All her life Samantha has been told to never go beyond the yellow line in the forest. “Unconceivable horrors lie beyond,” her father would warn her as a child. “Others have ventured further against our laws, and none have returned. And those who have been caught trying to leave have wound up nourishing the ground you now walk on.”

She’s spent her whole life looking over the line, questioning, wondering. Yearning. Her curiosity would always be met with swift hostility, so she started keeping her questions to herself, her thirst for knowledge ever-growing. Until tonight.

Tonight, Samantha’s discreetly packed a bag and left the house in silence, carefully plotting every next step so as not to alert anyone to her presence. She’s made her way through the houses, avoiding the spotlights, crossed into the forest, and reached the dreaded yellow line. She trembles as she makes the first step across the line, tightly holding onto her oil lantern.


She sits there for a minute, listening, looking, waiting, barely breathing as if to not be heard. She takes another step, and then another. She is on the path toward the terrifying unknown and there’s no turning back now.

She’s been walking for almost two hours, stopping from time to time to take in her surroundings, to listen for sounds in the dark. There’s a full moon tonight and Samantha was counting on its light, but you can barely tell beneath the dense forest trees. She thinks to herself she never knew darkness like this existed.

Suddenly, she hears rustling behind her and strange, guttural noises coming from multiple places at once, increasingly louder and approaching fast. “Unconceivable horrors,” she hears her father warning her. “What have I done?!”

Samantha runs, she runs as fast as she can with the noises growing wild behind her. As she flees in a panic, her lantern gets stuck on some branches and is pulled out of her hand. Samantha is now running blindly through the pitch-black forest toward what may very well be her doom.

Gasping for air, her hands and face covered in scratches from all the sharp branches in her way, she begins to see lights in front of her, behind the trees, moving from left to right and right to left. She doesn’t understand what it is she’s seeing, but she doesn’t have any time to process anything other than pure fear.

At the very peak of exhaustion, she makes it out of the forest and falls to the ground completely powerless. The noises behind her have subsided, but now there’s a different kind of unfamiliar noise coming from in front of her. Everything’s a blur and she can barely look up to see numerous giant beasts with light coming out of their eyes whooshing by with no concern at all for her presence. That is, until one of them crawls to a stop and stares at her menacingly, hurting her eyes with its beams of light. Eventually, the beast reveals a pair of strange wings, but Samantha can’t keep her eyes open anymore and her heavy head falls to the ground.

She hears voices.

This is one of many short stories I’ve been writing for Teodora’s drawings ever since she said she was bad at writing descriptions for them. I thought I’d enjoy helping her and trying to write something different than I was used to. I’d never collaborated creatively with anyone on anything before Teodora and I love the purpose she’s added to my writing and how she challenges me with each drawing.

This is the longest story I’ve written so far for one of Teodora’s drawings, which unfortunately means she can’t publish it all on Instagram, so if you’re here from her post, hi there, hello. I usually try to shorten my stories once I’ve written them to not go over Instagram’s character limit, but that wasn’t possible this time. At least Teodora “REALLY LIKES IT.” Yup, in all caps, too. And that’s everything that matters. 🍓

For more wonderful drawings, follow Teodora on Instagram @teoctobart. You can also buy her a coffee on her Ko-fi page.

For more stories, she’s got her own tag here.

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