tagNonHumanThe Woods Ch. 01

The Woods Ch. 01

bycupbearer©

This story begins when I was 18 years old. That wasn't very long ago, but so much has happened to me since then that I feel much older. I have gone through experiences that set me apart from everyone else I know. In truth, I feel set apart from everyone else on the planet. I can no longer take reality for granted.

When I was 18, I was a fairly normal teenage boy except in maybe one respect. I was a deeply committed Christian. This wasn't because I came from a religious family; my parents are not religious and neither is my sister. I discovered my faith when I was 13 in a religious studies class at school. I read the Gospels and I was profoundly affected by them. It struck me as the most astonishing fact in human history that God loved the world so much that He sent His own Son to die and be redeemed, that we all might have eternal life. I don't know why I was so susceptible to this idea, but I was. I embraced it completely.

Discovering that I believed in the resurrection of Jesus Christ and accepted God's love was like what I think falling in love must be like for other people. I remember the sheer bliss of knowing that I was saved. I revelled in the knowledge that I would have eternal life and it pained me that my family and friends didn't seem to want to know -- that, in fact, they thought I was strange and preferred me not to talk to them about the need to embrace the love of God.

It got more difficult as I tried to persuade my schoolmates that the word of God was real and that Jesus wanted them to accept Him. More than once, I suffered at the hands of boys in school (and some girls) who thought I was a religious nut, or a moralistic prig, and who wanted to take me down a peg or two. I was beaten up a couple of times. I was also humiliated. Once, in a swimming class, three girls ganged up on me and pulled my swimming trunks off me while I was in the pool. The teacher had to intervene while I stood up to my neck in the water, vainly trying to cover myself with my hands while the other kids laughed at me. Another time, the school had a sponsored custard pie fight for charity and I took part in it, because, well, it was for charity -- and to my shame and embarrassment, all the other kids who were taking part selected me as their victim. I later found out that when they discovered that I was going to be taking part, it didn't take them long to agree that I would be the only one who got hit with a pie. That's how much they disliked me. I was trapped against a wall and deluged with custard pies until I was so plastered in goo and shaving foam that, again, a teacher had to intervene. I actually had to take a shower and borrow some clothes, my own were so filthy.

What really galled my classmates was that I accepted this kind of thing on the grounds that a good Christian turns the other cheek , and martyrdom was an honourable thing for a true believer. When my classmates were made to apologise to me, I even forgave them, although I still felt the shame of being humiliated in such a messy and embarrassing way. Behaviour like this did not earn me a lot of new friends, although I still had some friends from before I had become a Christian. With my close friends, I eventually made an agreement that we just wouldn't talk about my faith because they didn't want to hear about it.

This hurt me, but I accepted it. Like anyone, I didn't want to be entirely alone. I remembered my friends in my prayers, and my tormentors too. The bullying I sometimes received wasn't as bad as some kids suffered, and I always tried to bear that in mind. I was just made to look like a fool from time to time, but some kids were really hurt, and in the end I wasn't the most satisfying victim for the bullies because they realised that whatever they tried to do to me couldn't really hurt me.

Nevertheless, I grew up feeling lonely. I tried going to churches, but I was never very comfortable with the kind of people who went to churches. It seemed to be more of a social club for them, and a lot of them had political and social opinions that I thought were wrong and offensive. I also didn't like the terrible songs and the relentless cheerfulness of the places I went to. Eventually I stopped going. My faith increasingly became a matter between God and myself.

Needless to say, I didn't have a girlfriend. My attitude to sex was that I should save myself for when I had found love and had got married. I knew some kids in school who were quietly gay and lesbian and I thought what they did was wrong, but on the other hand I knew that it was very difficult to form a strong argument about it based on what the Bible says, because the Bible says so many different things about so many subjects and it doesn't always agree with itself. So I kept my opinions to myself, but I also kept away from the kids who were doing things that I regarded as being sinful.

I found that the best way to feel close to God was to be on my own. I loved being outside and in touch with God's creation, and I took to taking long walks by myself at the weekends. As I got older, and my friends began to form relationships and have flirtations, all of my feelings about love and happiness were sublimated in my love for the divine creation, my appreciation of the natural world that God had created. I could take a walk in the fields near my house and it would fill me with love for humanity, just being close to the earth and growing things.

It was my love of nature that eventually led me to discover the woods, and it was in the woods that the thing first happened to me that would turn my world upside-down, and utterly change the way I existed and what I believed.

Was I totally ignorant of sex? Pretty much. I knew about masturbation and on two occasions, when I was fourteen, I did it, but I was so consumed with shame about it that I wept afterwards. I knew it was wrong, but it had felt good -- and yet I knew that that was merely the lust of the flesh. Because I deliberately refrained from masturbating, I was prone to having wet dreams and these disturbed me greatly, because it was as if I could sin in my sleep. As far as possible, I tried to be unaware of the urgings of my body. My body was merely the vessel of my immortal soul and I knew that my soul could be polluted by my body if I gave into the flesh. I even showered and bathed with my briefs on, so that I wouldn't see myself in the flesh; afterwards, I would cover myself with a towel, take off the wet briefs, throw them in the laundry, dry myself and dress beneath the towel. After a while I grew used to always having clothes on. It made it much easier to ignore my body.

I suppose I'm not bad-looking. I am average height, with short dark hair and on the slight side. I have never been much of an eater, because that too is giving into the flesh. My features are fairly regular. When new girls came to the school, they would sometimes take an interest in me until they found out that I was a Christian, and then they would generally avoid me.

So, through having no physical contact with girls or even with myself, I became pretty good at fighting off the desire of my body. That's why what happened to me was so devastating.

It happened the day after my eighteenth birthday. It was a warm Saturday afternoon and I had decided to go for a walk. I packed up a rucksack with water, some fruit, a map, a compass and my Bible and I set out from the house. I was wearing my favourite summer walking clothes, a t-shirt, a pair of shorts and trainers. I liked the feeling of the sun on my bare limbs. I didn't think that it was a fleshly indulgence because I had long since been able to experience it as God's light shining on me.

The woods were about five miles from our house, and they covered a steep hill. They were largely untouched by man, being the remnant of an old forest. There was a nature trail in them and a couple of clearings with picnic tables, but most of them were fairly inaccessible, unless you knew what you were doing. I did some orienteering and was good at reading maps and making my way through undergrowth.

By the time I got to the woods, it was hot and I was sweating. I was glad of the shade as I made my way up the hill. At first I followed the nature trail, really just a dirt path through the less thick part of the woods, but half way up I decided that I'd like to leave the trail and really see what the woods had to offer.

That was my fatal mistake. I had no idea, then, what the woods had to offer, and had I known, I would never, ever have gone in there. I would have remained in my innocence -- maybe just a bit longer, maybe for the rest of my life. I could have died as an old man in the serene knowledge that I would wake up in heaven. Well, that's not how it worked out.

I stepped off the trail and made my way through the trees. At first, the trees were quite sparse but the undergrowth soon got thicker, and after a while I was having to tread carefully. But I liked the exercise. I drank water as I went, to stay hydrated, and I ate fruit to keep my electrolytes balanced. Sometimes I had to make my careful way through thorn bushes, and I smiled to myself as I thought of the biblical significance of thorns -- these were obstacles I had to pass to reach salvation.

I don't know why I kept walking, but I went on for a long time without turning back. I should have circled around at some point, and got back on the trail, but I didn't.

As I went deeper into the woods, the atmosphere became more and more close and thick. I was sweating freely and I often had to run a hand over my forehead to wipe perspiration away. But my limbs were singing and my heart was full. I breathed deeply, smelling the rich forest scent.

On and on I went, inhaling the smell of the trees and flowers and earth. It was almost intoxicating. I felt wonderful as I made my way through thick ferns and hanging vines and pushed deeper and deeper into the enclosing trees.

At last I stopped, in a small glade with an opening high above in the tree canopy, that left a little light shining on the forest floor. I looked around, eager to take a break. The ground was covered with creepers, and here and there were large purple flowers, hugging the ground, with succulent leaves and a rich scent. I didn't recognise them straight away but they were so beautiful that I sat down to take a look at them, and to rest my weary legs for a moment.

Ten minutes here, I thought to myself, and then I'd better start think about heading back.

I lay on my belly on the ground and examined one of the purple flowers. There was a low hum in the air, as if bees were around, but I couldn't see any. I touched the petals with my fingers. The flowers were crown-shaped, about six inches across, with purple petals that became a pinkish-gold towards the centre of the flower. The stamens were large, among the largest I'd ever seen -- long, rather thick and with a bulbous tip, lightly dusted with a waxy-looking pollen. As I examined the stamens, turning them over with my fingers, I had the strangest impression that they seemed to get bigger from me touching them. But it had to be a trick of the light. Still, they were at least three inches long.

There were multiple carpels in the centre of the flower, with what appeared to be pistils. I touched one of them with my finger and it sprang open, revealing an unusually large and deep ovary -- there was a heady burst of scent as it happened, so strong it made me feel slightly dizzy. The interior of the ovary was a deep purple and glistened slightly.

I don't know how long I lay there, staring at the flower, inhaling its scent. I only know that it was too long.

Abruptly, I rolled over and sat up, only to find that my ankles had somehow become entangled in the creepers on the forest floor. The creepers were wrapped right around my ankles and hopelessly tangled up. I was surprised, and leaned forward to undo them, but the creepers weren't dried out and brittle, as I'd thought, but surprisingly lush and thick. Each of them was about a centimetre thick and they were slightly elastic. Just tugging at them didn't break them. I reached down to my pocket to get out my penknife to cut them. If I couldn't cut them, it would be a while before I could free my ankles and stand up.

As my hand touched the pocket of my shorts, I felt something whip around my wrist and I looked down.

A creeper was actually snaking around my wrist. I could see it moving, wrapping around my forearm, holding my arm in place, stopping me from reaching my pocket.

I felt a shock of fear in my gut.

I reached with my other arm to free my right wrist, but even as I did so another creeper came out of nowhere and lashed itself around my right wrist, dragging my hand back to the ground beside me.

Now, I was held to the ground by creepers around my ankles and wrists.

I thought that there must be somebody doing this, and I looked around, scared. 'Hello?' I said aloud. 'Stop this! Let me go! Hello? Who's there? What do you want?'

There was no answer. But then I saw more creepers, snaking along the ground, coming towards me, rearing up and sliding onto my bare legs, pushing slowly but inexorably up towards my torso.

'What's going on?' I said in alarm, truly scared now. I didn't know what in the world was happening. Plants did not do this. Was this some strange plant-animal hybrid? Was I its prey? I struggled to pull my ankles and wrists free, but the creepers simply tightened, not squeezing me painfully but not letting me go either.

One creeper was pushing up my chest, it's blunt tip waving gently as it snaked up towards my face, and I leaned my head back, scared, in case it was going to attack me or sting me in some way -- but it simply went past my right ear and then I felt it slowly starting to encircle my head, going under my jaw and then up over the top of my head. I panicked. I thrashed desperately, trying to get free, but the creepers had me in a firm grip.

'Stop!' I cried. 'Please! Don't do this! I don't know what you want, but leave me alone! Stop!' On some level I thought that the creepers could be reasoned with, that there must be some intelligence controlling them, but they seemed to ignore me completely. I pulled desperately with my arms and legs, but it was useless.

And then the creepers on my torso started to snake up inside my shirt, relentless, wrapping themselves around my chest, holding me down.

'Oh God!' I cried out, and then felt bad for this careless use of Our Lord's name. 'Oh God, save me!' I cried again. 'Lord, please, deliver me! Help me!'

Another creeper came up the front of my shirt and went inside the collar, then seemed to hook around the collar itself and pulled down, slowly but forcefully. The back of the collar dug into the back of my neck and I gasped with pain, but then my t-shirt started to rip down the front, and then the creeper yanked it and the fabric tore completely, the two halves falling away, exposing my bare chest. I struggled frantically. 'Please!' I begged. 'Leave me! Please don't do this! What are you doing!'

And then, with a surge of horror, I suddenly had an inkling of what the creepers were doing, because one of them snaked up inside the right leg of my shorts and hooked itself over the waist band, and began to pull down. At the same time, I felt my trainers being hauled off my feet by more creepers wrapping themselves around them.

That's when I realised that the plant, whatever it was, was trying to strip me.

'Oh please NO!' I screamed, hearing my voice sounding weak and shaky, and feeling disgusted with myself for how pathetic I sounded. But I was so horrified at the nameless sin that seemed to be about to visited upon me that I was shaking uncontrollably. The creeper pulling on the waist band of my shorts was pulling so hard that the front button popped, and all of a sudden my shorts were loose enough that they started to slide down my hips.

'NO!' I screamed again. 'NO! PLEASE!', and I squirmed and writhed in the grip of the creepers, but it was useless. My shorts were slowly tugged down my hips, revealing just my tight white briefs, and as the shorts were pulled off me more creepers tugged on them until they split completely and fell away in rags. This was terrifying to me, the thought of being exposed, the thought of having my clothes slowly and relentlessly plucked from my body in the open air, in a place where after all anyone could see me -- where, after all, I could see myself. I was deeply afraid of being undressed among other people and I always covered myself with a towel when I had been in the changing rooms at school, but now my clothes were not only being taken off me but destroyed in the process. There would be no way back, no way for me to cover myself after the final indignity, I would be supremely vulnerable and exposed, I would be naked, a naked boy, alone in the middle of a forest - anyone would be able to see me.

And then it was happening, oh God, what I most feared above all, the humiliation I was most terrified of -- the creepers slowly slid inside my briefs and hooked themselves onto the fabric and were, pulling, pulling, so that the thin white briefs were ever so slowly but unstoppably pulled down my writhing, bucking hips, and gradually, bit by bit, I was forced to look at myself being uncovered, first my bottom as the seat of the pants was dragged downwards.

'Oh NO!' I screamed, closing my eyes and averting my gaze, but the creeper around my head forced my head to face down my body, and delicate but strong tendrils opened my eyelids, so that I had to watch what was happening to me. I was gasping with shame and weeping helplessly as the fabric of the pants was stretched and torn to breaking point, until abruptly my penis and balls were uncovered, and then the poor tortured material tore and the rags of my briefs were torn off me and flung outside.

'Oh Jesus Christ our lord!' I wept. 'Please, no! Please, deliver me!' Finally it had happened, what I most feared above all: I was stripped, in the grip of the demonic creepers, a writhing, naked teenage boy suffering an inexplicable and shaming assault. I was made to take in the sight of my agonised, naked body, my limbs tugging and flexing as I squirmed helplessly in the grip of the creepers. 'PLEASE!' I sobbed. 'PLEASE don't do this to me!' But there was nobody around to hear. I had not seen myself naked for years and for it to happen like this was unbearably degrading. I remembered a picture I had seen in an art book at school, of a man and two boys being attacked by some kind of serpent. The sight of the naked man and his sons writhing desperately in the grip of the serpent had made me feel scared and excited. Now, it was me who it was happening to. I was the one who was naked and helpless, my young bare limbs and torso straining against the powerful creepers that were snaking around my body, curling up around my armpits and crotch as I writhed and moaned in horror.

And then, as if being held down and stripped naked and helpless was not enough, the tips of the creepers began to exude a clear, aromatic oil, brushing it all over my naked body, anointing me, basting me, so that little by little I was completely coated in it. I felt it flowing over my eyes and face and I shut my eyes and moaned 'Oh NO! NO! What are you doing! Please don't! Please, whatever you're doing, don't do it to me! Oh pleeease!' It was no use. The oil was in my hair, dripping off my chest, and the creepers were leaking it over my genitals. It was making my skin tingle, intensifying the feeling of the creepers clutching my body, so that every contact I had with the ground or with the plant seemed to be magnified into a piercingly overwhelming flood of sensation.

I kept my eyes shut and sobbed 'Oh no, please, oh PLEASE, no, no, no...please, let me go...' but it kept happening. And then I felt myself being turned over, gradually, so that I went from sitting up, to writhing and kicking on my side, to finally squirming in impotent rage and terror on my belly, on the forest floor.

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