She was 7 years old when she first saw it. At a young age, Makayla had experienced many night-terrors. Each was the same, and always very simple. All she saw was glimpses of the forest near her home and a tall faceless creature which towered over even the tallest trees.
Her parents, who were very strict Pentecostals, took these dreams as messages from the Devil, and usually made her pray for hours in an attempt to chase any demons from her mind.
They only took extreme action when they realized she had grabbed a knife from the kitchen drawer and carved a large circle with an “X” into the wall.
They had never seen this peculiar symbol before, and were immediately frightened when Makayla claimed she didn’t remember doing it.
They took her to the Church’s Pastor as soon as they could. Together, they talked about their daughters dreams, what they could mean, and the origin of the symbol she had unconsciously cut into her bedroom’s wall. The Pastor came to the conclusion that the night-terrors were just a phase that lots of children went through, and would pass eventually. As for the symbol, he decided it must be some silly little drawing she had come up with and that it probably meant nothing. She listened to every word he spoke, somehow knowing everything he said wasnt true, though she didn’t understand why. She tucked a long strand of her light brown hair behind her ear, a nervous habit, as her parents looked at her sharply. She averted her eyes in a mix of fear and embarrassment. Her parents smiled and thanked the man. That smile was replaced with a menacing glare once they stepped out of the church.
That little stunt earned her 4 strikes with her father’s belt.
Almost two years later, Levi was born. Makayla’s parents did everything to insure her little brother wouldn’t go through the same “phase” she was going through. They became even more strict. Virtually anything that wasn’t related to their religion was cut out of their lives. Their parents loved to hear, “Your children are such little angels!” whenever they saw anyone.
Sometimes Makayla felt like the only reason she was born was to make her parents look like better people.
It’s now 7 years later. Makayla is only 3 months away from turning 17, and is counting down the days. She plans on moving out as soon as she can, ready to be free from her parents. There are only more rules for her the older she gets, making her feel like she’s suffocating under her parent’s control.
Makayla had always been homeschooled, and her now seven-year old brother had just started his homeschooling. Levi had always welcomed the rules, he even seemed to like them. His parents always seemed a little warmer towards him then they did to her. Maybe because he believed everything he was told.
Even as a young girl, Makayla knew she didn’t see things the same as her parents did. Being completely honest, she never fully believed in God. She liked to believe that the universe was in control, and had always lived by the motto, “whatever happens, happens.” She was fascinated with everything to do with anything beyond their planet. Her parents hated this, being h******e believers in God, they didn’t have a great love for science. Or anything other that the Bible in general.
Makayla had first started sneaking out at age 14. She wasn’t out to do anything bad, she just an urge. The urge to go to the forest and look at the stars. Although at this point the dreams had stopped, she still felt like the woods and that tall featureless figure meant something.
Every few nights a week, she would climb out her bedroom window and make a dash to the forest. She would walk until she was met with a small clearing, lay down, and stare at the sky. Her golden brown eyes would scan every star as she made a map of all the constellations in her head, and observed how they shifted over time. There was always a nagging feeling in the back of her mind. Part of her wanted to travel deeper into the woods, but she never did. She felt like the universe wanted her to see something, and half of her wanted to move further through the trees, just to know. The other half of her was afraid of what might be beyond the clearing.
She knew the universe didn’t always have good intentions.
It was around 10:30 p.m when she decided to go to the woods. She was halfway out the window when she heard her parents yelling.
Apparently, they had found one of Levi’s coloring sheets while they were getting ready to go to sleep.
Large circles with “X”‘s across them had been scribbled messily all over the page.
Their parents had already been through this once, and they weren’t willing to go through it again.
Makayla heard her parents loud footsteps on the hardwood floors as they traveled down the hall to Levi’s room. She knew what was to come.
She hopped back into her bedroom and ran to her door, swinging it open so fast it hit hard against the wall, leaving an indention from the door knob. She was met with her father at the door, his hand already raised with the belt. She managed to move her head in time, the belt slashing across her shoulder.
Before he could do anything else, her mother walked out with Levi in tow. She dragged him by the arm to stand in front of their father, a look of confusion and fear on his face. His eyes shifted to the belt in his father’s hand. Every other emotion on his face was replaced with pure terror.
He had never gotten a beating before, but he had seen it happen to Makayla many times.
Levi cowered in fear as his father stepped closer. Makayla lunged for the belt,but was thrown against the wall and kicked in the chest, knocking the breath out of her. She closed her eyes in pain, only to open them as the sound of a belt buckle meeting skin echoed through the room. She got up as fast as she could to see that he had already gotten a few hits on her little brother, leaving red welts on his skin. Her father showed no signs of stopping, even as his child screamed in agony and fear.
That’s when Makayla snapped.
Thinking fast, she grabbed a knife from the counter and used all her weight to knock her father over. She heard her mother scream as she plunged the knife through the hollow of his throat. He coughed and choked as the blood poured from his mouth and wound, before he went limp. Her mother tried to run past. But was grabbed by the legs and dragged down. Makayla climbed on top of her, quickly silencing her wails as she slid the knife deep across her neck.
All Makayla could feel after that was relief and absolute joy. She was finally free. Or at least she would be until she was caught.
She picked herself up and looked at Levi, who was shaking but didn’t seem as scared as she thought he would be. She picked him up and ran out the front door.
“Where are we going?” Levi asked, shaken.
” To the woods,” Makayla breathed out, whispering “Universe, don’t fail me.”
She ran with her brother in her arms through the clearing she frequently visited, pausing for a few moments to take everything in, in case she never got to come back. She ran on, further into the trees than she had ever gone before. She had been running for what felt like hours when she finally stopped, trying to breathe.
The trees around had thickened, and running was much more difficult. She was about to give up, when she saw something she hadn’t seen in a long time. The familiar crossed out circle. She took this as the Universe’s sign that she was going where she needed to be. She ran even faster than before, dodging trees and thorns.
After another hour of running, every sound she heard was drowned out by deafening static. She collapsed to the ground as both her and Levi covered their ears, the sound so painfully loud it caused their eyes to prick with tears.
The sound quieted after a few moments and they finally opened their eyes. They were met with the faceless creature they had both seen in their dreams.
Neither of them were afraid. They were both oddly at peace.
“We’ve finally met,” a voice rang through both of their heads, as the creature stretched an arm out offering its hand for Makayla to take.
” Come with me,” it spoke, “This is just the beginning.”
‘Trust in the Universe’, was all she could think as she grabbed onto the creatures pale hand. Searing pain traveled from Makayla’s palm up to her should as the same symbol was carved in her skin, along with her brothers.
But she didn’t question it. She felt like whatever came next, they were both going to be fine.
She gently placed her brother onto his feet and grabbed his hand, letting him walk on his own. She stared up at the faceless creature as it lead them further through the trees.