Two high school girls go for a hike in the woods, and encountered something unexplainable.
A Forest Deep Secret
On a chilly Halloween night, an old man donned an old-fashioned sleeping cap, tucked in his white-as-snow hair, put on his long, flannel nightshirt, and crawled into bed. When a knock sounded on his door, his mouth set in a hard line. "I wonder who that could be now? If it's those snoopy girls ...!" He got up, and walked, favoring his right leg, over to the door to yank it open. His eyes widened. “Oh, it’s you, what can you possi ...?" He stumbled back in shock when something bit him on the neck. Feeling as if his chest was crushing him, the old man gasped for air before falling backward onto the wood floor. Blackness clouded his vision before feeling himself floating toward the ceiling.
He floated above as he watched his best friend, all dressed in black, step over his body to check the pulse. Satisfied, he dragged the body further inside and dropped it like so much garbage, his head hit the floor with a thud. This made the old man want to float down, and punch this supposable friend in the face.
“That’ll teach you, old man, for cheating me out of my share.”
He watched as a small pin was pulled from his neck, and gave the body a salute goodbye. “Rest in hell, old man,” before he walked out the open door, and disappeared into the dark forest.
"If I'm dead, why am I still here? Am I a ghost?" The old man tried to follow his murderer, but some invisible force knocked him backward at the doorway. "I'm stuck here! Noooooooo." He wailed out his despair, which grew louder and louder...
The dark figure paused. "W-what in the hell was that!" He knew of rumors about something evil roaming these woods, so he whispered into the wispy, night air... “If you don’t mind, I’m just passing through." He heard a rustling behind him, and not wanting to meet anything weird, he took off running until he was safe in his car, and drove off.
Eight Months Later
It was Abby's turn to have Megan over for summer vacation. They took turns having each over at their homes, but both girls loved spending time in the woods nearby where they hunted for rocks by the creek. They had so many favorite spots that it became their pass time throughout the summer. This coming school year, both girls will be Juniors in high school, so they crammed in all the excitement they could before summer ended— Only this time they didn’t realize how much excitement lay in store for them.
“Wanna check out that cabin in the woods today?” Abby asked her cousin, Megan.
“Love to, I’ll go get my sweater.”
Megan’s long, red ringlets bounced behind her as she ran up the stairs. Walking into the kitchen, Abby grabbed a small picnic basket, and packed some sandwiches, along with chips, and juice. Setting the basket down near the door, she ran upstairs to her room where she found Megan braiding her hair.
"Ready to go?" Abby grabbed a jacket from her closet.
Megan got up and ordered, "Sit down Abby! Let me beautify you, too."
Abby dropped onto the chair like an obedient child. "Why? There's nothing wrong with my hair!"
"Okay, okay, just sit!” She picked up a scrounge; and braided some parts before tugging Abby's long, blond locks into a ponytail. Stepping back to admire her work, she asked. “See, now isn't that much better?” Megan's green eyes gleamed with pride.
Abby studied herself in the mirror, "You're right, that's the neatest, fanciest ponytail ever! I am too beautiful now to go hiking in the woods." Her blue eyes shone with humor as she expertly avoided Abby's punch in the arm, and took off out of the room, and was halfway out the door before she heard...
"Hey, wait for me,” Megan shouted as she bounded down the stairs.
"Hurry, the day's half gone!" Smiling, Abby held open the door for Megan. They walked outside on a perfectly sunshiny day, but knew soon they'll be reaching for their jackets when entering the woods.
The sweet smell of freshly cut alfalfa whiffed passed their noses as they walked along the dirt road. Farmers waved while their dogs barked happily as they ran alongside the children at play. Just hearing their laughter brought a smile to Abby’s and Megan’s face.
"I wonder if we’ll encounter anything strange in the woods?" Abby said.
Megan asked, "What do you mean by strange?"
"Well, my brothers thought they saw something weird when they were practicing shooting at that target that was situated near the creek.”
“What did they see?” Megan asked.
“Red eyes peered at them across the creek; plus, they also noticed shadows moving in and around the trees. It gave them the creeps, so they went to investigate, but found no sign of footprints, just nothing at all,” Abby explained.
"M-maybe we shouldn't go into the woods if this is going on. I-it doesn't sound safe." Megan stopped walking, hugging herself.
"It's daytime and most of the stuff people are seeing and hearing is near dusk. We’ll be long gone by then."
"Have you got your phone with you? Good, I have mine, too, in case we need to call for help." Megan said.
"Okay, let's have some fun." Abby loved these woods. She grew up next to them, and along with her brothers, they use to spend a lot of time there.
Nearing the woods, she admired the mighty oak trees standing tall, and proud, as if standing sentry. They passed the wildflowers that grew in abundance which seemed to bow their welcome as the wind pushed them forward. The tall, scented pine trees greeted their noses with its familiar scent.
As the girls walked deeper into its interior, the sun could barely penetrate through the canopy of trees, making it feel cooler. The girls put on their windbreakers as they neared the creek, which was their guideline through these many acres. They stopped to watch the minnows swim by, and stooped to pick up some colorful rocks for their collection before Abby led the way around the bends.
“Say, did you hear about the weird happening that happened at the cabin?
“Oh, Abby, you’re impossible! Haven't you scared me enough already?” Megan rolled her eyes but became curious. “Okay, I'll bite, tell me, my dear cousin, what happened at the cabin?”
“Remember Herman, the hermit who treated us like the plague when we tried to be nice to him?”
“Sure! I was with you when he pushed us out of his cabin, telling us to git.” Rolling her eyes again, Megan continued walking as if she didn’t care to hear any more; but asked. “I remember how he walked, dragging his leg behind him?"
“Yeah, well he died, and nobody knows how and why he died, but there’s a rumor of Crazy Herman pointing a shotgun at our neighbor, Allen Green. This made people wonder about their friendship.”
“Oh, yeah, my father knew about their shady dealings,” Megan said. "His friend got scammed by ‘those scalawags,’ he called them.”
“Now Herman is dead, how weird is that? No one was convicted over his dying sudden-like, some people blamed it on the Shadow men.” Abby slyly looked over at Megan and continued walking. “You know what they say about a person dying all mysterious-like? They never rest until their killer is brought to justice.”
Megan stopped dead in her tracks and waited. “Stop it! Just stop it! I know what you’re trying to do, and it’s not going to work this time.”
Abby laughed and continued walking alongside the creek. The morning passed quickly, and as they got closer to the hill, a loud rushing sound of the waterfalls met their ears. Abby tied the picnic basket with a rope and then wrapped the rope around her waist. She fastened it in a knot then pushed the basket behind her. As the girls began climbing the rocky terrain, Abby warned, "Watch your step, the heavy rainfall the last couple of nights made these rocks slippery."
Reaching the top, both girls gave a sigh of relief. Abby untied the knot in the rope and placed the picnic basket in the middle of a large tree stump which they used as their table. Sitting down, she began taking out sandwiches, chips, and juice.
"Now, that's what I call a good workout!" Megan exclaimed, plopping down on the stump across from Abby.
"I second that!” Laughing, Abby looked around at the beautiful sights surrounding her. This was her favorite spot near the creek that was full from the last two night's rainfall. She listened as the water tumbled over the rocks, down to the creek bed below.
"Hiking always makes me so hungry!" Megan said, unwrapping her sandwich and taking a big bite, “Yum!”
Eating her ham sandwiches, and munching on potato chips, a sudden chill crawled up Abby's back. Puzzled, she looked around, trying to spot whatever spooked her. She glanced over at Megan who was happily munching on chips and watching a squirrel climb a tree. Shaking off her spooky feeling, she asked, "Shall we explore Herman's cabin now? I'm curious if it's really haunted as some hikers claimed."
Megan hesitated just a little, shrugged her shoulders, she said. “Great! You never mentioned that people said it’s haunted! I really don’t want to go and see a ghost.”
“Aren’t you just a little bit curious?” Abby said; as she tidied up the area.
“Maybe a little, okay, let’s go.”
Abby left the empty basket on the stump to pick up later, and they started out once again, following the creek around a couple of bends before catching their first glimpse of the cabin in the distance. Abby thought she saw smoke coming out of the chimney which was odd. She looked again and didn't see smoke. Situated in a clearing, the girls left the safety of the creek behind and hiked a mile before fully seeing the cabin.
"I wonder why there's smoke coming out of the chimney? It's not that cold, or is Herman's spirit needing warmth?" Abby's joke fell flat. Scared and a little hesitant, she followed Megan toward the cabin.
"It could be some relative house-sitting," Megan suggested.
Abby checked out the area first before proceeding toward the front of the cabin. “It does have a haunted, desolate feel to it, doesn't it?”
Megan asked. “When did that old man die again?”
“Around H-halloween, I think.”
Megan look at her quizzically, “Are you afraid of this little, old cabin?”
"Just feeling a little spooked, I guess," Abby said, laughing if off. “Let’s knock first. If nobody answers, we'll just take a quick peek inside to ease our curiosity. Okay?”
"Agreed!" Megan walked towards the cabin with Abby beside her. “Who builds a cabin without any windows to peek in?”
“Someone who has something to hide, I guess,” Abby said, reaching the steps.
Abby went ahead, climbed the four steps before knocking on the door, then waited. When nobody answered, Abby tried turning the knob, and found it opened. She paused for just a second ... then took a quick peek inside. A musty, rotting smell invaded Abby senses, making her sneeze.
"God Bless you! Yuk, it smells as if something died in there. They did bury Herman, didn’t they?" Megan peeked around Abby, and when her eyes began to water from the odor, she backed down the steps. “Why is the interior of the cabin so cold and musty-smelling when the wood stove is supposed to be on. Who heard of ghost smoke?”
“Yeah, they buried Herman,” Abby laughed. “WOW! It does feel cold, that's so weird!”
"Are you going in?" Megan asked. "No, then let's just go."
Abby shook off her fear, and decided to be brave. "I'm just going to check out this strange phenomenon." She felt around for the light switch, found it, and snapped it on. Nothing. Cold air was coming in from somewhere, because she could feel it on her hand. She stepped carefully and found there were two steps down before her toe reached the cabin's floor. She looked around the dusky cabin and trembled when she heard something. Ta-Tunk. Ta-Tunk. It was coming from the other room which made her pause mid-step because it sounded an awful lot like how Herman walked.
He was dead, wasn't he? Feeling her legs turn to jelly, she heard the sound again— Ta-Tunk. Ta-Tunk. She knew it was walking towards her, along with the smell of decomposing food or plant matter was getting stronger, too. All the stories she heard about Herman flashed through her mind, draining her of her energy. His evil laughter, his threats of killing them when they only tried to be nice.
Herman told them in vivid detail, too, how he would kill them. "I'll take you both apart, piece by piece, and throw you in the river."
Once he even threatened to bury them alive if they bothered him again. Thinking it was all talk back then, now she wasn’t so sure. He wasn’t the nicest guy, and he often talked about killing someone before. Who? No one knows. So many rumors passed through Abby’s mind when she realized something was breathing down her neck, bringing on a cold chill. She screamed, and Megan jumped towards her, trying to pull her up the two steps, but Abby's legs felt like pudding and wouldn't move. Abby screamed, "Run Megan!"
When cold, bony fingers clamped down on her shoulders, Abby flinched, her adrenaline kicked in, she stumbled forward, and just threw herself head first through the door, and tumbled down the outside steps. Abby found herself sprawled out flat on the ground, gasping when out of the corner of her eye, she saw something looking out at her. Abby wasted no time getting up, and ran back through the woods, screaming all the way.
Running straight into Megan's arms, she sighed, "Thank God!" Trying to catch her breath, Abby couldn’t shake that creepy feeling of that cold, bony hand still imprinted on her shoulder.
Megan shivered as she remembered what she saw. “Didn’t you see those red eyes coming towards us."
“When I heard that thing coming towards us, I was looking for my escape route, but my legs wouldn’t move," Abby gasped. "Did you say red eyes?" That makes that cold hand even creepier." Shivering, she zipped up her windbreaker to her chin.
Megan gave a shaky laugh. “I’m so glad you’re safe. I thought you were a goner back there.”
“Well, I can vouch that cabin is haunted, and I’m not going back there ... EVER!” Abby shivered, hugging herself. “Let’s go home, or do you still want to hike further?
“I can’t decide, those red eyes are permanently stuck in my brain.”
“Okay, let’s go to our tree which isn’t far,” Abby said. “We'll make up our minds there.”
Abby tried to stop shivering as those bony fingers were imprinted on her mind. Her old stomping grounds were changing into something frightful. Even now, she could feel eyes watching her. I wonder what it could be?
As they walked around the third bend in the creek, she heard Megan gasp. Turning around to see what was wrong, she noticed Megan had turned white as a sheet. She whispered, “What?”
Megan pointed a shaky finger towards a tree. “I s-saw something! It was t-there a second ago, now it's g-gone.”
"That’s it, we’re turning back!”
"But I t-think it's b-behind us,” Shaking like a leaf, Megan stood close to Abby.
“Let's go forward!" They both broke into a jog, and didn’t stop until they reached the downed tree. Abby turned towards Megan, “Okay, we’re not stopping here, not after what you saw. We'll cut across he...” Sucking in her breath, she saw a shadowy figure directly behind Megan, eyes glowing red for a second, then disappeared.
“What the…!" Blinking her eyes, she stared at the place where it had been just seconds ago.
“You saw it too?” Megan asked, shaking Abby to get her attention.
“Y-yes! Let's cut across here."
They hurried as fast as they could on the path overgrown with shrubs and tree branches, their legs and faces whipped by branches as they made their way. By the time they got through the crossover path, they felt battered, but they continued on, slipping and sliding. Goosebumps made themselves known more than once along Abby's arm, feeling they were being watched. She picked up her pace, glad that Megan stayed right behind as they got closer to their downhill path.
Catching her breath, Abby stopped and pointed out the path ahead of them. "Okay Megan, it's downhill from here." Noticing that one of Megan's shoelaces came undone, she bent down to tie it. "We don't want you tripp..." Something whizzed past overhead making Megan scream, and she took off running. Puzzled, Abby wondered what spooked Megan. Looking back, she saw something coming towards her that she’ll never forget.
A caped shadow-man appeared, then disappeared until it was just six feet away from her. It had a menacing aura that pinned Abby in place. Seeing his hands come towards her, she stuttered, “I-it was y-you!” Looking at the bony hand, she knew who pinned her in place at the cabin. An indentation of a smile grew across his shadowy face that made him look pure evil. Abby screamed so loud, it broke his powerful gaze. Free, Abby wasted no time taking off, running downhill as fast as she could go. How could they just appear and disappear like that? It could just swoop down on me at any time. She knew she was scaring herself, but if it made her run faster, so be it. Well, I'm never coming back here again, they win. Spooked by her thoughts, she never felt the branches whipping at her face and legs as she ran. She spotted Megan pacing back and forth below and took off toward her.
When Megan saw her, she gave a whoop of joy. “Abby, why weren’t you right behind me?” she sobbed, hugging her, crying. “D-didn’t you see that k-knife pass over our heads?”
"What? No! I heard something whizz by, but never realized it was a knife! They’re a hostile bunch, let’s get out of here.”
As they raced towards the entrance to the woods, Megan explained what she saw. “When I looked back at what spooked you, I saw this shadow man coming towards me. He kept disappearing and reappearing, each time closer and closer. When I looked at his hands, I knew it was him at the cabin. It felt like the same evil aura that pinned me in place at the cabin. He didn't have any facial features, which creeped me out even more!”
Puzzling over what she just heard, Megan turned towards Abby. “Did you say no face?”
“Yes! Just indentations where your eyes, nose, and mouth should be.”
Reaching the dirt road, they walked the rest of the way home. Everything was quiet now, no farmers in the field, no happy sounds of children playing, no dogs barking. It was as if everyone knew what terrible things were happening in the woods and all were hiding in their houses.
"Are you going to tell your mother what happen?" Megan asked.
"I've been thinking about it, and I don't think I will. She's so excitable about anything that happens to me, so I think it's best that we keep this our secret."
"Okay, it's a deal. I won't say a word to anyone. I know I will have nightmares about this experience, though." Megan sighed.
"Me too, but we're never going back there again, that's for sure. Our favorite place is gone." Abby sighed, then shivered, remembering her encounter with the aliens or whatever they were.
Rubbing her shoulder, Megan knew she was thinking of Herman’s bony hand on her, trying to prevent her from leaving, or those Shadow Men she'll never forget!
"Then it's a pact, we say nothing. They did a pinkie swear and entered the house to a wonderful smell of fried chicken. They felt safe!