• Vol. 04
  • Chapter 06
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The Dare

Toby said there was something in the forest.
‘There’s always something in the forest,’ I said. I was sitting by the school games hut, a discus in my hand. Toby was leaning against the warped wooden door, the team sashes over his arm. A crash came from inside. Jas was piling the hurdles together.
‘Yeah, but this is different.’ Toby leaned down. ‘Some sort of skeleton, I’ve heard.’
I stood up just as Jas came out of the shed, hair on end like he’d already seen something scary.
‘Jas is coming tonight. Dare you, Ben.’
I threw the discus into the shed. ‘Sure.’
Tonight turned out to be a midnight meet. Another silly idea of Toby’s but actually I was counting on it.
The other two were waiting for me by the bin in the car park.
‘Come on,’ Toby said turning into the trees. The night seemed alive with eerie sounds – owls, foxes, things creeping through the forest floor. ‘Not scared are you?’ Toby asked. I wasn’t sure if he was talking to me or whether Jas was included in this.
We walked further into the wood. ‘I’m not sure about this.’ This was Jas. ‘What if we get lost?’
‘I got badges in this.’ Toby said proudly, but I knew he was lying. He’d been asked to leave cubs but scouts tolerated him despite the incident of the tent fire. Jas walked closer to me.
‘What will your mum say if she finds you’ve been here at night?’ I goaded. Was that a whimper I heard?
And then we were in the clearing. Sitting on a stone was a human-like skeleton with a deer’s head. Jas screamed. Toby jumped around in delight until I shone my flashlight over it. I was watching their faces, the horror as they took in the twigs growing out of the middle of the skeleton. I guided the flashlight right of the bones towards a tree with a hole in its trunk.


The Dare

‘What’s that?’ Toby said, his voice shaking. That’s when I pressed the remote control and the moaning sounds started.
‘That’s its offspring.’ I said. ‘Or maybe its dinner.’ Then I laughed, my voice echoing through the trees and into the night.
Jas turned and ran. Toby backed away a few paces as the moans rose higher.
‘Finally something in the forest,’ I said walking up to the tree.
‘What are you doing?’
I ignored Toby and pulled out the object from the tree. It was a child’s soft toy but Toby didn’t know that as I threw it in his direction. He yelled and ran.

My laughter followed him. I was so busy congratulating myself on this hoax that I didn’t notice the skeleton tilting forward. When it smothered me, bones clacking against each other like knitting needles and pinning me to the dry and dusty earth I screamed too. The jaws of the deer clamped around my neck and bit in.