Boy In The Woods


Chapter 1

Zris trudged through the cloying mud as he headed back to the forest where he felt like he belonged.

Not in some city where one could hear the sounds of life. Murmurs of conversation, storeowners marketing their goods at the top of their voices as well as the acceleration of cars and the sound of traffic lights. 

In the city, one could not appreciate the tranquillity and simplicity of life. However, in the forest, Zris felt at home and at ease. It was less noisy and distracting and was so peaceful that you could almost hear the breath of life. 

He never felt that close to people. He never understood them. People were all so selfish and two-faced, always telling lies to cover themselves, taking secrets with them to the grave.

For Zris, he always felt closer to nature. Even though nature was vicious and dangerous, no one lied nor stole and everyone led their own peaceful lives, maintaining a perfect ecosystem. 

There was another reason why he would never trust humanity. After all, he was abandoned when he was merely a small child at the age of 7 and was left to live at an orphanage.

Since that day, Zris vowed never to trust anyone again. Even after all those years, he was still mad at the fact that his biological parents had abandoned him. He didn’t even do anything to make them want to abandon him. He had always been a good kid, helping out his parents whenever he could. However, one day, they simply lied to him to pack his things as they were going to a theme park and when they told Zris to exit the car, they drove away, never to be seen again, leaving a young and poor Zris at the doorsteps of an orphanage. 

Even after all those years had passed, he had only made one friend and his name was Broly. 

To Zris, Broly was like a brother. Broly was a year older, but they shared the same thinking of how humans are all selfish and lying monsters. And in the orphanage, they were always together. They were like two peas in a pod. During the day and even at night, they were constantly beside each other. They even created a special place for themselves in the forest behind the orphanage where they spent most of their time other than learning in classes. 

As of then, Zris had just finished his lessons and was rushing back towards the forest. It was his 15th birthday and he could not wait to spend the rest of his special day with Broly. Even though he was tired from all his classes, he still managed to run towards the forest with his newfound strength, dashing past rooms faster than ever. He darted past people in split seconds. He felt like the Flash, dashing past things in a blur, as the wind blew around him, his hair getting ruffled by the wind. 

He made his way through the entire orphanage and within minutes he was already at the end of the road. He stood at the foot of the forest, as the road just stopped out of nowhere. Large trees loomed over Zris and stood in front of him as if they were taunting him. Ignoring them, he walked through the narrow space between the trees and entered the forest. 

As soon as he stepped into the forest, a cloak of mist engulfed him. Even though he had an extremely good sense of sight, he was instantly blinded as soon as he walked in. 

Despite this, he still managed to navigate through the forest just by memory. He walked past tall trees with rotting stumps and stepped on the decomposing leaves which had fallen onto the ground. 

As he walked in further into the forest, the mist started to clear up and rays of moonlight peeked through the canopy, making everything clearer to Zris. 

In front of him stood his cave. In the middle, there was a hole, which was the entrance to his special place. Beside his cave, there were also willow trees, the draped leaves created an ominous and mysterious atmosphere, making Zris’ skin tingle. 

Not too far away from the trees, a large swamp stood in the middle. The water was so dirty that it had already turned a murky green colour. The only plants living there were lily pads that still floated on the water. It had always reeked of a foul smell, but Zris was no longer affected by the smell as he had been used to it already.

Zris quickly rushed into the cave, envisioning Broly standing at the front of the entrance with happy birthday signs behind him and maybe, just maybe a pinata too. However, to his dismay, there was nothing there. It was just a plain old cave–like it was all the time. Not even his best friend was there to celebrate his birthday. There was just a mat and books in the cave, things which Zris and Broly had placed when they first discovered the cave. Other than that, there was nothing else. Had his only friend forgotten his birthday? The only person he ever trusted since his ordeal. 

“Maybe he is just a little bit late,” Zris thought to himself

As Broly was a little older than Zris, since the new year, Broly had been getting busier and busier as each day passed. Sometimes, they could not even meet each other and all they could do was exchange greetings. However, Zris never would have thought that Broly would ever miss such an important day like this.

Having a little bit of hope, Zris decided to stay up a little longer. Seconds turned to minutes and minutes turned into hours. After waiting for so long, Zris sighed. He had been waiting for the day to come when he would finally get the chance to see Broly properly again and have a proper conversation as they did in the past, but even that seemed too far-fetched. He was not gonna wait any longer. If Broly did not want to put in the effort to even wish him a happy birthday, why should he spend so much time waiting for him to come back? He had already spent hours waiting for them, but Broly still had not appeared. So, he rested his head and closed his eyes, after all, he might be able to see him tomorrow.

Just as Zris was about to fall asleep, he heard the rustling of leaves. Zris immediately jumped up to his feet. His once droopy eyes immediately widened. He squinted closer to the place where he heard leaves rustling. “Has he finally arrived?” He thought to himself.

He peeked around the corner of the bushes and was disappointed once again. There was no Broly at all. Instead, a man stood in his place, closely investigating and scrutinising the surroundings of the cave. 

Zris crept closer towards the man and tried to see what he was doing. The man wore a business suit and held a briefcase in one hand. On the other hand, he was holding a phone towards his ears. Zris figured that he was calling someone else. Curious, he went in closer to listen to their conversation. 

“Yes, the building can be constructed here. There will be no problem. This forest is completely safe. No one has ever even thought of this idea before, you’d be making history, boss!” the man said to his phone. 

When Zris heard this, he was dumbfounded. A myriad of thoughts flowed through his head in an instant. Build a building at his special place? What would happen to the cave then? Would it be gone forever? Where would his special place go? Where would he hang out with Broly? 

WIthout thinking, he leaped at the man. Zris jumped up into the air on all fours, his hands stretched out, hoping to either grab the man by the throat or scratch the man’s skin with his fingernails. Zris was centimetres away from reaching his target when the man sensed Zris’ presence. He quickly dodged to one side and Zris went right past him. The man was so surprised that he dropped his phone onto the ground, cracking it. He turned to look at Zris and whipped out his gun before Zris could move again. But Zris was blinded by rage and did not bother about the gun at all. Zris growled at the man, saliva dripping out of his mouth, like a feral animal. 

As the man was about to pull the trigger, Zris jumped out of the way and started running through the trees. The man kept trying to shoot Zris, however, he was too fast for his eyes. Zris jumped left and right, dodging the bullets flying past him. It was as if he was unstoppable. After 30 seconds of shooting, the man finally ran out of bullets and needed to reload his gun. When Zris saw this, he took the opportunity to jump and attack the man. 

He went onto a tree branch and launched himself headfirst to the man. With his legs forwards, he kicked the man down onto the floor, knocking him off his feet. He then sat on him, preventing the man from escaping him. 

“What on Earth are you? Get off of me now!” the man demanded. Zris merely placed his hand onto the man’s throat and glared at him. This petrified the man and shut him up for a moment. Zris then tightened his grip on the man’s throat.

“I am Zris!” Zris yelled at the man.  

The man stood there in shocked silence for a while before asking, “Are ya’ a kid? How old are you?”

“Why are you taking away this place?” Zris demanded a frown etched on his brow with his hands balled into fists. 

“Your home? You live here, kid? Where are your parents?” the man questioned Zris.

“I don’t have to answer you! Now tell me what are you trying to do with this place!” Zris shot down the man’s question as he demanded to have an answer, slowly tightening his grip on the man’s throat. 

“My boss just wants to use this land to build a building, I have nothing to do with this. Let me go right this second!” the man shouted in desperation, as Zris let go of his throat. 

After hearing this, Zris then got off the man and told him, “Show me where your boss works tomorrow. I would like to talk with him.” 

“Okay, okay. Let me just call him for a while, it might take a minute. Just don’t go all crazy again,” The man reassured Zris as he slowly backed away, fearing that he might be attacked once again. He then picked up his phone from the ground which had fallen during the intense battle previously and started calling his boss again. 

Zris slowly walked away to his own cave, not listening to the words being exchanged between the boss and the man. 

‘What will they do to this forest?’ Zris thought to himself, slowly recalling all the good times he had while in that one cave. He remembered the first time they broke the rules to enter the forest. When they first entered the foot of the forest, they immediately got lost in the thick fog covering the forest. And when they were still stumbling around the forest, trying to figure out the route of the forest, it started to rain heavily, and they needed to find a place to stay for the night. They ran randomly in a straight line through the mist, coming into contact with the cave which they soon called their own.

Just as Zris was in the midst of dreaming about his past, the man came forward to him. 

“Umm, hi…” the man said uneasily to Zris. “My boss would like to meet you now.” Upon hearing this, Zris immediately snapped out of his memory lane and jumped back onto his two feet. 

“Just one problem though,” the man continued. “You’ll have to follow me to the place in my car and it might be a little messy.” 

Despite the man saying that, Zris still jumped with glee as he quickly ushered the man out of the forest, and onto the roads. “Now which one of them is your car?” Zris questioned the moment they got out of the forest. The man pointed towards a red sedan parked right at the corner of the road. Even though the car was at least 50 metres away from them, Zris could already see the amount of junk stuffed into the car. From his view, the windows were blocked out by items. When they got in the car, it was filled with objects from everywhere. On one side of the car, there was cardboard stacked on top of one another, on the other side of the vehicle, there were random household appliances beside each other as if the entire car was the whole garbage landfill itself. 

However, Zris did not mind one bit. He just jumped in the car and tried to squeeze in with all the other objects lying around everywhere. And when he finally felt comfortable, he and the man drove through the city. After what seemed like an eternity, they finally stopped at a building in the middle of nowhere. The building was a run down decrepit building with proof of its aged existence as could be seen from the vines and moss ensnaring it. The stones of the building were falling apart and even as Zris opened the door, clouds of dust rose around him. 

“Hello? Is anybody here?” Zris demanded, his voice slowly echoed throughout the hollow room, fading away as time passed. When he turned to ask the man where the boss was, he realised the man had disappeared into the darkness. Zris looked frantically to see where the man had gone, only to realise that he had been tricked and now was the only person in the room. Zris thought that all hope was lost and thought that he had missed his one and only chance to save his beloved forest. 

His disappointment soon turned into rage as he kicked the boxes lying around the room and also punched the walls as hard as he could, injuring himself in the process. 

As Zris turned his head around to destroy another crate, he felt a sharp pain. His vision suddenly dimmed and his world slowly turned to black. Just as he turned unconscious, he fell on his back, seeing the man carrying a large gun, snickering at him.

Chua Yanshao (class of 2025) started writing when he was 11. He primarily writes prose. His biggest writing inspirations are Stephen King and Charles Dickens.