In The Woods Behind Riversleigh

from the Vaults

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Never get lost in the woods behind Riversleigh Manor- it wasn’t exactly a warning; it was more like a statement.

Never get lost behind the woods of Riversleigh Manor.

Juniper Pringle had heard those words her entire life- her Mother would say them to Juniper and her sisters before they left for school in the morning, her Father would say the same words when they went out to play in the evenings and Juniper Pringle would say them one day to her own kids.

One day as Juniper said them to her son Tennyson she really heard them and Tenny really listened and he asked, ” Why? “

And those words that rolled so easily from the tongue to the ear finally came together and Juniper said, ” The trees are alive. “

Tenny Pringle nodded as if what his Mother had just told him made all the sense in the world and as Tenny Pringle walked out of his Mother’s house and into the wood behind Riversleigh she knew that was the last she’d ever see of her son.

And she was right.

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Juniper Pringle drove out to View Ridge a month after her son disappeared.

The Ridge is where Juniper went to a Mom and Pop Country store that still sold Soda Pop in glass bottles and that’s where she bought matches and gasoline- two can of gasoline to be exact.

Mrs. Country Store wished her a nice day and Juniper turned around and smiled and when Mr Country store saw that woman’s face he almost reached down for the gun he kept under his cash register and that awful feeling that woman gave him that afternoon never really left his bones.

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All right, Juniper told herself as she walked away from an almost certain death  that morning- it wasn’t like people hadn’t been warning each other for years about the Woods.

It wasn’t like nothing bad had ever happened back they’re before; it wasn’t like someone from Bindweed walking into the woods and not walking out was something that happened ” Once Upon a time “

It happened all of the time…over and over again.

It’s just that sometimes- and it was simple…some  people just never learned.

Like the people right here in Bindweed-

They all knew how bad those Woods could be and what did they do?

Did they try to figure out why the trees were bad or what the woods wanted or exactly why they put up with those trees taking them one by one whenever they felt like it?

No.

Not once-

Juniper went into the woods and came out the other side…on the Bindweed side and when she came to the outskirts of her own home town she took her matches and her ax and her cans full of gasoline out of the back of her Jeep.

Later she wondered- as the trees in Bindweed lit up like torches- if the flames would spread into the Woods Behind Riversleigh-

She wondered at last.

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