A Rock in the Woods
Nadine, one young Strawberry Poogle, frowned as she looked down. All rocks in the Haunted Woods looked somewhat similar but she was sure- very, very sure- that she had seen this one before. She knew because she had taken note of it the first time she had seen it, because it was truly remarkable with the dips that looked just like a face. She was sure because she’d chalked it up as coincidence the second time she’d stumbled upon. And, she was even more sure because it had truly scared her when she turned around and saw it the third time.
Now, the fourth time she’d seen this rock sitting at her feet, she was finally becoming somewhat terrified and extremely curious. She been exploring- not lost, definitely not lost- in the woods for over an hour now and she’d hardly gone more than a quarter of an hour without running into it again. It was sure to be the fastest moving rock she’d ever seen, assuming she’d ever seen a moving rock before.
She stared at the rock for a few seconds, almost daring it to move. She was fairly interested in seeing how it got from one place to another. It didn’t have legs. It didn’t look like it could slither or move its body like a snail. For all she could tell, it was only a rock and it should do what rocks typically did. And, that did not include moving.
“I feel silly,” she finally spoke aloud, to the rock or to herself she wasn’t sure. She shook her head and turned around slowly walking away from the rock and deeper into the woods. She knew it was deeper because she surely wasn’t lost.
After a dozen or so steps she turned around, curiosity getting the best of her, to look at the rock one last time.
“What?” she frowned again. The rock was no farther away now then it had been before she started walking the last time.
At this point, she was sure someone was playing a trick on her. Someone or maybe just the woods. It was the haunted woods after all. They were supposed to be, well, haunted. And, last she heard, ghosts did like playing tricks on people. Especially people who were lo… erm, exploring.
“Hello?” she called out cautiously, her ears flattening on top of her head. She mentally berated herself. She’d seen enough of those scary movies to know that you should never call out in creepy circumstance. However, at the time, she felt she had little choice.
She waited, looking around and listening for any indication of another individual. When there was no response, she shook her head, feeling even more foolish than she had before she’d called out.
“I am certainly completely, 100% alone,” she told herself. It didn’t little to ease her nerves as she eyed the rock at her feet again. She addressed the object, “You are a rock so you don’t count, even if you can move around the forest.”
She gave a definitive nod, as if to tell the rock that she was right and it was, in fact, just a rock. Feeling somewhat better, she turned around to begin walking again. She’d resolved to not turn around and check on that rock again, not even when she’d made it home.
She didn’t make more than fifteen minutes, however, before she failed her own decision. She slowly turned her head around, expecting to see the offending object just behind her again. She sighed in relief when it was nowhere to be found.
“I was being silly, after all. It was just a rock,” she smiled to herself, nodding again.
She turned around to begin walking again; deciding now was the time to leave the forest. After all, she wasn’t lost so she could leave whenever she wanted.
“Ehhhp!” she squealed, stepping backwards quickly and tripping over herself, stumbling to the ground in a messy heap.
She found her nose barely a foot away from the same rock that had been haunting her throughout her entire adventure. She was sure- very, very sure- that it had not been there when she’d turned to look behind her. She would have heard someone if they’d come that close to move it. It was almost touching her leg before she’d stumbled backwards.
“Whaaaat do you waaaant?” she whined at the rock, a sniffle escaping her. She couldn’t believe she was crying over a rock. Her siblings would never let her live this down if they were to find out. Before that, however, they’d have to learn that she’d been lo… exploring the woods. They would certainly find out neither.
Almost as if in an attempt to answer, the rock moved forward, rolling until it was pressed gently against her nose and the face somehow facing hers. She sat there, unmoving and unsure of what she’d just seen. The rock had certainly just moved and completely on its own. She’d seen it herself this time. There was no way she could deny that it had happened.
She pulled her front paws forward and rubbing at her eyes, as if that would make the fact that it was actually touching her any easier to believe. She opened her eyes again and, as she’d felt anyways, reaffirmed that the rock was indeed nestled gently against her nose.
“Well,” she said simply, at a complete and utter lose of what else to say, much less what to do.
She stared into what she was sure were the rocks eyes, now feeling it was much less foolish to believe that rocks had eyes. She felt oddly calm, considering she’d been followed by a rock for the last hour and a half.
“Well,” she repeated, “I guess this isn’t the weirdest thing that could have happened in these woods… You could have just announced yourself or something though. Considering you could do that, I suppose. You can move so maybe you could talk? Or not…”
She stared at the rock for a few seconds, waiting for it to do something. It just sat there like… a rock. She sighed.
“Alright then,” she told it, slowly standing up and not taking her eyes off of the silent rock. “I’ll be going home now. You don’t, by chance, know the way out, do you? I’m not lost. I just want to make sure I’m doing it correctly…”
The rock turned and rolled a few feet away and then turned to face her again. Or, at least, she assumed that’s what it was doing. They looked at one another for a few seconds before the rock turned and rolled slightly farther away. It then turned back. It repeated this pattern several times before Nadine finally shook her head.
“Okay…” she slowly began to follow the rock, not at all sure of her decision. However, it seemed she had little choice. She’d adventured farther than planned.
After quite a while, and it was very slow moving as a rock can only roll so fast, Nadine began to notice the trees separating and sunlight beginning to drift through the branches.
“Hey!” she shouted in happiness as the field where her house sat on the outskirts of the woods came into view. “Thanks… Rock…”
She thought for a few seconds, trying to come up with the best way to repay a rock for its kindness. At length, she decided to invite it home. After all, her siblings would never believe her if the rock didn’t come as well.
When she asked, she was fairly sure that she could see the appreciation on the rocks face. It rolled the rest of the way home with her.