YC113.10.26 // In the Forest


“There once was a boy named Urzogam, who was brash and arrogant. He always disobeyed his mother when she commanded him, telling her he was a man and would not heed her. She would call him for supper, and he would cry back, “I am not hungry, because I am strong!” and he would thrust out his chest and spit on the ground. She would call to him for bed, and he would cry back, “I am not tired, because I am strong!” and he would run out of the house and jump in the garden.

All of Urzogam’s friends admired his pride, and Urzogam enjoyed his fame. One night, he was playing with his friends near the edge of the forest far from the town. As the sun set, his mother came and called for him, and he said to his friends, “Listen! I will show her! I am a man, and I will run into the forest when she calls and not come out until the sun rises!” His friends were shocked at his bravery, because the forest was said to be haunted by shadows that ate children. When they said this to Urzogam, he spat on the ground and said, “I am not afraid, because I am a man!”

Urzogam’s mother called again, and Urzogam ran into the forest. As he ran further, he could hear his mother’s cries fade away, just as the sun faded into darkness behind the trees. Soon, it became pitch dark, and Urzogam began to feel afraid. He reassured himself, saying, “I should not be afraid, because I am strong.” He heard whispers and rustling away in the dark, and said to himself, “This is fine, my trick has gone on long enough. I will return back, and show her how brave I was!” As Urzogam walked, he could not find his way out. He became weary, and so sat down to rest. He heard more whispering, and the rustling was closer now. In fright, he stood up and began to run. “I am sure the edge of the forest is just this way, I am sure!” he said to himself.

He ran faster, and the whispering drew closer, followed by the footsteps and the sound of drums. They beat louder and louder, and he ran faster and faster, and the whispers turned to laughter and mad singing. Urzogam ran faster and faster but the sounds were nearer and nearer, and soon they were right upon him, the thumping of the footsteps and the pounding of the drums, the wickedness of the laughter, louder and louder, faster and faster, howling and calling, he could not run any faster!

Urzogam’s friends told his mother what he had done, and she gathered up the townsfolk to go to the forest in the middle of the night. As they came upon the edge of the forest, they heard a frightening skriek far into the thicket that pierced their senses, and then silence.

The next morning, the townsfolk found the bones of Urzogam, lying piecemeal mere feet from the edge of the forest. Some say that to this day, you can still hear the cries of Urzogam as his ghost tries to escape its fate, and that those who have ventured in to find it… have never returned.