The Finder’s Forest

"Okay, seems that was the last one.", says Adam Jensen as he completes unloading the last wooden box out of the trunk of his ragged up blue sedan, the one that has been with him for ages. Hair that as captivating black flames dancing on ice, the aura he possessed wasn’t something you would usually find. His clothes, although he tells stories about how many years they have stuck with them, those stories are not told through harsh ways, he cared for them just like most of the things He keeps with himself. A simple black hoodie with a pair of blue jeans, the most repetitive set of his yet fails to downgrade his image. Wearing a medallion that had a certain shine to it, wasn’t something you would find in an expensive shop but instead, the shine was dull and simple yet intriguing due to some reason, "Should get back before it’s dark", he says as he looks at the trees around him through his tinted black sunglasses. The land was well known for hiking among youngsters and American dads who want nothing more than bringing their family over for BBQ and they can brag about how they used to play like a football god at their prime. As he slams the door and puts on his mix-tape before starting the engine, it is reminded that this has been one of the coldest months of the year in the northern forests.

Although a city person, Adam occasionally takes an off-road track to these parts for camping himself and to dump some of his old stuff so that camping kids can play treasure hunt, weirdly enough he had experienced the same once he was a kid. It has been a rumor around the forest that sometimes people stumble across goods other people have parted away from themselves, books, comics, old CD players and even toys. It was an assumption that their parents only did this to involve them in camping outdoors and to keep them away from the glued up world of technology. But no one ever admitted it, but there was nothing weird about that so no ever got suspicious either. Everyone just thought, "What’s wrong with getting free stuff?" and they were not wrong about it to most extent, some unfortunate souls, however, don’t fall into most.

A couple of years back, under a pine tree that smelled everything nature should ever smell like, surrounded by an open patch of grass welcoming anyone looking for a bit of break from their busy lives, sat a BBQ table where a family of four, two adults and two kids, were enjoying the good old story on how a single tackle from the head of the family had sent away countless quarterbacks in rankings. Among the smiling and laughing faces sat two pairs of innocent blue and hazel eyes. The two brothers enjoyed playing together more than anything, so much that their parents were worried about them not having enough friends but they felt as if they didn’t need anything in this world as nothing would beat an argument over which one is the best superhero among their favorites.

"How can you even think that? How can someone who can’t fly or have super-strength be a hero that can fight for justice?", said the hazel-eyed elder brother, standing in a proud jester, showcasing his love for courage and power, the sense of justice could be clearly seen in his future self. "Not tossing vehicles and payphones around doesn’t make someone less powerful, sometimes all you require is strategies and methodologies.", replied the blue-eyed one, a rather weaker figure but observant rather the less, he had the ability of thinking before speaking at a very young age and decides to only use a weapon at its maximum benefit. However always having a strange vulnerability to cold, completely opposite of his elder brother. He would feel cold even on a normal temperature air conditioner whereas his brother would manage to around shirtless during Christmas.

"Now Now, both my little devils need to calm down, we are not here to start a fight are we?", says the mother as she knows how these discussions always end up, just like most brothers. "But Momma, why don’t you tell him that justice can always win in power?", desperate to win the argument, the question was thrown at the mother. Confused over what to say, she used the method she knows is the most helpful for her. "Honey? Why don’t you take the kids for the treasure hunt you brought them here for?" and suddenly the minds of both young spirits diverted into something much more excited to them.

"Now now, I know your friends have found comic books and toys around these parts but still if you are not finding something, just return back to the table.", said the concerned mother as she saw both of her kids completely looking like miniature Indiana Jones with a map provided to them by their father. "Don’t worry hon, the kids are smart and strong when they are together, it’s a perfect balance so don’t worry about them." The father replied as he tries to gobble down upon a grilled bacon sandwich, something he considers more fun than going with his kids.

The fallen branches make shattering noises under the two pairs of small feet going about the wooden maze of the "Finder’s Forest", as the kids called it. "I think we are just going around in circles, you sure this is the right way?", said the elder brother."You really are a brute with no brain, aren’t you? if we have not turned how can we go in a circle?","But What if we have turned and you were too focused thinking about Alice?" the blue eyes are narrowed down wanting to hit a soft spot, "Don’t say her name out loud dude, Mom and Dad should not know about her!", says the younger as he was worried about how his parents would react to him having a girlfriend. Suddenly they are interrupted by some loud cheers. Both turn around to find a bunch of kids getting hands on a box with some spinning tops. "If only we had got there sooner", both say at the same time with a sigh before walking forward.

"Aah man, We never gonna find anything this way.", says the elder’s growing impatient and feeling of loss. "You don’t have to give up so easily, we will find something for sure around here", replies the brain of this duo. "It’s all your fault, if you had not been this slow we would have gotten those spinning tops!". Tension starts to build between the two as the hammer finally hits the nail, "My fault? you were the one that started the topic about Alice to slow us down!", the heated arguments ignore the sound of crumbling wood behind them. "Oh, so you having a girlfriend before should not bother me?! I am the elder one, I should also have everything first!", slowly the wind starts getting cold, "Only a no brainer like you can thin-", suddenly the hazel eyes sit upon a figure in the corner, a sudden chill goes through his body as he never saw it coming. "What happened ? you finally admit you lost, nerd?", unable to speak he only lifted a finger to point towards the little kid standing near a tree. Suddenly silence takes over as his elder brother follows the direction of the finger.

"If I heard it right, you guys are looking for a wooden box aren’t you", says the little girl standing at the edge, her clothes too big for her size and hair all messed up, she did not look hurt but something just didn’t felt right about her, The brothers in unison decided not to reply. "I can get you a box if you guys want", words uttered out as a smile now covers the dusty face of the girl. "Who are you? And what are you doing here in this condition?" gathering the courage to speak, the pride of the elder came out. "Oh me? That is not important now, is it? but what is important is that you take the box I have brought for you ", suddenly their eyes fall upon the wooden box upon her hand. "No no, we are not to take anything from strangers, but thanks", says the younger with a smile trying to hide his uneasiness behind it. "But you both were just fighting over a box? Now you can have a box? take it please.", as the girl instantly replying as if a script had been loaded into her. The elder realized the fact if they go back without a box all his friends would make fun of him, but it was not enough to make him take something from a stranger. "No, we were not fighting, you see, we were just hmm playing around", trying to make an escape from this situation they were stuck in the younger started to step back a bit. "But I won’t allow you to get away without the box, please, take it, open it, play with it.", sudden desperation starts to appear in her voice as she takes step toward the elder brother, figuring out the weaker brain. "This may even make other guys jealous of you", she added salt to a freshly open wound, as the lighting of that thought hit his brains. He slowly reached out and took the box in his hand without any expression on his face.

"Mary, Mary, quite contrary How does your garden grow? With silver bells and cockleshells And pretty maids all in a row.", she sang, almost like a nursery rhyme as she hopped around in circles before walking towards the bushes again, "WAIT! ", but the voice had no effect as she just disappeared in the wilds in instant. The blue eyes of the brother were stuck upon the wooden box, as his hands were about to open it, it was slapped away by his younger sibling. "What are you doing? Mom has taught us not to take things from strangers, and yet your stupid brain could not get that thing in it?" , " I need toys okay? my reputation depends upon it, I am not as smart as you or have the talent of using computers, no girl ever comes to me with doubts, and yet when I told them I would return with a great toy, everyone laughed at me, I can not go back empty-handed!", a glitter of tears started to surface on his eyes, but all he cared about was his slipping pride."You are not making any sense?! what if it has something that can harm us? or a bomb? haven’t you seen movies?", completely ignoring emotions over logic the younger once snatched the box from his hand. Suddenly, the wind changed again and suddenly a sudden burst of anger appeared and the two brothers were throwing fists and shoves over each other. A sudden force made the box fall from their hands and opening the lid. Both the boys were not fighting over the box anymore but the anger came from a place unknown.

Suddenly, a burst of wind occurred as the might took over the smart, the younger hazel eyes fell near the box that started it all. Before anything could go worse, a sudden sparkle caught them in action. The elder brother looked inside the box as there were just two black marbles, bigger than average size and had more sparkle. "All that for this? Why would anyone keep two tiny marbles in a box?!", says the elder brother as he picks out both the marbles and looks at them. The younger one looked up from the ground as he examined the box from afar, "Why would she be so desperate for just two marbles?", he asked but the words just fell on dead ears. "All I wanted to be something cool!", a shout came out as the elder brother threw the marble down to his feet. A sudden burst threw away the body of the hazel-eyed young soul. As he got back up to his feet he was treated to an empty ground.

"Dave? Dave!?", he cried out for his brother as his eyes searched in confusion, "Dave this is not funny, come out now!", his voice started to crack down as he walked around with his head circling for the elder brother, "If this is a prank, Dave, I will tell mom! come out now! I lose okay? you can take the box.", he shouted as suddenly converted his walk to a run towards his family table hoping to find his brother back at the BBQ table where he could go back to listening to his father’s stories and mother’s poems. Ignoring the fact that he was running much faster than he ever ran, his strength felt higher, but all he cared about was his brother at this point.

"Oh there you are Adam, what took you so long?", says the old man with a hamburger ready at the table for three. "Did Dave come back?" he gasped for air as the word fell out of his mouth, "Who are you talking about sweetheart? you found a friend around here?", his mother replied setting the chair for him. "Come we will be leaving soon, have your food and don’t forget your veggies", a calm voice of his mother replied. Not able to understand what happened but suddenly he started to question his memory, "Dave is my, he is my…He is someone important to me I know, or is he? what name was I talking about, in the woods, yes Dave, he got marbles, and then there was that song, Mary, Mary, quite contrary How does your garden grow? Mary, Mary, quite contrary How does your garden grow?", the words started to echo in his head over and over until he finally sat on the table and started eating his the grilled cheese hamburger overflowing with bacon and broccoli on the side, always reminded Adam of someone.

As the blue sedan stopped by a gas station, Adam grabbed a couple of beer cans and some groceries. "Need something else honey?", asked the store manager. "No, I Am good thanks for asking but", He replied as he pulled his collar up to counter the cold that started to appear faster. As he exited the store, he removed his sunglasses. He walked toward his car as another person walking by looking at him, "You have some unique eyes kiddo I will give you that", He commented walking pass him in his southern American accent as he went towards his mini-truck, with a sticker of "Lucy my angel" attached right near the corner of the window, parked at the end of the queue. Adam didn’t bother to give a reaction as he sat inside the car and looked up the rear-view mirror, his one hazel-one blue eyes reflecting back at him as he sang along driving back home, "Mary, Mary, quite contrary

How does your garden grow?

With silver bells and cockleshells

And pretty maids all in a row.".

"Mommy look I found a box!", Says a little girl as she stumbles across the wooden box left my Adam, "Well why won’t you open it to see what’s inside?", Says the woman behind her.

"This is strange, I have never seen a hazel and blue marble of such size, heh heh, it almost looks like eyes." Says the little girl looking at the marbles. "Then why don’t you show it to you, father sweetheart?" The woman said without glancing over to her daughter to busy on the technological web in her hand. The girl runs towards a mini-truck parked around the bushes, "Daddy, look what I found? ", The father looks at the box with curious eyes, "That’s a great find, Lucy! Wonder where I have seen those colors". The father turns around to find the plates he had left on the hood of his truck, "So you would like ketchup or mustard honey?" He grabs a bottle of ketchup and starts to turn around but finds only a box
empty on the ground, "Where did she go? She was, right around the corner, but, she had that, what did she have? Wait, the box, yes the box, but what about it?" The man suddenly facing an excess rise in his blood pressure due to all the information he was trying to comprehend suddenly, and then it hit him, "I was getting ketchup for myself, that’s what I was doing yes.", And yet another family enjoyed their stay at The Finder’s Forest.

Sachin Singh Bhadoriya