May 22, 2014 at 12:00 AM

It’s late July. I’m driving around on the back roads in the forests of rural Alabama. It’s early evening and the sun is just beginning to set. The hot, humid air of the day has cooled down, and crickets are starting to chirp. A few small bats fly overhead, snatching mosquitoes and moths out of the air. My windows are rolled down and I’m enjoying the fresh air as my truck meanders down the crumbling asphalt road. I like taking these drives; they relax me and I have time think. I take them often and know the woods well. I look up at the clear sky; there isn’t a cloud in sight. A few stars twinkle to the east.

As the evening shifts to night, I decide to head back home. The air is tense and even more humid than before, and it feels like storm is coming. The deep rumble of thunder from many miles away reaches my ears, and the chatter of the woods lessens. The storm is far off, and I feel no rush to get home. I still have time to enjoy nature. The stars are beautiful.

A massive splat hits my windshield, and then another, and then another. I’m startled by the noise, and soon I am engulfed by a downpour of rain. I can’t see five feet in front of me, so I pull off to the side of the road, roll up my windows, and wait for the storm to pass. These showers usually last fifteen minutes, anyways. I’ll be out of here soon. I swear I could see the stars clear as glass only a minute before. I don’t dwell on it, though. Summer weather in Alabama is unpredictable. Lightning splits the sky above as I wait.

I am still sitting in my truck after an hour of heavy rain, and the storm shows no sign of letting up. Lightning pierces the cloud cover again, illuminating my surroundings. I can see about twenty feet in front of me for less than a second, and I get a glimpse of a figure at the perimeter of my field of vision. Darkness. The steady beat of rain on my truck continues. Another flash, and with no figure in sight. I’m tired now and starting to see things. This storm can’t last too much longer, but the sky keeps emptying itself upon me.

Not fifteen minutes later, my truck shifts in the ground, which is now made of mud. I am awoken from the light nap I had been taking and look around. The rain presses on, and the darkness is dense. I prop my elbow on the car door and rest my head in my hand, planning to try to get some more sleep. The car was just settling into the newly softened ground. It is impossible to see the sky.

The bed of my truck dips and slams into the ground, and the cab jumps into the air. My head flies forward and meets the steering wheel. As I lift my head up, the cab falls back to the soft earth and my head again hits the steering wheel. I do not know how long I am unconscious, but I wake up with a splitting headache, and my whole face feels wet. At first, I think the rain has somehow entered my truck, but the dark liquid on my steering wheel seems to be blood. I can’t think straight and sit still for a while, and then I suddenly become aware of what has just happened to me. I shoot my hand to the light switch and put on my high beams. All I can see is rain in front of me, rain and blackness. I check my rear view mirror. Illuminated by the red glow of the truck’s taillight, a figure stands, unmoving. All I can make out are its eyes, which are pure white. There are no pupils and no irises, only white. A low humming fills my ears, invading my mind. My vision gets fuzzy, and I pass out. The sky glows with lightning.

I wake up in the early morning. The storm has ceased, though a light sprinkle continues to fall. The forest is filled with a dim light, but I see no animals, nor do I see the figure. I look down at the dashboard and my lap. I am caked in blood. Feeling my forehead tentatively, I find no cut or scratch. I am surprised, but my miraculous healing is not a problem and I do not question it. I reach for the ignition and twist the keys, but my truck doesn’t start. I’m not shocked, and it seems my only other option is to walk to the nearest gas station, which is nearly thirty miles away. I swing the door open and step out into the morning air, which is cool and fresh. I sense no danger and decide to inspect my truck before leaving it. My front tires are both flat and are nearly buried in the mud, while the back half of the vehicle is bent inwards. Whatever the figure is, it hits hard. Shaken by the memory, I start trudging down the road. My head still hurts, but I continue on in the rain. Grey clouds roll across the sky overhead.

It is lighter now, and the rain has turned into a mist. I have walked a mile or so from my car, and I am standing in front of a deer. It is lying on its side, and its organs are strewn across the road. The foul iron smell of blood hits my nostrils, and I start breathing through my mouth to avoid the stench. At first, it appears to be road kill, but I see no glass or scraps from a collision with a car, and no other part of the deer is damaged except for its torso, save for the eyes, which are pure white. I squat to get a better look at the deer. It seems to have been ripped open, and only from one side, from which all the organs were removed. Then I notice something and fall back onto the ground, splashing in the pool of blood around the animal. Its heart is beating. I can see the rhythmic jerking of the muscle. I do my best to stand up and step back, and dread fills me to the core as the deer’s mouth starts to twitch. I can see a dark figure out of the corner of my eye. A low humming begins to drown my thoughts again, and then, amid the fear and the hum, I hear a whisper. “Run.” It is impossible to tell the difference between the mist and the sky as I flee for my life.

I can barely hear the sound of a car engine through the beating of my heart and the droning of the hum. I hear someone shouting at me from behind, asking if I’m okay, asking if I need a ride. I turn around, still moving, to see who is yelling. A large truck with dark tinted windows is following close behind me. I cannot see the driver. I stop and run towards the vehicle, with a friendly voice asking me if everything is alright as I near the window. That is when the stench hits me. The smell of blood slams into me, causing me to stop in my tracks for a moment before continuing to the driver’s side door. When I come up to the window, I freeze, and I cannot find the strength to move. The cab of the truck is coated with blood, and I can see the driver’s lungs lying on the dashboard. I look to his face, which is smiling at me, as if I were the man’s close friend. His eyes are white. I am lost in his gaze. Despite the fear, I feel welcome and safe. I begin to walk around the car to get in the passenger seat when I see the figure standing on the other side of the truck. Its white eyes feel like they’re tearing me apart, but I manage to run. I run and I keep on running. I run till I finally see the gas station. I do not know how I manage to run so far so fast, but all I can think about is getting help from another human being. As I enter the gas station, thunder rumbles across the sky above me.

“Hello! Welcome to Gas Central! Beautiful weather out today! I hope you’re having a great day under this wonderful, clear sky! Let me know if you need anything!”

I look over to see a woman greeting me from behind a counter and rush over to tell her my story and to call the police. As I explain what has happened, her smile disappears and her eyes fog over till they are as white as bone. She steps back and stares at me, and gives a deep sigh. The foul smell of blood reaches me, and the humming starts immediately after. Suddenly I am covered in blood, but not my own. The woman’s insides cover the counter and floor, and her body stands before me, opened up. I can see her spine, as well as her beating heart. I see the black hand of the figure rest on my shoulder. I do not have time to run. Rain starts pouring from the sky outside.

“Hello! Welcome to Gas Central! Beautiful weather out today! I hope you’re having a great day under this wonderful, clear sky! Let me know if you need anything!”

The woman is smiling at me as my eyes begin to fog and the humming drowns out all my thoughts and emotions. My fear disappears as a sweet smell of iron floats through my nostrils and a growing pressure in my chest releases. I smile back. The air is warm and the blue sky shines bright outside.


Credit To – Chapman

Vir Silvae

December 3, 2013 at 12:00 AM

About 5 years ago I went on a vacation to Wrangell–St. Elias National Park in Alaska. The cool, fresh air, beautiful scenery, and vast expanses of wilderness seemed ideal for my vacation from a tedious desk job back home. I’d saved up for years to finance the trip. I wanted my stay to be perfect.

I left in late August to fly from my home in Alabama to Alaska. Everything was going great; my flight was smooth and I set out on my camping trip, alone, into the wilderness on September 1st. I hiked about 13 miles the first day and set up camp among a large area of Black Spruces. I started a small fire to cook some food around 6:00 pm. I still remember how I felt, overjoyed that I was away from my stressful life. I lay back on the ground, looked at the stars through the trees, and listened to the fire crackle. It was a while before I began to notice the quietness of the rest of the forest. No insects, no birds, no anything. All I could hear was my breathing and the fire, not even a breeze met the branches of the spruces. Later on, I’m not sure what time, I was woken up by a noise off in the distance. I’m not sure what it was, maybe a falling tree, but it was fairly loud. I didn’t hear it again within 5 minutes, so I went back to sleep thinking it had been part of a dream.

I woke up early in the morning just as the sun was coming up. I inhaled the fresh Alaskan air and got up to make some breakfast before packing up and continuing on my hike. By the end of the day, I had moved 9 miles from my original camping spot. It was a slower day, but I enjoyed taking my time and soaking in the scenery. I still hadn’t seen any signs of wildlife, however. I didn’t even see a bird flying above me or insects buzzing around. I didn’t dwell on it, though. I felt like I was in Heaven. At about 4:00 pm I saw the first sign of life in over a day, two hikers. They were coming the opposite direction of me, but they didn’t have any gear with them. We were miles from any civilization, so it was weird seeing anyone, let alone anyone with gear. They were moving at a fairly quick pace, and I ended up having to grab one of them as they went past to ask if they were okay because they didn’t even look at me. The guy I grabbed jumped and nearly started crying, then he looked at me and said, “Turn back. It’s still back there,” and then he jerked away with me, grabbed his friend (who had been staring straight ahead with a glossy look about him) and started walking away, still with a quick pace. I reasoned that the guys had been doing some powerful drug in the woods for fun and had started seeing things.

I set up camp and ate dinner pretty much the same way I had the night before, star gazing for a while before falling asleep. I woke up with a start several hours later to what I can only describe as a fog horn. It was low and very loud, and seemed fairly close as well. The noise echoed off of the trees, making it hard to tell where it had come from. I sat up, still sleepy, trying to wake up and figure out what was going on. I looked around, yawned, and was about to go back to sleep when I heard the sound again. This time it seemed much closer, but I still couldn’t tell where it was. After a minute or two, I heard trees moving off in the distance. I heard loud snapping noises, and branches rubbing against each other and shaking. I couldn’t give you an exact distance, but I think it was about a mile away. The first thing to come to my still-sleepy mind was “bear.” I jumped to my feet and began looked for anything to use to defend myself from this “bear” and ended up picking the hatchet I had brought.

This is what the noise sounded like, only deeper and in longer bursts.

I stood around in a defensive stance for a good 10 minutes before I heard the sound again, this time even closer. I heard tree branches, maybe the trees themselves, snapping in the distance. It was within a mile from me, now. It then began to dawn on me that what I was dealing with wasn’t a bear. My heart was beating furiously and my mind was racing to figure out what was making the sounds I kept hearing. I couldn’t think of anything. The horn-like sound sounded again, this time farther away than before. I stayed up the entire night, listening to it as it got farther and farther away. By sunrise, the noise had stopped. I ate breakfast and packed up fairly quickly; I had decided I’d hike back to the car I had rented and drive off, maybe stay in a hotel till I could get on the next plane home. It was still early, though, and I thought I’d go towards where I kept hearing the noises in hopes of finding out what they were. I got about 3 quarters of a mile from where I had set up camp when I found the first tree. It was completely snapped in half, falling in the direction my campsite was. I continued on, finding more and more snapped trees. They made a trail, almost, that I started to follow, not thinking about the daylight I was wasting moving along the fallen trees. The trail went on for miles, filled with nothing but fallen trees and weird holes, like if a tree had been uprooted, all along the trail as well. I figured whatever had been here had started throwing trees as well as knocking them over.

By the time I noticed it was getting dark, I had almost reached the end of the trail. I kept walking, exhausted from my sleepless night, not even noticing when the trail stopped, and decided to set up camp for the night next to a large, tall tree. It was much larger than the spruces surrounding it, it looked nothing like any evergreen I had ever seen, and its trunk was blacker than the night sky. I decided the tree had been a victim of a fire. It had plenty of branches, and my idea of setting up camp near it was so I could climb it in case whatever had been knocking over trees decided to come back. At the top of the tree was a hole, similar to one you might find in any tree, and it looked large enough for me to climb into and hide in if I could reach it. I set up my plan, ate a little bit of food, and then passed out, planning on heading back as soon as I woke up.

I’m not sure how long I slept. I must have fallen asleep at around 8:00 pm, so it must have been about 3:00 am when I woke up. I was asleep on my back, clutching the hatchet in one hand, when I felt the ground tremble. Whatever it was was close. I was pretty disoriented at first from being woken up, but I soon got a hold of my senses. I clutched the hatchet even harder and tried to open the tent I was in when an extremely bright light appeared right above me. It was blinding, partly because it was just a bright light and partly because my eyes were only adjusted to the darkness. I somehow managed to get the tent open with the full intent of running as fast as I could, and as soon as I did I looked up, trying to get a quick look at whatever it was standing over me. A bright, yellow light was coming from a large oval hole in what appeared to be the tree I had planned on climbing. Only the tree was, at least it was supposed to be, about 10 feet away from me. The light hovered, I think, about 70 feet above me. I didn’t look much longer because I got out and started sprinting through the woods as fast as I could manage. I lost the hatchet at some point, but I don’t think it would have done me much good.

As I ran, I began to feel the ground quake like it did before, at intervals of about once every 5 seconds. Whatever it was, it was gaining on me, but I didn’t have time to think about that because the noise sounded behind me, and it was incredibly loud. I tried to scream, make any noise, really, but nothing came out. Then I ran right into something and fell and tumbled to the ground. I immediately tried to get up and keep running, but soon realized I was tangled up in someone’s tent, which had apparently been abandoned. It was then that I realized I was once again bathed in the yellow light. I looked up to the light, shielding my face with my hand, and got a better view of what had been following me. The tree I had camped by was standing in front of me, bent so that the light, from what was apparently the hole I had planned on hiding in, sent a beam down directly on top of me. The trunk of the tree (if you can still call it one) was split to form what could only be described as legs, each making a rather deep imprint in the earth, like what I saw along the trail of broken trees. The “tree” also seemed to have arms, or long, thin, branches that hung loosely by its side. The thing stood there, unmoving, and seemed to just stare at me. The light soon became rather pretty and nice to look at, but then the “tree” made that awful noise again, and I snapped out of my trance.

I got up and started running again, maybe even faster than before. I kept running till morning came, and then I kept going till I reached my car. I’m not sure when it stopped following, when it stopped shining its light at me, when it stopped making that horrible noise, but I didn’t care. When I made it to my car, I immediately got in and drove off in the direction that I’d come in from. I nearly wrecked several times from exhaustion, but I didn’t want to stop and risk meeting that thing again. I eventually made it back to civilization and got the first plane back home. I didn’t sleep well for the next few weeks. I live in a fairly wooded area, though I have plenty of neighbors, and had to keep the blinds on the windows closed to keep from seeing the woods outside my house, fearful that the black tree I saw would be standing among the pines and oaks. I still have nightmares.

Credit To – Chapman


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