Tortum Nature

Tortum Nature – Short Story

The calm evening weather turned to a thunderstorm in an instant. Jack was planning to reach home before all of this started… but heavy drops of rain stated that this wasn’t an option anymore. A few hundred meters further there was an abandoned train bridge, it would be a perfect cover for the storm to pass.

Nearing the bridge, the structure’s contours in the gloomy evening looked like a twisted creature. With rain pouring down, it seemed alive… breathing… sluggishly moving around. The thunderstorm was getting more and more intense as Jack squeezed himself into the very corner of the structure. The wind was picking up and his hands were freezing off.

The sound came first… It was music, or at least it sounded like music. It quickly started and disappeared again. The noise was made out of different sounds – birds chirping, running waterfall, trees cracking in the howling winds. Sounds you don’t typically hear during a thunderstorm. And Jack might not have given this too much attention if it didn’t sound… human… like someone was talking to him in some obscure language…

Hands weren’t freezing anymore, or maybe he just forgot about them. Even the rain and thunder were eerily quiet. The sound was getting closer and closer… Jack felt his body tense up, entering the dreaded fight or flight mode.

And then it showed itself, not running, not crawling, but seemingly swimming past him as lightning illuminated the old bridge.

He saw it for a second… it was… something… During the brief moment, Jack couldn’t even understand where the creature started or ended, where his head was, or did it even had eyes. He could swear that this uncanny thing was made out of random parts of its surroundings, half of a log, parts of moss and stones. Its body was made out of sharp lines but moved gracefully. Jack just stood there as the creature dove back into the forest. His mind desperately tried to come up with a logical explanation.

One thing that Jack didn’t notice was the fact that he was already following the creature into the dark forest. His body was moving on its own, still getting soaked in the rain and collecting bruises from sharp tree branches. Only lightning illuminated the forest now, but it was frequent enough to at least orientate yourself. He couldn’t answer why he was following it, maybe to prove that there was nothing, maybe to hear that music again…

He reached an opening and the sound, though faintly, appeared again. It was coming from right over there, but there was nothing… only regular rocks, logs, and other parts of the forest illuminated in flashes of lightning. He’s probably too tiredoverstressedoverworked

Then it moved… he could swear that the thing just emerged from its surroundings, taking parts of trees and moss – making them part of its body.

The creature looked different, it was bigger and had a wildly exaggerated body. But somehow Jack felt that it was the same entity, it must be. It moved around in slow yet methodical movements. Then dove into the forest like it was made out of water, yet again leaving nothing, just the same old trees and rocks. Jack wasn’t breathing for a long time and finally took a deep breath – like he himself was just about to drown.

The thing resurfaced once more, a bit further down the tree line. Again it combined different parts of its surroundings, but this time an animal skull, or part of it dangled to his side.

Even though Jack couldn’t say for the life of him which part of this creature was what, he felt being watched. The music, made of forest sounds, was getting louder. Combined with the constant rain and thunder it started to press Jack’s head in. Crumbling to his knees, still looking at the thing, but the creature didn’t move. 

Jack’s head was hurting badly, but even then, from all this noise, he could make out something – the creature was asking or maybe offering something. Like talking with a person without understanding their language – you might not know what they offer, but you KNOW they’re offering something. The thing started moving again, with slow moves, almost swimming, it reminded Jack of some form of dancing.

God knows how much time Jack spent there in the middle of the dark shadowy forest watching the creature dance. Abruptly it stopped and stared one more time before diving into the trees and disappearing.

The rain was dying down, he knew the creature was gone. There was no more music around, and the sound of thunder was back to normal. He felt cold, wet, and a bit stupid for standing in the rain for so long. All of this felt like a weird dream, and he just wanted the warm sheets of his bed…

It’s been 4 days and he hasn’t had a good night’s sleep since the encounter. His bed was wrong, the air in his room was choking him, and the food tasted more like sand. The sheets of his bed felt thorny and almost burned his skin. He couldn’t work either, the sound of coworkers, or any person for that matter was irritating.

Everything was empty, lifeless, grey, without meaning. Except for one thing, when it rained… During those moments, Jack became fixated with nature, it felt like pressure building all over his body. Even inside, the sound of tree branches moving and the smell of the forest were irresistible… It was 4 a.m. in the morning, and the small drops of water were beginning to hit his window… It’ll rain again

Jack snapped… he’s not going to try to force himself to sleep for the fifth night in a row. Naked, marched into his yard which was now a mud bath. The rain on his body felt amazing, cooling, like a part of him. Jack laid himself into the mud and it adapted to his body like it was specifically waiting for him. The rain wasn’t falling down on him, it felt like it was falling in to him. He felt his skin mixing with the mud and stretching, sinking deeper and deeper.

After a couple of hours, his body felt numb, liquid almost. Maybe from the cold rain or maybe his body wasn’t even here anymore. He shifted his eyes downward. Someone was standing behind a tree. Even though it had a different overall shape, Jack knew it was the same creature from before. It was observing him, silently, patiently, waiting for something… It was probably watching him these whole 4 days, just from the shadows.

Jack didn’t care, he was enjoying the peaceful cold of the rain and mud. Finally, he woke up as the first rays of the sun hit the ground. Getting up from the bliss, he headed to his apartment, carefully trying not to get noticed by the neighbors.

Are you listening to me? You look sick Jack… You should probably go see a doctor…

He didn’t care, didn’t care about anything anymore, all of this just felt fake, unnatural. Even the smell of other people made him sick. His coworker was talking for quite a while now, just talking, without any point or reason. Jack knew she was making things up, knew why, and even that it was not really her fault, just a human habit. Two weeks have passed since the encounter, and apart from the nights spent sleeping in the mud, Jack never actually felt alive, or even present…

All thoughts were wandering around the forest, somewhere lost in the mesmerizing maze of it. It was beginning to rain outside and Jack desperately wanted peace… in his mind, there were two options, either lock himself in a mental institution or… or just live in the forest. A month ago idea like this would have been insane, but now it was burning in his mind, enveloping more and more of his thoughts.

He quickly got up, abruptly ending the one-sided conversation. Didn’t even pick up his things, just left out the door, heading in the direction of that bridge. His plan was sporadic at best, his thoughts murky, jumping from one idea to the other. But he wanted to find a nice spot, just to clear his mind a bit. Wandering deeper into the forest, the rain was intensifying

A nice spot of moss, he can just lay there… yet again, being dragged under… sinking. The creature was here, carefully watching him, following his every move. Once again that weird music started playing, and once again it sounded… no, now, it definitely was an offer… to be something else… 

Looking at the cloudy sky, Jack took a deep breath and finally accepted the creature’s deal. His body started spreading through the wet forest floor, tree branches, and small rocks around him. His skin was the tree barch, and his vanes were its roots… Then there was nothing, just a few rocks, some trees, and moss, nothing you wouldn’t see in any other part of the world. In the stormy weather, the forest was quiet.

Jack Redmin disappeared on January 8, 2021….

Laura was hiding from the rain at an old bus stop, though it didn’t do much to protect her…. In the gloomy evening, she could swear that she saw 2 figures, dancing through the treeline, singing… calling to her.

Laura Bratner disappeared on March 15, 2022….