A few miles into the Pine Barrens, not far from the Mullica River, the acidic malnourished soil began to dry from the light rainfall earlier that day. It was a fine summer evening, and the tree leaves blew subtly in the wind but plaintively as if waiting for something exciting to occur, as if their lives were to depend on it. The sun began to rest upon the Apple Pie Hill, eclipsed by the watch tower located high above it, giving off a large view of the northern Pine Barrens. The tower and the sun began to converge into the sight of what seemed to be a lollipop made of gold which only would exist through the fictitious mindset of a young child. A masked shrew pitter-pattered across the crisp sugar sand in search of a way home and out of this sahara. A snapping turtle came out of the brush and flaunted its large mouth frightening the shrew in the other direction.

It quickly skittered away as the turtle stayed where it was motionless. The writhing path began giving off vibrations when a large red Hummer began making its way down the unknown road. It was quickly charging towards the snapping turtle, who was startled, and had no other choice but to walk out of the way, even though it was finally comfortable where it was. The red Hummer drove down the path in what would have been a narrow miss with the turtle if not for its brain’s message to walk away instead of listening to the instincts kicking in and telling it to hide in its shell. The turtle hid in its shell afterwards, just in case the large predator would return.

The Hummer drove deep into the forest passing by the river. It drove over dead logs which were home to thousands of termites which were now homeless or killed. An eagle flew overhead and was mesmerized by the reflection of the glistening sun rays upon the Hummer’s roof. It was a sight that no animal in this region had ever seen before. The eagle began to fly closer to it but did not notice the branch up ahead and came into a direct collision with it. The eagle dropped out of the sky like a fallen angel who has lost its wings. This Hummer, a war machine came into the forest uninvited and stood as a threat to all the woodland creatures who were unarmed and unprovisioned.

The Hummer then came to a halt near a large grouping of tall pine trees. Emerging from the vehicle was a man, about five foot four with a gloomy look on his face. He had black sparse hair and teeth that were mottled. His right eye was a dry brown, his left was a fluorescent green. He wore a striped shirt with a black jacket over it that was made of wool and left unbuttoned. He also had red skinny jeans on and black boots. A very odd-looking man. Could easily be spotted in a crowd. The man walked over to a pine tree about ten feet away from the car. He put his ashy hands around the tree, which wasn’t as tall as the others. It had a large width and had a branch close to the ground, making it the perfect tree. The man walked back to the car with his head dangling below his shoulders. He opened the trunk of the car, and took out a large chain along with a lock. He closed the trunk and took out the car keys. He locked the car. With a cringe upon his face, he looked as if he was about to cry as he threw the keys onto the ground. The man walked over to the tree with the chain in his hand, he began wrapping the chain around the tree. As soon as the chain covered the whole diameter of the tree, he gave it a quick pull tightening it. He tried making a small knot with the metal chain, working up a sweat. When he finally succeeded, he placed the lock onto the the chain.

The chain was now stuck to the tree. The man then reached into his jacket pocket, taking out handcuffs. He closed one cuff onto the chain and the other cuff onto his left hand. He then sat down and lay against the tree. Reaching into his other jacket pocket he pulled out another set of keys, belonging to the handcuffs. Looking at them one last time, he turned his head away and closed his eyes. A lonely tear representing all the agony he had held up inside him crawled down his face. He then threw the keys. When he realized his hand was empty he began to cry. He sat there talking to himself “So this is it. This is how it ends! I die, in the same fashion as how I began. Alone! Unloved! With nothing!” He began to kick the ground. His weeping slowly ceased.

He pulled out his cellphone to see the wallpaper of Shaq, his prized Afghan. He read the date: August 12th, 2005. The time was 2:22 P.M. He went through his missed calls, eighteen in total. Seventeen were from Jane. Each time she called she left a message, all similar to the last.”Baby, come home please. We’ll find a way to live with this. Please just come home!” she ended every message crying. The most recent message he got was from an unfamiliar number. He didn’t want to check it. He opened the back of his phone and took out the battery, dropped the phone and placed the battery right next to it. He stomped his heel on the phone in rage, hoping to break it. He eventually grew tired and decided not to waste the little energy he had left on breaking the stupid phone.

His body was not comfortable with the situation at hand. His body was used to being served food and being told about his events and having it planned out just the way he likes it by someone else, so he wouldn’t have to put the effort in. But being handcuffed to a tree, no one wrote this down on his calendar. The man began to rub himself in the dirt, noting the powerful stench of the clothes he wore for the past two weeks. He kept moving his head around like a gecko, hoping nobody was hiking within his vicinity in case they notice and try to rescue him.

The worst scenario might be if anyone recognized him out here. They’d call up the news stations before even thinking about the police. Whoever found him and knew who he was, would forever be praised and be known as the man who found Glenn Archer after he went off the deep end. He’d never hear the end of it. He’d never be known for anything else, nothing significant, nothing he’d done on his own. Unless that’s what Glenn’s finder would want, to be forever known for something a bloodhound could’ve done. As long as the news were interested, he will be Gepetto. Playing all the media networks like puppets, acting out the scenes and making money off of telling his story. They’d be asking him things like “How’d you know Glenn was in the forest?” and ” Who were your sources” ? If someone were to find him, it would most likely be by accident. But they will probably lie about it and make up some elaborate story and the media will buy it no questions asked. Buying lies is what they do best.

This lucky finder will demand money for every interview and get each puppet’s strings tangled with each other. He’ll think he’s screwing them over, but there will always be that one puppet who is Pinocchio, whether a new station or some sort of agent. “Your story’s the biggest one of the century. We’ve got to make it into a book, and then a movie. Whatta ya say?” He signs the paper consisting of broken promises in ink, and Pinocchio’s nose grows and pokes Gepetto in the eye. A year later he’ll be in debt, he’ll lose custody of his children, and become an alcoholic. He’ll look back and wish he never found Glen Archer.

As he contemplated this scenario, he thought to himself, that anyone that comes in contact with him, eventually finds that their lives are ruined. Another reason people should call off the search and just leave him be until he is no more.  He licked his gums, trying to recall what he ate last. Two slices of white bread with cream cheese. That’s all. Food didn’t taste good to him anymore. The only bearable thing his body could take without a repugnant reaction was cigarettes. Besides, the less food in his stomach meant he would starve faster. He slowly grew tired, wanting to rest. All he cared about now was sleep. It put him at peace that for once he was finally tired. He began closing his eyes to the sound of some sort of animal crying out in the distance. He wished that he would die ten minutes into his slumber, but realistically, he needed to go through the worst first. He would wake up in about an hour or so and when he did, he’d have plenty of time to think.

 

Eli Cohen is a freshman Screenwriting major at SVA. At 12 years of age, Eli wrote and self-published his first book. His books The Storyteller From Crandolin & The Storyteller From Crandolin: Secrets of the Necronomicon can be found on Amazon and Lulu.