No one dared take the road through the woods. Although much shorter than the others, people tried to avoid it if possible. It had been built almost a century ago but it was only widely used for a couple of years before the wood grew darker and thicker and much more dangerous.
So an alternative road, by the side of the mountain, was built to avoid the forest. That road had a lot of curves, cliffs, and almost doubled the other one in length. It wasn't uncommon that, on a harsh winter or on rainy days, the door got blocked by mud and rocks falling from the mountain. The two towns would then be disconnected and all trade or travels between the two had to be postponed.
On one of those bad days, Sammy, a young woman looking forward visiting her family in the other town, got with her car to the mountain road but soon realized it had been blocked by big boulders. She went back home and , sadly, sat by the television set and thought of her family.
It was going to be a surprise visit but now it couldn't be done. Although... She went to her studio and grabbed a map of the region. The map marked the mountain road as a primary road. Meanwhile, the one in the woods had only a few segments drawn as people had no idea of its current state.
Sammy knew the road wasn't good for cars, only for small vehicles, motorcycles or pedestrians. But none dared enter the woods. What she noticed was that if she got out in the middle of the day, she could get across the woods in less than 3 hours. The journey normally took seven hours and that was not an option now.
So the next day she decided to dress properly for a hard walk and got to the point where the woods started. It wasn't strange no one was around as she begin, walking by the old road, covered in dead leaves and puddles of mud.
With her she only had a backpack with clothes and food, her cellphone and the map folded inside. That was it. She wore hiking boots and a thick jacket and thermal pants. It had stopped raining in the morning but she knew she had to walk fast in order to get there soon.
The first hour was incredible easy. The road was plain and almost no rocks or trees where lying across it. She could almost imagine the old carriages and horses going through the woods.
However, the place was really creepy. She knew it was around midday, but the son could almost not be seen. The foliage was thick and the trees had grown in all sorts of shapes. Almost no flowers grew there and she heard no animals in the vicinity.
When half of the walking was done, she realized the road ended and two different paths began from there. At that point she got her map out and spread it on the ground. It was hard to make a choice but she thought the best option was the clearer path, the one in the left. The map seemed to confirm it. So she began to walk again.
After just a half hour, she was walking through trees. The path had finished a few steps ago and now she only saw thin trees with big treetops. She felt lost but knew that the only option was walking in a straight line. The forest had to end at some point and it was likely the town was not far from there.
But when she started walking a cracking sound stopped her. She gazed around but so nothing. As she but one foot in front of the other, the cracking sound came back. And again and again. So she turned around.
Nothing. She decided to walk faster. After a few minutes she arrived in a clearing and there was a cottage there, the kind a lumberjack makes. Now Sammy was petrified. No one had gone to the woods in almost a hundred years so why was there a house in the middle of it?
She was very curious about it but decided not to investigate further. She continued to walk but now she heard as if someone tap a window. She turned and so no one there.
Now she was almost running. Sammy was not an athlete so her feet where killing her already but she knew she had no time to waste.
After a while, the trees began to feel more and more separated and she could see the sun, pale and cold but bright enough to make her feel safe. She decided the town could not be very far so she walked with a smile towards the edge of the forest but then rain started falling. As if someone was pouring buckets and buckets of it.
Then the cracking sound again and, in the middle of the downpour, Sammy felt someone touched her shoulder. She screamed and ran for her life. She only stopped when she felt the day had gotten brighter.
She removed the hoodie of her jacket and realized the rain had stopped and that she had arrived at her destination. She could see the tree line. Sammy was on a hill and from there one could see the town. She smiled but then she heard a laugh and turned instinctively.
There, by the nearest tree, there was a small boy. He only smiled and waved at her. And Sammy waved at him. He turned his back to her and she did the same and each one parted.
Sammy got to her family's house but did not share the story with them. She invented some lie and kept the strange smile of the kid in the woods for herself.