The Raccoon :
My father once told me when I was little that the easiest way to trap a raccoon was to put a shiny object in a Pringles can. At first it puzzled me, how would that trap a coon? Honestly I was too young to understand. But he explained to me. Raccoons are extremely attracted to shiny objects. When a raccoon spots a shiny object, their immediate response is to examine it. If said object was in a Pringles can, the raccoon would stick its paws into the long can and grab the object. However, when the raccoon would try to pull the shiny object out of the can, it would get its paws stuck. There was no way to pull both its paws and the object out, and the raccoon wasn’t clever enough to find another way, so it would just remain stuck. It could just let go of the object and pull its paws free, however the raccoon was so attracted to the object that it could not let it go. It would just sit there for hours, or even days. Eventually a hunter would come around and kill the damn thing. The most puzzling thing is, the raccoon would not let go. Even to save its own life.
While a very irrelevant and weird fact my father told me, it still did teach me a lesson of attachment. A lesson I obviously needed to learn again.
It was the summer between ninth and tenth grade. My father was drunk again and my mother was pissed at me. I failed science class, a class I always hated, and my mother refused to send me to summer school because it cost too much. She chewed me out for an hour straight before I stormed out the back door into the back field.
I sat for hours, picking at the grass, swearing under my breath, trying to calm my nerves. The night was darkening, a hazy dusk lurking in the western sky after the sun has finally set. In the middle of nowhere with no street lights and few cars, it gets very dark at night. As the night drew on it began to grow darker. I didn’t care, I just didn’t want to go back into that goddamn house after the dinner table extravaganza. So I sat, picking blades of grass. Thinking as grasshoppers chirped. But that’s the thing, usually their melodic songs are loud and lurk into the late hours, but even at eight thirty their songs sounded quiet, and hushed as the minutes went by. It grew dark and my parents shouting grew quieter along with the grasshoppers. I eventually came to the conclusion their asses weren’t going to come out and look for me. Good, I don’t want to come inside.
Soon enough it was really dark, the porch light was the only thing that allowed my eyes to see. I stared endlessly into the dark forest behind my house. I have always been afraid of it but tonight it offers comfort. Just then, I swear I saw something. I squinted my eyes to make them focus, and I saw it again. A light in the distance. The forest stretches for miles, and there aren’t any roads. I would be surprised if a car could make it a few feet back there in the thick brush. I sat there for a few more moments, examining as the light came and faded again, growing even more curious the more I looked at it. I began to wonder if it was morse code, which I had no clue how to read. It seemed to be flashing straight at me, drawing me closer. Eventually I stood up, brushing the blades of grass of my lap. I began to make my way toward the forest. I stopped for a moment, and looked over my shoulder at my house. Just a peek and I’ll be back to this hellhole, I thought. I continued to walk.
I reached the forest, stepping over broken tree branches and avoiding thorn bushes. As I got closer to the light, it seemed to get farther away. Somebody must be playing a game with me, I thought. Maybe they were cute teenage boys. Probably not. As I followed it, it continued to draw farther away. Something occurred to me, maybe I shouldn’t be back here. I turned to see the porch light of my house flickering. A chill ran down my spine, but something kept me from returning home. Curiosity? Or was it something else?
As I walked the light seemed to stop moving away. I picked up my pace. As I got closer, it disappeared completely. Odd…
Crash. I flipped around to see a huge tree laying flat on the ground behind me. Another crash. I flipped back around to see another. Just then, I felt like I heard a voice. “Hello?” I called quietly. It came again, more audible this time.
“We caught you.”
I jumped over the tree, but another fell before me again, nearly hitting me this time. The voice came again, more harsh. More threatening. “We. Caught. You.”
“Caught me doing what?” But then it hit me. They caught me, as in they trapped me. They captured me. I thought of the raccoon, and it occurred to me that the very thing that brought me here was a shiny object.
“The forest is calling, little girl.” The voice turned into many voices, speaking in a singsong tone. “Are you ready to play?”
I felt a weird sensation, as if someone was behind me. I flipped around, but no one was there. Just my house in the distance. Then, there was a tapping on my shoulder.
I slowly turned around to see a girl facing me, inches from my face. The fear I felt when I looked into her eyes was indescribable. She had greasy black hair that feel in her eyes. Her eyes were pitch black and one of them seemed to be cut in half. Her body was abnormally thin, skinnier than I have ever seen. One of her legs bent at an awkward angle, her left arm completely spun around backwards. Is that normal? Of course not. She wore a nightgown similar to one of a hospital. It was drenched in blood and odd black liquid. Her face, in spite of the beady eyes and pale complexion, was rather normal. Almost too normal, perfect even. Still, like plastic. Like a doll…
Just then her right arm, the good arm, swung up and wrapped around my throat.
“My daddy is here to see you. You’re a nice one, aren’t you? He’ll be proud that I trapped you.”
Just then another figure came closer. This one looked bigger. He was large, muscular, like a lumberjack. Except he was no lumber jack. He had no face. Well, maybe he used to, but his face was a blur of red. It looked as if someone stuck his face into a cheese grater. Hunks of meat clung to his facial bones, blood dripping all over his worn out overalls. He was carrying something in his hand, swinging it. It was a bear trap. The ones that look like teeth.
I shook my head. “No…no…no!”
He came up behind me, and I heard the clank of the metal teeth as he opened the deadly tool. The girl opened her mouth so that I could see razor-sharp teeth. “Three…Two…One!”
I screamed as loud as I could. The pain was unbearable. The trap clamped around my torso and back, crushing my insides. I suddenly had the need to throw up. My body grew warm as my clothes soaked in my own blood. “Please, stop! Please…” My voice was hoarse, barely a painful whisper. The girl just laughed. She released my throat and I felt my feet being lifted off the ground. I wanted to become numb. I wanted to die, even. Not this. This was hell. The lumberjack swung me around on the trap as I watched bits of my own flesh fall to the forest floor. This man was abnormally tall. I looked down to see that my stomach looked similar to the man’s face. Coincidence? I think not. I could see parts of my intestines- or I think they were my intestines- hanging out and wrapping around the metal trap, entangling me further.
The man finally stopped walking and he dropped me on the ground. I heard a crack, maybe the trap would set me free. Maybe I could run. But at this point I couldn’t see my house anymore, even so my vision was blurry and my head began to spin. I was then lifted up again as he swung me over a tree branch. He wrapped the chains around the thick branch until it was secure, leaving me dangling four feet off the ground.
“Is…are you done yet?” I had to ask. I wanted to know if the torture was over yet.
Just then another figure came. A woman. Except she didn’t walk like the other two. She crawled on all four legs. Her head hung low as she scurried over to us, it looked as if she had been decapitated and her head was merely sewn onto her torso. That’s when she looked up.
Her eyes were slits, like cat eyes. Her mouth covered most of her face. It was huge and spread in a wide, toothless smile. She came up to me and began to tug at my arms and legs. The pain was burning like fire. I just wanted it to stop.
Suddenly, I heard a snapping sound. She came back around me, holding something that looked like a log. But it wasn’t a log. It was my leg. Lifeless and bloody. That’s when I felt the pain. I couldn’t even scream.
She held my leg high above her head, then brought it down on me. She beat me with my own leg for what seemed to be hours. Like a pinata. I cried out but no one could hear me.
As the forest grew lighter with dawn, it became apparent we weren’t the only ones here. The first thing I noticed was a single bone. It appeared to be human, a leg bone perhaps. Then I saw another. Then another. A skull. A hip bone. A row of teeth. A rotting foot. I saw organs laying on the floor, which was stained red. That’s when I looked up.
Bodies hung above me in the higher tree branches. All of them bloody, dilapidated messes. Most missing whole limbs, some without heads, most look like they had been put through a meat grinder. Most of them were teenagers. Like me.
And here I sit. They raised me a branch up the next night to make room for their next victim. I watched them beat her brutally, even eat parts off of her while she was still alive. And she looked up at me with the most pain in her eyes I have ever seen. But I couldn’t do a thing about it. Later that night I died. The last thing I heard was her painful screams. I couldn’t help her. We were just two girls who were attracted to shiny objects.
Two girls who fell for a simple trap.
And I tell this as a word of warning. Some of the most attractive things in life can be deadly. And trust me, it isn’t any fun being the raccoon.