Tea Leaves and Diamond Bracelets


Match Seventeen: Rusałka:

Feliks played with his empty gun in the dark. He may have been goofy, but he wasn’t stupid to keep it loaded while playing around with it. The Polish man kept the bullets locked in the top drawer of his desk. As he played with his gun, an odd memory came into his head.

This was during the war. Poland had just been taken over by Germany at the time. Feliks didn’t know what happened. He used to be so strong. The boy had to be. Europe was a savage place at the time. It was either fight back or submit to the stronger party. That being said, Feliks grew soft over the years. He didn’t even see Germany’s invasion coming. Uncertain of what to do during one October evening, Feliks wandered into the woods.

That’s when he saw her.

Feliks picked up the phone back in present day.

“Hello?” Toris asked on the other line.

“Toris, buddy!” Feliks said. There was a pause.

“Feliks? What do you want?” Toris asked. His voice trembled as he spoke.

“Calm down, friend,” the Polish man said. “Why are you so upset? I just have a question.”

“What?” the Lithuanian man asked.

“Do you remember a woman with long white hair who live in the woods?” Feliks asked.

“Huh?” Toris asked back.

The Polish man looked up at the ceiling. “I remembered when I was in high school during WWII. I was wandering around the woods when I heard singing.”


“Yeah.” Feliks rubbed his forehead. “I can’t exactly remember the song. She sounded like she was crying at one point.”

“I’m not following…”

“Anyway, I followed the singing deep into a clearing in the woods. I pushed past the brush and saw a woman with long white hair. She had her back to me. Beautiful girl. Only her nails seemed to touch the ground.”

“Huh? What are you talking about?”

“I don’t know. It’s all kind of hazy to me.”

“Why are you telling this?”

Feliks sighed. “I don’t really know. It just all came to me. You really don’t remember such a woman?”

“No…” Toris said.

“Okay, bye,” the Polish man said. He hung up before the Lithuanian man could say a word. Feliks set his phone down on the desk. Am I going crazy?

He wasn’t.

There were the stories.

The creature itself went by many names. Vampire of the Forest. Rusałka. White Devil of the Forest. Frozen witch. Hag of the Bog. Siren of the Mist. Just to name a few. Not many have seen her face. They’ve heard her singing. She’s only been seen around wartimes. But what is she really? Is she a dark omen? Maybe a lost soul haunting the forest where she is seen? There are many guesses, but no answers to accompany them.

Toris couldn’t stop thinking about that phone call with Feliks last night. The Lithuanian man had heard the stories himself. Initially, he chalked it up to bed time stories used to scare children into behaving. Now, Toris was not so sure.

There was that one encounter buried in the back of his mind however.

He was about sixteen at the time. This was during another war. He and Feliks fought on the same side. He couldn’t remember which battle. It had been days. Food, water, and ammunition were running low. The young men split up to cover more ground. Feliks took the east while Toris took the west. It was early winter at the time. Snow hadn’t fallen on the ground yet. Cold winds were still blowing though. Toris pulled his jacket closer to his slender body. All he had going for him was the path of trees ahead.

By sundown, his light started going dim. Toris needed to get back to the camp. But, he didn’t know the way. The trees started to look the same. The young Lithuanian man looked up at the sky. The sun was setting on the path that he was taking. He narrowed his eyes. It would be best to find some stable shelter to stay in overnight. Toris frowned and looked at his surroundings. Trees, trees, trees, and more trees. The young soldier frowned.

“This is not good,” he said to himself. Toris jumped when he heard crows flying overhead. The soldier shivered. The temperature was dropping fast already.

That’s when he heard the singing.

Toris looked around in the dimly skies. He couldn’t tell which direction the singing was coming from.

“Hello?” he asked. The singing continued without a break. Toris’ eyes shifted left and right. He slowed down his pace. The cold didn’t affect him as much. The singing sounded too far away for him to far. Toris shivered as he noticed that his surrendering grew darker. He could see his breath now. It felt like he was walking down hill really fast. Toris breathed heavily. All he could hear was the singing around his head.

The singing itself sounded unsettling in a way. The voice didn’t sound human. Toris’ stomach turned. But, he couldn’t turn away. Before he knew it, the young soldier came into a small clearing. By this time, the forest became pitch black. Toris couldn’t see his hand in front of his face. But he saw hair in the darkness.

Her long white hair seemed to be floating around her as she sang. She had her back to him. Toris could see through her seemingly floating robes. The young soldier waved his hand at her.

“Hello?” he asked. She didn’t stop singing or turn around.

“What are you doing all the way out here?” Tori asked. Her singing seemed to rise with the thin air around her.

“Are you lost?” he asked. Suddenly, the singing stopped. She still had he back to him. Toris stood on his tiptoes for a long.

“Miss?” he asked. The woman slowly turned her head. The color drained from his face. Her eyes were black pits. Her skin looked paler than the moon hidden from the trees. Her nails almost turned the ground, but her feet didn’t. Toris shivered as he took steps backwards.

“Hello?” he asked. The woman opened her mouth wide as she hissed. Toris only saw flash of the metal spikes, not teeth, cover in blood before he turned around and ran. The young soldier didn’t know how long or how far he had been running through the series of dead trees.

“Toris?” he heard someone ask as someone grabbed him from the shoulders. The young soldier looked up to see Feliks staring at him with a puzzled look on his face. He blinked as he trembled.

“Feliks?” Toris asked.

“What’s the matter with you?” the Polish man asked. “You look like you’ve seen a ghost.” Toris collapsed in his arms, trembling.

“Toris? Toris? Toris?” Feliks asked as he shook his comrade as hard as he could. He had to drag his Lithuanian friend back to the camp with him.

Toris was only one of the few to actually see her face.

Eduard and Raivis were too young to remember the creature in the woods, but they have heard the stories. Ivan remembers her and he too has seen her.

This too took place during the war. Ivan was having a bad time with General Winter during this particular battle. He was supposed to be scouting the area that night. The snow started to fall on the ground. He needed to get back to camp before nightfall. Ivan heard there was a shortcut through the woods. He thought that he would cross through and make it back to the camp. The Russian man kept his gun strapped to his back.

Ivan could hear that damn singing in the trees. It’s been three nights now. The soldiers in the camp didn’t know where it was coming from. Many theories flew around the tents. Some thought it was ghosts. Maybe it was a cult? Ivan didn’t pay it too much attention. He just dreaded the winter coming towards them.

He stopped in his tracks when he heard the singing getting louder. Before he knew it, Ivan was trailing the sounds in the diming light. The Russian man had no idea why he was going this way. The singing seemed to be floating around him. Ivan trailed the sounds with his eyes.

“Hello?” he asked. The singing didn’t break. Ivan narrowed his eyes.

“Is anybody here?” he asked. No response, but more singing. The Russian man tried not to let the annoyance get to him. Before he knew, Ivan found his way to the clearing in the darkness. There she was. She floated off of the ground as she sang. Her nails touched the dusting of the snow. Ivan took out his gun.

“Turn around and show yourself!” he shouted. The singing didn’t stop.

“This is not a game,” Ivan said, walking closer to the singing creature. “Turn around or I will shoot you!” Suddenly, the singing stopped. The Russian man raised his eyebrow. What he saw next still haunted him to this day.

Those same eyes stared him down. So black, so empty. Her nails dragged along the ground. When she opened her mouth, she showed off the bloody spikes in her mouth. Ivan doesn’t remember everything that happened next. When he woke up, the Russian man was back in the camp. He couldn’t answer the questions being asked to him about what happened last night.

Why bring all of this up? It could be possible to see that creature again. Eastern Europe hopes not. They aren’t so sure about that anymore…

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