RedPaper.in – Short Story
By: Ayush Verma | RedPaper.in
Ryan was a part of the cabin crew for IndiBlue Airways. His job helped him fulfil his dream of traveling the world and collecting memories between flights. He’d never use the hotel accommodations; it didn’t matter if his layover was a few hours or a couple of days. He had an itinerary ready for every trip. From bunking with 2 strangers in a hostel in Amsterdam, to renting a cottage in Bern, he’d done it all. For his trip to Japan he wanted to try something different, considering that he had a single night he decided to explore the infamous Aokigahara ‘suicide’ forest which lay in the shadow of Mount Fuji.
The foliage in the forest was so dense that it was virtually impossible to see above it, or past about ten feet; aptly called the ‘Sea of trees’. Beginning their trek on January 3rd from the northern entry they planned to camp midway and follow the trail out of the forest by 6 AM the next morning.
After gathering all the camping essentials and having talked to the locals Ryan and his colleague Jason entered the forest at 3 PM. The trail passed around the centre of the forest and after following it for 3 good hours they decided to set up camp. Once their tents were up they decided to look around for firewood. Having done an extensive amount of research they noticed a tree which seemed similar to the photographs on the internet. The tree, also known as the “tree of death”, had witnessed multiple suicides and bore all the victims’ names on its ancient trunk. People believed that the heart of the forest lay under this tree. Ryan knew they shouldn’t be there–the trail didn’t lead to the forbidden part of the forest. By now, the forest was eerily black and they promptly decided to leave.
Following their compasses they knew they had to head south, away from the center. Just as they got a little further from the center they could feel the chill and suddenly a cold weather subdued. They didn’t stop for anything until they came across a trail marked by a red ribbon left behind by someone. Someone who had been there before them, they guessed, so they decided to follow it.
They’d been walking for hours now, in pitch black hoping for sunrise which didn’t seem to arrive. Determined to make it out of the forest, they continued walking. Finally, when dawn seeped into the forest and they could see beyond their flashlights, they breathed a sigh of relief.
Having followed the trail for a long long time, almost eternity, they made it to the exit on the south of the forest. Ryan fell to his knees with overwhelming joy. Jason, who had finally been able to charge his phone gave a shriek and went silent in a state of shock. Ryan rushed to his side to look at what Jason had seen. The time on the phone was 3:01 PM. The clock on the phone read, 3:10 PM, JANUARY 3.
And just then, 2 more names were added to the trunk!