Forest With No Trees (Writing Exercise)

In the hills outside of town there is a forest with no trees. Since the last fire, the shrubs took over. Manzanita, mostly. It’s impenetrable terrain, unless you’ve got a chainsaw or a big machete and a strong arm. People hear strange noises there. Probably pigs. The wild ones get big and mean. That’s probably why they find bodies out there too. Pigs will eat everything, even bones, fingerprints, and anything that might get matched against dental records.

Everyone in town knew all about the forest with no trees. Jim did. What Jim didn’t know was why he was holding a severed leg in his hand. It didn’t make sense. Also didn’t make sense that he couldn’t stand up, break free of the twisting bark that seemed to bury him no matter which way he turned.

Only, the shoe on that leg looked too familiar. Oh, that made sense. Why he couldn’t stand up. Why it hurt more around his right knee than everywhere else.

Jim clubbed at the branches enclosing him with his own severed leg. Throughout the sympathetic ghost pains and the gritting of the teeth he kept a rhythm. Thwak. Thwak-thwak. An hour or so later his leg no longer looked so familiar. But Jim was free.

Jim threw himself at the top of the manzanita. It didn’t break, and he rolled atop it for a moment. Every jab and every poke felt more like freedom than his own destruction. Or so he told himself.

But Jim was not alone. There was something else in the forest with no trees. Something moving towards him. Something that seemed darker than the rest of the night, visible but invisible.

“If I were you, I’d scream.”


The writing prompt was to spend a few minutes describing each of the following in the order posted below:

-A setting
-A character in the setting
-The character leaving the setting
-The character encountering someone else
-One piece of dialogue.

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