The Lady of the Woods

The Lady of the Woods

A Story by Daniel Hebert
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A tale of gruesome heartbreak and eternal search for love.

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The Lady of the Woods

As Hazel Montgomery walked through the woods, a heavy fog began to roll in. It was autumn, and the sound of the leaves crunching under her feet made her shiver with anticipation at the return of her husband from the Civil War. William Montgomery was a proud man, not to mention an even prouder Union Soldier. He had served since the very beginning of the war, and now that the war was over, she would finally be able to see him again after four long years. There was only one more thing to do for him; making the journey home. So Hazel gathered items for his favorite dish: a hazelnut pie. This would be a huge pie, costing much for the ingredients, but it would all be worth it to see her husband happy when he arrived home. Hazel walked briskly home, the chilling fall breeze whipping through her hair and garments. She arrived home, quickly lighting a fire to escape from that chilling breeze. She smiled the first smile she had given in a long time, as William was due back by the end of the season. With that, the wait began.

The fall passed by without a trace of Will, giving way to a harsh winter. The frigid temperatures could force most inside in seconds, but Hazel’s devotion was unrelenting. She trudged miles from her house every day to the tree that the lovers had determined they would meet, enduring the howling winds and fierce cold. Her fanatical devotion persisted, however, so did William’s disappearance. The very idea of her beloved husband returning home was now an addiction to poor Hazel, as she began to lose sight of her own sociality and well-being. She lost her job, her journeys into town becoming less and less frequent, her social life eroding into nothingness. Eventually, she even stopped caring about herself. All that mattered was her lost husband, so close; he seemed, but yet so very far away.  

As the seasons changed again, winter melted into spring and that into summer, and still, there was no trace of the thing that mattered most to her. In Hazel’s poor, grief-stricken mind, her house became a prison, her mind her bars, her very body the shackles. All she wanted was to see her beloved again. As that torturous summer finally gave way into the autumn once again, she received the news that changed her life forever.

It was one of her daily journeys to the tree, with a newly baked hazelnut pie. She trudged wearily on, the leaves once again crunching beneath her feet, the chilling breeze once again whipping at her now tangled hair and her now shredded garments. An eerie fog rolled in once again, shrouding all but the closest objects from view. As she stumbled forward in the thick mist, she saw a figure sitting by the tree. Her heart leaped in her chest. It was her husband, William! She rushed forward, tears streaming out of her eyes, calling his name, but when she reached him, she knew that it was not her lover. He was an officer, however, he was plump, with different facial features than her husband. As he began to speak, she felt the embittering ravages of grief tearing away at her soul. He said “Mam, we regret to inform you that your husband, William D Montgomery, was killed after battle.” Hazel’s soul began to shrink into despair as he began to speak again. “Your husband was on his way home from the south when he and his battalion were killed in an ambush by a radical group of vigilante night riders. They were buried in their respective hometowns, his being Providence, Rhode Island.” Tears flooded from Hazel’s eyes. Her husband? Buried? She lashed out at the man, shrieking incoherently in utter madness. As the man ran away, terrified of the sight that he had just witnessed, Hazel sunk to the ground, knowing that she would never rest until she found the grave of her poor husband.

            Hazel Montgomery moved to Providence. She sold the few possessions that she had, save for a locket from her beloved, then moved into a small hotel in the heart of Providence. The people of providence regarded this woman with a strange, curious awe. She was a single woman, a widow, living alone in a hotel, without a job, without a real life. She kept herself locked in her apartment all day, creating horrible moaning sounds that carried down to the streets and alleys below. There was but one understandable word in that mess of moaning and screaming, that word being, “William”. Only the maid of the hotel had ever seen her in the day, and she never cleaned her room again.

This was a new maid, a shady individual. She was not very well off,  previously making money by pickpocketing and stealing from people on the streets. She vowed that she would quit when she got the job of hotel maid, but unfortunately for her, old habits tend to die hard. She walked into the room gingerly, for she had heard the rumors of this woman’s madness. She was dusting the counter when she came upon a mysterious thing. It was half of a locket, shaped like a heart, with a picture of two people inside. The people were a woman, with a smiling face and dark hair, as well as the most pure brown eyes she had ever seen, sitting by a man, the rest of the picture ripped off, obviously to go with another piece of the locket. She grinned. This locket was made of pure silver, by the look and feel of it. She thought, that could go for quite a lot on the black market. She thought to herself, She’s insane, an animal, practically. She won’t notice. She was wrong. She was starting to slip the locket into her apron when suddenly there was an ear-piercing scream. The maid turned around just in time to witness a sight she would never forget. A woman, if you could call her that, with tangled black hair, bloodshot eyes and long, jagged nails lunged out from the bathroom, screaming insanely. She lashed out, knocking the locket from the poor maid’s hand. The maid screamed, running out of the room, out of the hotel. As she ran, all she could think about is how those bloodshot eyes were the same rich, dark brown as that picture in the locket.

Since that day, no person dared venture near the room of Hazel Montgomery. It was a fairy tale, a perfect target for dares from children. All of that ended when the monster appeared. The groundskeeper of the hotel was going to bed when he saw a hunched figure with huge, filthy nails and a tangled  mane of black hair, lurching out of the shadows, lantern in hand. The groundskeeper, who went by the name Jonathan, flattened himself against the wall of the hotel, hoping not to be seen by this freak. It was wearing torn, frayed garments, with hair falling from its head down its back. Its lantern sent eerie shadows dancing along the wall as it shambled across the yard of the hotel, sharp toenails making scraping noises across the pavement. It was vaguely humanoid, very skinny, with prevalent hip bones and bony fingers. As it jerked away, Jonathan noticed one thing: on that hideous monster’s neck rested half of a silver locket, shaped like a heart.

Hazel eventually ran out of money. She was evicted from the hotel. Nobody saw her leave. The next person to see Hazel was the county gravedigger, Geoff. It was a fall night, with the moon high in the sky. Geoff’s shovel rested heavily in his hand. He plunged his shovel into the ground, cursing at his grisly line of work. He despised being in the business of digging graves, but he was good at it. A large, burly man, Geoff could shovel through the soil with ease, and he had memorized the dimensions of the graves so well that he could dig a perfect one without the usual instruments. Yes, he was very efficient, not to mention, not fazed by the horrors of what he did. He was proud, and he felt that a man as brilliant as himself should not be condemned to a life of digging other’s graves. Yet, it paid the rent, and so he chugged on. Tonight, he was especially hurried in his work, as this dark night, and the thick fog would chill even the most hardened man to the core. As he worked, he heard something behind him, shrouded by the shadows of the graveyard. At first, he ignored it. Probably just another critter, he thought. Yet, as he turned his focus back to digging, he heard it again. A faint, raspy muttering, emanating from the inky blackness of the graveyard. He paused, picking up his lantern and shouting “Who’s there?” He heard rustling through the leaves, the cracking of twigs. There was something out there. Something big. Suddenly, he heard it. The sound that froze the blood in his veins, that sent spasmodic shivers down his spine. He heard the sound of something large, something horrible, clawing at the ground.

Geoff snapped. He screamed, running blindly away through the darkness. Running faster and faster until suddenly, that horrible thing, with shredded garments, a tangled mane of black hair and huge, dirt-encrusted nails leaped out of the shadows. Its teeth were red-stained and uneven, with bloodshot eyes rolling madly in their sockets, and as it lurched towards him, it emitted an ear-piercing, tortured scream, like the wail of a banshee. Geoff crumpled to the ground, a mere shadow of the man that he once was. He watched as the thing stepped into the moonlight, and then ran off. As he watched, he realized something even more terrifying than the murmurs in the darkness, even more terrible than that horrible creature. By its gait and shape, he could tell that the nightmarish creature that he had just witnessed, that horrible lurching creature was or at least at one point had been a woman.

In the morning, the police found Geoff, lying unconscious on the ground, graves all around him ripped open. Their caskets were also destroyed, with huge gashing punctures in each, the decaying bodies of the buried exposed. Geoff was immediately arrested for grave robbery. However, he was quickly transferred to an insane asylum, due to disturbances in his cell. When the workers came, they were surprised. He was murmuring in the corner, and when he saw the guards, he yelled out incoherently. Then, he began to scream out “Beware her! Beware her! The Lady in the Woods! She is an animal, an animal, I tell you! She is a spiteful, hateful thing, and she is out there. SHE IS OUT THERE!” Geoff was tested for various disorders in the asylum, and he was found to have severe mental trauma. Even in the Asylum, all he would ever speak about was the Lady of the Woods.

Over 100 years later, these terrifying encounters had faded into distant memory. Their horrible story transforming into merely a cautionary tale for youth. The fear of the Lady morphing into a tourist attraction. One of the main people exploiting this tourist attraction was John Roberts. His great-great-great grandmother was Hazel Montgomery’s sister in law. Personally, he didn’t believe in the legend that surrounded his family. He acted like it, though, because his business depended on the poor suckers that came to his shop believing in it. Hell, he even made up parts of the story, just to attract more tourists. It worked, too! His business was profitable to say the least. That profit was about to end.

John was walking home from work, when he heard some noises coming from the cemetery. He rolled his eyes behind his glasses. Those dumb-a*s kids, again, no doubt. Suddenly, he heard the sound of something digging into the earth. He turned around. “That tears it,” he thought. Those kids can do drugs, skip school, whatever. But desecrating people’s graves is one crime too many! He headed to his shop, picking up a Lady of the Woods knife from his merchandise cabinet. The custom-made knife glittered in the faint moonlight, its engraved patterns appearing to move in the night.

As he walked to the cemetery, his breath turned to fog, the leaves swirling around him with a cold breeze. He came to the center of the cemetery, an area left strangely bare of gravestones. He hid behind a particularly large gravestone, ready to leap out and capture the a******s who were desecrating his family’s final resting place. He heard something, jumping out, only to see a blur of white and brown disappear into the bushes. He looked at the damage of the grave. It was torn open, the casket inside ripped apart by something of tremendous strength. Then, his mind wavered to the legends of the lady of the woods, doomed to search forever for her loved one, ripping apart graves in its wake. He began to breathe heavier, adrenaline coursing through his veins. No. NO, he thought. The only Lady of the Woods I’ve ever seen is on Halloween, and the only thing that one’s craving is candy. He sat down in front of the grave, crossing himself. He then stood up, knife in hand and shouted, “SHOW YOURSELF!” at the top of his lungs. He heard something in the trees, growing closer and closer. He backed up, and then he saw it. Something straight from the pits of Hell itself, emerging from the bushes like a zombie, a dark, shambling thing. It pulled itself up into the moonlight, its tangled hair blowing out behind it in the cold night air. It’s massive, dirt-encrusted fingernails dug into the ground, like scimitars, swiping through the air. As it shambled forward, John saw its eyes. They were bloodshot, seeming to glow in the night. It breathed heavily, its chest heaving up and down. Streaks of grey ran through its hair, and its garments were shredded and dirty, covered in dried blood.

John backed into a sepulcher wall. The thing turned around, returning its attention to the grave. His anger renewed, John shouted ,”Stay away from that, you unholy thing!” That was enough to get its attention. Now at a full pace, the thing jerked towards him spasmodically, like a marionette puppet gone horribly wrong. He worked his way along the wall of the tomb, finding a door. He kicked it open, rushing into the dark space, only to realize the mistake that he had just made. He murmured to himself, “Oh, s**t.” The thing dragged itself in, nails scraping violently against the rough concrete of the structure. It turned its head towards John, its eyes glowing in the night. John unleashed a bloodcurdling scream, and with that, he would never believe or disbelieve in anything, ever again.

The police arrived within an hour, notified of the scream by Mrs. Michaels, a widow near the cemetery. When they did arrive on the scene, it was nothing like they had ever seen before. Dan Walker was an investigator for the Providence Police Department. As a detective, he had seen his fair share of chilling sights before, but nothing remotely as bad as this. Inside of an ancient, ornate mausoleum, there was a horribly maimed corpse. Huge gashes were carved into his chest, up to a foot long and several inches deep. His face was completely unrecognizable, left maimed, torn apart by something with massive claws and strength. Yet, even though there was no way that this man could move with his mauling, there was a trail of blood leading into the moon-lit night. As Dan followed it, the leaves crunched under his feet, his hair being pulled back and chilled by a cool night’s breeze. He made one last turn around a gravestone, when he witnessed something that would haunt his memories for the rest of his life. Sitting there, on the ground, was some sort of animal. It had massive claws, was covered in black hair that seemed to stream from its head. It had blood all over this hair, and when Dan pulled away the hair, he noticed something straight from his nightmares; it was a woman. It was covered in bloodstained, ripped garments, a knife sticking directly into its ribcage, just below the neck. He called out to his team, when suddenly, in one spasmodic, nerve-induced posthumous seizure, that horror pulled itself up and unleashed a banshee’s wail. A deathly, terrifying scream that chilled all that heard it to the bone. But through all of this, all Dan noticed was a strange mark of humanity in the creature. A strange, chilling showing of human emotion, trapped in this savage beast. Resting on the creature’s chest, there lay a silver locket, shaped like a heart.

 

 

© 2013 Daniel Hebert


Author's Note

Daniel Hebert
Reader discresion advised.

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Reviews

Wow, I love it. Very dark and eerie. It has a rhythm that draws you in. EclipseDC is right, it has elements that are similar to Poe or Lovecraft, but a voice that speaks to you, I presume.

Posted 8 Years Ago


Very much like Poe, or Lovecraft in style. i like it

Posted 8 Years Ago


A really good read. I just think that those quotation marks surrounding the characters thoughts are not necessary. The italics are enough to indicate a direct thought. Other than that, this is well written.

Posted 8 Years Ago


Daniel Hebert

8 Years Ago

Thanks for the constructive feedback! I corrected it. What did you think of the story?

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3 Reviews
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Added on April 30, 2013
Last Updated on May 1, 2013
Tags: horror, gothic, romantic, insane, lady, fall, hazel, grave, eternal, search

Author

Daniel Hebert
Daniel Hebert

Akron, OH



About
I enjoy dipping into the minds of the sick and demented, living in their worlds and visions. As H.P. Lovecraft said, "Fear is humanity's most ancient and powerful emotion". more..

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