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10. Forest

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The air was sick with rotting meat. That was because the forest was filled with rotting meat. Virtually every tree in this forest had a number of rusty chains bolted through its branches. At the other end of Each of these chains was a meat hook adorned with a cut of putrid meat of indeterminate origin. This cavalcade of rancid flesh was all a secondary concern to Davy, however. Because Davy was covered in blood.

If Davy had looked up, he would have seen one of these hanging cuts of meat twist itself on its own accord as Davy walked under it, blood erupting from within like water being forced from a wrung-out towel. This blood had to land somewhere, and it just so happened to be on Davy. If Davy had seen all this happen, he would have been thoroughly disgusted.

But Davy did not see this.

Because of all the blood.

Davy was not taking this well. “Am I going to get hepatitis?” he asked Steve with no intention of masking his panic. “Because this seems like how you get hepatitis.”

Steve did not share Davy’s concerns. This forest had left him less than impressed. He was not happy to discover that Barnaby Willacre’s Hackneyed House of Horrors did not end at that hallway. Still, when he and Davy walked through that door at the end of the hallway, he hoped that maybe Round Two would provide something that could pass for at least a little scary, maybe if you squinted your eyes and didn’t look at it directly.

But no, it had to be meat in a dim, foggy forest that freely dispensed blood like candy. Steve’s new surroundings offended him on a fundamental level. Ignoring His friend’s manic ramblings, Steve happily explained the nature of this offense to Davy.

“Look, there’s this common conflation between fear and disgust,” Steve stated. “People think they’re the same thing, but anyone who says that doesn’t really know what horror is.”

Steve paused. He thought about how intelligent he must sound right now.

“This guy says he’s gonna scare us, but all this blood and meat is just evoking our disgust, right? No one’s afraid of rotten meat.”

I don’t know, the late James Whale,” Davy replied. “I’m pretty afraid right now. Afraid that I’m gonna catch hepatitis.” Davy wished he knew more about hepatitis.

He looked down at the ground. He and Steve had been following this path for a while now. They had been following it from the beginning; it was there at the door they walked out of. Davy had no intention of straying from the path. This was because Davy and Steve’s path was not a path in the sense that it was an identifiable trail. Rather, Davy and Steve had been following this path, because it was the only patch of land that was not covered in insects.

Davy looked to the left again. Moths, cockroaches, beetles, mantises, they were piled on top of each other. Squirming in every conceivable way, but not actually moving anywhere, as they were so entangled with each other.

“So what are your thoughts on the insect party going on all around us, Steve?” Davy asked. “Is it not sufficiently appealing to your discriminating sense of fear?”

“Bugs are disgusting, not scary,” Steve retorted.

“I think you’re drawing a needlessly particular line here.” Davy remarked. “I don’t think anyone has tried to distinguish fear from disgust as strongly as you are.”

“What can I say?” said Steve. “I just have high standards.”

“That or maybe you just try really hard to make sure no one thinks you ever get scared,” Davy muttered. Davy was not in the best mood.

Because he was covered in blood.

A large, scaly dragonfly flew through the fog and landed on Steve’s forehead. Steve brushed it off and kept walking.

“Dragonfly’s aren’t even gross,” he complained.

“How much longer you think we’ll be here anyway?” Davy asked.

Steve grumbled. “I dunno. This dumb fog. I can’t see three feet in front of me.

“This haunted house has been a lot of walking,” Davy remarked. “I thought this would be more, uh, of an active experience.”

“Yeah, I get you,” Steve said. “You know, maybe find the key, sneak around a monster. Something like that.”

Davy shrugged. “Sure, but instead, it’s been ‘Walk in one direction and watch stuff happen’. What’s that about?”

“So yeah, we saw some ghosts, and some blood fell on you,” Steve said looking to Davy behind him. “When are we actually going to do something.”

A deep and raspy voice echoed through the forest. “The time for you to prove yourself is now. Prepare to face the greatest challenge of your lives.”

Davy and Steve looked around to see where the voice was coming from. They found the answer when they looked straight ahead and saw the massive spider staring straight back at them.

Davy smiled. “Okay, this is a good change of pace,” he laughed. Steve laughed as well. The spider did not laugh.


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