An attempt at a scary story
"We should never have come this way", he whispered, though the troubled rustling of the trees made his trembling voice almost inaudible.
Irritation added to my own unease. "Who wanted to get home before dark?"
"Ha!" He was trying to be sarcastic, but it sounded more like a fearful gasp, so afraid was he of making a noise.
"The path is right there I said", pointing. The trees had already lost some of their leaves, so enough pale light from the full moon penetrated the canopy to make the black mud on the winding pathway glint fitfully. This gave it the appearance of some long, dark serpent slithering off into the darkness. What lay ahead was uncertain, but it was our only way out. "It's not far now".
"I hate these trees", he moaned. "I am freezing, and ... What was that?" he said suddenly. He was so jittery! I hated the trees too. They seemed to be discussing us, to be moving around us, getting in position, jostling for something. But I had heard nothing, only the unending murmuring, creaking and occasional fearful cracking of the surrounding woodland.
"Nice try!", I said trying to dampen down his growing anxiety.
"No, I heard something. Coming from over there, I think", he said pointing towards the uncertain gloom into which the path slithered.
"Oh? Like what?"
"Like a scream. A distant scream. A a sort of scream. I don't know, a scream, but I don't know, also something like ..."
"A bird! You get a lot of that sort of thing in the woods, don't you know", I said, but this was partly to reassure myself. "Let's get going or we shall be late."
We walked on sullenly for another few minutes.
Then he grabbed my arm and pulled me close. "There it is again", he whispered.
"Sounds like an owl", I said. "Or a wolf", he said, gulping. "It was a long and drawn-out, horrible sound. Owls don't do that". He was beginning to breathe rather deeply now.
"Now your imagination is getting out of control, boy. Cool it! That was an owl!". It was a bit too far away to be sure, but I reckoned it was an owl. Yeah, I was sure it was an owl. Or something like an owl, with a longer cry.
"Look, we are almost near the Big ..."
"The wha....???" He had almost screamed, but had checked himself, looking around carefully and fearfully. In a coarse whisper he said, slowly and precisely, "But that is where John ..."
I stopped and turned to him. "Pure crap, man!", I said firmly, to prevent him getting totally out of control. "He was winding you up. he was winding us all up." Still, I thought, John had done a good job about it, winding us all up. I still get the shudders when I think of that night. I wonder where John ended up.
He persisted. "But that was precisely a year ago tonight and this is ...."
"That was exactly the point, my boy. Tonight? Yeah, and what do people usually do on this very ...."
The word froze in my mouth when, just then, we heard it again and this time, there could be no mistake. It was a long low howl trailing off into the night. We looked at each other. We seemed to be headed exactly in its direction.
"McKinley's dog acting up again, I guess," I said partly to convince myself. "We'd better get a move on or ...".
I had grabbed his arm, but a third time we were stopped dead by the sound. This time it started off as a long howl but seemed to descend into a long, anguished, lingering scream. I gave him no time to think, but pushed him headlong along the path into the murky darkness of the forest. As we approached the Great Gnarled Beech, we saw where the awful noise was coming from. For us, there would be no escape.
A vivid, glistening, green skin covered its body, from which strange feathers sprouted. Its black eyes burned with pain, or rage, or both, and its wild hair flayed about in the wind as, sensing our presence, it turned to face us. It was a terrifying sight. The huge, bloody lips twisted in rage and a long, arm, which seemed to be covered some spider's web was extended towards us. The creature aimed a bony, red-tipped finger at us.
"Where the hell, have you two been?" she spluttered. "I have been searching and shouting for you for ages! You knew I had to leave early for tonight's party. And now look at my costume! It's ruined!", she wailed.
"It was him, Mum", we said in unison, pointing at each other.
Now we really would get hell.