The man arrived for him early in the morning and said, "Come, I will take you to your father in the forest. He has sent me for you and given me this secret sign." And he drew the small hunting knife from an old, worn sheath, and the boy saw his father's symbol scratched into the ebony wood of the hilt.
"I will follow," said the boy, though he was afraid. For his father had told him, in a dream, that he would call for him only after his death, and the boy knew that when the dead call there is no hiding, no escape, no avoidance of their dark pull.
And so the boy went with the tall man into the bleak forest, and as they walked the colors slowly leached from the world until everything was grey and black.
"This is the forest of regret," said the man in black. "Here you will find stored all memories of things you would take back...if you could."
"Why did my father call me here?" asked the boy.
"Because he loves you," said the man. "Because he regrets that he abandoned you...or was it you who abandoned him?"
"I do not know," said the boy. "My father and I -- we did not always see eye to eye. But I have missed him all these years."
"Look," said the man in black.
When the boy looked into the woods, past the tall, barren trunks black as burnt matches, he saw a shape shimmering in the distance. He could not focus on it. As the shape approached, it grew brighter and seemed to oscillate -- not like a wave or the pulse of a sound, but between being and nothingness.
The boy's vision began to blur and he called out, sharply, in alarm, fearing that he would go blind from the pulsing light.
"Do not fear," said the man in black. "Close your eyes and I will rub a salve upon your eyelids that will let you see."
"Is that light my father?" asked the boy.
"Do not ask me. Close your eyes," said the man.
The boy closed his eyes and heard the man step up behind him and draw close. He smelled a light fragrance -- perhaps the scent of oil or herbs. He could feel the heat of the man's palm and see the shadow pass behind his closed eyelids.
The man stepped closer behind him, and the boy felt the sharp point of metal. In his mind's eye he could see the glimmer of the blade, the silver light of the moon, the faint glow of nebulae in the pitch blackness of space.
"Do you see now?" said the man in black, and the boy heard it as the voice of his father.
One night a murder and his victim are walking through some dark, dark, spooky woods. "Im scared!" Says the victim, and squeezes the murders hand tightly. "YOU'RE SCARED?!" Repeats the murder indignantly. "...IM going to have to walk back through them on MY OWN!"