This story is by Carlz Santiago and was part of our 2016 Winter Writing Contest. You can find all the Winter Writing Contest stories here.
Every night, when the moon is full, I go to the veranda near my room and gaze at the moon. Whenever I look at it, I can feel my worries leaving me. Although I’ve seen it countless times, I never grew tired of its unshaken beauty.
One night, as I watched the moon swept through the sky, its entire body bathed in crimson, but only for a mere moment. Then, it returned to its usual white figure. That’s it! I’m going to sleep. However, after I slid the glass door open, I heard a voice. At first, I shrugged it off knowing it’s just my mind playing tricks on me. But, after a while, I heard it again. This time, it was someone singing. When I looked below the veranda, all I saw was grass. Is it a ghost? I ran down the stairs and into my parent’s bedroom. Then, I shook my parents awake and told them about it. They said that it was just a dream. Believing them, I went back to my room and slept.
However, on the next full moon, I heard it again. Next month, I heard it again. After another month, I heard it again. Night after night, whenever the moon is full, I couldn’t sleep. I have no choice but listen to it until daybreak. Like a silly tune stuck in my head, I think of nothing but the mysterious song. My friends would always ask how sluggish I am. I would answer, “I studied all night.” Then, we would talk about something else. After a couple of months, my mind split. I can’t take this anymore! One night, I decided to search for it. I listened to every noise and walked around town. After several hours, I found no clues. When I followed the voice, I end up in front of a big forest on the outskirts of town. The inside of the forest was dark. No sane human would enter. But, I don’t think I’m sane anymore; I entered the forest.
Inside the forest was a mystery on its own. Many plants and animals around were nothing I have seen in my life. There were gigantic, noodle-like trees blocking out even the brightest of moonlight, shadows moving as if they have a prey to catch, and flowers whispering the sounds they heard. After a couple of steps, I could not see the entrance anymore. Nevertheless, I heaved and continued walking.
No matter how much steps I took, nothing around changes. Sometimes, the voice whispers, followed by murmurs of the wind. Sometimes, it screams, followed by a gust knocking me down. I couldn’t tell how many hours have passed. When my body feels heavy, I sat down beside a tree. After a while, I heard a drop of water touching a still basin of water. Then, I heard the singing voice again. This time, however, it didn’t stop. Instead, it continued as audible as possible. So, I followed it. Step after step, it gets louder. Eventually, I could see a glimmer of light behind the trees.
After passing through the thicket, I saw a lake appeared in front of me. In the middle of it, a petite girl stood on top of the water. She was gazing at the moon. As I walked towards her, I stepped on a branch. The girl heard it and looked at me. When her feet came contact with the soil, I saw a crescent moon mark etched on her right cheek.
“Are you human?” The girl walked towards me. Then, she placed her tiny hands on my chest and closed her eyes.
“What are you –,” My face was flushed.
After a moment, she withdrew her hands and stood. “I see you have gazed into Luna’s eyes. Poor thing.”
“Who’s Luna?” I peeked at the lake, noticing that there was no trace of my and the girl’s reflections. She looked at me and giggled.
“You met her every night. And every night you do, you stare at her with such artist’s eyes.”
Every night? Don’t tell me–
“Luna resides within me.” She turned and viewed the moon.
I shook my head. “Huh?”
She faced me and stared into my eyes. “In your words, I am Luna’s body.”
The silence began to fill up the air. She never flinched and continued staring at me. After a while, I shifted my gaze towards the trees behind her and nodded.
“Okay, maybe I’ve been gazing at her for some time. What’s the worst it could happen?”
“Gaze into Luna’s eyes, only to the madness you go.” The girl smirked. “In fact, you already experienced it firsthand, am I right?”
I tilted my head to the right, expecting her to stutter. Yet, instead of backing down, she knelt down, gathered water from the lake using her palms, and splashed it on me.
I stomped my feet on the ground and glared at her. “Why did you do that for?”
She chuckled. “I didn’t do anything.” She put her index finger on her lips. “Perhaps, you would understand it better if I say that you can’t tell that something happened.”
I touched my belly and chest, and then I noticed that my shirt’s dry. I shifted my gaze to the moon glowing above the lake.
“Humans don’t usually go inside the forest during the night, do they? The reason why you entered is to discover the source of the voice who sang, right?” I nodded. “In that case, why do you keep getting lost in a forest as tiny as this?”
I turned my eyes towards her. “Tiny! The trees around here are ridiculously tall that I can’t see the sky at all!” I shouted and pointed at the trees around us.
“There’s no forest in this place. Everything is just what you see, not what truly exists.” She stood on the water. “If this is indeed real, then by the rules you believe, I shouldn’t be standing here in the first place.”
I looked at the lake. Unlike before, I could see my reflection. But, as the water calmed, it turned into something unimaginable.
“You will perceive nothing but illusions. Scenes that only you can see. Sounds that only you can hear. Scents that only you can smell. Textures that only you can feel. Flavors that only you can taste.”
The girl walked towards me and patted me on the back. “But, all of this happens only when Luna watches the earth.” I looked at her.
“To leave the forest, just go east.” She pointed to her right.
“Before I go, can I ask something?” The girl nodded.
“Why do you sing? Wouldn’t it be better for both of us if I never knew about this?”
She bit her lips. “Those who become insane will be rejected by anyone sane.” I only could look at her.
“Understand it as you will.” She closed her eyes; then, she turned around, walked to the lake’s center, and sang.
After glancing at the moon, I walked east. Five minutes later, I found myself outside of the forest. After a while, I went home. When the moon sets in the west, and the sun rises in the east, I went to the outskirts of town to check if the forest exists. I saw no signs of trees.
Hence, whenever a full moon rises from the east, I hear her song, reminding me of the world I could never escape – lunacy.