ARCHERS OF THE FOREST DO NOT ENTER!
That was what the sign said. I laughed. People loved, and when people put up a post telling people not to do something, everyone knows that they are deceiving themselves. There have been instances when people in authority put a ban on one thing or the other and even place different punishment on each.
The more bans placed on anything, the more people break the rules. A lot of songs and books have been known to go through the roof when it comes to sales when the songs or the books are banned.
We were on a mountain biking vacation somewhere in Texas. There were ten of us from the same club in New York. Every year, we went on vacation to different places in the States where we have fun and lots of entertainment. We had rented five rooms in a hotel and ridden our bikes up the mountain.
As we were returning after taking a different trail from the one through which we had come up the mountain; that was when we saw the ominous sign. It was Adam who had seen the sign before anyone else.
“Hahaha, this is hilarious. Did they think anyone would believe them?” he said. “These people are very funny.”
“Well, you never can tell if they are serious or not,” Maddie, our group leader, said.
“Hey, let’s check it out,” John said. John was known to be the wildest in our group. He was always trying and doing things that the rest of us would never do. The last city we went to, we had climbed to the top of a cliff and below the cliff, twenty feet away, was a pond.
Without warning, John had dived into the pond, and for ten seconds, he hadn’t surfaced. Just when we thought he had died, he surfaced and began to scream wildly with excitement. Then the rest of the guys dived after him.
Many of the other guys had called him a brave man, but I didn’t. He could easily have died. He could have hit his head on a rock under the water. I was usually a very cautious man. I had seen a lot of accidents that had happened as a result of foolishness, and I knew people who had died from it. I didn’t want to experience at the same time. I still had a good life to live.
“Let’s do it,” the rest shouted.
Another reason why people always supported what John did was that his father was a very rich man, a billionaire, and so was John. As a result, the people are always doing their best to impress him.
Maddie looked at John and then at the rest of the people. Of course, she had no choice. Who knows what John or his father would do if his plans were not followed. He would probably stop funding the trips of the club.
“Alright, let’s check it out, but if we see anything dangerous, we leave,” Maddie said. They all agreed.
“I am not going,” I said.
“What? Mark, of course, you are,” Maddie said.
“That place is dangerous, and I don’t want to die now,” I said.
“Come on, Mark,” John said. “Don’t be scared. There is nothing there.”
“He is scared,” someone said.
“He is a coward,” another said.
I looked around at them all. “I would rather be a coward than be a dead man.”
“Come on, Mark, you know the rules,” Maddie said. “No one stays alone. We all move together.”
“You all saw the warning sign right?” I said.
“Don’t worry about it, we will leave at the first sign of danger,” Maddie said. I followed them.
We went into the forest. We rode our bikes along a trail that seemed to stretch into infinity. Both sides of the trail were full of tall trees. The air was cool, and I felt like I should get a blanket, spread it on the ground and sleep.
“See? Isn’t this place wonderful?” John asked. The others oohed and aahed.
Suddenly, something flew through the air and hit the tire of John’s bicycle since he was the one in the front. The bike crashed on the ground sending John flying. He landed in front of a man who seemed to appear from nowhere.
The man looked very scary. He had on the mask of a falcon on his head. He was covered all over with leaves and hide. In his hide were a bow and an arrow. He raised it and pointed it at us.
“Everyone, on your knees,” he commanded.
I was at the back. I turned my bike around, preparing to escape and call for help but I saw two other men who were dressed like the first man and who were pointing arrows at me.
Within seconds, more men armed with bows and arrows poured out from among the trees until they were about twenty. We were in serious trouble. I castigated myself for following the others. Now, we were all going to die, I thought.
They collected all our bikes, put smelly bags over our heads and led us on a march of about thirty minutes. We finally reached the destination, and they pulled the bags off our heads. It was a small area with lots of tents and arrow targets.
Oh my goodness, they are about to use us as arrow targets, I thought. I didn’t want to die like this. I wanted to grow old and die peacefully surrounded by my children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. I looked around for any way to escape, but I saw that there were more of the archers here. We were screwed.
While they made us kneel, the leader who had first spoken to us stood in front of us.
“Welcome to our abode,” he said. “You are the stubborn ones. Now, you have two choices: live or die. To live, one if you must participate in our archery competition. This person will represent the rest. There are six shooters, and your representative will be one of them.
“At the end of the competition, if your representative is not among the first three, you all die. If the representative is among the first three, you all live. Now, choose your representative.”
They all looked at each other. I had done some archery as a sport when I was a kid. I had even won several competitions. I was very sure that I would win this easily, so I stood up to save my lie and those of the others.
Unfortunately, John also stood up. “Don’t worry, Mark, I got this,” he said.
“Have you ever fired an arrow before?” I asked him.
“Of course,” he said. The way he said it, I knew we were all in trouble.
I faced the leader of the archers and raised my hand. “Excuse me, sir, can I represent myself?” I asked.
“Why? He has already stood up,” the leader said.
“I don’t want to put my life in his hands,” I said. “Please, let me save myself.”
“Alright,” the leader said.
The others looked confused. They didn’t know whether to let John represent them or me.”
“Now, listen,” the leader said. “We are giving you a bow and an arrow. If you point it at any of us, you are dead. “You must only point it at the target given to you. Now, let’s begin.”
There were now seven of us. The first target was about 30 feet away. It was very easy. I hit the bull’s eye, and so did four of the other archers. John missed completely, and he began to shake uncontrollably.
Six of the other group members moved away from behind John and moved behind me. Maddie and three others stood behind John, though they kept darting glances towards the people on my send.
The targets were changed and placed about 50 feet away. Again, I hit the bull’s eye. Only one other person managed it among the other contestants. John didn’t even come close.
This time, Maddie and the others rushed to join the others behind me. Even John dropped his bow and arrows and rushed behind me.
“Hey what are you doing?” the leader of the archers protested. “There is one game to go.”
John pointed at me. “He is our leader alright? Not me.”
“No, no. you must complete the competition,” the leader insisted.
We all began to beg him to let John join us. After so much begging, he final acceded.
The third game went smoothly. This time, I was the only one who got the shot right. I was able to save myself and the rest.
The leader kept his promise and returned us to where we were picked up. When we got out, we rode like crazy people back into town.