The Moon, Landing

April 6, 2016 at 12:00 AM
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The Moon. Quite a spectacle if you ask me. It never ceases to enthrall my nocturnal, star-gazing eyes. I look at it each and every night with a very large sense of wonder, mixed with just a pinch of awestricken euphoria. It captivates and compels my curious nature, but as of late it has also deemed me uncontrollably and utterly paralyzed, with an ever-lingering sense of fear. You see, while the moon may greet me with a feeling of elation while I’m awake, it does quite the opposite when I rest. The moon is the main focus of a twisted narrative in my dreams. A nightmarish story is played out in my fear-ridden sleep for me to defenselessly watch almost every night. I say almost every night because sometimes I just can’t find it in me to sleep at all, knowing what awaits me when I close my eyes. It wasn’t always this way mind you; it has only been happening for the past few months. I don’t know why or how, as I am not one who often has nightmares. I can barely recall my normal dreams. However, I can describe to you the dream in question in great detail. It will forever be embedded within the deep confines of my memory.

Have you ever had a dream in which you are not present? What I mean is, have you ever watched your dream play out in front of you like a movie as if you are part of the audience rather than a character? That is how my nightmare is. I have no control whatsoever. I cannot interact with a damn thing. I am only left to watch as the pandemonium ensues. This is not only frustrating, but terrifying as well. What’s worse is that I do not realize that it is a dream until I wake up. Imagine my confusion, anxiety, and terror as I watch the plot unfold. Well, how can you? I’ve yet to explain the details of the nightmare itself. Maybe I’m just stalling. Well, in any case, I shall now divulge to you the inner workings of my recurring nightmare.

It always starts out in the woods. Forests themselves are unsettling, but what really gets me is that I’ve never been in one. It’s not that I wouldn’t venture out into the wilderness every now and again to go on a nature-filled walk or something, it’s just that I don’t live near the woods; never have. So why then would I dream of them? On top of that, why is everything in my self-made forest so detailed? These are the kinds of things that boggle my mind and freak me out when I wake up in a cold sweat, mid-scream. I’m sorry; it’s just so aggravating and worrisome. It’s difficult for me not to relive each moment and dwell on the details. Back to the dream.

I’m left just looking at trees and an empty night sky for quite some time. It adds to the uneasiness. After a while, I can hear something. It can’t be made out right away, but as it gets louder I realize that it is howling. Must be a coyote I think to myself. It is at that point that my perspective changes. It is abrupt and worrying. I am now left looking up from the woods, at a no longer empty night sky. The howling continues and gets louder. Through the forest canopy I can see the moon. It is a vibrant yellow color and for whatever reason looks…off. I can’t quite put into words what I mean by that. The howling does not let up. I can now hear several coyotes howling and getting closer, as their volume is increasing. My perspective changes once more. I am now viewing the moon from atop the forest, almost as if I am standing on the very top of one of the trees. It looks larger in size, but still for the most part normal. I hear the sound of coyotes howling peak in volume as I stare at the sky. My ears may have actually hurt had I been awake. As the obnoxious sound of coyotes continues, the moon becomes larger. I can now tell that it is coming closer to the earth with every passing second. My heart begins to race. Something that usually comforts me is now creating within me a sense of dread. After a few more moments of inner turmoil, the howling ceases. The moon is now dangerously close to the earth and I can hear it moving. After a few more moments, it almost fills the night sky. I catch one final glimpse before impact, seeing every single detail on its surface; each and every crater and formation. It is breathtaking, but not in a good way. The moon then picks up speed, much like the beating of my heart, and in an instant I wake up.

It might not seem like much, but I can honestly say I’ve never been more scared in my entire life. I have to experience this every single time I fall asleep. Upon waking I always jump out of bed and run to my window, my eyes scanning the night sky for signs of an abnormal moon. I always find the moon exactly where it should be, looking as normal as ever, and a wave of relief overcomes me. I just don’t get it. Why has such an odd nightmare made its way into my sleeping brain? Why does it occur every time I dream? Why me? Why now?

Any answers I thought could be found led me to disappointment instead. When discussing it with friends, they simply laughed or just found it downright peculiar. I asked my doctor about it and he simply said, “Maybe it was something you ate.” I even contacted a therapist that I found online who specialized in the field of dreaming. After speaking with her on the phone, I determined that she was incapable of offering me any sort of insight on the matter. She told me that the moon represented my past catching up to me, and the coyotes were my inner child trying to communicate and get my attention. A load of crap, if you ask me. It seemed that answers were not within my reach. On one day, however, my luck changed.

The day started off normal, as most days do. I woke up in fear and looked out the window. Instead of finding the moon, I found the sun. I became relieved, and began my daily routine. Upon making breakfast, I turned the TV on to watch some news before heading off to work, as I usually did. Nothing really interested me until about halfway through the program when they featured a segment about tidal waves. The piece interested me because I live near a large beach and had recently thought about taking surfing lessons. Everything was normal until the segment was over and one of the anchors turned to the other and said “Monday night’s super moon just might make those waves a little bit taller.” What? Super moon? I had never heard of such a thing. Monday night? That was just three nights away. I immediately shut off my TV, stopped eating my breakfast, and ran to my computer to do some research. I didn’t know if or how it could be connected to my dreams, but it was the only lead I had.

After doing some extensive research, I became aware that super moon is a term used to describe the moon when it is new/full as well as when it is closest to the earth during its elliptical orbit. This results in the moon looking larger than normal, hence the term. In just three days, a full moon is scheduled to occur, and it will also be a super moon. This one in particular will be very interesting as the moon will be closer to the earth than it ever has been before, during any of its orbits. It was going to be a “true spectacle” to behold. I was thinking just the opposite. My fears were now becoming a reality, and there was nothing I could do about it.

Nothing I read or researched could ease my anxiety. There was no way that this “super moon” was just an eerie coincidence. To me, my dream wasn’t a dream, but instead was a premonition of things to come. In just three days the moon would collide with the earth and destroy the very fabric of humanity.

To break the monotony of self torture, I continued to educate myself on the moon. I sat in a defunct state endlessly reading and clicking on educational videos pertaining to that great ball of death that lived in the night sky. I don’t know why I did this, as it just made the feeling of dread within me grow exponentially. Even so, I kept staring at my computer screen, reading and watching. I would occasionally glance over at my phone, noticing my countless missed calls. It must have been my boss trying to get a hold of me as I had failed to go to work that morning in light of the god-forsaken mess I had found myself in. There’s no point in going to work when the world is ending, right?

After several hours of tedious learning, I finally grew weary. My eyelids were beginning to droop as the tiredness within me took hold. In an effort to not fall asleep, I kept researching. This backfired as it only made me more tired. Before I knew it, I had fallen asleep right there in front of my computer screen. What happened next was inevitable.

My nightmare began the way it usually did. I was in a forest, left looking at numerous trees and an empty night sky. I waited for my perspective to change. I waited to look up and see that which frightened me the most. After a few moments, nothing happened. This was about the time my dream’s lackluster plot would kick in, so I was a little confused. Even so, I continued to wait. Nothing happened. I was still in the forest looking at trees and a moonless sky. What was happening? Why must this nightmare torture me so? I was now getting anxious. Just then, something did happen. Howling. I could hear howling. This perplexed me deeply. By this point I should most certainly be looking at the moon. Something was off; very off. I took a deep breath and gathered my thoughts. That is when it hit me. I just took a deep breath. I could feel my chest muscles expand as I did this. Never before did I even have this control in my sleep. I was actually there. I attempted to walk, and to my delight it actually worked. This was so strange. I was never a character in this dream before. I always watched the deadly events unfold.

With my newfound ability, I ran. I ran to my heart’s content through my nightmare’s forest. I had movement. I had freedom. I had control. Just then, the coyotes howled in unison off in the distance. I knew exactly what that meant. I thought of that last word again, “control”. What exactly did I have control of? My body? What good would that do me if I still could not control my outcome? I turned around and looked up at the night sky. There it was. The moon in all of its wondrous and gruesome glory. I could see nothing but trees and moonlight in my field of vision. An ever-familiar feeling of shock found its way back into the pit of my stomach. I took that feeling and ran with all my might towards the moon. Towards the howling. It was all I could think to do. Quickly after I began sprinting, the howling ceased.


I screamed at the top of my lungs as I watched the moon connect with the earth. The thunderous clap it made jolted me awake.

I quickly jumped up from my computer and looked out the window. The moon was visible, but it was normal sized. Normally this would grant me relief, but I don’t think I was all that scared this time. My dreams were changing, and so was my outlook on the situation. I felt like I could stop this from happening – somehow.

I went back to my computer and continued my research, only this time I included the words “dream” and “premonition” along with the usual lunar terms. I continued to read, watch videos, and speak with others on forums. After an hour or so I was still empty handed in my hunt for a solution. I pressed on.

As my search continued, I found myself growing sleepy once more. I needed to stay awake and look for answers, but my brain wouldn’t allow it. After all, I didn’t get that much rest the first time I fell asleep. I was at a loss. I had no coffee or any other means of staying awake. The only thing I did have was the vague will to find a way out of this mess. That only lasted so long, and once again my eyes won in their battle to close themselves. I became unconscious.

My dream started yet again. I was immediately greeted with lucidity and took a look at my surroundings. I was in the same forest and I could see the moon behind me, looming overhead. I stared at it for a moment, almost begging it not to fall. In doing this, I quickly looked away. The moon and all of its features appeared to me as the personification of malice. This was more than likely due to my mind and the way it had constructed the setting, but it still kept me from staring at the moon any further. I needed to invest all of my energy into doing something productive anyhow. Once the howling began, I decided to pursue it once more.

I ran towards the sound of what I assumed were coyotes, knowing that I didn’t have much time left. It had come to my attention the last time I dreamt that I had never actually seen them before; I had only heard their unsettling cries. They were the only characters present in this world other than myself. Maybe finding them would provide me with insight. It was a long shot, but anything was worth trying at this point.

I kept running towards the sound, noticing the moonlight getting brighter on the forest floor and trees. I still refused to look up at it and kept myself focused on the task at hand. I was slightly afraid; not only of the moon, but of what I might find when I did reach the coyotes. This was still less fear than I was usually accustomed to in this nightmare, so it in no way disrupted my concentration. What I saw next, however, did.

Before making it to my destination, I saw something out of the corner of my eye. I immediately stopped running and turned to look at it. It appeared to be the dark figure of a man. Even the now brighter moonlight could not reveal to me his features. After staring at him for a moment, he began to speak.

“You’re wasting your time.”

His voice sounded old and brash, but worldly at the same time. I was confused by his statement, not to mention his existence.

“What exactly do you mean?” I asked.

“This is only one possible outcome. You’ve yet to change anything. You need to wake up.”

“Wake up? But -”

I was cut off mid-sentence by a familiar explosive sound – the sound of two planetary bodies colliding. The man remained still as the moonlight washed out my field of vision. I then woke up at my computer, just like before, only this time I didn’t jump up to look out my window. I instead thought of the man and what he had said to me. The entire ordeal was bizarre and surreal, but for some reason I felt as if I had some sort of chance. Whoever this man was, he seemed to have a better grasp of the situation than I did. Perhaps finding him once more will ultimately bring me the answers I seek.

I noticed sunlight begin to cover the desk where I was sitting. I looked over at my window, but quickly regretted it as the sun was just coming up over the horizon and was an abrasive sight for my baggy eyes. The sun was indeed up and it was time to start my day. What that would entail, I could not be certain. It was not as if I would be going to work in my current predicament. I could always do more research, but that didn’t really get me anywhere last time. The obvious solution would be to try and fall asleep again and find that man, but I no longer felt tired, and to be completely honest, I needed a break.

I sat there for a good long while before coming up with an idea. Meditation. I could attempt to meditate and see where that leads me. It may not help at all, but it was certainly worth a try.

Having never meditated before, I went online to look at various how-to guides on the subject. After learning the basics, I decided to give it a go. I was anxious, but I tried to remain calm as any worrisome emotions would prove to be counterproductive when attempting to meditate. I sat down on the floor, closed my eyes, took a few deep breaths, and away I went.

At first, clearing my mind was a challenge. All I could picture was the malicious sight of the moon coming towards me. It freaked me out at first, but I then used it to my advantage. Before the moon could reach me, I pictured it going in the opposite direction. I was able to loosen up when doing this, and I let myself focus on nothing but the moon as it grew smaller and smaller. It kept floating away until it was only a single point in the night sky. I continued to focus on it. Eventually I was breathing at a much slower rate. My body felt lighter. I almost felt as though I too were floating into the night sky. I preceded to actually drift upwards, towards the moon. It then grew larger as the distance between us became smaller. Within moments the moon reverted to its original abnormally large size and I felt myself descend to the ground below. The meditation must have worked.

I looked around and realized that I was in the forest; the same setting from my dream. I looked up at the moon and noticed that even though it was incredibly close to the earth, it was still. Come to think of it, everything seemed still, as if time had stopped. Granted there was nothing around me but trees, but it felt like I was residing within a single instant – one frame on the reel of my private nightmare. I say nightmare, but it no longer felt as such. Given that the moon was no longer moving, I now felt calm and relaxed. Hopefully this would provide me with a greater focus while I searched for either the man or the coyotes. Anything would suffice so long as it gave me even a slight answer.

I decided to walk along the same path I took in my previous dream. I no longer had the sound of coyotes to guide me, but I did have the moon. I remember it being in the center of the sky when heading towards the howls. As such, I positioned myself accordingly and headed off.

Now that I found myself walking rather than running, and now that I was void of the fear that had previously tormented me in this setting, I noticed the odd details of the pseudo-world around me. There was a strange symbol perfectly etched into each and every tree I passed. I did not recognize the marking. Not only this, but I now noticed an old wooden hatch on the ground that bared the same symbol. I attempted to open it, but the damned thing wouldn’t budge. In any event, I continued my impromptu hike through the forest.

After a few more moments, I stopped dead in my tracks. Standing by one of the trees was none other than the man from my previous nightly adventure. I did not know whether to approach him or not. I couldn’t tell if he was frozen like the rest of the forest. I simply stood there in a partial state of shock waiting for something to happen. Luckily the man was not frozen and he began to speak.

“Why are you here again?”

I wasn’t sure what he meant.

“Why am I here again? Well, I’m here for answers.”

He chuckled a bit when I said this.

“You don’t need answers. You simply need to do what is necessary.”

He noticed the confused look on my face and spoke again.

“Fine. If you want answers so badly, then follow me.”

The man turned and started walking towards the moon; the very direction I had already been walking in. I subsequently followed, having little choice in the matter.

As we walked, I was considerably closer to the mysterious man than I had ever been previously. You would think that maybe I could finally make out at least some of his features, but this was not the case. He was still covered in a thin layer of darkness. It seemed to follow him wherever he went. I couldn’t explain this, but then again this was just a dream. An odd premonitory dream at that, but still a dream nonetheless.

The man remained silent until we reached our destination.

“Here you have it; the answer to the dark and looming riddle overhead.”

He looked at the moon when he said this. I was still confused to say the least, but I took a look around before demanding further explanation.

We were in a small clearing in the forest. In said clearing was a formation of not coyotes, but wolves. They were frozen still, as was to be expected. They were in a circular pattern around what looked to be a person; a person wearing some sort of red shroud. The man then spoke, noticing that I was still oblivious to what was going on.

“Take a closer look.”

I did so without hesitation, curious as to what I would find upon closer inspection.

I walked right past the wolves and into the circle to take a look at the person in the red cloak. It was a woman. She had her arms outstretched towards the moon. In front of her sat a chalice of some sort, filled with a reddish liquid. I still had no clue what was taking place here. Luckily, the man noticed this.

“This is the last surviving member of the Clan of the Red Wolf.”

“Clan of the Red Wolf?”

I had no idea what the Clan of the Red Wolf was, so I let the man explain further.

“The Clan has existed for many years. They worship a deity known as the Red Wolf, and their doctrine is simple. They intend to seek divinity in nature and protect the earth’s wildlife to the best of their abilities.”

I still didn’t completely grasp why this meant the moon had to fall.

“You see, as of late, the Clan has misinterpreted the foundation of their teachings. Because of this, they now think they need to destroy all life on earth and allow it to begin anew. The woman you see before you is the daughter of one of the Clan’s old members – one whom met with a terrible fate years ago.”

I noticed him stop to collect his thoughts before he continued to speak.

“She too tried to “end the world” so to speak, but she was stopped. Her daughter, deemed too powerful at an early age, was hidden from the rest of the clan. In the wake of her mother’s failure, she came out of hiding and vowed that she would continue her mother’s work. She would find a way to put an end to this earth.”

I was left speechless. This was most certainly a lot to process. How could this clan exist? How did they have this power? Why was I involved? I had so many questions now, and still no solution to my original problem. The man spoke once more as I continued to bathe in the confusion of what I had heard.

“You have been chosen to stop this. Otherwise you would not be having these dreams. As such, you must do just that. You cannot do it from here, however. This is an illusion. I am an illusion. The only way you can truly prevent this is to travel to this location when you awaken.”

I still had so many questions. Who was he in the first place? Why exactly was I “chosen”? Before I could voice any of these questions, the man vanished. He disappeared before my very eyes and revealed something etched into the tree behind him. I looked at it more closely and realized that they were coordinates. My eyes widened. I was now afraid again. I would have to actually confront this red cloaked woman if I wanted to save everything. If this wasn’t bad enough, I heard a loud howling behind me. The dream was no longer on pause. Within an instant I saw the moon crash into me with a force greater than I had ever seen in one of my nightmares. The brightness, the sound – everything was magnified. It was because I was at the epicenter of the event. I can tell you honestly that that right there was the most frightening thing I have ever witnessed. Much like the times before, I then woke up.

I opened my eyes slowly and gathered my thoughts. I then quickly jumped up and grabbed a piece of paper. I wrote down the coordinates I had seen etched into the bark of the tree. I then caught a glimpse of the moon from out of the corner of my eye. I looked over at the window and to my surprise it was nighttime. How long had I been meditating? I looked at the clock on my bedside table and realized that it was 5am, Sunday morning. I had been meditating for almost a whole day. This was a bit shocking, but I didn’t let it get to me. Besides, I had a task to complete.

I typed the coordinates into my computer to see exactly where they were. To my satisfaction it was within the country. Unfortunately however, it was many miles away. If I drove there, I wouldn’t get to the outskirts of the woods until Monday afternoon, and then I would still have to hike. The super moon is on Monday night, so that would be cutting it close. The nearest airport to these coordinates was 237 miles away, meaning I would have to figure out another form of transportation once I got there. I weighed my options for a moment, but then decided to take a different approach. Maybe there was a train station nearby.

After several minutes of searching for multiple trains that would lead me to this forest, I had finally found my means of transportation. There just happened to be a train station just twelve miles from the coordinates I had typed in. Apparently the forest was an old-growth forest protected by the government and it garnered occasional tourism, hence the train stop. I determined that after taking multiple trains and buses to get there, I would arrive at 2:15pm on Monday. That would give me just enough time to reach the coordinates and potentially stop this catastrophe from occurring.

I took off in haste as not to give myself enough time to rethink my plan. I knew if I dwelled on what I was doing, I might change my mind and convince myself that I was crazy and everything I had experienced was nothing more than a strange dream. If I did stop now, I would drown in my own regret, and panic come Monday night. Even if I was crazy, at least I was putting the question to rest myself instead of waiting for an answer to come along.

After numerous modes of travel, I was finally on the final train; the one that would arrive near my coordinates. I managed to stay awake the entire time, running off of anxiety and the fear of experiencing my nightmare one more time. As the train departed, however, I felt more tired than I had the entire trip there. I could not stay awake for one more second. I willingly shut my eyes and fell asleep there in my seat, knowing what I would dream about when I did.

Once again, I found myself in the forest at nighttime with nothing but several trees to gaze at. That, and the gigantic moon behind me. I decided to run again, but this time in the opposite direction. I wanted to be as far away from the moon as possible, so as to possibly limit its terrifying properties.

With an ever-familiar feeling of dread, I ran as fast as my dream body would allow, into the depths of the woods. I had never headed in this direction before and was somewhat curious as to what I might find during my run. My curiosity vanished soon after as I saw nothing but more trees. Not a big surprise there, I suppose.

I kept running, without even glancing back once at the moon. After a while, I noticed that something wasn’t right. The wolves should have howled by now. Nothing was frozen like the last dream; I could see the trees blowing in the wind. Maybe I was too far away to hear them, but even still something felt weird. I decided to look back at the moon. It was suspended in the night sky, as was to be expected, but it was not overly large like before. It was of a normal size and normal position near the stars. How peculiar.

I shrugged off the oddities in my dream and kept running in the direction I was headed. I would have become more anxious had I stayed still, and I was still hoping to find something out there – maybe one last bit of help in the form of something – anything, before I came face to face with the red cloaked woman.

I ran and ran for what seemed like a very long time. All the while there were nothing but trees and discomfort to keep me company. I was beginning to grow tired within my own dream, if that was even possible. Eventually, I came upon something other than a tree. I stopped running when I saw it. It was a railroad, running right through the forest. I examined the tracks for a moment, and then stood on them, looking either way for a train. Nothing. I continued to stand there, at odds with the damned thing. That is, until the very loud sound of a train directly behind me immediately triggered my adrenaline and fear. I turned to look and saw the train right as it struck my body. I jolted awake at impact.

The train had come to a stop. I was at the forest. I pulled myself together and stumbled off in a clumsy fashion, still trying to fully awaken and process my dream’s meaning at the same time. The train then took off at high speed and left me to take a look at my surroundings in isolation. So this is what it looks like during the day, huh? The forest looked identical to the one in my dreams, but then again, how could it not? It was just a simple assortment of old trees. The only difference now was that I was awake, and I had sunlight to guide my trek as opposed to moonlight. I just wasn’t sure how long that sunlight would last, especially in the depths of the forest.

I set off in haste, making sure to maximize my energy. I didn’t run and instead power-walked, keeping a steady pace as I went. Twelve miles wouldn’t be all that bad had it been on a paved road, but this was an old woodland. I could not guarantee when I would arrive at the location, nor could I guarantee what the terrain would be like in some parts of the forest. I had a compass and map to guide me, knowing that my phone/GPS probably wouldn’t get a reliable signal out here, but a map will only reveal so much about where you’re going. I could only hope that I would make it there in time to make a difference. I could only hope that I would even make it there in one piece.

Lucky for me, half of my hike was relatively easy. I was able to remain quick and agile most of the way, but after an hour or so, the ground became steeper and I found myself almost climbing rather than walking. I stupidly attempted to keep the same pace uphill as I did on the flat ground. This was a mistake. I ended up tripping over the root of a tree that was jutting out of the ground. I fell face first onto the dirt, and a nearby rock dug into my skin, leaving a large gash along the side of one of my legs. The sharp pain that followed was unbearable. I released a blood-curdling scream from the deepest recesses of my lungs and hurt even my ears. It didn’t appear as though I would be saving anything. My fate was now in the hands of the forest.

Unable to move, I simply laid there, waiting for nightfall to come; waiting for the moon to loom overhead and laugh in my dirt-covered face. It had won. My leg was injured, as well as my will to press on. Even if I could move, I didn’t want to anymore. The whole ordeal was mentally and physically taxing. I just wanted it all to end.

As I watched the sky change while the sun was setting, something else came into view. It was a man’s face. I couldn’t make out any features, but as he spoke, I recognized the voice.

“You have to keep going. It is almost time.”

It was the man from my dream. How was this possible? Then again, how was any of this possible? I decided not to question it. I had given up, after all. What was the point in trying to understand that which was beyond my comprehension? The world would be ending soon anyhow.

“No. I’m done. I cannot move, nor do I want to.”

He remained silent for a few moments, causing me to wonder if I was actually seeing things or not. He then offered a response.

“Are you really so selfish? You will let this entire planet suffer because you ‘don’t want to’?”

I thought about what he was implying, but before I could respond he spoke again.

“How dare you. How dare you hold the fate of this world in your hands and cast it aside with such arrogance, just like that. A broken leg is nothing compared to what is really at stake here. Neither is your insatiable need for answers. You need not know what is happening, only what you must do. You should stop at nothing to complete your task.”

I was surprised by the ferocity with which the man spoke. He was genuinely disappointed in me. Not only that, but what he said was true. I was being selfish. How could I let the moon crash into the earth after I had come so far? What in the world was I thinking?

With newfound motivation, I found it within me to stand upright again. I didn’t require the man’s help, nor did I ask for it. I don’t think he would have given it to me anyways. I still wasn’t even sure if he was really there. For all I knew he could have been a figment of my imagination. Figment or not, he was right. I had to keep going and see this through. I had no other choice in the matter.

As I limped through the woods, the man followed. He kept his distance, but I knew he was there. I would glance over every now and again and he would give me a perturbed look, one that begged me to stop staring and hurry up already. Somehow I felt as though his presence helped. It reassured me that I might actually be able to do this; whatever “this” might be. Either way, I was at ease for the time being.

I limped for a very long time, using only the moon as my guide. It was very large, but not quite as large as I remembered it being in my dreams. Even so, my surroundings now had a familiar aura about them. I must have been getting close. The man surprised me and spoke, confirming my suspicions.

“Just a little further.”

For the first time on our hike, the man walked in front of me and began to lead the way. As he did this, I noticed a clearing up ahead. This was it. My showdown with the red cloaked woman was about to begin and I was not ready in the slightest. Despite this, I followed the man and walked into the clearing.

Upon entering, I saw just what I expected to see. There in the center of the clearing was a circular formation of wolves containing the red cloaked woman. Even though I knew it would be there, I was still shocked. This was no longer a dream. Whatever happened now would have actual repercussions.

I stared at the woman, but she didn’t look as though she was conscious. She just stood there with her head down, as still as ever. The man turned over to me with a smile and spoke.

“Humans are so easily fooled.”

He then transformed, for lack of a better word, into a black wolf and ran over to the woman. He passed right through her and vanished. She then awoke instantaneously and looked over at me with that same smile. I was stunned.

“Nice of you to join us. We’ve been waiting for such a long time.”

The wolves howled in unison, as if they only acted upon her command. I remained silent.

“What’s the matter? Are you scared? Are you confused? Or are you just plain ignorant?”

I was offended by just the tone of her voice. I don’t know what possessed me to do so, but I took a step forward. The wolves began to growl when I did this.

“Why the rush? Don’t you want those answers you came here for in the first place? Don’t you want to know why all of this is happening? I know you do.”

An alluring yet sinister smile crept across her face. I nodded. I did want to know why. I wanted to know everything.

“Very well. As you know, I am the last surviving member of the Clan of the Red Wolf. My mother attempted to destroy this world years ago, but failed. She was stopped by a savior. She was stopped by the one the Red Wolf spoke of in his teachings. The one that was to save our world. You could say that the savior succeeded, in a way. I see it differently, much like my mother did. In order to save nature itself, the world must begin anew. The savior failed.”

I understood what she was telling me, but I knew there was more to it than that. She continued to speak.

“The savior’s blood was needed to complete the ritual of destruction that my mother had performed. That same blood is needed now to complete my ritual. You, my friend, are the offspring of the savior.”

What? How could this be? One of my parents was this savior she spoke of? Why didn’t I know of this? Questions filled my mind that no amount of answers could solve, but one glaring truth bubbled to the surface. I needed to get out of there.

I attempted to run, but the woman reached her arm out towards me, and I found myself paralyzed. I could not move at all. She was in complete control.

“I sent a specter into your dreams to bring you here. It was so much easier than I had originally anticipated. Foolishness is a trait I find to be quite common among humans. I will never understand it.”

The man was just a spirit. It was her all along, guiding me here so she could complete her ritual. I spent all my effort in trying to get here to prevent the earth’s destruction when I was in fact the key to its demise the whole time. I should never have come here.

She clenched her fingers together and I felt my body move on its own. I closed the gap between me and her within seconds.

“You may now witness that which has tormented you in your dreams for so long. Then you may finally rest.”

She said this as if it was some sort of consolation. I watched as she reached into her cloak and pulled out a dagger. Etched into the blade was the same symbol I had seen on the trees. It must have been the symbol of the Clan. She then grabbed the chalice from behind her and sliced my arm open, allowing my blood to fill the cup. I wanted to scream, but could not, as she had complete control over my body’s actions. I could not think of a more terrible situation to be in.

With a flick of her wrist she tossed my body aside, having already received what she needed. She then turned towards the moon and reached out towards it, much like I had seen in my nightmare. Between my injured leg and the cut on my arm, I could not move to stop her. I looked up at the moon as it came closer to the earth and waited for the inevitable collision. I heard the wolves howl loudly, but their howls were soon drowned out by the sound of the moon picking up speed. The moonlight that covered the forest was brilliant, and it allowed me the most vivid depiction of the destruction of the earth. After a few more moments, the moon broke through the atmosphere and filled the night sky. I closed my eyes and tried to sleep one last time. My dream could no longer haunt me. It was over. Everything was over.

Credit: Christopher Maxim


April 5, 2016 at 12:00 AM
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Aurora Borealis

“Don’t look at the lights for too long”

This was something I have heard my whole life, regarding the northern lights, or Aurora Borealis. The warnings always popped up when winter was approaching in Northern Canada. Sometimes it was a joke. We have a café here that is called “Lights”, and when winter approaches there is a sign added that says “Don’t look at me” It’s a fun joke for everyone who lives here, and even funnier to explain to outsiders.

You see, there is a myth that goes with the lights here in Northern Canada. It’s not the myth that the lights come from a fox’s tail, or from a great warrior building fires. We have heard those, of course, but those aren’t the myths we believe in. Here, the myth is a bit darker.

It’s said that the lights are reflections of spirits. The colors change because there are always new spirits being added. But it’s all spirits in the lights, floating all over to find their way back home. Some spirits are old, and evil. Some are fresh and new and confused. But they all carry a negative energy. No spirit in the lights wanted to be there, ever. It is said that if you look at the lights for too long, the spirits will think you are envious of them. They will come down and take your life, and bring your spirit up with them. They take your interest as jealousy, and it angers them that we waste so much time looking at them when they wish they could be where we were. They think we are taking our lives for granted. They think they have to teach us some kind of lesson, to make us appreciate what we have. So that’s the myth. Don’t look at the lights for longer than ten minutes consecutively, or the spirits will become angry and take you up there with them. Around 9 minutes you are supposed to start hearing crackles and whistles, to signal the spirits descent to come and get you. However, you can look for as long as you want from indoors, through a window. They say the spirits cannot see you if you are indoors. But if you are open and exposed in the forest, which is practically everywhere where we are, you cannot look for too long.

And with any myth, there is alleged proof as well. This proof is Sarah Watkins. Allegedly, she was a nine year old girl, who fell victim to the spirits. Many years ago, her parents took her camping. They believed she was old enough and has heard the warning enough times to believe it. They enjoyed a nice day of winter camping, and once it got late, they all nestled in together on a log to watch the beautiful lights. After watching for 7 or 8 minutes, her parents took her into the tent to go to sleep. It was late after all. But Sarah was much more curious than she let on. After her parents were long asleep, and after the embers of their fire died away into nothing more than lightning bugs, Sarah crept out. She was entranced by the lights, and craved more time with them. Without her father’s old watch to keep time, she had no clue when her time was up. She got carried away. And so, Sarah Watkins was reported missing the next day, when her parents woke up and discovered her gone. They slept through the night, only waking up to an empty space between them, where Sarah had nestled in the night before. The site was assessed, but because her parents made such a mess looking for her, the police couldn’t get much out of the scene. After weeks of scouring the woods and nearby towns, everyone sort of gave up. Her parents moved away, and nothing ever came from the investigation, but to this day everyone swears it was because of the lights. And to this day, everyone swears that the lights glowed blue like little Sarah’s eyes the following night. All the people who were around for Sarah’s vanishing act practically had an aneurysm if you suggested Sarah fell victim to anything but ancient spirits.

So, to this day, even though I am twenty years old, my mom still tells me not to watch the lights for too long. But now that we were all old enough, me and my friends and boyfriend planned to camp in the woods to see the lights. Even after seeing them so many times, it’s just not something you get sick of. Despite the myths, nobody can deny the lights surreal beauty. My parents were fine with it, believing their warnings had resonated with me and I would not be that stupid. But I was that stupid.

This isn’t a story meant to scare you. I still don’t understand it myself. It’s scary to me and my friends, and it’s sure as hell confusing, but this will not haunt you in the middle of the night. It haunts me, but that is for different reasons. It is not horror movie material. I am simply going to recount exactly what happened, I will not add anything for scare factor.

So, in the middle of the week, me, Matt, Jasmine and Craig loaded up Craig’s Jeep. Sure, it was a sort of double date. Normal kids shared straws in a milkshake, we went myth busting. We were going to watch the lights for 11 minutes. Jasmine and Craig were great, going on four years. They introduced Matt and I, and they were the only ones who were truly supportive of us. We all made a great group, and I couldn’t think of anyone else I would want to go on this trip with.

Craig parked his jeep a bit away from where we planned to camp. It was a small walk, and me Matt and Craig mostly carried everything. Although I was annoyed that our packs and equipment made it impossible for me to hold Matt’s hand, I really didn’t mind all that much. So, with more than enough food, clothing and equipment for less than 24 hours we were all set.

Anyway, we arrived at the clearing excited and nervous. We set up the two tents, one for me and Matt and one for Jasmine and Craig. After everything was set up and the fire was roaring, it was well past dark. We indulged in some good old fashioned gas station booze, and by the time the lights showed up we were freezing and tipsy.

It was honestly amazing, and being there with Matt and my best friends made it all the more special. I snuggled closer to Matt, keeping an eye on the clock. After 7 minutes, Jasmine and Craig stood up. Jasmine claimed she couldn’t feel her toes, and they were tired. I didn’t believe them, and assumed they were scared. But I walked them back to their tent anyway because I had the flashlight. When I returned it was close to 10 minutes. Matt asked me if I heard anything, but I honestly thought he was kidding. When I laughed and gave him a playful punch, he laughed too, but I saw he felt weird. We reached our 11 minute mark, and me and Matt cheered and kissed to celebrate. The weirdness was forgotten. What was there to be afraid of, spirits can’t even tell time anyway. A few minutes later, we did lose feeling in our toes, so we went to the warmth of our tent. We both fell asleep quickly. That was the last time I will ever watch those damned lights.

Around 3am I woke up to an emptiness all around me. I looked over to see Matt had rolled to the far edge of the tent. I assumed he was asleep, but snuggled up next to him anyway to comfort myself. As I rested my cheek on his heavily clothed and blanketed chest, he murmured, “Don’t hold on too tight.” It was weird, but I was tired and brushed it off. I figured he was talking in his sleep.

Hours later I awoke to hear Jasmine yelling. I was in a daze that being woken up leaves, and checked my phone. It was only 6 AM, and we weren’t set to leave until 1 pm. I was frustrated, and assumed Craig and Jasmine were fighting. They were great, but at 4 years, they were well past their honeymoon phase. They fought all the time.

I was already awake though, so walked out to see what was up. What I saw is still blurry in my mind, and still makes me feel really weird. There was Matt, fully naked. I hadn’t even noticed that he left the tent. Now, let me be clear, while we were adults and we did do..things, it was way too cold last night to do anything. As appealing as I find Matt, nothing could make either of us take our pants off. We were both fully clothed, in layers all night. He didn’t simply wander out forgetting he was naked. Jasmine was yelling at him and so was Craig, all the while trying to avoid looking at him south of the belt. I didn’t care of course, so I faced Matt and looked him in the eye, asking him what was going on. What I saw made me stop in my tracks. Matt’s normal, bright green eyes had gone so dull, they almost looked grey. He did not acknowledge me or anyone. Eventually we resigned our yelling and just tried to get his clothes on. Everyone was shaken up, and we weren’t waiting til 1. It was clear that Matt wasn’t just joking around or being forgetful. We left and took Matt straight to the hospital.

Everything happened so quickly.

Within hours of being admitted, Matt slipped into a coma. The doctors had no explanation. There was nothing wrong with him, that they could tell. This pissed everyone off even more. The waiting room was filled with me, Jasmine and Craig and Matt’s parents. While they were never fully accepting of Matt being gay, and our relationship, they still embraced me warmly with tear soaked faces. That’s the last time I felt truly comfortable, being with everyone.

Two days later, Matt died. Again, the doctors had no explanation. They claimed he just “didn’t have any fight left”. I was so angry. Why didn’t he have fight left? He never had to fight for anything. Why would a fit 22 year old not have any fight left? He was surrounded by family, and he had to know it deep down. None of this made sense.

Truth be told, the lights never even crossed our minds. Matt didn’t disappear, he died of a coma. A weird coma, but it’s still a common scientific thing to die from. And after all, I watched for 11 minutes and here I was. But that’s when I realized, I hadn’t. I broke my gaze to walk Craig and Jasmine back. This fucked me up, and for days I was just so confused. I couldn’t believe it, and I didn’t even tell Craig or Jasmine. I didn’t want to sound crazy, and I didn’t want to believe it. So we all mourned Matt in our own way, and eventually, we all sort of drifted. The people I once found all my comfort in were now the ones who put me most on edge. I reminded them of Matt, they reminded me of Matt. There was no winning.

I struggled for a long time after that, and I still do. I still don’t know what happened. But I have a theory that I still hate. Maybe the lights don’t take you away physically. Maybe they only take your soul. Maybe that’s why Matt’s eyes looked so dead that day, maybe that’s why his last words to me were a cryptic warning.

I mean, the night Matt died, the lights did seem to glow a bit more green than normal.

Credit: Alyssa

Instant Messaging

April 4, 2016 at 12:00 AM
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It all started on the fourteenth night of March, the night of my parents’ 20th wedding anniversary.

It was a wonderful, sunny day, if memory serves. Surprisingly warm for before the beginning of spring. The beautiful weather was perfect for the atmosphere of the day – being married for twenty years is obviously a momentous occasion, so my parents had booked a table at our favourite Italian restaurant.

Of course, this was a formal occasion, so I had my best suit on. It was 5:33, and I was just straightening my tie when my phone went off – I’d received a message. That’s strange, I thought, that never happens. I checked the message: it was from my mum. It was quite a jumble of numbers and letters, but through the vocabulary stew I could make out one legible phrase: “Please help me.” It should go without saying that this worried me greatly, so I immediately replied, “Are you okay?” Just as instantly, I got another text which read, “Oops. Pocket text!” I sighed with all the relief I had and continued to prepare myself.

A few minutes later, I received yet another message, this time from my dad. I checked the text, and once again it was a massive mixture of letters and numbers, with the phrase “Please help me” concealed within. Creepy though this was, my dad was always a joker, so I presumed he was just joking around, until I was sent another text saying, “Oops. Pocket text!” Now this sparked panic. Pure, unmistakable panic. Exactly half a minute passed when I received the exact same two messages from my sister. This could not be coincidental. It just couldn’t.

In a state of sheer anxiety, I started to run to the restaurant. I made it about a quarter of the way before I was stopped by a police officer. “Main road’s closed,” he said, “Huge car crash.” This was the exact moment I realised just what had happened. I demanded to see the wreckage, a request which I was surprised was allowed. When I got there, it wasn’t the remnants of the car that caught my eye, nor the flames billowing from the destroyed vehicle. No. I was horrified to see the lifeless corpses of my mother, father and sister. I asked for the estimated time of their deaths – all three of them were killed instantly by the collision, at 5:32.

A minute before the very first text.

A Madman’s Guide to the Unrecommended

April 3, 2016 at 12:00 AM
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First and foremost, a few matters of introduction have to be placed down. You are probably wondering who I am. What am I called? What does the barista misspell on my steaming paper cup? Well, this is my first lesson to you, and I promise we will get into much more detail soon.
Your name is a very precious thing, you see. And unless you are suicidal, a fool, or think you have what it takes to face the consequences; don’t ever give out your real name willy-nilly. I’m fairly positive you wouldn’t want to take that risk. That being said, I still must give you some way of acknowledging my existence. You may call me The Madman. Am I mad? Am I a man? Well you will just have to wait and see, dear reader.
For your sake I’m going to assume that you had some idea of what you were getting into when you picked up this guide. And if you didn’t? Well, by all means keep reading; just put your back to a door, and cover every window and mirror in your room. We wouldn’t want anything to happen to you, now would we? Shall we begin?

This is as good a place to start as any. It’s a vital piece of knowledge if you want to have absolutely anything to do with the supernatural world. When you are dragged out of refuse and muck, screaming and kicking into the world, you are vulnerable. Your fragile little mortal soul has only just begun its unavoidably ticking clock. Your name is essentially your shield; it is the most symbolic representation of your inner self that can exist. It carries great, great power over you. Never forget this.
Although I’ve already made it perfectly clear, I’ll say this again. Do not bandy about your birth name. If someone –or something– has access to your soul, I guarantee you won’t enjoy what happens next. In every interaction you have with the supernatural, guard your name. If you must give an answer, lie through your teeth. Don’t use anyone else’s name, either. Well, unless you really hate them. But allow me to continue…

Have you ever felt like you were being watched when you are perfectly alone? As if a pair of eyes is fixated on the back of your head, yet when you turn there is nothing there. Have you ever heard your name being spoken by nobody at all? Chances are you have experienced these things, and chances are they aren’t just figments of your imagination.
Bordering the lovely world you call home is another, rather different place. Some call it Hell, and they’re not wrong. But the name isn’t important; what comes from it is. And what comes from Hell, you ask? Why, demons of course. Ghosts, phantoms, spirits, poltergeists, haunts and apparitions. These are all one and the same.
Take a moment to clear your mind of that image of a red-horned beast or a classic white ghost. It’s true that over time, demons have picked up on humans’ fears and tend to manifest themselves in such forms. However, what’s actually out there is much more sinister than these ridiculous tropes. A demon is infinitely smarter than you can ever hope to be. They want nothing more than to trick your feeble mind into allowing them to cause great harm. It’s your job as a practitioner to prevent this from happening. Good luck.
Demons can be called into this world through a summoning. Unfortunately, this isn’t very hard to do. Why would you do such a thing, you ask? Well, you shouldn’t. But I’m not your mother- do what you want. Demons can give you knowledge or carry out tasks for you. If you have a question you want answered, a demon can most likely help you with that. You just have to be sure it’s worth the risk –and it is quite a risk.

Every budding practitioner must learn about “The Game” if they want to get anywhere. This is the most common and basic level of advanced interaction with the supernatural world. The principle is simple: you conjure up a demon and then play with it. You try to get the knowledge you seek while avoiding the traps being set out for you. But when you actually get into it, it isn’t as easy as it sounds.
Preparation is key: you need protection. By all means, grab your firearms and use those to fend off the evil spirits. You will end up killed in a horrible way but hey, at least you tried. Our art requires a more acquired set of tools; tools that have been proved effective throughout history. I’ve got to say, someone must have paid a very heavy price to discover just what is effective to use.
Some of these will probably sound familiar, as old folklore and urban legends often have a handle in reality.

Salt- An excellent general-purpose ‘Demon B Gone.’ A closed circle of this stuff will hold enough power to keep minor intrusions at bay. The same principle applies to large bodies of saltwater. You’ll rarely find supernatural influences around them. Demons don’t like the beach.
Iron- This simple element has a tendency to repel the supernatural. In most cases, it’s used in candlesticks or worn on the practitioner’s person. Invest in a necklace or something. You’ll thank yourself later.
Vinegar- While this doesn’t keep anything out per se, it does have a violent affect upon beings from the other world. When thrown or sprayed, it can act as a sort of weapon against a demon. However, don’t rely on it. There have been too many instances of someone attempting to save themselves with a little spray bottle of vinegar. Dear me, what a bunch.
Candles- Wax candles may appear ordinary enough, but they are very important. Any seal or circle you create to trap a demon needs candles to act as support. While the color doesn’t matter too much, it’s useful to note that red candles are the most effective. Blood-red works best.
Mistletoe- Ah mistletoe, the classic parasitic weed that symbolizes love and merriment. Keep this handy in little bunches or piles around the area in which you work.
An item of power- Everyone has something they hold dear, and this bond holds power. It is a sort of life-vest to your soul, and your soul is something you want to keep close to yourself. It could range from a picture of your mother to the knife you used to murder your first victim, any such item will do. Thus, hang onto something that you have a special connection while practicing.
Your voice- What a silly item, you may think. And you wouldn’t be wrong- the human voice has no power over any supernatural entity unless you use it in just the right way. If you think you will be able to save yourself if you mess up a summoning by shouting, you’re wrong. However, if the being is in a limited position of power, your voice can dismiss it. Just don’t wait too long if you plan to do this.

At the moment, these seven things are enough to keep you safe (relatively speaking). It’s time to get into the fun stuff. The first step of The Game is to decide what exactly you want from the experience. Do you want to know some greater knowledge? Perhaps you would like to know if your significant other is being disloyal, or how to earn a million dollars by the year’s end. Whatever it is, know what you want so you don’t make a fool of yourself and die.
Now, you can’t interact with the other world in any old place. I wouldn’t recommend using your home in any capacity, unless you want to ruin the rest of your life. No, it’s much more effective to find a place where the wall between this world and the next is worn thin. Places with some sacred value, like religious buildings or hospitals. People die in hospitals, you see, and this constant crossing from one world to the next makes it perfect for any summoning you’d want to do.
Wherever you choose to practice, make sure you are alone. It won’t do anyone any good to walk into a demonic summoning, and it may stuff up your process. Not good. I also recommend against bringing any electronics into a summoning. Not that it’s dangerous or anything, but because any device will most likely be fried by the presence of a demon. Smartphones are extremely expensive these days; don’t just throw yours away.
Now you’ve got your protection and locations set, it’s time to summon a demon. Before we go on, I’m obliged to tell you to stop right here. Don’t go on, it isn’t a very smart thing to do. But, once again, I really couldn’t care less. Shall we proceed?
Begin with a salt circle. Don’t make a square or hexagon or anything stupid like that. Circles are equal no matter where you are inside of one -it’s what makes them powerful. Lay out five to seven candles around the outside of the circle. Do not put them inside the circle. This is a one-way ticket to disaster.
Prepare any other protective measures you may have brought: place mistletoe in little piles next to the candles and prepare some iron and vinegar just in case. Keep your item of power close. I’m now going to tell you a little story about someone carrying out their very first summoning. I want you to pay close attention.
Not too long ago a young girl wanted to commune with the other world. She was rather rebellious, so she chose to practice in the church she attended every week. She broke in at night, set up her circle, and began The Game. This is how she did it:
The girl sat outside her salt circle. She put down her object of power in front of her and closed her eyes. The dark church was cold and silent. Creaks and groans permeated the blackness all around her. She took a breath and whispered “I’m ready” three times. As soon as she did so, a host of new noises came. Frightening noises: moans and cackles, squelches and shrieks. They were accompanied with sensations as well; as if there were a host of malevolent eyes on the back of her neck, and something was breathing heavily just behind her. But the girl was prepared for this. She did not turn around.
At this stage, the girl had merely gotten a demon’s attention. There was still more to be done before The Game could be played. “Stand back,” she whispered. Immediately, the noises died down. There was silence in the church once again. However, she could still feel that evil gaze burning into her neck. She ignored this and continued.
Her next step was to invite the demon into her circle. Be very, very careful with this step. If you invite the demon past the circle and into your world, the demon will appear to leave. There will be no more noises or unseen eyes. After a while, you will invariably look around to see what is happening. That is when you will be dealt with in any manner the demon sees fit. There is no way to avoid this fate if you invite the demon outside the circle. Calmly the girl addressed the demon: “You may come into my salt circle,” she said. Note that her wording left no room for interpretation. The Game was ready to be played.
“Who are you?” The girl asked. It’s a good idea to start the game first. Asking any basic question will do.
“I am your final executioner,” the demon replied. Demons often enjoy a bit of melodrama. This doesn’t mean their words don’t hold true, however.
“Do you want to play?” The girl asked. The demon nodded once. It’s now that I should tell you about the appearance of demons. If you’re expecting some disgusting creature, you may be correct. It all depends on which demon you summon. Some may look like attractive young models and others may exemplify the term “hell beast.” In the girl’s case, an impossibly tall and thin creature sat in her circle. It had pale skin and enormous eyes. Its mouth stretched from ear to ear, grinning with red-stained fangs.
“What is your name?” The demon asked. The girl didn’t fall for it.
“I’m Peaches,” she lied. It was her turn. “What is the time?” She asked.
“It is half past two,” the demon replied. This was a lie, the girl knew. She had arrived at the church at 1 o’ clock in the morning and it hadn’t been more than twenty minutes. This is the foremost rule of The Game. The demon will lie to you. However, it may only lie three times. It’s up to you to figure out which responses are lies, and they won’t always be so easy to determine.
The Game is a matter of call and response. You ask the demon a question, and it asks you one in return. This will go on for exactly half an hour. After this time has elapsed, the demon will leave. You just have to last that long.
“Are you doing well in school?” The demon asked the girl innocently.
“Yes,” the girl replied, but the truth of the matter that she was lying to herself. She was struggling in school, but her ego kept her from saying so. You may lie to a demon, but there are consequences.
The girl was able to lie about her name because she was expected to. The demon didn’t actually believe she would be foolish enough to give the information up. He was simply testing the waters. But this lie was different. Lying during The Game allows the demon to do the same. Now, the demon had four chances to tell a mistruth.
“Does anybody love me?” The girl asked. The demon looked at her with those massive, malevolent eyes.
“No.” It said simply. This was surely a lie, the girl thought. Her parents loved her, at the very least. She paused in her thoughts. Or did they? You see, this is exactly what a demon will do to you. It will mess with your mind in ways that you have no defense against. The girl shook this answer off. It was the demon’s turn.
“Would you do something for me?” it asked. The girl had a moment of hesitation. She didn’t want to risk anything, but she also hasn’t gotten all the information she wanted.
“Yes,” she said quickly, confident she could counter any trick the demon played on her. It was a rather foolish mistake. The demon stood, rising to a terrifying height of nine feet. It leered down at the girl.
“Your turn,” the demon said, smiling wider than the girl would have guessed possible.
“How do achieve success in life?” The girl had nothing to toy with anymore; she desperately got to the point. The demon answered truthfully. He told her exact steps to on how to climb ladder of success in her life and thrive. But at this point, he was just playing with her. He had complete control.
“Come here,” the demon told the girl. The girl began to scoff. How ridiculous to think she’d actually break her guard and step inside the circle. But she stood against her will. Her heart dropped to her toes as she stepped towards the salt circle. The demon smiled. No amount of vinegar or iron could have prevented what happened to the girl next. For your sake, I won’t get into it. All you have to know is it was quite horrible.
The girl had given the demon power over her: the one thing you must never do. She had said she would grant the demon a favor, and he had capitalized on her offer. He had asked her to come into the circle. She had no choice but to obey.
Let’s learn from this girl’s mistakes, shall we? Never give a demon an advantage, and always choose your words very carefully. Be honest with yourself, even if it hurts you to do so. The demon seeks to harm you, and if that’s the worst it can do then you have played The Game correctly.

It is now that I have a little task for you, my reader. At this point you should have a basic grasp on the supernatural world and how to deal with its infinite dangers. Would you like to put your skills to the test?
Find a mirror. It could be large or small, round or square. It does not matter. Wait till the deepest hours of the night. Go out to a quiet place with the mirror. Let yourself be surrounded by the darkness. Observe the shadows reaching slowly towards you. Do not dare to be afraid.
I want you to place the mirror on the ground, so that it reflects the moon or stars. If the moon or stars aren’t showing, then just reflect the sky. Look into the reflection deeply. Soon you’ll notice something… off about the image. You’re looking at another world. Don’t touch the mirror. Whatever you do, do not touch the mirror.
The image will have a sort of shimmer to it, an unnatural gleam. While this is apparent, you must remain still. Eventually, the mirror will return to normal. It’ll clearly reflect the sky again. Once this happens, bury the mirror. After it is underground, say these words: “You may open the door.” Then go home, your task is done. It’s time for the next lesson.

Despite the title of this lesson, demons are not dogs. Although they may appear as dogs. Hairless, skinless, grinning dogs that eye you with the intensity of, well, a hungry wolf. But that’s beside the point. The Game won’t always give you what you want. Sometimes the demon simply won’t know the answer to the question you want answered.
If you want a different type of knowledge (something that’s currently happening, for example), you’ll want to use the “Go and Fetch” clause. This is quite literally a command you give that lets the demon venture out into the world and find what you’re looking for. What can go wrong?
A “Go and Fetch” clause has three parts: the instruction, the binding, and the sending. Each is as important as the other.

Instruction- Here is where you tell your furry demon friend what it has to do. I’m warning you now, prepare your speech beforehand. If you leave any loophole, it will be pounced on. Don’t make stupid mistakes.
An example is in order here. If you tell a demon to “go tell me what my friend is doing” you have just made a very large mistake. Why? You were so ambiguous that the demon can leave its circle, hang you by your ankles, grab an ice cream, and then spy on your friend. Then, it will return and tell you what your friend is doing while licking its chocolate cone. You will then be disposed of gruesomely.
Be sure to outline every step of the demon’s journey into the world, lest it strays and ends up possessing some poor child –unless, of course, that’s your goal. But that’s for another lesson.
Binding- This is the step in which you bind the demon to your instruction. This is very simple: use your voice. Act quickly, as the longer the demon is in the world, the less power your voice has.
You could make yourself look like an idiot and babble in Latin or something, but any language works fine. Chances are the demon’s knowledge of ancient language is a bit rusty, and it will appreciate you using a more up-to-date tongue. Binding can be as simple as “follow my instructions to the letter,” but it depends on your instructions. Once again, don’t leave a loophole.
Sending- Time to say au revoir to your temporary servant and pray that you didn’t mess anything up. You won’t know if you did, of course. Enjoy the wait.

I now recall a rather memorable use of the “Go and Fetch” clause. This happened a while ago, perhaps a couple hundred years or so. But that’s not important…
Somewhere in the world, in a dark and dreary city lived a man. He, like most humans, had a rather dismal life. He was full of hatred, anger, and frustration. Such a mix of emotions made for a volatile cocktail. You see, his wife had ran off with another man, leaving him alone and desperate. One night, he had had enough.
He packed his bag full of the necessary safeguards and found an old crypt to practice in. It was a most atmospheric choice of location. He laid out the salt, candles, and mistletoe. He grabbed his item of power tightly.
“I’m ready,” he whispered, closing his eyes. A dead breeze crept into the crypt.
“I’m ready,” he repeated. The breeze swirled into a tugging, hot wind that reminded the man of the breath of some great beast. He took a breath and completed the calling: “I’m ready.”
The man waited a few seconds before opening his eyes. In the circle stood a demon. It wasn’t vile or terrifying, no. It took the appearance of a handsome young man. Demons will often pull tricks like this, you see. They try to gain your trust by appearing friendly or attractive.
The man ran through his clause in his head. He had memorized it to the letter, and spent hours making sure there was no room for error. He began with the instruction. He told the demon exactly what it had to do: find his wife and her new lover and cause them harm in any way the demon saw fit. There was no room for misinterpretation.
And off the demon went, slinking towards its destination. When it was released into the world, it had broken its guise of a handsome man and instead taken the appearance of a hairless dog-like creature that walked on its hind legs. This is where most urban legends about things that go bump in the night come from, you see. Demons out in the world often tend to frighten and kill people whenever they can.
The demon found its prey with an inhuman sense. It stood outside the apartment building in which the doomed man and woman resided. At this time, both were asleep, the demon sensed. It broke the lock easily and slunk into the building. Its enormous feet made no sound on the floorboards as it stepped slowly, slowly towards the stairs. Up it went, its thick gray tongue lolling hungrily.
The bedroom door opened silently, the demon crouched into the bedroom and to the foot of the bed where two still figures lay cocooned in a swathe of blankets. Isn’t it funny how you feel so safe when you’re under your covers?
It crept onto the bed, leaning its head right up to the headboard, so it looked down on the sleeping figures. It waited there, letting its breath cascade down like a smothering cloud of poison. Eventually, the woman opened her eyes. She didn’t react at first, but in a split second, her eyes had adjusted.
The scream –had it been allowed to make it past a horrified squeak– would have woken the block. Instead, the demon bit down on the woman’s throat. The man awoke to the sight, and was similarly dispatched. The demon had done its duty –it returned to the man in the crypt.
“Did you do as I asked?” The man queried.
“Yes,” the demon growled. The man, despite everything, felt guilty. He shook this feeling from his mind and dismissed the demon. He did this by saying “return from whence you came.” This is the most common dismissal, and it usually can’t go wrong. This, from start to finish, is an example of a successful “Go and Fetch” interaction. The poor man ended up killing himself out of guilt for what he had done, but he made his choice.

Now that you’ve got this juicy tidbit of knowledge down, it’s time to continue the practice I set out for you after the first lesson. Following your burial of the mirror, a package will appear to you. It won’t come in your mailbox, or be plopped on your doorstep by a bored and careless delivery driver. It’ll be placed somewhere you wouldn’t expect a package to appear. It could be in your bedroom, or your locker at school or work. It may even appear in your morning cereal –I really couldn’t predict the location for you.
Regardless, keep the package safe. Only open it when you know you will be alone. Inside you will find a little pendant – a black stone set into a gold chain. Don’t put it on for goodness’ sake. Take it in your hand, close your eyes, and focus. You’ll feel something like a heartbeat. Don’t panic, just keep focusing. If your mind is clear, you’ll hear a dull roar in your head. Once you hear this, say “find what you seek,” while concentrating on the noise as hard as you can. The roar will fade and the heartbeat will stop. That night, return to where you buried the mirror and dig it up. Place the pendant on the mirror, and then cover it back up. Let’s continue your instruction…

The possibility of having your body occupied by a demon is a very real and horrifying prospect. Don’t you worry; there are ways to avoid it. While very difficult to do, a soul may still be salvaged in certain cases. Nobody just gets up and walks away from a possession, however, so it’s best to avoid the ordeal altogether. But what happens to you when you’re possessed? Well I’m glad you asked.
When a person is possessed, their soul is consumed by a demon. A bit like a worm inside of an apple; except replace the worm with a beast of pure malevolence from Hell, and the apple with your tiny and vulnerable human soul. Have you got the image down?
Being possessed will likely cause you the greatest pain you can ever experience. Imagine your body being taken from you inch by inch in a brutal battle that you have no chance of winning. A foreign spirit will, in layman’s terms, become you. Sounds like a bad day, no?
‘Mr. Madman, how do I avoid this?’ you ask. First rule of thumb is the same as any other area of practicing: don’t be an idiot. No matter how many times I reiterate this, you bunch always find a way to make stupid mistakes. I’m not complaining, though. Some of your fates are often quite amusing.
Use your safeguards wisely; don’t let the demon into your mind (figuratively or literally). This is just what you should be doing normally. A demon will try its very hardest to get inside your defense and either kill you, possess you, or wreak havoc on anything in the vicinity.
Do not have mirrors in the room where you are summoning. Mirrors often act as little doorways to the other world. Demons will often use them to their advantage in a little phenomenon called Philocrate’s Mirror. One minute your reflection will be sitting in its normal setting, depending on where you’re practicing. Suddenly, you’ll find an altogether different world reflected in the mirror. You won’t be able to feel anything except a tiny seedling of agony and fear that will grow and grow the longer you are in this place. Unfortunately, you’re stuck there forever.
If you take your eyes off a demon and look into a mirror, it can quite literally switch places with you. While you’re sent into its dimension, it’s brought out into the real world. Barring the fact you’re in the closest approximation of Hell that exists, you just let a demon loose on the world. Shame on you.
Along with pseudo-possessions such as Philocrate’s Mirror, you can also be possessed completely during a summoning. Most notable examples of this are probably ones you’ve heard of. You know, a group of cultists calling the spirit of an evil entity into some poor girl or something ridiculous of the like. This is most likely a true story. If you were so inclined, you could trap someone in a salt circle and call a demon into their body. Next time someone cuts you in line at the grocery store, you know what to do.
It can also happen accidentally, believe it or not. Ambiguous wording can lead the demon to interpret your question or command as an invitation into your snuggly flesh. I’m afraid you can’t do much to save yourself if you mess up in this manner. Have you ever heard of Jack the Ripper?

A bloodthirsty lunatic? Sure. A master of his craft? Without a doubt. Completely human? Guess again. Jack wasn’t always a crazed psychopath, believe it or not. He was rather normal –that is, until he turned to the supernatural. He practiced here and there as many people did in the Victorian Era. Something about the depressing and dark atmosphere of the entire era gave spurt to a whole host of demonic activity.
One day Jack, as many practitioners are predisposed to do, stuffed up. As you may have guessed, he was possessed. The demon that did it felt like having a little fun, so Jack wasn’t killed on the spot. Instead, the demon went out into the world wearing Jack’s skin while the poor man was in extreme agony, conscious of every movement.
As you may recall, I told you there are worse fates than being killed or dragged to the other world by a demon. Jack’s fate was arguably among those. I want you to imagine having no control over your body as someone else pretended to be you. Jack went home that night and watched as he killed his wife and children. He went out onto the street and began his bloody legend. For your sake, I hope you don’t fall prey to a possession…

Remember that pendant I had you bury? It’s time for some more fun. If you haven’t already, allow twenty-four hours to elapse before digging up the mirror and pendant. Going over this time is fine; just do not uncover them prematurely. The pendant should be gone and there should be a little note in its place. Read it. There will be a location written on it. I can’t tell you what this is because it’ll depend on who and where you are. Go there in the dead of night when you know you won’t be disturbed. Bring something with iron in it; believe me, you’ll want it.
This time, timing does matter. You’ll want to get to the location well before half past two in the morning. I suggest visiting the place beforehand in order to determine how to get in. Unless, of course, you want to risk it and play by ear. Some people live for the thrill; whatever. Just get it done.
No doubt you’ll feel an inkling of apprehension as you enter this mysterious place I’ve brought you to, but don’t worry. Besides, I told you not to show fear, did I not? You’ll just have to trust me. Ooh, I laughed at that one: ‘trust me.’
The next bit is going to require you to understand the first three lessons, namely the “Go and Fetch” clause and how possession works. Now, don’t panic, but I’m about to ask you to summon something. Although, if you’re panicking about a simple summoning at this point, you’re really not cut out for this sort of thing. Don’t feel bad, most people are cowards too.
You don’t need a salt circle for this summoning –you’ll be safe without one. All you need is the note and some iron. Stand as close to the center of your location as possible. Tear the note in half. It doesn’t have to be perfectly in half, if you were wondering. Hell, shred the thing and make confetti. Just destroy the note and make sure you don’t waste any time. You have to get this all done before two-thirty.
Unlike a normal summoning, you aren’t going to say “I’m ready” three times. Instead, I want you to lie down on your back. If your location’s floor is muddy or covered with broken glass, I’m sorry but you’ll just have to be strong. Close your eyes. Relax. You don’t have to do anything now except wait. Don’t fall asleep. You won’t wake up.
Soon, the same dull roar as before will return. You’ll hear it faintly at first, but it’ll get stronger. Just as fast, the noise will stop. At this point, you can sit up and open your eyes. There is now an entity with you. This part varies from person to person. Some people see the entity, some don’t. In any case, it won’t be trying to terrorize you so don’t worry –you’re perfectly safe.
“Did you find what you sought after?” You will ask. The entity will give one of two responses: “yes” or “no.” The voice it uses will most likely unsettle you. It won’t sound human in the least bit (well, what did you expect?). It’ll sound as if some animal is attempting to speak, barely choking the words out. This is good, do not worry.
If you received the negative response, then say “find what you seek” again and allow the entity to leave. Go home and return the following night. Do this until you get an affirmative response.
If you got a “yes” from the demon, then you may proceed. Open your arms as if you’re about to give a big old hug and say “come in.” It’s important to note that you may not like this next part, but it will be fine. Well, how to put this lightly… The entity will go into you. But it won’t hurt, or have any negative side effects whatsoever. In fact, you’ll be in complete control… mostly.
You’ll have control over your body and mind, and the only way you’ll know you’re hosting a demon is by a little urging sensation in your gut. Follow the urge out into the world. Take this time to enjoy yourself. It isn’t every day you get to be a demon’s personal chauffeur. I’m sure you will be rewarded with a very pleasant sense of euphoria. It’s like taking copious amounts of drugs minus the health risks.
Don’t interact with anybody you come across, just let your body do the walking. You will complete a set of simple tasks: delivering a package from one place to another, writing something in strange runes on a wall somewhere, buying a bag of chips at the gas station, whatever the urge tells you to do. When your little adventure is done, you will return to the location and lie down. After a nice second of shut-eye, the entity will be gone. Go home now.

The first three lessons have been mostly concerning human-spirit interactions. This lesson is a little different in the sense that, while you are still summoning a demon, it isn’t going to be doing much interacting. As far as you know, at least.
There are countless stories of various relics and items that apparently exhibit extraordinary powers: charms that bring luck, dice that always land fortunately, teapots that always brew a perfect cup of tea. I’m not saying every old lucky penny off the street is magical (in fact, they can be rather unsanitary– I suggest avoiding picking them up), but it is possible to imbue an item with a demon’s soul.
To carry out such an imbuing is a particularly tricky task. It, as most supernatural affairs, tends to be dangerous. You will need a few things beforehand.

The usual summoning safeguards- Self explanatory. Refer back to Lesson One for a refresher.
Your item- This can be almost anything you can think of. There is a sort of tradition surrounding what you can enchant with supernatural power. For example: the amulet I had you meddle with. Just try not to do something stupid, like shove a demon into a used sock. It’s rude.
A release- This is a piece of paper with a written dismissal on it. To release a demon from an item, you destroy the release.

The process for an enchantment summoning is a little different than usual. Begin with the usual sacred location, at the usual ungodly hour of the night. Create your salt circle and lay out the candles and other items. Place the item you want to imbue in the center of the circle. If you haven’t already, create your release. Write the words “go back to where you belong” on a piece of paper and keep it handy.
Let me interject here to crush your dreams. You can’t control an imbuing –you don’t know what exactly your item will do. There are as many stories of cursed items as there are about lucky ones. But there is a glimmer of hope. There is a higher chance of a good enchantment if you are careful about your summoning. If you’re crazy enough to do this sort of thing, then you may as well do it right.
With your setup complete, it’s time to begin. Focus on the item in your salt circle. Attempt to clear your mind of anything else. Call the demon into the circle, but this time don’t use the usual “I’m ready” method. The demons that can be used in an imbuing are of a particular sort. The sort you really do not want to meddle with.
Close your eyes and wipe every trace of fear from your mind. Ask if there is anybody listening. More likely than not, you will get a response. This could be a breeze or a noise –whispering or something. If you don’t get any response, repeat the question or leave and try again another time. If you get a response, ask the entity to enter the item in the circle. Here comes the tricky part.
You will have to convince the demon to get into your item. This isn’t dissimilar to “The Game” in that you will barter back and forth with the demon. It will ask you why you want it to go into the object, and you must give it a good reply. Demons will often willingly place themselves in items for the sole purpose of causing mischief, so it usually isn’t hard to get one to agree. This in itself should be a solemn warning to you.
It’s impossible to give you a walkthrough of exactly what to say, as it isn’t a ritual. You must be ready to think on your toes and not do something of utmost stupidity, like possess yourself. Believe me, I’ve seen this done. But, as I said, imbuing is extremely dangerous. Allow me to tell you a story about enchantment and what happens thereafter.

There is a little house in a quaint town somewhere. A more peaceful and pleasant place you’d be hard pressed to find. The people are friendly, the birds love to sing. As in all things, you should never judge a book by its cover.
Long ago in the town’s ancient history, someone desired a prize that was beyond this world. They wanted an object that would bring good luck and health to the people. You see, they weren’t doing too well. A new sickness had come and already many families were caring for bedridden loved ones. The fields grew sallow and overgrown with a lack of care. A quiet, sickly pallor lay over the entire place.
An individual –a young man– decided he had to take matters into his own hands. His mother and sister were growing weaker by the day with the illness, and he couldn’t stand seeing his town decay. He delved into the religious texts stored in the church, and, when he found nothing that could help, he searched deeper. In the church cellar was an altogether different collection of literature. Texts depicting the supernatural world and how to handle the entities found wherein (although I can guarantee that they were nowhere near as interesting as this guide).
The youth found a possible solution in one of these texts: enchantment. With fervor, he collected as many books as he could and brought them home. There, he spent long nights poring over the words under a sputtering candle. Coughs and moans from his mother and sister permeated his concentration. This spurred his determination.
He soon had accrued the knowledge he needed to enchant an item with a so-called “healing power” that the texts had promised. One night, when the moon was new and a thick fog lay over the land, the young man went out into the woods until he found a forlorn clearing. He laid out his circle and placed a gilded candlestick from the church in the center. He prayed for a quick second before proceeding.
“Are you listening to me?” The youth asked. An unnatural giggle sounded from the woods behind him. An icy grip clutched his heart, but memories of his ailing family gave him new strength. “Come into the candlestick,” the youth said loudly.
“Why?” The demon replied in an insane approximation of a little girl’s voice. It remained unseen.
“I am summoning you, I am your master. You will do as I say,” the youth attempted a tone of authority. The demon giggled again, sending shivers down the young man’s spine.
“Your candlestick is awfully shiny. Did you steal it?” The boy blanched. Honestly, he had stolen it. But he knew it was for a good cause. He did not back down.
“Come into the candlestick,” he repeated. “Do you not want to? Look how pretty it is.” The boy dared not move. There was a moment of silence, and then a chill breeze swept past the boy and into the circle. The candlestick rattled with a faint giggle. The air was still once more.
Keen readers will note that the youth was missing something. Would you like to guess? No? Oh, alright. He didn’t make a release. There was no way to release the demon, and I’m fairly sure the demon knew it. Why else would it comply so quickly?
The young man dared not dwell on what he had just done. He brought the candlestick home and set it in the bedroom where his sister and mother lay. There was nothing more to be done, so he waited.
Days passed before the candlestick showed any sign of power. In a moment of desperation, the boy had thrust the gilded item into the clammy hands of his mother. Immediately, her breathing eased and a rush of color returned to his face. Ecstatic, he did the same with his sister with similar results. He couldn’t believe it: he had saved his town.
Without hesitation the young man went from house to house, healing the townspeople. Cries of joy rang out, banishing the evil atmosphere that had plagued the air. Cries of “healer!” and “bless you!” followed the boy as he touched each sick person with the candlestick. Soon, he was stopped. The town reverend apprehended the boy in disbelief.
“How are you doing this?” he asked. The boy raised the candlestick in joy.
“God’s will saved us!” The reverend, who had tried everything in his power to aid his town, was skeptical. How could this boy brandish a metal ornament and claim a miracle? But the reverend soon forgot about it. God worked in mysterious ways, and besides, the people were indeed saved.
A year passed and the town flourished. The fields were brought back to their usual healthy productivity and all was well. The candlestick had been set in the young man’s home, and people often stopped by to give thanks and pray over it. And then things went wrong.
There was barely any change at first. The sun seemed to dim one day, and clouds hung over the sky menacingly. However, it was mid-autumn, so this wasn’t anything unusual. Then the flowers began to die. Every flower in the town wilted overnight. The crops followed soon after. Children began to go missing a few days later, and a figure was seen skipping through the trees bordering the town. Upon closer inspection, the figure turned out to be a little girl. Her laugh haunted the village at night.
Immediately, the young man knew what was happening. The demon in the candlestick was haunting his town. He tried desperately to reverse the enchantment, but he couldn’t. Eventually, the missing children were found in the woods. They were malnourished and terrified, but relatively unharmed. As they were led back to the town, the demon’s giggle bounced among the trees.
To this day, the demon haunts the town. It is permanently bound to the little gilded candlestick in the little house. The people of the town attempt to hide their dark secret under a façade of happiness, but every night the giggle comes. Sometimes, children go missing. Sometimes, they are found again. Often, they vanish forever. But the important thing is that the boy cured the sickness… right?

These four lessons are the very basics of what you can do with entities from another world. I hope you read the stories tied to each one carefully, and learned what you could from them. Now I’m going to ask you to continue the tasks you have been doing in between each lesson.
The next step after your little possession will come to you. It may take as little as a day or it may take a few weeks. However long, you’ll know when to proceed. The urge will return to you, and when it does you’ll follow it. I do hope it’s sometime convenient.
You’ll return to the location that was written in the note and sit down. Your eyes will close and you’ll fall asleep. When you wake up, you won’t be in the same place. In fact, you won’t even be in your world. Think of it as a field-trip.
Look around you, take it in. You’re not in danger yet, so do take a good look. It’s not every day that you get to be in between worlds. The imagery around you may be unsettling. All around you will be an interminable field of what can best be described as shadows. They will meld and shift and flash with a myriad of dull colors.
Eventually a figure will appear. It will appraise you, but you won’t be able to make out its features, no matter how hard you try. This is the entity you’ve been communicating with throughout your instruction. It will greet you.
“Hello,” it will say, addressing you by name in a friendly yet unsettling manner. “I have just a few more tasks for you,” it will continue. “Thank you for helping me so far, you have been simply wonderful.” It will then beckon and walk away. Follow the figure until the world around you calms and brightens into an almost pure-white color.
Soon, you’ll be able to make out shapes that will harden in definition until you will realize that they’re normal objects: houses, trees, rocks, and people. They’ll have a ghostly, translucent quality. A hushed whisper will sound all around you. The figure will lead you through this world until you reach a little old house with an overgrown lawn and an ancient willow tree. You will enter the house and enter a room with a large painting hung on the far wall.
The painting will depict a man sitting in an ornate chair in a well-decorated and comfortable room. The man will be very handsome, with piercing eyes and a devilish grin. The figure will stop and turn to you.
“Touch the painting,” it will tell you. Do so. As your fingers brush the canvas, you will feel yourself waking up. Before you return to consciousness, you will see the figure looking at you with a devilish grin. “Thank you,” I will say, stepping through the painting as you slip away.

Credit: Daniel Zed

The Fairies

April 2, 2016 at 12:00 AM
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I’ve always been fascinated with the unknown, particularly creatures of the unknown. I don’t know when this obsession of mine started. It probably started when I was a young kid and would watch documentary series on aliens, Bigfoot, Yeti, unknown sea monsters, and the like.

My obsession earned me my share of names and bullying in school. Like a good nerd I pushed up my glasses and shook it off and moved onto college where I earned degree in zoology and eventually my masters and PhD. Along the way I had discovered the gym, alcohol, women, contacts, and other things life had to offer. However, my main love was cryptozoology.

I spent two years of my late 20’s running around the world with well known and respected biologists, zoologist, marine biologists looking for new species and studying others that we knew little about. My colleagues and myself found new insects, fish, reptiles, but never anything that would fall under the strange or mythical. I made a name for myself in the science community. People liked to say I could find anything but Bigfoot. I enjoyed my small notoriety.

After those exciting two years I decided I wanted to work somewhere more traditional. While creating footprints around the world was fun, I was tired of never being in one place for more than a few weeks at a time. I also wanted to spend more time trying to research and find these storied monsters than work on someone else’s expedition.

I landed a job at a big state university in Ohio teaching in the biology department. I also started a cryptozoology club, which attracted a large following of students. With permission from the university, I would take students to so-called haunted places, hot spots for unknown creatures, and the like. We would always come up with some crazy disembodied EVP, blurry video, or grainy photo. We never had anything conclusive but it was fun for the students and myself and it got them to think outside of the box and question what we really know about our world. The passion for trying to discover the unknown that I saw in the group’s members is what kept my interest in it strong.

Like I said before, my main love was cryptozoology until one faculty Christmas party. There I met Diane. She was this beautiful brown haired woman about my age who worked in the English department teaching creative writing. I knew I needed to meet this woman. I wasn’t a scrawny nerd from high school anymore. I was in shape, successful in my field, and not too bad looking (at least I told myself that). I used a corny pickup line to introduce myself, she had a cornier comeback, we laughed, talked the entire party, exchanged numbers and the rest is history.

A few months after we started dating, we moved in together. I had never fallen so hard for someone. We shared a lot of common interests but had a lot of differences. I liked the outdoors and she preferred to stay in. I was a busy body and she was more relaxed. We both liked wine and a good book. She was a published writer who wrote these amazing stories about make believe creatures. I read several of her short stories and one of her books which all seemed to be centered on forest fairies and children.

“Diane,” I said closing her latest published book as I was sprawled out on the couch one evening. “Have I told you that you are an excellent writer?”

Diane was in the kitchen making her famous chicken alfredo. “Yes, but you can tell me again if you like,” she playfully responded.

“Can I ask you a question? Where do you get your inspiration for these stories?”

She walked out of the kitchen wiping her hands on a dishcloth. “I get them from the stories my grandmother told me when I visited her in Canada when I was young.”

I sat up on the couch and she gracefully took a seat next to me. “Tell me more, please,” I asked inquisitively.

“When I was young,” Diane began with a look of remembrance on her face, “we would visit my grandmother every summer in Alberta. She lived in a town called New Village. There weren’t many people there. It was a beautiful town shadowed by snowcapped peaks. There was a great big pine forest that lay between the town and the closest mountain. It was probably a few hundred acres or so. At the base of the mountain was this crystal clear lake that was full of fish and that emptied into a small river. All the kids in town would play in the forest, lake, and river but were strictly forbidden from staying out past sundown. This was enforced harshly by the towns people including my grandmother.” Diane paused for a moment.

“Go on,” I urged her with a smile.

“So, my grandmother would tell me about the fairies in the forest and how they liked to play tricks on people. If I disobeyed my elders they would take me away forever. Those stories always freaked me out. My parents didn’t like her telling me those stories but they agreed that I should listen to my grandmother and be inside before dark. The stories didn’t bother me too much until one of the young boys I played with each summer went missing in the woods. He ran away one night into the forest after a fight with his father. They never found him and the town’s people didn’t bother looking for him till after sunrise. I just can’t believe the people wouldn’t go looking for a boy in the forest until it was sun up unless they all truly believed in the fairies. The fairies in my books are mischievous but much nicer than the ones in my grandmother’s stories. They never take people away.”

Diane’s face was now a half smile. “Kind of your thing isn’t it?”

“What do you mean?” I looked at her slightly confused.

“You know… Imaginary creatures that live in the woods.” She looked at me with a smartass grin.

“Well, I’ve heard and read up on fairy folklore but it’s not something that many cryptozoologists spend a vast amount of time on. However, I’ve never heard of a town afraid of fairies, especially from a first hand account. It would be interesting to investigate something like that.”

Diane smiled a mischievous smile that stretched from ear to ear. “Good. My parents want to meet you and I want you to meet them. My grandmother passed away when I was young and my parents inherited the house. They retired there a few years ago. You can come with me this summer when I visit them and solve the town’s fairy problem.” By this point she was standing over me, giving me the puppy eyes to agree.

Just like that, our summer plans were made and in early June I found myself on a plane from Ohio to Alberta with Diane and a bag full of some of my recording equipment I took on my excursions with my student group. Once there we picked up a rental car and drove what felt like hours into the forest covered mountains. At one point we left the winding highway to exit onto an even more treacherous two-lane mountain road. 15 min from the highway we arrived at what looked like a ghost town. There were several small shops that were closed and what looked like an unfinished hotel from the 60s.

“This place has become a ghost town since I was a girl,” Diane said as we drove past the abandoned buildings.

A few short minutes later we pulled into her parent’s driveway. Her parent’s house sat on a short dead end road of a few dozen houses. Behind her house lay the thick pine forest she had mentioned to me. In the distant background loomed a majestic snow capped mountaintop.

Her parents greeted us with smiles at the door. Diane excitedly hugged her mother and father. I, trying to hide my nerves meeting my girlfriend’s parents for the first time, quickly shook their hands and introduced myself as John, the guy that was here to fix their fairy problem. They both smiled and paused before saying through their teeth, “The fair problem is under control. Come in dinner is about ready.”

My nervous attempt to be funny appeared to have become a strikeout. Dinner went well and we talked about our trip up and what I did at the university. With our bellies full, Diane’s father invited me on out to the back porch for a beer.

“So you teach cryptozoology at the university?” Diane’s father asked before taking a big swig of beer from his bottle.

“No, I teach animal behavior and social interaction. I would like to teach cryptozoology at some point but I need to have the class curriculum written and approved before I can.” I slouched in my porch chair and began to enjoy my beer.

“I suppose Diane has told you a bunch of crazy stories about fairies in our woods?” I looked at him and gave a small nod as I took another sip from my bottle. “They’re all true. Sounds stupid crazy but their all true. My wife told me those stories too and I wouldn’t have believed them if I hadn’t seen some crazy stuff or experience our neighbors niece disappear one night two summers ago in that pine forest.” He pointed towards the wood line just off his back yard while taking another swig from his bottle.

“We’ve had a drought the last few years and the pines are all dried up and getting brown. The forest used to be dark and green. Now it’s just a sad brownish color.” Diane’s father finished his beer and looked up at the sky. The pines were brown and looked all dried out, even in the setting sun. The air wasn’t filled with that typical pine wood smell. In fact the air was cool and stale.

“You want to see a magic trick?” He asked me excitedly.

“Uh… sure,” I said half expecting him to pull a coin out from behind my ear.

“Watch the back gate. The sun sets at about 9pm today. About that time the latch will pop up and it’ll swing open. No hands,” he said waving his in the air.

Diane’s parent’s yard was fenced in with a single back gate, which lead directly into the forest. Some of the forest pines’ branches hung just over the gate. I wasn’t quite sure how to take Diane’s father’s statement. So I waited. The sun slowly crept behind the mountains and the clock reached 9pm.

I finished my beer as we quietly sat on the back porch. As I was about to get up and tell Diane’s father that this was the longest trick I’d ever waited for, the sound of scraping against the opposite side of the fence caught my ear.

It started at the back corner of the fence. It sounded like a child was dragging a stick across its pickets as they walked by. The sound accelerated towards the gate. I was laser focused on the gate, paying no attention to Diane and her mother who had walked out on the deck with us. “Ching” went the gate latch and the gate swung open slowly as if pushed softly by an invisible force.

“No way,” I muttered to myself as I slowly began to walk off the deck towards the back gate. A strong forceful grip pulled me back up on the deck. My head snapped around to see Diane’s father gripping my arm with force.

“Don’t go over there,” he said in with a stern voice and look.
“Robert, let him go,” Diane’s mother chimed in. “John, stay here. Do not go anywhere near the woods or the wood line after the sun has set.”

“Mom… dad… stop.” Diane strongly pulled me away from her parents. “You’re embarrassing me.” She turned to me and said, “I’ll take you into the woods tomorrow. It’s fine. You’ll see. Come inside.” She turned and graciously stormed back into the house.

Feeling awkward, I pretended to take one last drink of my beer and began to follow Diane.

“You can go into the woods all you want during the day, but as soon as the sun sets you must be out,” Robert said cutting me off before I could walk inside. I stopped and looked at him. His face showed genuine concern. I glanced back at Diane’s mother. Her face had the same expression.

“Diane really likes you, John,” her mother started. “We would prefer if you left with her when your visit here is done. Explore all you want but please listen to us about the woods.”

“Yes, please listen to Mary and me,” Robert said almost pleading.

I looked down. “I understand. I’ll make sure to heed your warning. I brought some research equipment with me. Is it ok if I place a camera on the fence to capture this tomorrow?”

“That’d be fine,” Robert said. “Just do it early when it’s still light.”

I agreed and with that I went inside feeling a bit confused at Diane’s parents insistence on staying away from the woods after dark.

Diane and I got ready for bed that night and as I laid in bed with her head on my chest I tired to piece together if her family really believed in “fairies” and if their facial concern earlier was genuine.

“Your family really believes in the fairies don’t they?” I asked Diane.

She rolled over and picked up her head to face me. “It’s embarrassing. Not the fact that they believe in that stuff but that they are so adamant that the woods are a bad place. If I had been rebellious as a kid I would have run off into the woods many times. They are beginning to act like my grandmother when I was a child. I don’t’ know how my dad does that gate trick but it’s getting old. He pulled it on me two years ago and insists it’s not him.”

Diane was getting more annoyed the more she talked. “I’ll take you into the woods tomorrow. You’ll see. I used to play there as a child. There is nothing wrong with it.”

I pulled her in tight to my body and kissed her good night softly. “Ok, we’ll go have an adventure tomorrow,” I said before dozing off.

The next morning Diane took me into the pine forest after breakfast. She showed me all the things she could remember from her childhood. She showed me her favorite trails, which had become slightly overgrown. She showed me her favorite spot on the river and her favorite shore of the lake. The lakeshore was littered with dead fish here and there but strangely no rotting fish smell.

“It’s a shame that they died. I remember the lake being healthy when I was young. We used to fish here as kids,” she explained to me as we navigated the shores.

On the lakeshore was an old foundation to a building that never started. Diane said that it was supposed to be a lodge for visitors to the lake in the 60s but it was never finished. The crumbling foundation was covered in moss and looked more like a pathetic version of Stonehenge more than anything else.

It was about noon and we agreed to head back through the woods to get some lunch at her parent’s house. As we walked hand in hand through the woods on trails that I was surprised she could still navigate from her childhood memories. I noticed that almost all of the pines were brown or brownish green. Their trunks were rather large, swollen even, as if stuffed with something, and most of the underbrush was dead or looked like it was dying.

Diane mentioned that there had been little rain during the summer and spring of the last few years. I thought it strange that the forest would be dried out but the river and lake didn’t seem to be at low levels.

At lunch, Robert brought the topic of cryptozoology and my interests in what they felt were fairies in the forest.

“You should talk to Daniel Whitefeather. He’s a detective with the county and lives a few houses down. He’s also the last of tribe that once lived here. He’s sort of an amateur historian for the area and has plenty of stories to tell about the fairies in the woods. I’ll give him a call and tell him you’re coming over.” Robert gave me his address and at the encouragement of Diane I ventured to his house that afternoon as Diane and her mother had planned to do some shopping in the next town over.

I knocked on Daniel’s door, unsure if he would be home or not. The lock unlatched and the door slowly opened to an older man with a weather beaten face.

“Are you Daniel?” I asked reaching out my hand for a handshake. “My name is Johh, and…”

“You want to know about the woods, correct?” He said cutting me off. “Robert called and told me about you. Come in, please. I’ve got a few hours before I need to head to work to cover a night shift.”

I entered his house. It was large and filled with mounted animals, fish, and a variety of what appeared to be Native American memorabilia. He led me to his living room and motioned for me to sit. His living room walled on all sides by filing cabinets and bookshelves. There was no TV and a thick layer of dust caked most flat surfaces.

“So what can I tell you,” Daniel stated slowly taking a seat in the chair across from me.

“Well, whatever you know about the forest or the supposed creatures in the forest,” I started. “I study unknown creatures, mythological creatures, or whatever you want to call them and I’m familiar with fairies in folklore but I’ve never encountered an entire town that seemed to fear these creatures like they supposedly do here.”

Daniel sat back for a moment and look up at the ceiling as if to pull his thoughts down through the tile.

“My tribe, or rather my ancestors, was the first to settle this area. As the oral tradition goes, we were once a large and proud tribe that numbered greatly in Alberta long before the white settlers came. A harsh run of winters and warring with other tribes cut our numbers down and our enemies pushed us out of our original land. We wandered until we found this place. Cold, starved, and desperate for shelter we felt blessed to have come across a place with good hunting, the mountains to shelter us, and a river and lake to supply us with fresh water.”

I looked at him eagerly as he took a small break to remember his words. He sat up and leaned forward in his chair.

“The story goes that when we found this land, we were forbidden to enter the forest by the some strange creatures that lived there. My people would call them the forest walkers. They said they were guardians of the pine forest here. The chief seeing his people starving and without a place to live struck a deal with the forest walkers. We could hunt, fish, live here, and they would protect us as long as once every moon cycle, we agreed to give them one of our own.”

“Wait,” I interrupted. “So… like a sacrifice?”

“Yes,” Daniel continued. “Each full moon we would send one chose person by lot into the forest. Their screams would fill the night sky. It was a horrible thing but for us to survive the chief made the deal and we kept to it. Many years would pass as we sacrificed one after another of our own. Our numbers would slowly decrease over time but those who remained were always safe, had food to hunt, and freshwater to drink.”

Daniel got up from his seat and walked over to his bookshelf and pulled out a leather bound book whose page edges were yellowed from age. He plopped the book down in front of me on the coffee table between us. The book landed with a thud and a dust cloud filled the air.

“Sorry. I’ve been busy and haven’t had much time to clean,” Daniel stated fighting back a cough and swatting the air to clear it.

“It’s no problem,” I calmly replied as I sat back trying to avoid the allergen heavy mushroom cloud. “But how does what appears to be an Indian legend turn into a town of people fearing the woods?”

“That book,” he stated pointing at it, “Contains all of the stories about the forest walkers that have been passed down from generation to generation in my tribe. I started writing them down when I was young. I got them from the elders, my relatives, and many others before they all passed. I’m the last one and I figured someone should document this so others can know what we witnessed.”

Daniel sat back in his chair again now that the dust had settled.

“Everything changed when the white man came into our land. First it was one man. He was an explorer. We did not see him as a threat so we let him pass. However, he found gold in the river. He told others. Soon many others showed up looking for gold in the river. They brought furs, meats, beads, and guns. They were willing to trade for small pieces of land so that they could live here while they prospected. We agreed. The prospectors were supplying us with new things and we were trading small parcels of land for them. The white people cut down trees to make the clearing in which out town sits now. They built houses. They hunted and fished. We no longer sent one of our own into the forest every full moon.”

“So the sacrifices stopped because you were getting what you needed from settlers?” I questioned. “What about your deal with the creatures?”

“We lived peacefully along side the white man,” Daniel started again. “The forest walkers were angry that we had broken our deal. They would watch us from the tree line in the shadows. Their anger could be felt. One night several prospectors who were fishing the lake came home through the forest late. The walkers took one of them violently in front of the others. Their screams filled the night air. The survivors fled and never returned. They left their belongings and even their gold because they were so scared. Soon people who were in the woods past dark began to disappear. No trace could be found.”

Daniel sat up and took a deep breath. “When people started to avoid the woods after dark they started to trick people into coming into the woods. They would mimic the cries of children or loved ones during the night. Anyone who ran into the woods to save them would be taken. They took three mothers of our tribe once because the walkers cried like babies on the forest line. The women ran to save the “babies” only to be taken away. They only took one person at a time but they started taking them more often as revenge.”

“So they can mimic sounds or voices?” I questioned a bit confused.

“Yes,” he began while rubbing the side of his head. “They can take anyone’s voice or sound like anything that would entice you to enter the woods. The greed of gold was greater than the danger of being taken and more and more white people showed up until so many had disappeared that the word had gotten out that this land was cursed. Many people left but those who were widows with small children stayed. Everyone who lives here now is a relative of someone taken. My tribe helped them and welcomed them to stay here. It became forbidden to enter the forest at night.”

“So why are there people still living here?” I questioned. “Why not pack up a leaved this place if it cursed?”

“My people made a pact with those who were left from the prospecting rush. We agreed to guard this place and keep people from the evil here. We would tell no one about this place. We had made a deal and broken it. We had put others in danger. However, no matter what we did or said the word always made it out about the fishing and hunting or the gold in the river. People would come and disappear. Together we would warn them but they would disappear in the woods after dark. Once in the 60s a group found out about the fishing and tried to build a lodge on the lakeshore. They are all gone. We tried to warn them but they called us insane. It is only recently that this town and forest have gone unnoticed by the outside. There have only be a few disappearances in the last 10 years.”

“I’ve seen the foundation.” I sat up in the chair as I was drawn into his stories more and more.

Daniel got up and walked over to one of his filing cabinets. He pulled open the top drawer creating another small dust cloud. He reached inside and pulled out a black binder that was stuffed full of paper work.

“Here,” he said motioning for me to take the binder.

“What is this?” I questioned taking the heavy binder from him.
“It is all the open missing persons cases that I am in charge of. They are all from here.”

“That’s crazy,” I said as I opened the binder. “There must be hundreds of cases in here.”

“Some people say I am a shit detective. I know what happened to those people but it’s not something you can put on an official report and still keep your job. If you look at the reports they all have the same pattern. These people were all last seen before dark in the forest.”

I ended my conversation with Daniel, as he was about to get ready for work. He was working a missing person case from two towns over. He let me borrow the case binder and the book of his tribe’s stories.

That evening I set up a small camera and microphone on the opposite side of the fence in Diane’s parent’s backyard. If I could get something on tape I might understand better what I was dealing with. I paired it with my laptop, set it to record, and left the laptop in the bedroom while I got ready for dinner.

While sitting on the back deck after dinner I eagerly read through the stories of his ancestors. The only interruption was the sound of a stick being drug across the fence and the pop of the fence latch coupled with the Robert’s voice repeating “Right on time,” as the sun set behind the mountain. I had forgotten about my camera at this point.

That night I excitedly discussed with Diane what I had discovered during the afternoon.

“You should interview the neighbors. Most of them are older and are retired so they’ll be home.”

“I think I’ll do that tomorrow,” I said excitedly. The idea of having discovered a legitimate cryptozoology find that I could present to the community raced through my mind like a blazing wildfire.

“Only if you take me to a fancy breakfast in the morning,” Diane said with a devilish smile. “Mother and I are going to go pick blue berries tomorrow evening to make pie. It’s her specialty and I think you’ll like it.”

“Deal.” I went to shut off the lights and realized my camera was still recording through my laptop. “Diane, let’s see if my camera caught what popped open your back gate!”

Diane slid across the bed as I swiped my fingers across the track pad to remove the screen saver. The camera screen popped up and the camera looked like it was facing up at a window on a house rather than down the fencerow.

“That’s our bedroom window,” Diane said quietly. I stood up and walked over to the window. I could see the power light on my camera looking back at me. Something had moved it. No one had touched it since I set it up that I could recall.

I hopped back onto my laptop and rewound the captured footage. At 8:57pm the camera started to wiggle and then it violently drops at an awkward angle to the ground just as the fence is starting to be scraped. We watched and listened as the gate latched unlocked and the gate swung open. What ever did it was just off camera.

“Did you hear that?” I asked intensely.

“What?” Diane replied.

I bumped the audio level up and skipped back on the video. In a hissing tone the words “No. See. Yet.” sounded. It was quiet but clear.

“What was that?” Diane asked with a quiet shocked tone.

I fast-forwarded through the footage until I saw the camera start to move. From there and unseen figure picked up the camera and put it on the post where it was now facing our bedroom window. Our bedroom light came on and in the background of the footage you could hear a faint giggle like a small child would make.

“John, that’s creeping me out.” Diane reached across my lap and shut my laptop.
“Turn out the light, we’re going to bed.” She rolled over into bed and pulled the covers over her body. I shut the light off and followed.

The next day after taking Diane to breakfast in the next town over I went door to door asking people what they knew about the forest. Many were hesitant to talk to me until I explained who I was, what I believed, and that I intended to study what was going on. Once that was out of the way, I was warmly welcomed into many of their homes.

The town’s people had a wide array of stories. I wrote down as much as I could in a notebook. Their stories ranged from relatives disappearing to hearing strange voices at night to seeing groups of travelers go missing in one night without a trace. Many were older stories of loved ones who wandered into the forest late or failed to make it out before sun down. Everyone seemed to believe in the creatures that populated the pine forest but no one had ever seen one. One older gentleman mentioned his sister had gone into the forest on an afternoon stroll and never returned. For months afterward he swears he could hear her voice calling every evening to him from the woods but he dare not enter. Eventually the voice stopped.

The rest of the afternoon I dedicated to taking notes on all of the missing persons cases. I only stopped to kiss Diane goodbye as she and her mother left to get blue berries from the forest. She had promised to be home in an hour or two. I was fine with her going since it would be several hours before the sun went down.

“You feel ok going into the woods after the video feed from last night?” I questioned.

Diane shuddered and then sighed. “Nothing bad has ever happened during the day. My mother will be with me. I’m sure it was probably my dad playing a trick on us.”

“Just come home safe to me.”

She smiled and closed the door. I returned to my reading.

Each case had the same set of circumstances. The person was last seen going into the woods before dark or just after dark and not returning once the sun had set. Several of the cases mentioned witnesses hearing strange sounds from the woods. One case in particular mentioned that a county police search group went into the woods after dark. None returned. There was no good explanation of why the people went missing. News clippings placed the blame on people getting lost in the Canadian outback or the possibility of these people running into bears or wolves.

Exhausted after all my note taking I closed the binder full of cases and sat back in my seat in the living room. I breathed deeply and stood up collecting the binder and book that Daniel had let me borrow.

The front door swung open slowly. I looked up hoping to see Diane and her mother but to my surprise Robert walked in.

“Hey… I didn’t even know you were gone,” I said in a tired tone.

“Yea,” Robert started as he took his shoes off at the door, “You were buried so deep in your reading that you didn’t noticed I left for town. Just went out to get some gas for the mower. Yard is getting kind of long and needs to be trimmed.”

“Keep an eye out for Diane and Mary. They went to pick blueberries in the woods and haven’t returned yet.”

“Ok. The girls still have time. Sun won’t set for another 3-3 ½ hours.” I could hear a slight worry in his voice.

I finished gathering my things and walked to Daniel’s house to return his items. When I arrived he was sitting on his front porch, still in his police uniform with a beer.

“John,” he said with a smile holding the beer up in salutation. “I see you’ve come to return my binder and book. Did you find what you needed?”

I handed him the book and binder and took a seat beside him.

“I found a lot of interesting stuff. I interviewed many of the neighbors and I believe everyone feels like there is something in the woods. All the missing cases are similar. All the Indian stories are intriguing but tell me something… Why are there people still living here? I understand your ancestors made a pact but why not just up and leave?”

Daniel put his beer down on the porch and sighed deeply. He raised his hands up and placed them behind his head before sinking back into his chair.

“This will sound stupid but it has been an oral tradition and agreement of all those raised here that we would stay and make sure nothing would be built on this land beyond what has already existed. We didn’t want other folks to suffer what our ancestors have gone through. Everyone here is a relative of a prospector or settler that came here many years ago. Everyone has lost someone to those woods. All those boarded buildings in town belong to someone here. They’ve just agreed to never sell them and let them fall into dust. Most people couldn’t afford to move away anyway. Some of the houses up the street are the same way. Why give something to someone in the horrid place? We grew up here. We know what it’s like to hear the noises in the night and fear for visiting relatives. If the towns people all die off and this place falls off the map, it’d be best for everyone.”

He took another deep breath.

“We are the last of the people who will live here. Diane’s parents were raised here. She wasn’t. When they are gone the house will sit abandon. Just like the rest.”

I sat in silence trying to wrap my head around what Daniel was telling me. Sure none of the houses in the town were extravagant and no particular person seemed to be wealthy, but how could they live in a place that they all seemed to fear?

“What do they look like?” I asked.

“Who?” Daniel replied sitting up a little straighter as if surprised by my question.

“The forest walkers or the fairies or whatever you want to call them. What do they look like? I have no descriptions in any of the text you gave me. The only indication of someone talking to them was your ancestors.” I sat up and looked at Daniel with a stern look.

“Tonight is a full moon. Only a few people have been lost in the woods during the dark in the last ten years. They are angry. You can feel it in the air. I’m going to retire in two years. I spent my life trying to find those missing people. I’ve been in the woods during the day. They are hard to see. They are tall and very skinny. If you look hard you can see their outline among the trees. It’s very hard to make out but there are hundreds of them. They are in the woods now. They won’t move until dark but even now you can look among the tree line and see them standing still.”

Daniel pointed towards the woods that were across the road from his house. I looked hard but could see nothing but pines in the fading light. I thanked him for his time and resources and made my way back to Diane’s parents house in the waning light. The sun had set and a cool breeze blew over the road and into the woods as if the forest itself was inhaling. I walked along the broken sidewalk looking into the dark pines to see if I could catch a glimpse of what Daniel was talking about. The moon was full and extra bright. It almost looked like day out with a slightly bluish tint. There was no noise. No bugs. No birds. Only the breeze and my footsteps filled the night air. I would be home in just another 100 yards or so.

“JOHN!!!!!” A blood-curdling cry sounded from just inside the forest line.

That voice. I knew that voice. It was Diane. The hair on my neck stood straight up. My heart began to pound with a violent fervor. Diane hadn’t come back with her mother when I left. What if she hadn’t made it out of the woods? What if she was hurt? What if she was being taken?

“JOHN!!!!” The scream sounded again. This time it sounded like she was in agonizing pain.

I was in the woods twenty yards deep before I realized what I was doing. My eyes scanned everywhere frantically. “DIANE!” I called out. There was no answer only dead silence. The moon was so bright I could make out almost everything from the light that shown through the pine branches. “DIANE!”

I was breathing through my mouth now. My breaths matched the frantic pace of my heart. I stood there in silence. I looked hard at the dense pine forest in front of me. Movement caught my eye. I wasn’t alone. There was movement everywhere but I couldn’t see exactly what it was. Whatever it was made no noise and it appeared opaque, almost invisible. As if out of nowhere the opaque shapes melded into reality.

They were human height. Their skin was white. They had thin leg, arms, and body structure. Their skin looked dry but ridged like a worms. Their head was large white sideways cones shape with no features only a small black hole in the front.

My muscles tensed as pure fear flowed through me. I couldn’t move. I was awestruck and fear consumed at the same time. Dozens of these things were in front of me. They all looked horribly the same. I wanted to run. I couldn’t. One of them moved slowly towards me. 20ft from me it stopped. It was dead quiet. My heart was pounding so hard I could hear it.

The hole at the front of its head grew larger as if something was pushing out of it. Like the peeling of a sausage casing the skin of this thing pulled back and out of the black appear to be a young woman’s head.

My jaws dropped. I could feel my heart beat in my ears. Her hair was black and greasy looking. Her eyes were black ovals. Her skin was pale. She looked up at me. It felt like an eternity as I looked at this human head upon this monstrosity. Her mouth opened.

“John,” her voiced echoed. But I knew that voice. It was Diane’s. Confusion took over. The woman head on this monster twisted sideways in horrible manner while looking at me with a blank facial expression.

“John… John… John…” Diane’s voice repeated faster and faster. Then an ear shattering maniacal laugh echoed from its mouth. Tear streaked down my face as my lips began to tremble. It stopped. From jaw to forehead the woman’s face split in half opening from side to side as if it had been sliced through revealing a mass of razor sharp teeth and flailing tentacle like tongues.

The creature shrieked. It was so high pitched and growling that it made the forest shake and my ears ring. I fell backwards onto my back with a hard thud and for the first moment since I saw the thing I could move. I began to shuffle frantically backwards kicking my legs to propel me away from this monstrosity. The creature dropped to all fours and began to rush me in the most inhuman way possible. I knew there was no way to get up and out run it in time. It was about to be upon me. I raised my arm to cover my face.

“No!” I shouted as I looked away. Nothing. I felt no pain. No creature landed on me.

“JOHN… MOM… DAD… NOOOOO!!!!” A cry rang out in Diane’s voice but only this time it sounded as if it came from the direction of her home. I immediately stood up trying to comprehend what was happening. The creatures were gone but something in the underbrush moved violently away from me tearing up ground and shaking branches as it went.

“Mary, NO!” Another voice rang out. It was Robert’s. I was still confused and scared but I wasn’t going to stay in those woods any longer. I ran as fast as my legs could carry me to Diane’s parent’s house.

Robert was in the backyards restraining Mary who was sobbing, “Let me go… Let me go…”

“She’s gone. They might take you too,” Robert replied hugging his wife with all his force.

“What happened?” I demanded.

“Oh my God, John,” Robert said as he turn to me in shock. “Diane swore she heard you screaming in the woods and ran in after you. We tried to stop her.”

A scream of pain from Diane rang out in the distance. My fear and adrenaline rush turned to anger. They took the woman I loved. These hideous things took Diane. Without thinking I ran to the garage and scooped up the gas can Robert had filled earlier in the day. I scanned the garage frantically and found a propane torch on a shelf. I quickly made my way to tree line in their back yard.

“Robert, hold this,” I commanded as I shoved the propane lighter into his arms.

I began pouring the gas carelessly on the trees and the brush along the forest line.

“What are you doing?” He asked with a puzzled look on his face still trying to comfort his wife.

I looked him dead in the eye and cold stated, “Give me the torch. If they want to take her, I’m taking the forest from them.”

He reluctantly handed over the torch I had just forced him to hold.

The forest was dry. The breeze was blowing into the forest. I opened the propane valve, lit the torch, and tossed it into the brush. In seconds there was a towering inferno before me. I grabbed Robert and Mary who were in shock at what I had just done and drug them to the front yard. The fire raged quickly and moved faster than anything I’ve ever seen before. Soon the entire town was standing on the road watching the blaze consume the pine forest they had always known. I stood silent among them with rage in my eyes.

Suddenly inhuman screams of horror and pain filled the air. They were piercing like a knife causing many people to hold their ears. The town’s folk held their ears tight to block out the sound. Many ran back to their homes in fear or gripped each other for comfort. The screams roared deafeningly on and on as the fire raged until suddenly as quickly as it started the screams went silent and only the blaze could be heard.

Someone called the fire department, which alerted the forest rangers. There was nothing they could do. The flames spread so fast that the entire forest was burnt to the ground before they could enact a plan. I admitted to starting the fire and was arrested that night by the county police.

I spent three days in jail with little or not human contact. The cops moved about the office in a frantic matter as if they were swamped with more work than they could handle. They ignored me for the better part of my stay there only feeding me and checking in on me before night.

When I awoke in my jail cell the third morning, Daniel was there to greet me.

“Good morning,” I said groggily.

He opened the cell. “You’re free to go, John.”

“What?” I was confused and a little shocked.

“Come with me.” He motioned for me to follow him. I stood up and did as he asked. “They found Diane.”

“Is she ok? Is she hurt? How…?” My heart was over joyed in my confused state.

“She had some burns, cuts, bruises, suffered from some smoke inhalation, and seems to be in shock but she’s alive. Get in the car and I’ll take you to the hospital. I would have told you sooner but I’ve been busy with everything that has been going on.”

“Thank God!” I shouted. “But wait. I’m confused. Why am I going free?”

“Get in the car. I’ll tell you about it on the ride over.”

The car ride to the hospital was about an hour. On our way over Daniel explained that I was the least of the problems the county had to deal with now. None of the houses in the town were damaged. The wind blew the fire in the opposite direction. Search and rescue teams combing the forest at night and early morning found Diane on the lakeshore. She was nude and in shock but alive.

The biggest issue the county had to deal with was the hundreds of skeletons found in the forest. They weren’t scattered about like victims of a forest fire would be. The burnt out pine tree trunks contained dozens of skeletons as if they had been stuffed into the trees. Daniel showed me a picture on his phone that he had taken at one of the scenes. The photo contained a swollen looking tree trunk that was burnt out. Inside the trunk you could clearly see a human skeleton contorted in a horrible fashion with the tree growing around it. What looked like wooden veins of bark fused to the skeleton as if they were growing together. Some of the skeletons had been identified by dental record as people who had gone missing in the woods form the 60’s. Others were determined to be hundreds of years old.

The coroner was now trying to figure out whom the skeletal remains belonged to and how they could have possibly been encased in a tree.

“Most of my missing person cases will probably be closed because of this,” Daniel said breathing a heavy sigh of relief. “I’ve only slept a few hours the past few days because of all the paper work I have to do on my missing persons cases.”

Daniel dropped me off at the hospital and I made my way to Diane’s room. Her parents were there. She was bruised and cut up but alive sitting there in her bed, looking forward, jaw agape, not blinking at all. When I walked in she turned to me slowly, not blinking. When our eyes met she began to sob. I ran to her and embraced her warmly.

“They took me,” she said through heavy sobbing. “They ripped my clothes and tried to put me in there.”

“Where?” I asked fighting off tears of my own while continuing to hug her tightly.

“In the trees… In the trees,” she said through sobs. “They feed the forest with us. The forest was dying and it hungered.”

Not another word was said. I just held her tight till her sobbing stopped.

When Diane was released from the hospital we left for home. Her parents boarded up the house and bought a condo close to where we work. It’s been years since this happened. We don’t talk about it. Her parents don’t talk about it. Yet I’m still obsessed with whatever these things were.

With the forest gone a development company bought all the land that the town sat on cheap and turned it into a housing development. No one has since disappeared to my knowledge in that area. There are some reports that the place is haunted and that at night you can still hear strange voices and screams.

My camera had been recording the night of the fire. I watched the video once before I deleted it. Right before Diane was taken, the latch on the gate was popped by something opaque that my camera couldn’t make out. The camera is then suddenly turned to the forest. My voice… My voice can be heard calling Diane’s name in a scared tone. Diane can be seen running into the forest calling for me. As she disappears beyond what the camera can see there is a voice that giggles like a small child and then states, “We take,” in a raspy high voice. The brush all around moves violently towards where Diane was last seen before you can hear her screams.

I still run my cryptozoology group at the university and have never come across another story of such creatures. As obsessed as I am at trying to figure out what they were, if I ever came across another place that talked about fairies in the woods whom take people, I would probably pass on investigating those stories.

Credit: Tom

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