Melanie frowned as she rounded the corner near the old, abandoned Richardson house on her way home from school. Derek and his goons were following her again. He always said that he just wanted to talk to her, but she knew better. He was a class-A creep, “A” standing for “asshole”. What he wanted was what most guys wanted, but were at least too civilized to simply take without permission.
Derek was bad enough by himself, but with the rest of his pack of delinquents, he was a real danger. With just one or two, she might have had a chance, but four was trouble.
Her other options were pretty limited: sweet-talk him with promises and smiles, or run for it. Given that he had brought the whole gang, she wasn’t putting good odds on the talking option, but running was even more risky. Where would she go? It was half a mile between her and the nearest “safe” haven, and though she was pretty sure she could sprint that far, she couldn’t do it with her backpack on. The potted plant in her arms didn’t help either.
There was an abandoned house, which she could possibly use as a hiding place, but if they decided to follow her in, which they would, they could take their time hunting her down and then do whatever they wanted completely out of view. The place was also condemned for a reason. It was literally falling apart and full of loose flooring. She could end up dropping through into the basement with a broken leg. If that happened, she was dead. Derek and his boys certainly wouldn’t bother telling anyone that she had gotten hurt… or why she had run there in the first place.
There was also the forest. A solid stand of old elms, she could probably hide indefinitely there as well. It had the same “out of view” problem as the abandoned house, but the forest had the advantage of being open. If she kept moving, they would probably tire of following her. Of course, that could backfire on her. If she strayed too deep, she was likely to get lost. She might survive the night if no large animal picked up her scent and it wasn’t too cold. The nights had been warm lately, but the weather changed quickly at this time of year. Just a week ago it had dipped below freezing. At least in the old house she might have a chance of someone hearing her screams for help (if anyone were looking for her), but out in the forest her chances of being found in time were slim at best.
“Hey, Melanie… hold up a sec, I want to ask you something…” called Derek, behind her. Time to decide. His tone immediately ruled out sweet-talking in her mind, so it was house or forest. Choosing the latter, she waited until the house had just passed between them and she was momentarily out of view. Then she turned and jogged as fast as she could around the far side of the small structure and made a bee-line for the dark line of elms. She had covered half the distance before Derek and his pals even noticed. That was good, but now that they had seen her, they were gaining quickly. That was bad. It was made worse by the fact that she couldn’t run any faster because of the plant she carried, a small shrub or bush of some kind in a beautiful clay pot. She actually didn’t care so much for the ceramic container, but was instead determined to save the pathetic-looking shrub that the school secretary, Mrs. Nurb, had discarded in the bin just outside her English class.
She passed the edge of the forest and had to slow to a fast walk because of the roots and branches that blocked her path. The plant also kept snagging on things, and she had to stop each time to untangle it so that it wouldn’t be hurt further. Finally, after a minute or so, the forest thinned a bit and she intersected a stream. She thought that if she at least kept to the water, she could always follow it back to find her way out of the forest again. Her stream was joined by another larger stream, and then another, until Melanie could no longer see herself crossing to the other side without getting seriously wet. Behind her, she heard voices.
“There she is! Over here, Derek!”
Her heart pounding in fear and exhaustion, she pushed on, hoping that she might find something she could use for cover to hide. But aside from the trees, there was nothing but a series of small waterfalls that led the stream downhill. Up ahead, some of the water split off and fed into a medium sized pond, and in any other situation, she would have stopped and stared in amazement at its beauty. Girded by rocks and tight trees, nearly all of the peaceful pool was shaded from the direct sun. Flowers of a dozen varieties were in bloom everywhere, and she could hardly believe how green everything was. It was truly an oasis, and one she would very much want to explore further were it not for her dire circumstances.
“She’s over by that water,” called out one of the other boys, as she finally succumbed to her effort and had to stop. She pulled herself up behind one of the larger boulders at the water’s edge and panted, catching her breath, knowing that at any moment they would be on her.
She looked down at the dying shrub and sighed. “Well, maybe I can at least save you from harm,” she said, as if to the plant itself, and carefully tucked it out of sight between two other rocks. She knew that if they found her with it they would almost certainly destroy it out of spite. With a little luck, they would assume she had dropped it in order to run. Then, just to be sure, she took a deep breath and stepped out of hiding.
Two of the boys were just coming to a halt about ten meters away. A third joined them a moment later, followed more casually by Derek, who was smiling wickedly.
“Well now… I guess she decided to talk to us after all, eh Chaz?” He said, sauntering closer. “Though she seems a little short on words now…”
“Stay away from me, Derek.” She replied, tersely.
He shook his head. “Nah. I don’t think so. You see, I might have considered just a polite conversation before you up and made us run after you through the bloody forest. But now… No, I think something a little more… intimate, is in order.”
The one called Chaz and another boy started forward.
“Stay away!” She screamed.
“Or what?” He asked. “You going to call for help? Out here? There’s no one going to hear you, not now, and not when you’re screamin’ as I rut your pretty little…”
Directly to the boys’ left something had risen up out of the pond… something huge. Towering above them was a face composed of glowing blue flame, complete with blazing yellow eyes and a jagged mouth of long flaming teeth. As horrifying as the vision was, it was the darkness within the maw of the entity that caused Melanie’s heart to skip. It was as though all light that entered there was simply swallowed away into an abyss.
Paralyzed, she stood there shaking. Derek and his friends were more mobile, and had taken flight at once, nearly levitating back up the hill the way they had come. The great glowing creature stared after them for a bit before finally turning in her direction. The moment its bright eyes fixed on hers, she felt the blood drain from her face and she crumpled to the ground, unconscious.
Melanie woke to the gentle sound of running water bubbling over the rocks as it entered the pond. It was like soft, random music, or chimes in the wind. Slowly, she opened her eyes, trying to remember where she was.
Grass. She was laying on grass, or maybe moss. Something springy and green, anyway. Nearby, she smelled Jasmine blooms. She remembered she had fainted. She also remembered running with the potted plant, then the pond, which she could see in front of her as her eyes focused. She remembered Derek and his pals chasing her, and the fear of being raped. She recalled them coming for her, and then…
She sat up abruptly. The pond was still and serene, even comforting. There was no sign of the giant flaming face, the memory of which, caused her to shiver slightly.
“Was it just a dream?” She asked herself, as she stared into the clear water. Leaves and lily blossoms were all that sat on the surface now. But something nagged at her. It was like an itch on her back that she couldn’t reach. She felt eyes on her, and the longer she sat there, the more certain she became that she wasn’t alone.
“Hello? Is someone there?”
There was no response, only the soft voice of the water and the gentle wind in the tops of the trees above her. The feeling of being watched only grew.
“Please… I know you’re there. Show yourself,” she entreated, a fear growing in her gut that it might be Derek. And then she had another thought. What if the unseen eyes belonged to the… monster?
Suddenly, a glowing light near the rocks caught her eye. Blue light shown from behind the boulders where the water exited the pond and continued on downstream. Her heart racing, Melanie strained her neck to see, but the light stayed hidden. It was moving in her direction, however, and she swallowed in nervousness.
“I… I w-won’t hurt you, I promise.” She said.
The light stopped behind the rocks closest to her, only few meters away, but seemed to be hesitating.
“Is someone there? Please, come out…”
The light grew brighter on the side closest to the water, until she saw a sliver of blue at the edge of the rock. The sliver of light widened, as did her own eyes, until she could clearly see something small coming around the rocks. Her breath caught as the strange thing came fully into view.
It was about the size of a basketball, though not completely round, and was shrouded in a moving haze of light. The main body was a semi-opaque blob of darker blue, and the creature reminded her of some flaming dessert, perhaps a gelatin, only with eyes and a mouth.
Yes, eyes. Large, slightly yellowish eyes stared back at her, watching for any sudden movement. Its mouth below was hardly more than a line. There were no hands or feet that she could see, nor could she tell how it was moving. It just seemed to slide or hover. Aside from being terribly frightened at the strangeness of the whole thing, Melanie decided that it was beautiful, and remembered to breathe.
“Oh my…” she said, softly. “Are… are you the one who scared off Derek?”
The blob tilted its face to the side and seemed to frown slightly.
“… I mean, those boys.”
The face brightened and the creature seemed to nod and bounce slightly. Melanie was both astounded and frightened by the answer, remembering how terrified she herself had been of the giant demon-like vision that had come up out of the lake. Then something occurred to her.
“You… can understand me?”
Once again, it nodded.
“But you can’t talk?”
The blob seemed to consider this, then twisted back and forth as if to say ‘no’.
“Are… are you friendly?”
It was at this point that the glowing ball did something that quite surprised her. It grew an arm. Seemingly right from its side, a thin limb appeared to stretch out from the surface like the eyestalk of a snail. At the end it formed a simple three-fingered ‘hand’ and pointed at her, nodding.
She considered this.
“You’re friendly… to me.” She suggested.
Breathing a sigh of relief, she had another epiphany.
“Wait! I think I know what you are… You’re a forest spirit, aren’t you?!”
It seemed to bounce and nod, happily.
“I read a book on indian mythology that talked about forest spirits. It said that you protect the the trees, the whole forest.”
Once again, the glowing creature nodded.
“Well, I’m definitely on your side then,” she said, smiling. “I would never dream of harming such a beautiful place.” Then she frowned, thinking. “Did Derek and his friends do something to your forest? If they did, I swear I’ll…”
The spirit shook its body as a ‘no’.
“They didn’t? But… you… did that thing where you got all big and nasty and…” She trembled slightly and closed her eyes, trying to shake the vision from her head. Suddenly, she felt a warmth and a slight pressure on her hand. It was the slightest of touches, but it caused her to jump and open her eyes. When she did, she gasped. The spirit was now right next to her, with its long, thin arm reaching out to touch her. Up close, it looked even more like it was aflame, but although its touch was quite warm, it was not uncomfortably so. In fact, it was rather nice.
She could also see that the spirit’s body wasn’t as even and regular as she had first thought. It seemed to flow and sparkle slightly, as though it were a clear ballon filled with a glowing iridescent liquid mixed with glitter. She was afraid, but also transfixed.
While still touching her hand, it grew a second arm and pointed to the rocks nearby. Sitting there, still in the pot, was the plant she had rescued. Surprisingly, it appeared to be doing a lot better than she remember it, and looked almost healthy. Suddenly, she understood.
“You… you did that to protect… me?”
“…Because I was trying to save that shrub.” She said slowly.
Again, the spirit nodded, then smiled.
Melanie took a deep breath and sighed in relief. “I understand now. Well, that was very impressive, Mr… uh… spirit.” The creature looked up at her with confusion. “I mean, you really scared the crap out of me, but you did it for the right reasons. Thank you.”
“Do you have a name?”
It just looked at her.
“Well, I suppose you do, but I’ll never be able to figure it out if you can’t talk, and it’s a fair bet that you can’t write. I guess I’ll just have to give you a name. A name just between you and me, what do you think?”
It smiled, but just on the left side, then nodded.
“So what should I call you? Hmm… Fiery, Sparky… Blue! I’ll call you Blue, because… you are. Would that be okay?”
It nodded and bounced happily, moving closer and rubbing itself against her like a cat. She held perfectly still, not quite sure how to respond. The spirit’s warmth passed through her sweater and blouse and warmed her side from her ribs right down to her hip.
“Good. Then since you have a name, I can formally introduce myself. Blue, I’m Melanie…” She held out her hand. The spirit moved around in front of her and stared at her extended palm. Finally it looked up at her, expressionless.
“Oh, I guess you don’t know greetings. When people meet formally, human people I mean, they grasp hands. It’s a sign of friendship and greeting.”
The glowing entity looked back to her hand, then after a moment, extended its own glowing fingers. Instead of clasping her hand though, it took her fingers and lightly smoothed her open palm with its second hand. The touch surprised her, but again, she did not pull away. It wasn’t restraining her limb in any way, and in fact it almost seemed as though it were soothing her the way a mother might calm a child with gentle caresses. Then she noticed that Blue wasn’t looking at her hand as it did this, but rather at her face. Quite suddenly, she found herself blushing.
“That’s… a little less formal,” she commented. Her hand was very warm, and to her surprise, tingled slightly. The spirit’s touch was smooth, and almost wet feeling, but when it finally released her fingers, her hand was as dry as ever.
She sighed and looked around. “This is a beautiful pond you have here, Blue. Is it your home?”
The forest spirit nodded once and turned to survey the place.
“It’s so quiet and peaceful… not like my school, or… home. Would you mind if I just sat here for a little bit? I’m not sure I’m ready to face my foster father right now.”
The entity moved its arm in a slow arc, indicating the whole of the pond, and nodded.
“Thanks. Don’t let me keep you if you have things to do…”
The spirit looked at her briefly, then bounced off, disappearing for a few minutes, then reappearing somewhere else. It did look busy, though she couldn’t for the life of her decide what it was doing.
She took several long breaths and laid back. Above her, the trees swayed slightly in the afternoon breeze. She tried to understand how she felt about the strange spirit and what it meant. Certainly its very existence changed her view of the world, but that didn’t bother her as it might have. Her world had changed so many times… That it would do so in an almost magical way didn’t seem to matter. The book from the library mentioned forest spirits as myths or visions, but obviously they were real enough. She just never expected to meet one.
Between the gentle dance of the trees, the cool breeze, and the scent of a hundred flowers around her, Melanie’s eyes grew heavy. At some point, she must have drifted into a light slumber, because she awoke, blushing, out of a dream. Blue was next to her again, and his stubby hand was resting on her right breast.
“Whoa!” She exclaimed in surprise as she sat up quickly and scooted a few feet away. “Sorry, but that’s off limits, bub!”
The spirit just looked confused.
“Look,” she continued, sighing. “You can’t just touch a girl there, it’s not polite. I won’t even let human boys touch my boobs… Well, not very often anyway. There was Tommy Pillhanger, but he had to move away, and… and… the point is, you need to ask permission, okay?”
The glowing blob appeared to be thinking for a moment, then it reached out with an arm and pointed at her chest. It looked up at her, expectantly.
Melanie’s mouth dropped open. “Wha… No!”
If the spirit had had shoulders, they would have slumped as it took on an expression of sadness and turned away from her looking utterly dejected.
“Aw… shit,” whispered Melanie to herself as a wave of guilt washed over her. “Wait,” she called after the entity. It stopped and turned back around to face her. Taking a deep breath, she put out her hand. “Please come back. I didn’t mean to upset you, really I didn’t. You probably saved my life back there. I… I suppose, that if you want to touch my breasts, it’s the least I owe you.”
The forest spirit brightened and even smiled as it started to move back in her direction.
“I mean, who would you tell, right? You can’t even speak.” She sighed. “I can’t believe I’m doing this,” she whispered softly to herself, as Blue stopped in front of her again. “If I allow this,” she said directly to the spirit, “then you have to stop when I tell you to, okay?”
It raised one of its arms and then brought it down in front of itself in a gesture that looked surprisingly official for an entity without any real body to speak of.
“Alright then,” she agreed, and then took another deep breath, blowing it out slowly from her mouth. “Um… here,” she said, unbuttoning her sweater the rest of the way. Then she leaned back on her elbows so that she was more level to the spirit. The position pushed her chest out nicely, and she briefly smiled. She always thought her face was a little plain, but her figure was nice enough, especially now that she had ‘filled out’ in all the right places. In her mind, she was just comparing her legs to that of Deirdre Choone’s, when Blue hopped up onto her upper lap. She flinched, and sucked in her breath, but held her cool. She was expecting the forest spirit to just reach over her, but now that she saw it sitting on her abdomen, the position did make more sense.
“Remember, you stop when I say so…” she reminded the glowing blob.
It nodded, smiling.
“Okay then, go ahead.”
Before that moment, Melanie hadn’t decided if Blue were male or female, but as the forest spirit reached out its hands toward her breasts, she swallowed, recognizing a very male reaction to a woman’s bosom. Yes, Blue was all male. He also had weight, which surprised her just a little since he was a ‘spirit’. She sort of expected him to be made of gases or pure energy or something, but she could clearly feel his mass sitting on her abdomen. He was about the same as a full sized house cat, big, but not uncomfortable. He was also very warm.
She gasped as his smooth, featureless fingers first settled over the swell of her chest. Having held his hand earlier, she was expecting some heat to reach through her bra and blouse, but coupled with the liquid warmth that had settled over her belly, she was a little stunned.
A deep feeling of pleasure grew in her upper torso as the spirit gently moved its hands in slow circles, kneading and softly squeezing her mounds. Her mouth fell open in arousal, and without meaning to, she closed her eyes. For several minutes she just enjoyed the erotic massage, biting her lip, until her breathing began to deepen and she felt herself start to become wet.
“Ughnnn…. Okay… mmm… s-stop… please… ughmmm…” she breathed, her eyes flying open. To her relief, Blue removed his hands at once, but remained on her stomach. He looked as blissful as she felt.
She took a few long breaths to get control, noticing that her nipples were hard enough to hurt under the confining fabric of her bra. Her whole chest was also tingling and her face was fully blushed. “Okay?” She asked, not sure what she would do if he answered “no”.
But the spirit nodded slowly, apparently quite happy.
“I should probably be getting home,” she commented, a minute or so later. “It would be just like my foster father to choose this day to care when I got home from school.”
Blue looked on without expression.
“Right then, off you go…” She sat up a little more and gave her hips a slight tilt. Blue got the message and hopped off. Dusting off her skirt, she stood up and readjusted her blouse as well. She was still warm from Blue, in more ways than one, so she left the sweater open.
“Frankly, I’d rather stay here,” she said more to herself than the wobbling ball of light. “It’s so peaceful. And it really is beautiful, Blue. Do you… Do you think I could come back and visit you?”
The blob nodded vigorously, bouncing in joyous agreement. She had to laugh at his enthusiasm.
“Thank you. I’ll see you later then,” she replied, and found her backpack. With a final wistful look at the pond, she waved to the forest spirit and turned to find her way back up through the trees.