A Slender/Hetalia Fanfiction
Beneath the Shadows of the Trees, Part 2
Prussia, France, and Spain
Behind them, the forest and the creature beside it faded away quickly, as if only a vanishing nightmare that had existed for mere seconds before disappearing before one’s eyes. The entire scene was a dream—whisked away with one whisper of a word, a pinch of desperation, a tight squeezing of the soft flesh upon the arm, and a single, forceful slam on a pedal.
Gone. Just like that.
Alfred marveled at his blessings at he began to turn the wheel so that they could veer off onto the main road, where he had, earlier that day, drove away from, with Arthur screaming curses in his ears and demanding that he go back to the road. Alfred had been laughing his head off, intending to run into the trees off to the side of the road, planning only to give Arthur a bit of a scare to start off his evening. I… I really only meant to play a joke on him. I didn’t mean to get the two of us into this much trouble! B-But now I’ve gotten us into this whole big mess. Who knows… what’s gonna happen to us now? We’ve escaped, so… yeah… yeah, we should be safe…
But… are we… really safe…?
Safe. Was he really safe? Was it all right to keep England by his side, to protect him as long as he couldn’t recover from his illness and fend for himself, especially now that Alfred didn’t know if the creature in the woods would come after him or not? Well, it’s not that Arthur’s weak, but… maybe he does need my help now, if ever. It would be nice if we could stay together so that I can make sure nothing…
Alfred stole a glance at Arthur, who was snuggled warmly into his passenger seat, and then turned his eyes back to the road. So that I can make sure that nothing… can harm him.
Minutes passed as they drove down the road, and eventually, more cars and lights began to appear—then the familiar smell of industry and the city as America headed onto the freeway and prepared to go towards England’s house.
“… Arthur.” Alfred gestured to Arthur with a cock of his head, directing the Briton’s attention to him. “How you feeling? Better?”
“Haha…” Arthur leaned back stiffly into the leather seats of his car, muttering to himself about how America had gotten them into that whole mess. “Not really… stomach still making me want to hurl my sausages and pudding…”
He cleared his throat, trying to figure out what he should say next to Alfred. He had never seen the boy so serious or attentive, and he wanted to make the best of it. Unfortunately, though, Arthur had no want to talk about what had happened. It was too much for him, especially after he had been catching on a cold for the past few days. Now the sickness was coming back again, making him sweat and flush with the heat that was building inside his body.
“So.” Arthur was changing the subject, Alfred knew, and he let Arthur do it. After all, who wanted to be reminded that one had spent the whole evening in a lonely forest that had been condemned to the works of evil?
… Well… maybe Russia would, but that’s a totally different idea… Alfred shook his head to himself as he thought of this. Yeah, maybe he would, but that’s not what I should be focusing on right now. My main concern is Arthur…
“‘So’?” said Alfred, straightening up in his seat in a slight sense of interest, wanting to know what Arthur had been about to say. “‘So’ what? What’re you gonna say? C’mon, just spit it out and tell me…!”
Arthur cleared his throat, which felt sore and sickly with each word he spoke, as if it were tearing apart on the inside as he talked. “So. A-at least we… got away…”
“Yeah.” Alfred nodded his head in understanding of what Arthur had just said. They really were lucky to have escaped from whatever was inside that forest—whatever it was, it had nearly caught him, and anything that was capable of capturing the hero was something to watch out for. But it was also because of the solemnity and graveness that the situation contained that held Alfred spellbound and shocked. He’d never expected to spend part of his day being chased by some lunatic animal in the woods. He’d never expected to be preyed on by some creature that likely wanted his bloody carcass...
Except for Russia, of course. Wa-Wait a minute! Why am I thinking about that again!?
And now, at Arthur’s mentioning of the drastic event, Alfred’s memory began to slowly thaw and flow back into his partially numbed mind.
Oh, God… that face… i-it had no face… Alfred gulped, swallowing a gulp of air as he realized just how lucky he and Arthur were to have made it out of those woods... alive.
An-And that suit… and… oh, lord. The tentacles… as if it were reaching for me. He shut his eyes for a very short moment or two, trying to recall exactly what had happened to him the moment that he had come face-to-face with the startling, ghost-like figure. Tentacles… so long… a-and slimy… one wrapped around my neck… but why, oh why… didn’t I stop it from taking me?
Yes, they were lucky. And it had taken Alfred this long to figure out the reason why Arthur had thought that they had been so blessed with good fortune. It’s because that thing could’ve gotten me… anytime it felt. And it didn’t. It just lay there, in the trees, waiting for something… for a different prey? For another human? Someone else, not me. And why not me?
“I-I guess…” Alfred spoke for a moment, and then he quickly closed his mouth and continued to drive. This time, he wasn’t going to babble too much and give that creature a chance to catch up with them again… or, if it didn’t intend to come after them, then at least he could do Arthur a favour and not run his car into another lamp post. Or a silo, for that matter. “Hey, Arthur. I got a question for you.”
“Y-yes…?” Arthur shut his eyes tightly, trying to block out the lights of the freeway around them as America drove in silence; he wasn’t worried this time that Alfred was going to destroy his new paint job or wreck the pedals. It simply was a minor thing, compared to all that they had gone through earlier in the evening. Suddenly, he felt sick, as if his stomach were a tsunami of its own and his head was threaded through with needles—every inch of it seemed to hurt and pound. This was much worse than the fever and the cold that he had gone through for the past few days. Even his eyes were hurting now, so much that he had to keep from using them regularly. “W-what… is it?”
“What… what do you think…” Alfred took a second to collect his thoughts and to rephrase his words entirely. “Do you think that was a mythical creature back there? You know… the thing… that followed us?”
Partially appalled at Alfred’s lack of understanding, Arthur was too tired to sit up or stare incredulously at his younger brother today, so he settled for turning his head slightly to the side to gaze at Alfred through bleary, tired eyes. “Now, now, Alfred… what do you think it was?”
Of course it had to be some mythical creature… or at least an inhuman beast. Whatever it was, Arthur hadn’t seen, for he had shut his eyes in the moment that he had extended his leg over Alfred’s leg in order to push down on the pedal with his left foot, too afraid to look at the thing in the eye… or the face. But whatever it had been that pursued them and brought upon the two nations such a foreboding, dreary presence, one that reeked of death and destruction, could never have been a human. But then… what was it?
Arthur did believe in mythical animals and beings, yes. He had Flying Mint Bunny, of course, and Unicorn and so many other of his faerie friends to always accompany him and be there in his time of need. However… this beast… was entirely different from anything he had encountered ever before, whether it was raising Russia from the floor of his centre of black magic or summoning fluffy, little, winged things to assist him when he needed to do so.
This animal… it was dark. Dark and evil, filled with a blackness that had no light, no benevolence. What could it be? If not human, then… what? That was what scared him. If there was no record in history—or at least, in the history of his own country—of such a terrifying apparition, then who else would know of this newly arisen creature of the darkness?
This thing… it was not so hard to believe in, but the reality and dreadfulness of the situation that Arthur had just been through made him wish and pray that the creature wasn’t real, that it was an invention of his overactive imagination. Alfred always did say that I thought too much, and that that was bad for the mind… maybe all this thinking and imagining has driven me insane.
But deep inside, he knew it was real, and if it hadn’t been, Alfred would not have been trying to come up with a response to Arthur’s previous and obviously (except to Alfred, of course) rhetorical question.
“… um…” Alfred tilted his head towards England as he sought the answer from somewhere within his shallow mind, searching for something of a reply that would please the Englishman. “… I don’t really… know?”
They younger country turned to Arthur with anticipation in his eyes, and Arthur gazed back in grim amusement, finding the youth as incredibly dependent on him for knowledge as usual. Then… if Alfred, who had gone through nearly everything there was to experience, had not heard of the strange creature, then who would have? If America wasn’t strong enough to hold it off… then who could?
“… I don’t know either, Alfred. Truthfully,” he added upon seeing the disbelieving expression on the American’s boyish face. “I… I really don’t know.”
Not far off, in a particular nation’s living room, three nations were partying themselves to exhaustion, completely oblivious to the fact that a horrible evil had just been reborn and was now not so far off from their location.
“Oh, yeah, Antonio! Crack that beer open and let’s see how much of it you can down without breathing!” Prussia raised his tall glass, filled with nothing but warm beer (as drunk as he was, he had forgotten the ice), into the air, shouting his demand to the Spaniard as the other gaped at him, swaying back and forth, too drunk to be able to keep his balance well—and Spain wasn’t even standing. He was seated on the sofa, threatening to fall over onto his side on the thick, brown leather, and he stared at Gilbert in astonishment.
“W-wait a minute,” said Antonio, attempting to carefully enunciating his words, although each try came out slurred and almost incomprehensible anyways. “W-What do you want me to do?”
Being too drunk, he hadn’t been able to hear Gilbert’s command properly, and while he asked Gilbert to repeat what he had just said, France took the opportunity to clumsily snatch at the Spanish man’s bottle of beer and put it to his own lips, recklessly gulping down the alcohol easily, as if it came naturally to him.
“Really, Antonio,” grinned Francis, with one arm slung over his friend’s shoulder, “You really should learn to safeguard your alcohol in a more elegant fashion!” He ignored Gilbert’s comment about the French people being too fancy and stupidly fashionable, and continued to instruct Antonio in the ways it to protect his beer: “It makes it much, much too easy for me to steal… non, you must keep your beer safe with a gracefulness about you! With style! Passion!”
He began to lean, too drunk to speak any further, on Antonio’s shoulder now, resting his head against him as he murmured a bit more. “… Passion… oui, a strong, powerful passion… for yo-your beer… for your women…” He gave an oblivious yawn, then turned to stretch over on his third of the sofa, one arm hanging over the back of the couch and the other resting on the sofa’s arm.
“Y-you really have no sense at all, do you, you blasted Frenchman,” muttered Antonio, waving a slow hand at the now dozing Francis as he continued with his speech, “Of course I know how to put pasión into the way I drink my beer—haha, Francis, you idiota…” He laughed to himself at the excellently clever names he was calling Francis as the Frenchman, who by nature was a heavy sleeper, dreamt on.
Then he turned to Gilbert. “Now, now… how did we three end up here anyways?”
“Mein bruder kicked me out of mein haus,” replied the Prussian in a mixture of heavily-accented English and some German. One could hardly understand what he was saying, anyways, because of his care for his clarity—which could’ve been much more improved than it was at the time.
“Q-Qué? What’s that you sa-said there, old amigo? S-speak español, won’t y-you…?” Antonio blinked, now growing drowsy with the heavy influence of the beer as well and was too lazy to overcome the large desire to lay upon the Frenchman and to use him as a pillow for his well-earned, midnight siesta.
“Pfffft, of course not, I-I’m no damned Spaniard,” shouted Gilbert as he leaned back against the couch as well, his eyes fluttering open and shut as he continued to speak. “I-I said… mein brother… kick me out… of house…” He left his bad grammar for the other two to dissect and popped open another can of beer, humming “Deutschlandlied” in a complete off-tune, low key as he fumbled with the can opener, nearly cutting his white fingers on it once.
“Kick you out, you say?” said Antonio, yawning widely as he hugged Francis’s left arm with two pale hands, his face flushed from the beer. “Wh-what about your A-Austrian boyfriend, sì?”
“Roddy, you m-mean? H-He kicked me out, t-too…” mumbled Gilbert, still struggling with the can opener and bottle as Gilbird, fluffy and yellow and a bit tipsy from the liquor Gilbert had been offering his pet, settled contentedly on the shoulder of his somewhat oversized T-shirt.
“Th-then… Francis say… England won’t mind we borrow his living room… r-right?” Antonio wiped the foamy beer off of his lips with the back of his hand.
“Meh… I have no idea,” admitted Prussia as he finally managed to get the lid off of the glass bottle and began to chug it down, not paying attention the other two, who were drifting off to sleep, completely aware of the quiet rustling that was outside the manor’s door. Prussia, who was gulping his beer without a care in the world, paid no heed to it either.
Unlike France, who couldn’t hold any liquor at all, and Spain, who had a relatively average record for someone who didn’t drink very much, Prussia was had a high tolerance for alcohol, and it had only been when he reached his seventh bottle that he had begun to slur and speak in tarnished Italian, not exactly knowing how to speak the language but at least knowing one sentence—“Prussia è impressionante.”.
Which was accurately translated to: “Prussia is awesome.”
A tentacle, an octopus-like, slimy extremity, peeked up slowly into the open window and within the light green walls of a large, nicely but simply decorated bedroom. There was little more than a king-sized bed and a dresser, a door leading to a private bathroom, and a few “One Direction” posters that had been crudely hung on the wall with duct tape.
Stealthy tentacles reached up to slip through the tiny gap at the bottom of the half-opened glass window, pushing it up further, and, with seven tentacles grasping tightly at the sides of the wall, they lifted the body they were attached to off the ground, which was three stories below, and up to face the window.
Rustle… rustle… creak… rustle… rustle…
Furtively, the faceless figure raised itself and lowered its body into Arthur Kirkland’s bedroom, and upon touching its well-polished shoes to the floor, it began to creep its way towards the bedroom door. With a creak, the door was thrown open quietly and slowly, and the creature started down the long hallway and towards the stairs leading down to the living room.
… rustle… rustle… Creak…
… Moments after Slender’s descend down the flight of polished stairs, a bloodcurdling scream could be heard from a sole human downstairs. There was a crash of glass as one of the nations was thrown into the pile of beer bottles that had been stashed on the coffee table, and a whimper and shout of fright as it unleashed its merciless attacks upon the trio. A call for help rang shrilly through the night, but was quickly overpowered by a stronger, louder shrill, one that grinded and squeaked as if to torment its captives; as the night took over, all the voices were raised in a bloody symphony of shrieks.
… And then all was silent except for the sound of rustling feet.