Friday, 1 October 2010


The Suicide Woods

I work here, right? I mean, I know I do but why is the thing pulling me in? I’ve kept it clean for years now. The bodies are heavy but I make sure I get everyone so it restores some peace.

A mess is never peaceful.

I took this job after my father came down with cancer. He found it like a penny on the side of the road. We lived in the only cabin within the boundary of the state park. He passed on after a year and mom followed six months later. She didn’t follow in terms of cancer; she actually walked out to the ledge of the mountain and jumped.

She was my first find.

A peak runs through the western edge. This is where they all go to do it. They drive up to the point and park. Or they just drive right off. The cars are harder to clean but Joe’s Towing down in Freeport helps out.

So here I stand, on this peak, looking at the night sky.

Legend has it that the Native American tribes here used this place for sacrifices. They said the god of the forest lived inside the mountain. If one stayed long enough, he would emerge in his fury and demand a sacrifice. Why has he called me here?  I’ve only done his work.

I feel a rumble under my feet. A star shoots across the horizon making a silver needle trail in the sky. An owl calls below me in the treetops. A wolf responds to the call from a distant hill. Suddenly sadness overtakes me.

Guilt washes over my soul. Why couldn’t I take care of him?  Why did I watch my father die? Why didn’t I take him to a hospital? He didn’t want to leave. Did that matter? The voice speaks hard in the night. Another rumble shakes under my feet.

The moonlight over my shoulder casts a shadow. I inch towards the edge in my fear. A figure is behind me, huge and old. Its eyes, hundreds, bore down on my back. Its arms reach for my sides ready to compress my ribs and steal my breath. Its teeth are bared and dripping with saliva. I am a meal and if I turn around I will lose my sanity.

I look down and feel the wind. It lifts me up and for a second I feel peace. My father waits in the distance. He nods. I step towards him and the ground falls away. The creature lost this time. Then I understand. It’s a sacrifice of everything for nothing. Rage fans out my existence with the realization that, in everything, the deal is one sided.

Who will take care of the woods now?  I wonder and dream as I fall asleep, for the last time.


Matt Shaner and is a writer from Reading, PA. He has fourteen short story publications online in various outlets including Twisted Tongue Magazine, Blood Moon Rising, Bewildering Stories, Clockwise Cat Journal, and his novella The Ancient Ones was been published in January 2008 by RS Publishing.  His novella Life After Death was released through Eternal Press on March 7, 2009.


  1. Short and succinct. Good work, Matt.

  2. Ooh, love it. Just the right amount of angst and reason in the jumper. Very nicely done.