Wilber and the Pebble
by thadd presley
In the heart of the town lies a forest where a group of children had gathered for a macabre game they played on new kids. Wilber was twelve and had just moved onto South Laughter Street. Oblivious to the horrors that awaited him, he agreed to go into the woods and bring a pebble back from the stream.
Even from the end of the cul-de-sac, the air smelled of moist decay, and the ground squelched beneath his feet, as if it were soaked in the blood of countless soldiers the group said were buried here during the war.
Suddenly, Wilber stumbled upon a grotesque image. He started to laugh, but it wasn’t a joke. It took a moment for his brain to realize he was looking at a mutilated corpse. Its entrails spilled out like a grotesque tapestry. Flies buzzed around the black, putrid remains, feasting on the decaying flesh. The sight was enough to make even the bravest of souls retch in disgust. But Wilber, driven by shame and the need to be accepted, pushed forward. He walked way around the deer carcass, but didn’t dar tear his eyes away, out of fear it might bolt upright and start after him.
Meanwhile, those who had initially reveled in their cruel dare to send the new kid into the haunted forest in search of a smooth creek pebble, began to worry. Anxiety gnawed at their hearts as minutes turned into half an hour. Then, fear crept into their voices as they called out his name.
Their once playful banter about him shitting his pants when he saw he dead deer replaced by genuine concern. Little did they know, their innocent dare had led their friend into a nightmare from which he would never return.
The guilt gnawed at Sarah’s conscience and she was the first to suggest they go in and get him. “He’s lost, that’s all. We can find him and bring him out. He’s probably sitting at the big tree.” She knew they had pushed Wilber too early. They didn’t know him well enough to play a joke like this and now they would have to go in the forest too.
Jake’s face paled, his bravado crumbling under the weight of their actions. He knew Emily was usually the voice of reason, His voice trembled with fear, her eyes darting around as if expecting the forest itself to close up against them, “I don’t know. Maybe we should just say we were all in the forest and he got lost.”
Driven by a mix of guilt and desperation, the trio walked into the opening of the forest. Immediately their voices lost all power as though the desolate woods absorbed them. They continued to call Wilber’s name until they heard an owl.
The air grew heavy with an oppressive silence, broken only by the distant call of the owl. Shadows danced around them, whispering secrets of unspeakable horrors.
As they argued over going further in or lying, the hours became darkness.
South Laughter Strret parents were called in to continue searching the forest in groups, but come morning there was still no sign of Wilber.