Why Do the Trees Scream?

The woods were screaming again. Kara pulled her pillow over her head and tried to ignore the awful sound. She had asked once, when she was younger, why the trees screamed on some nights. Her parents had gone ashen and stiff, walking the line between alarmed and surprised.
“You heard them, Kitten?”
That had been what her father had asked.
“Don’t ever ask anyone that question, Kara. There are some things you shouldn’t learn.”
So here she was now, alone in the dark and trying to block out the screams. They didn’t change once, not in pitch or volume. Worse, her pillow did nothing to drown them out.
When the new sound came, her pillow didn’t block it either. It came as an insistent scratching, like nails on glass. Slowly, Kara sat up, letting her pillow fall to the mattress. There was a shadow at her window. At first, Kara thought it was just the street lights playing tricks, because how else could there be just a shadow-man with no man to cast it, but there he was. He held one hand up to the window, scratching his long fingers down the panes and staring in with glowing red eyes. Kara wanted to scream, wanted to run. She wanted to do anything but what her body was doing, seemingly of its own will. She slid off the bed and silently padded across the floor, past her small chair, past her toys, past the stuffed bear her father had said would keep her safe. Reaching up, she undid the latch and threw the window open. He oozed in and stood before her. Kara gazed up at this strange shadow-man who towered so far over her.
It seemed, as he lifted her into his dark embrace, that the shrieking of the trees reached a new height of volume and fury. The night echoes with it and it shook the houses all around.
Kara thought she had only blinked, but she opened her eyes to trees all around her. That was when the first wave of silence hit her like a physical thing. It was like nothingness made sound, like someone had hit mute on the world. Kara gasped and the screaming returned. Taking a step, she looked around. Her shadow-man was nowhere to be seen. But there was a creature at the edge of her vision, one that slunk away every time she turned to see it properly. All she had of it was an impression of night-black fur. And hunger.
Once again, the silence overwhelmed her senses and Kara whirled, seeing the creature close. Teeth, sharp and dripping saliva, swamped her vision just before it retreated. She tried to scream, the sound not coming until the creature was beyond the nearest trees. Now she could hear the difference, the prowling circles of silence in among the screaming trees. The girl didn’t realize there were tears on her cheeks. She didn’t realize that the silences were surrounding her. She only regretted that she had wished to know what made the trees scream.

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