I probably should not have followed that yarn into the forest.
I was trespassing in a field photographing indifferent cows when I saw the end of the black yarn entangled on the barbed-wire fence at the edge of the field. There was a signficant ball of it there, wadded up in an angry mess, and pulled surprisingly taut in a long line into the darkness of the forest on the other side of the fence, as if whatever had caught on the barbs was still trying to move away. There was no motion in the string, and despite the soddening influence of the rain, it refused to sag.
I paused and contemplated whether I should stay with the cows or follow the yarn. I couldn’t imagine getting many terribly interesting images of yarn but I was bored of the cows but didn’t yet want to return home. I wiped the outer UV lens of my camera free of miniscule water droplets, returned the camera back to it’s bag, and gingerly made my way over the fence nearby where it had partially fallen down.
It was a quick walk into the forest and as I made it the yarn was at my hips. It looked to be made of some sort of wool, given the way that droplets collected at shedding hairy bits that protruded nearly perpendicular to the thread. I touched it with my hand and felt water crawl onto it, but also felt a warmth, like I was touching an animal, but unlike any animal hair I had ever touched this was as wiry as steel. I removed my hand, wiped it on the thigh of my jeans then touched with both hands and the yarn gave a stiff shudder. I jumped back! This was not normal.
I looked again to the edge of the forest and where the yarn disappeared into the darkness. I took a few steps forward without thinking and as I realised what my feet were doing I stopped. It felt odd. I unsheathed the camera and took a few photos. I did not review them on screen and I wished I had.
I moved forward again, camera in hand and snapping randomly. I didn’t want to fall. I paused to set the camera to an automatic metering mode then continued on. The forest had that wonderful familiar smell of leaves and soil and greenness and I felt at once at ease. The yarn continued to be taut and seemed to avoid all trees and entanglements. It did not rise or fall, dip, sag, or turn. At times as the ground lowered, the level of the line was above my head and where the land rose up the line was at my ankles though it never once touched the ground nor any plant. It was a true vector to wherever it was going. I thought it must have been man-made, perhaps by some teenagers on a lark. But as I was to find out, that was not the case.
It was about ten improbable minutes of following the yarn that I began to see what might have been the end. There was a darkness ahead, glimpsed through the trunks of trees, a black mass with but with arms like a star, grabbing into the sky and darkening it, in contrarian defiance of the earliness of the day. It was then that I finally looked at my feet.
They were covered entirely with black sheathed ladybugs, their shiny backs glistening. That was disturbing enough, but underneath my feet the ground was writhing with threads of the same yarn, burrowing into the soil, poking holes in the leaf litter, and worst of all, carrying every sort of small dead animal you could imagine, slowly towards the black mass further into the forest. There were mice and voles, worms, crickets, rabbits, snakes, an owl, several sparrows, the bloodied leg of what looked like had been a deer, a badger, and some miscellaneous entrails all entangled, wrapped, and pierced by the writhing yarn.
I did not want to be among that collection so I started to retreat, but the ladybugs all at once took flight from my legs and formed a buzzing haze in front of my face. I pulled my camera up, and drew my hood closed around it. I looked through the viewfinder as the ladybugs landed on the lens. I turned on the flash and started snapping, then looked at the screen, which was difficult since the camera was so close to my face, but I was astonished to see no ladybugs at all even though I could hear them clearly through the fabric of my coat. The yarns were gone as well, but there were still dead things on the ground that looked to be rolling across the forest floor of their own accord.
I moved quickly in the opposite direction, avoiding roots and rocks, back to the field, snapping my way through so I could see where I was going. About halfway back to the fence the buzzing faded but I was too afraid to remove my hood. It was not until I was back with the cows that I dared to look back with my own eyes. The yarn was still there, but as I looked at it, it started finally to sag, and miraculously, over the course of a few minutes, managed to untangle itself from the fence and slink entirely back into the forest.
None of the photos I took were of much value; even the first photos of the taut yarn were completely missing its subject. It was as if it was never there, never pulling in anything or anyone, and I have no actual proof that this even happened, but it did, and I warn you: never go in that forest alone. There are dark things in this world that defy all reason.