thank you, oh dear Eos and Eirene. Now I know for certain that you both are still watching over me the entire way, fully approving of my choices, and my glorious adventure lying in store somewhere ahead.”



H.L. Dowless from U.S is the author is a national & international academic/ ESL Instructor. He has been a writer for over thirty years. His latest publications have been two books of nonfiction with Algora Publishing, a fictional novel by Atmosphere Press, and fictional publications with combo e-zines and print magazines; Leaves Of Ink, CC&D Magazine, a novel with Atmosphere press, Short Story Lovers, The Fear Of Monkeys, and Frontier Tales. He recently signed three contracts with Pen it Publications. The author has enjoyed a lifetime of outdoor activities from big game hunting, camping, fishing, and trapping, to archaeological field work in various exotic locations. What he enjoys most of all is meeting freedom loving, interesting creative people, who are also regular dedicated fans of his publications.


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