VEX FOREST THREATENS BRISTOL CREEK ONCE MORE by Surina Venkat
An innocuous game of “truth or dare” played last Sunday left two teenagers dead and one hospitalized for the foreseeable future. Though the news did not cause a stir when it broke on Monday, there is now reason for concern: It appears the harm done to the teenagers was caused by a Vex Forest shrub located in the backyard of a house in the middle of Bristol Creek.
Four teenagers at Bristol Creek High School (who will go by different names in this article to protect their privacy) gathered for a sleepover at one of their homes. They set up a tent in the house’s backyard and played various board games before deciding to end the night with “truth or dare.”
“It started off with stupid asks,” Kara, one of the teenagers, said. “Like daring each other to use conjuring spells and spilling our deepest secrets. I guess that’s why I ended up daring [Robert] to kiss someone.” Except when daring Robert to kiss the “hottest person in the tent,” Kara “tried to be funny” and used the unfortunate terminology “suck face.”
“He leaned over to [Allison] and began kissing her and their faces started sliding into each other’s mouths,” Kara said. “It—the nose and everything—went first and the lips went last. Robert was crying until his eyes disappeared.”
According to Artie’s parents, by the time they got to the tent Robert and Allison were faceless and convulsing. They went limp roughly five minutes later. When the paramedics arrived, the two teenagers were pronounced dead on the spot.
“It was irreversible damage,” Lara Sanchez, one of the on-site mediwitches, said. “We knew from the moment we got there it had to be nature related.”
Because of this, the paramedics did not attempt to resurrect Robert or Allison, which caused Artie to grow angry. He began screaming at them at a high enough volume to disturb the giant in the sewers, which caused several septic tanks around town to explode. And when the paramedics attempted to explain to him why his friends were dead, Artie began to scream out threats.
“I’ll kill you,” he reportedly shouted. “All of you, unless you get them back!” Artie then conjured a knife and attempted to stab the closest paramedic.
The paramedics managed to restrain Artie with rope and attempted to calm him with spells, but he continued to repeatedly attack them on the way to the hospital, causing them to suspect it was not just the boy’s violent tendencies at fault. Once they reviewed the behaviour leading up to his initial attack and heard Kara’s account of what had happened during the game, the paramedics determined that Vex Forest was involved. Sure enough, they discovered a Vex Forest shrub in Artie’s house’s backyard Monday morning. They were able to identify the plant as belonging to Vex Forest using a magical spell developed in the 1300s for the exact purpose.
Vex Forest has surrounded Bristol Creek since before the first human wandered into town, meaning it has likely existed long before the first homo sapiens, historians speculate. It has terrorized the town for centuries because being in close proximity with its plants gives organisms some of its immeasurable magic, which takes human speech and transforms it into reality.
Since Artie wished to kill the paramedics, the plant in his backyard instilled in him the determination and ability to do so. And since nature related magic is irreversible, Artie’s desire to kill them has become permanent. To prevent Artie from fulfilling this desire, the hospital has thrown him in one of their holding cells, where he will remain until either the paramedics die or he does.
The magic of Vex Forest doesn’t just work on humans—it works for magical and non-magical beings as well. Centuries ago, when the forest’s plants grew all over town without consistent culling—historians speculate culling began in the 1400s, but can’t be sure as records were burned—a couple turned into a pile of bird food, which their parakeet was found feasting on when their friends arrived to check on them. It wasn’t until the parakeet’s fourth family—the next door neighbours—met the same fate that authorities made the connection between a Vex Forest sprout in the neighbours’ yard and the parakeet’s murderous chirps.
Vex Forest also transforms writing into reality, discovered in the second year of 1931 when one year old Emilia Abbott began speaking in perfect sentences with a Russian accent, learned sambo overnight, and her body parts turned into fruits and vegetables over the course of the following year. The reason behind her transformation was revealed to be Bernard White, a school teacher with a Vex Forest plant on his windowsill. White had started writing a novel about an American spy and his love interest Emilia, a rival Soviet Union agent, whom he described as having “perfectly cherry lips,” “breasts like watermelons” and “thighs as smooth and voluptuous as eggplants.” Vex Forest does not take context into account, so when White wrote of his character Emilia having these qualities, the forest made them reality for the only Emilia within its reach: infant Abbott.
The forest’s disregard for boundaries, context, and intent has led to some Bristol Creek residents calling it a “serial rapist,” despite protests from those who believe the label is a misnomer. However, regardless of what you call it, the townspeople unanimously agree that Vex Forest is dangerous.
Justin Choi, a member of the Bristol Creek Community Service’s (BCCS) Vex Border Guard, has patrolled the edges of the forest for fifty years to stop creatures from entering it. The forest is a popular tool for murderers and criminals because so long as they state their desired crime there, it will get carried out and there will be no evidence that implicates them. Due to the efforts of Choi and other Guard members, crimes committed via the forest have drastically dropped. Yet his patrols had Choi noticing the forest creeping towards the town’s border walls, even though the forest tried to “be a sly b—stard about it.”
“Its edge changes every year,” Choi said. “Sometimes it moves five inches forward, sometimes it goes ten inches back and sometimes the changes happen in the blink of an eye. But it’s kept moving forward overall. It used to be thirty feet away from the wall and now it’s only five. It wants to take over the town and it isn’t going to stop until it does.”
The township tried to establish boundaries with the forest in the past through the use of controlled burning, but the forest retaliated by releasing large clouds of spores and seeds that spread all over town. The rest of 1945 saw Bristol Creek residents hunting the new born plants with shears and severed tongues, until Marietta Wilds famously lost her temper and burned the entire town to the ground just so people didn’t keep coming to look for shoots on her sacrificial grounds.
“A witch’s sacrificial grounds are personal,” she wrote in an email. “No one should get to see where she drains her life energy—that’s a violation of privacy.
“I don’t regret burning down the town,” she continued. “But I do wish that I’d warned everyone beforehand. A lot of people, including me, forgot to take their tongues with them. They got lost in the fire, so we couldn’t reattach them.”
The beginning of 1946 brought a meeting between the newly homeless and humbled Mayor Tom Brennan and Vex Forest, from which a truce emerged: The forest would leave the town alone and, consequently, the humans would stop cutting down its plants.
But the forest seems to no longer be holding up their end of the bargain. Since Sunday revealed the presence of Vex Forest plants within our midst, the BCCS’s Detox Department has found three more plants on town grounds—but not before they caused damage. A mother can’t stop singing since her child demanded her to only sing, a shade accidentally killed himself, and an entire class of kindergarteners has permanently “shut up” after their teacher yelled the words at them. Although the last one might be for the best—children, as the teacher pointed out in his defence, have the habit of saying what they mean even if it’s better that they don’t. No one knows this better than Karen Rainer, who had a Vex Forest pine tree appear overnight on the grounds of her mansion in 1941.
“I found out I was pregnant again in the bathroom of the Silver Tooth,” Rainer said. “Glamourous, right? But I was excited and we thought Jack would be too. He wasn’t, though. He got so upset when he found out we were having another baby.”
“He told us not to have the kid because he wanted to be an only child,” she said. “I had a miscarriage the next day. God, there was so much blood. And at first I thought, ‘Was it me? Was my body wrong? Did I kill my child?’ But then my husband and I remembered our conversation with our boy and we got so suspicious about the timing. We thought he had been the one to kill her. So we called Child Services and had them pick him up. When we found out it wasn’t his fault and it was the forest’s, we tried to get him back. But by then, they’d already killed him.”
To prevent situations like the Rainers’ from happening again, Mayor Brennan recommended that everyone have their mouths glued shut, especially children. He said severing tongues was another option, but after the mass muteness that befell the town last time they did that, it was probably best to stick with glue.
“We’re working hard to find and eradicate the Vex Forest plants among us,” Brennan said to an empty town hall. “However, we anticipate that this process will take a week or a couple years depending on whether the fog time-travels us to the past again. Please be patient and stay calm at a safe distance from vegetation.”
Until Brennan announces the Vex Forest plants have been removed from town, it is recommended the residents of Bristol Creek watch what they say and write at all times and not make wishes or use non denotative phrases. After all, as Brennan pointed out, oft—repeated phrases like “I could eat a whole hydra” or “f—k the bear” could result in potentially fatal situations, so it’s best to avoid using them altogether.
If you know anyone who’s likely to use this situation to try to harm or murder you, please call the BCCS’s Mutilation and Murder Victim Department so they can review your community service record and decide whether or not to assist them. To those that complain this policy is discriminatory, the BCCS would like to remind you that any problems that arise because of your record would have been entirely avoidable if you had been able to forge signatures for community service hours.