Short Fiction

The Place of Thick Dark Trees

The wind rustled calmly on this typical Halloween night. Crumpled autumn leaves and scattered candy wrappers, their colors faded and worn, lined the paved streets of Whitebridge. Warm yellow light glowed softly from neighborhood houses. A chill breeze swished against creepy decorations. Children laughed, giggled, screamed, their voices echoing ominously through the hills. 

But there was a place that no one looked for. A hidden place. In the outskirts of the forest. Not a whisper. Not a sound. The Place of Thick Dark Trees. Ancient, wild trunks. Skeletal branches, untamed plants. Where worlds collide. An intersection, where shadows and magic melt and twist into our reality. 

In that place, The Place of Thick Dark Trees, a black cat slinked through the brush, his lamp-like eyes shards of the moon. His paws were crafty and quick. His matted fur glistened with dew. His tail gilded behind him like a ribbon. He was a piece of  the night.

He trotted through the tangled woods, full of magic and mystery, just like him. The cat shifted into the shadows, becoming something new. 

He was everything then. An eagle and a deer and a fish and a turtle and a monkey and a wolf and a beetle. 

But even though he was everything, even though he could take any form, any shape; he was filled with magic and mystery; yet he yearned for nothing

And looking out into Whitebridge below, the cat saw that. A nothing town doing nothing things in a nothing world. But to Magyk, it was everything. So, the cat sauntered through the forest, out of The Place of Thick Dark Trees, and into adventure.



An anxious mother scanned the streets. Where could she have gone? There! A little girl in a boxy robot costume! Melissa quickly scurried over to her child, her blonde hair like a flag behind her. The woman tightly squeezed her daughter’s shoulders. 

Riley looked back at her mother, her blue eyes unfazed. The silver-painted, cardboard box around her head tilted awkwardly with her movement. 

“You can’t go off wandering like that! It’s Halloween night! It’s dangerous! You can never EVER leave mommy’s sight, okay? Here, alright honey, hold my hand-”

The toddler sent her mom a puzzled look. The child’s innocent eyes were sparks in the darkness. A tuft of her dirty blonde fuzz wafted into her face. 

“But there was someone who looked like a scientist over there!” Riley whimpered, “Maybe she knows how to build REAL robots, like how I want to one day!”

The mother put on a forced grin. 

“But you have to stay next to me, alright sweetie? Or else we can’t trick or treat.” 

The toddler instantly pouted, stamping her foot in frustration. Reluctantly, she slugged along her mother’s side. 

The streets of Whitebridge were bursting with kids. Everywhere Riley looked, she saw people, running around and laughing and having fun. Her heart lurched. Riley desperately wanted to be like them. Pieces of conversations, gears to a machine, floated in the toddlers ears. Curiosity blossomed within her. 

It was just at that moment in which Melissa found some neighborhood moms to engage in delightful conversation with.

It was also at that moment when Riley heard a rustle from the bushes.

For a second, the toddler thought about what to do. Should she dare disobey her mother? Riley’s eyes narrowed determinedly. In the name of science, she would go forward.

The little robot girl creeped towards the din, her light-up shoes blinking with every step. One step, another step. At this point, she was close enough to wrap her fingers around a little branch. She peered in between the gaps in the foliage.

“Hello?” Riley called out innocently, “I…I heard you!”

A black tail, like a ribbon, flicked out of the branches. 

Slowly but surely, a cat, almost like a piece of the night, strolled gracefully out of the bushes. To Riley, It’s eyes resembled daffodils. It’s ears were like little oreos. There was something strange about this cat that Riley could not pin down. Nevertheless, she welcomed him with open arms.

“Oh, hi!” She cooed with childlike glee. The cat stepped in a little closer. 

“I’m Riley! You’re a cute little kitty, aren’t you? Yes you are!”

She thought about what to do next. Unfortunately, she did not have any fish on hand to give to this little cat…Although she did have the next best thing! Riley stuffed her grubby fingers into her trick or treating bag and pulled out a piece of gummy candy. She offered it to the mysterious feline.

“Here, do you want this?” 

She cupped out her hand. The cat stalked over, and carefully examined the foregin object…Was this a delicacy for the human world? It didn’t appear to have any magical properties. Satisfied, the black cat delicately engulfed candy in it’s jaws. 

Riley squealed. The cat’s tongue was rough in her palm, like sandpaper. She giggled. It was just her and a new friend, one with the bushes, on a perfect night. The moment felt like forever. 

“Awwww! You’re such a good little kitty! Do you have any surprises for me?”

Suddenly, a strange flicker of light flashed in the cat’s eyes. It had shifted, right in front of Riley’s eyes. The cat was no longer a cat, but a snail.

The child gasped! The…creature…was magical!

“Magic Is….REAL! That’s your name then…Magic!!”

Riley heard footsteps around her. Her heart sank. She knew it was her mother.

“Okay, Magic!” She whispered quietly, “Next Halloween, and every one after, meet me here? Got it?”

Magyk understood. He had done what he had sought out to do. He melted into the shadows, and was gone.

A hand clamped on Riley’s wrist. 

“Riley Jane Moore! I TOLD you not to leave my sight! Come on, we’re going home!”

Nevertheless, Riley was beaming. This Halloween, she had discovered her magic. And she would meet with him in more Halloweens to come.

Write A Comment