• Vol. 01
  • Chapter 05
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The Door Closes

Georgie: Pretty!

Jamie: Huh, pretty weird.

Jessie: Pretty gross.

Alex: I wonder how they got like that? Why they're here?

Alex kneels down to look, the other three follow. Four birds, stacked on one another on the forest floor, in the centre of a clearing. Late afternoon sun is disappearing behind clouds, shifting the colours of the birds and leaves around them into darker shades. The four lean in.

Jamie: I dare you.

Jessie: Touch one? No way!

Georgie: Shh. Sleeping.

Jessie: Sleeping? No, Georgie, dead!

Georgie's face falls. Alex picks up a twig and pokes the smallest bird, the apex of the pyramid, then the largest one at the base, gently so as not to topple the arrangement.

Alex: Yes, definitely dead. But definitely like this on purpose.

Jamie: Maybe it's art? Like on the autumn art trail we came here for last year.

Jessie: But it's still winter.

Alex: You're right — wrong time of year. Besides, the art trail was signposted and near the paths. This is something else.


The Door Closes

Jessie: Someone put them here after they were dead.

Jamie: But how did they die? Did the someone find them then put them like this?

Jessie: Or did the someone kill them?

Alex leans in closer, sees flecks of blood on the lighter-coloured birds.

Alex: I don't know. But I think we should get back. Mum and Dad will be wondering where we are.

Jessie: I thought we were lost?

Alex: We are. Looking at these birds isn't going to help us get unlost. It'll be evening soon and Mum and Dad will be worried

Jessie: But I said we should go back.

Jamie: Only after Georgie poked you in the eye with a stick and you started crying.

Jessie: I wasn't crying!

Alex: Quiet. Where's Georgie? Georgie!

Georgie peeks out from behind a tree at the edge of the clearing.

Georgie: Look! More.

The three run over. A faint trail leads out of the clearing. Four squirrels are stacked against one of the trees, as still and silent and flecked as the four birds. Further on, the trail becomes more clearly defined. The four can see some kind of coloured cairn. Cairn? Foxes, stacked — four?


The Door Closes

Georgie: Look, house!

Jessie: Perhaps whoever lives there knows the forest and can help us find our way back.

They can just make out a shack at the end of the path. Wooden and weather-beaten, its door is reddened and ajar. Georgie starts off down the path.

Alex: No. No, I don't think they can. Not that way, Georgie. Let's go the other way.

The four return to the clearing and keep walking.

The door closes.