A Terrible Binding
A Short Tale of Horror -
by D. Alexander Ward
Published by D. Alexander Ward at Smashwords
2011 by D. Alexander Ward
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The winter wind tore through the Allegheny River valley, whistling through the pines and black cherry branches long ago stripped naked by the cool autumn days. Snow was on the ground and the moon was high and bright in a cloudless sky as the young boy sat on his back porch, staring over the railing. He’d covered himself generously with a few thick blankets and his stocking cap sat tightly about his head. His gloved hands grasped a cup of rich, hot chocolate that he’d made for himself after crawling from his bed. Despite all these conventions of warmth, he could not escape the icy fingers of a chill that enshrouded him. It came not from the outside and the cold winter night, but rather grew from the inside, from some dark and primal fear that had roused him from his sleep. He took another sip from the sweet, hot brew and wiped at his nose. His breath turned to smoke in the air and drifted away. Over the railing of the porch, the ground was covered in snow and glowed in a magnificent fashion. His father had built their home on a bald spot of land in the Allegheny Forest known only as “the clearing”; a spot that had been rendered nearly barren long ago by voracious logging without any replenishment of the forest’s understory. Without the protective canopy, the small things had succumbed to the elements and withered away, never to return. Winter nights such as this transformed it into a lunar landscape, though a few hundred yards behind his house the ground sloped up again, and the cold white ground disappeared from view at the edge of the dark, densely wooded forest that stood untouched. The boy wondered what had stopped those loggers from charging up the hill so long ago, and what had kept them away ever since?