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The Man in the Woods
I hung back, letting the others
shuffle back to the dorm in a dazed, almost awestruck silence.
Matron was prowling, ready to pronounce bedtime in the infirmary,
but there was something I needed to ask.
I sat quickly beside the bed, whispered:
'Can I see? Will you show me?'
Ginny's first reaction, even in her prone
position, was to glance to the door. Her instincts seemed to
agree with mine that this was something secret and forbidden.
But she nodded, and placed her face in the cool of the sick-bed
A single crisp linen sheet lay across her
back, bottom and legs. Enough for propriety, but no significant
weight. I pulled it back. Below her waist, only surgical dressings.
Below the dressings - Ginny gasped - the cold and calculated
infliction of pain.
Ginny's brow felt feverish as I kissed her
goodbye and left her to a long week of recovery, like Beth before
her. I found my bed amid pulsing vertigo, but couldn't sleep.
I thought about hurting him, making him scream.
Like the first time, there was
no attempt to contact the police. Ginny's parents were persuaded
that publicity would be bad for the whole school, and would
serve no purpose. The fencing which separated the school grounds
from the woods was strengthened. Straying anywhere near the
woods was made punishable by immediate expulsion.
And it worked, godfuckingdamnit. Within days,
the Man in the Woods became nothing more than a kind of night-time
ghost-story, told by girls to excite and scare each other. Something
to think about while they touched themselves. While Ginny lay
I needed help, and I couldn't wait for Ginny
to recover. I couldn't do this alone. Careful contact with the
prefects got me nowhere: they were either too scared, or too
fucking sensible. Until.
Until Rhiannon lifted her eyes from the pulp
novel she was devouring, took a moment to decide if I was serious,
and then smiled like unexpected sunrise.
'What shall we do with him?' she asked, twinkling.
'Cut his balls off?'
'Maybe,' I replied, not smiling at all.
She paused. 'We could both get into serious
trouble.' Each word weighted.
I nodded. 'No man does this to us and gets
away with it.'
Dark. The blow knocked me winded
to the floor. The torch skittered away. Through the fog in
my head I heard Rhiannon's screams and struggling fade into
the distance. Then nothing. Just the low murmur of night under
I reached for the torch. Found nothing. Calm,
calm, keep breathing. Crouching, and then carefully up to my
Wham! At once, a hand across my mouth, another
holding my arms, binding them quickly behind my back. A voice,
soft, in my ear:
'Oh yes, little one. It's you I want. Not
the other one.'
'Let me go, you sick fuck.'
'Sick?' An amused tone. 'What do you imagine,
little one? I'm thirty, perhaps forty? Sexually frustrated,
obviously. Preying on innocent little girls, overpowering them
with my masculine strength?'
And then the world twisted out of shape. The
'You know, I didn't say a single word to either
Elizabeth or Virginia, they certainly didn't see my face, yet
they both assumed.'
I twisted around, but couldn't see. But I
knew now. Ohgod.
'I'm disappointed in you. You're just like
the others. So you must be punished.'
As Rhiannon tied me across a fallen log, methodically
stripped me from the waist down, then began to cut and strip
switches, I could think only of the cool, brilliant-white linen
in the school infirmary. White. White. Red against white.
I've never felt so alive.
Back to Pablo's
Back to the treehouse