- - - The Fear of Deceit - - -

Written and Illustrated by Benjamin Andrew Fouché

In life, there are such moments when one curiously and unknowingly envisions themselves in a fearful setting.  Usually, these forbidden thoughts pose no threat of any nature.  The worst of which they can do is ignite the dark coals that inflict ominous dreams within the shadowy, ink-like depths of one’s mind.  And indeed, it would, at first, appear rather foolish to declare that such thoughts could submerge one into a horrendous situation that transpires within the realm of cold reality.  But on the contrary, to state that imagining oneself in such conditions, which could indeed lead to an actual grave peril, is––undoubtedly––a truthful notion.  And I say undoubtedly, because by invoking such thoughts of horrid fancy, I was once confronted by a very real and formidable circumstance.

To begin with, the fearful idea was conceived while I was leisurely striding along a trail in Hummock Ridge, Vermont.  During this cherished time of the year, the needles from which fell from the lofty limbs of the evergreens possessed a remarkably pleasant scent.  The turquoise moss was radiantly lush upon the stones and boulders lying in the ravines, as well as the decaying trees that hung their branches ever so weepily.  The sound of the crows distantly cawing to one another from unseen areas in the forest gave a convivial impression upon my eased spirit.  And despite the unattractive overcast heavens, the woodland’s autumn beauty was irrepressible to me, the beholder.
 
While I continued to admire the golds and crimsons that enveloped me, a peculiar wonder abruptly seized my focus.  I pondered vaguely upon the idea of how unfamiliar and distorted all would seem in the timberlands during the ebon hours of night, when a waning moon would feebly hold dominion over the darkness.  What strange creatures could possibly lurk about underneath the shadowing trees?––Whence would such unusual sounds emanate?––And how would I––a mere mortal––gain my bearings in an overwhelmingly altered environment?  For a few moments, this romanticized idea amused my imagination––but not long after the thought had roused me, the realization of actually being dismally lost in the wilderness, during the time beyond dusk, began to evoke frightening sentiments.
 
As the attractiveness of the imagined scenes drew far, a more insidious visualization pervaded my mind.  Loathsome noises would ring as I wandered in aghast, and the sensation of an imposing and unpleasant presence became quite heavy.  But of course, this was only a simple thought straying uninhibitedly.  Nonetheless, I could not drift away from these foreboding reveries.  And so suddenly, I came upon a clearing in the forest that began invigorating my ill-daydreams.  However, it was what reposed within the portion of land that increased these undomesticated thoughts; a dull and seemingly lonesome stone house rested in decay upon the lot of treeless land.  Browned evergreen needles had accumulated upon the shingled roof, and ivy had sluggishly crept over the brickwork of the chimney.  The porch was slanting and a few of its rotted planks had fallen in.  The part of the roof of which overhung the entrance was crooked and on the verge of collapsing.
 
There was a baleful feeling that began to stir in my disconcerted spirit as I stared upon the forlorn structure.  It singularly stood in existence––silently, remotely, and secretly.  But why?  One such as myself would never be able to fathom its reason for being constructed in an area too solitary for anyone to dare dwell––even for one who obstinately yearned to reside far from civilization. There lingered an unexplainable aspect of the abandoned home that so incessantly unnerved me.  It vigorously struck an unredeemed nervousness that loomed so oppressively over my soul.
    
Yet there was merely no way to articulate the fear of which the forgotten dwelling emitted.  All inquisitive thoughts ceased, as I then realized that I had observed quite enough.  I desired nothing more than to flee, but I became immensely afraid when a thought was evoked of the door sluggishly becoming ajar.  I could not free myself from this unremitting trance that so unjustly crept upon me.  All was unmoving in my surroundings, including the house––it was all a reflection of the current state that I was helplessly cocooned in––no!––it was all a scornful jester that stung bitterly.
 
My focus was precisely directed towards the door of the desolate home––perhaps it would open, as anticipated.  But none of this it did.  And of course, this only intensified the dreaded thoughts.  I began to see the remorseless nightly heavens ingest the moon, whose reign had now disintegrated.  The stirring of preternatural sounds resonated hither and thither, while the brush around me transfigured into cloaked phantoms of death.  The unrestrained shadows whirled about here and there, as if representing the helplessness that had descended upon the final hour of which I lived.  How could it have been?  My own fear had deceitfully led me into an unearthly place while I pondered for too long upon a disturbing and outlandish envisage.
 
And hitherto being borne into to this unworldly purgatory, I was a fool!  And now, only woe was bestowed upon me as I pitifully knelt before the grim house.  The reaper-like spectres glided from the encircling shadows in a sorrowful movement, and gradually formed a path from where I knelt to the entrance of the stone structure––and indeed, it was then that hope itself was poisoned when the door slightly scraped open.

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