The forest was quiet that day, the usual chirping of birds was replaced by the sound of leaves brushing against each other and the crack of sticks as Willow followed her favourite trail. The clouds hung low on the sky in a promise of rain but she didn’t plan on going back to her house any time soon. She had a horrible day at school, her bullies taunted and pranked her more than usual and all because of the dress she wore that day. She didn’t understand what she did wrong, it was a nice dress that she liked very much, it made her feel magical and pretty but I guess the goal of Jason Hollis and his group of devoted puppies was to shred any once of confidence Willow worked so hard to maintain. Her mom tried but failed to make her feel better with a kiss on the forehead and reassurance that she looked beautiful but that didn’t work so right after dinner she made her way to the woods behind her house. Not a lot of people came to that part of the forest because of the lack of marked hiking trails and Willow liked it that way. When she went out there the goal was to be alone, so she could think of all the things she wanted to say to her bullies but ultimately always decided against it on her way back home. So she walked and walked, recognizing some trees and bird nests along the way not really paying attention to the fact that the dress she wore might have been a little too long to be appropriate hiking attire. It occurred to her only when her skirt got caught on a root and her cheek nearly hit the ground. Pain shot through her palms that she used to break her fall and she groaned. The fall made her feel even worse, so she didn’t make a move to get back up, simply lying on the leaves and staring into the sky.
She didn’t know how long she spent laying there but a sudden rustle of the bushes startled her into sitting up. Willow looked around but she didn’t see an animal or a person nearby but decided to head home anyway. She was about to get up but a shimmering object peaking from underneath the leaves caught her attention so she kneeled near the spot and begun pushing the leaves and stick around. What she found made her surprised but happy at the same time. Taking the object into her hands she examined it curiously, it was a necklace, dirty and a bit muddy but looked to be in good shape. It has a silver chain with an amber pendant, the kind of amber pendant that had something encased inside of it. In this particular case, it was a small and delicate white spider. It was beautiful and Willow immediately decided to take it with her, it was too unique not to wear and if somebody recognized it while she wore it she would return it to the original owner. The walk was a good idea after all.
When she returned home she was in a much better mood, she cleaned the necklace and showed it to her mom who admitted that it was indeed beautiful and helped her put it on. As soon as the chain was clasped around her neck Willow felt strangely safe but brushed the feeling off and decided to take a shower and go to bed.
When she woke up the next day Willow had a strange feeling, the one you have when you know you had a dream but you cannot remember what it was about. She tried to remember what it was but then her mom called for her to wake up. It was a Friday so Willow had a little more bounce to her step excited to get the day over with and be free of the hell hole that was her school for two days. She dressed, ate breakfast and hopping onto her bike she rode to school.
The first two periods were okay, English and Art were her two favourite subjects after all but the third period was math that she unfortunately shared with Jason and two of his goons. Her friend Lacy always walked with her to the class as a safety precaution and every day she said the same thing.
“You really should talk to Principal Hayes about this. They’ve been bullying you for years!” Willow sighed
“You know I talked to him about twenty times already and it only made it worse each time” She replied clutching the math book to her chest as her eyes scanned the hallway in case she needed to run or hide but it was too late. She felt someone shove her roughly into the nearest row of lockers.
“Good morning freak!” she heard and turned to see the vicious grin on the face of Jason Hollis. Lacey immediately stepped between the two of them.
“Leave her alone asshole!” Lacy yelled “Go look for the two brain cells you usually have, you must’ve dropped them somewhere” Jason only laughed and pushing past Lacy he walked into the classroom. “Are you okay?” Willow nodded but she could feel the bruise forming on her shoulder.
“Thanks” she mumbled but Lacy waved her off as she assessed the damage. “I just wish he would leave me alone or better yet disappeared from the face of the earth so he can’t hurt anybody else” As soon as she said that a shiver travelled down her spine for visibly no reason.
“Yeah I know” the bell rung “I gotta go but I’ll see you at lunch okay?” another nod and then Lacy was off leaving Willow alone to take one last deep breath before she walked into the classroom.
The weekend passed quicker than she would have liked but she enjoyed it, nevertheless. She went with Lacy to see the new horror movie that was in the cinemas, she bought a new book and spent some time with her mom. Ever since she got the necklace everything seemed to work out great and she dreaded the day she would have to give it back to its original owner but so far nobody claimed it. So, Willow kept it and never really took it off, she brushed off the occasional cold shivers, weird feelings of anticipation and the dreams she had nightly but couldn’t remember them and just lived her life.
She was pleasantly surprised to realize that nobody bothered her when she arrived at school the next Monday and she didn’t see Jason through the first and second periods. When she met with Lacy at lunch she said
“I think that Jason is sick or something, nobody bothered me all day”
“You haven’t heard?” Lacy asked surprised
“Jason is in the hospital” Willow raised her brow in surprise
“From What May told be supposedly she got bit by some sort of venomous spider during a hiking trip with his parents and now he’s in a coma” Lacy explained “And the rest of his pals got caught drunk driving the same day and all of them were sent to a correction school” Willow couldn’t believe it.
“Will he survive?”
“I don’t know” A now familiar cold shiver run down Willows back. Something didn’t seem right here but she couldn’t quite place it. She instinctively grabbed the spider pendant on her neck and it hit her.
“Willow? Are you okay?” She heard Lacy ask.
“Yeah I just, I gotta get to class. See you tomorrow”
The remaining two classes she had passed in a blur, she was so deep in thought that even her teachers got concerned but she couldn’t stop thinking. No, it’s not possible, is it? Stuff like that only happens in books and movies. She thought could the necklace be protecting her. Because she was a naturally clumsy and unlucky person, always sick or injured from a minor accident but since she found that necklace she had about a dozen near misses that could have ended horribly but somehow she got out of those situations unharmed. Going back to that moments in her mind she noticed that every time she was in danger she felt a hand on her left shoulder either pulling her back or pushing her forward. Willow was not a sceptic but she wasn’t a total believer in the supernatural either so the thought of something trapped in the necklace protecting her seemed bizarre but possible at the same time. There was only one way to test that theory.
Willow did not even bother to go home, she drove straight to the edge of the woods, dropping her backpack to the ground and running to the nearest cliff-like constructions that the forest was full of. Once she was there she assessed the drop, it wasn’t high enough to kill her but it was high enough that if she jumped off of it she would definitely break a bone. So, taking a deep breath and laughing at the ridiculousness of the situation she prepared to jump when she felt a cold hand clasp around her wrist. When she turned around to see who stopped her she could not believe her eyes.
The creature was at least two feet tall and skinny, it had grey skin that was covered in something that looked like tattoos. Its face looked human-like but it was hollow, the eyes were black and its mouth and nose were covered with a black veil. It had some hair on the top of its head and a pair of wide stag antlers. Willow froze but for some reason, she was not scared, why would she be the creature who protected her after all. They looked each other in the eyes for a second and then she felt a slight tug on her wrist again and understood that the creature wanted her to step away from the cliff's edge.
“Oh yes, sorry,” she said and stepped closer to the creature looking back up at it. “Who are you?” the creature stayed silent but let go of Willow's wrist. “You can’t speak?” the creature nodded. “Okay. Can I ask a couple of questions anyway?” another nod. “Are you protecting me?” The creature nodded “Why are you protecting me?” a pale grey hand with long fingers pointed at the necklace that Willow suspected was the reason for the whole bizarre situation. “Do you want me to set you free? Send you away?” this time the creature shook its head violently the antlers rustling some nearby branches. “Okay! Okay, I won’t send you away. I’ll let you protect me” The creature calmed down visibly and slowly sat down on the ground so now it and Willow were face to face. “If we’re going to stay together I need you to promise me something” another rustle of leaves as the creature moved its head to the side in a questioning manner. “If you are going to protect me and make people disappear I’d rather you not harm them physically if you can. Make them move out or do the thing you did with Jason’s friends but I want Jason to wake up and his family suddenly decide that they should move out of town okay? I don’t want to have people getting harmed on my conscience.” The creature hummed reluctantly in agreement. “Good. Now what should I call you?” its grey shoulders moved in a shrug and Willow thought for a minute looking at the creature's antlers.
“I think I will call you Bambi”