As a journalist, I get to travel the country a lot. A part of my job includes a column regarding small town myths and legends. It’s not the most factual part of my work, but I still enjoy it.
At least I did until I found a town called Silverwoods. According to my anonymous source, it was a place that hadn’t changed since the late fifties. A remnant of a bygone era, suffering from a horrible curse.
As the myth would have it, nothing there was allowed to die.
Mind you, this was before the time of Google Maps. I had to rely on my source’s instruction when searching for the town. I fully expected it to be a prank, but my job was exactly that: To prove, or disprove information.
I set out on my journey. After a few hours of driving, I pulled onto a well hidden, dirt road. It had been poorly maintained, and it would take me another three hours before I even found a hint of civilization; an old, wooden sign.
“Silverwoods. Turn around now,” it read.
In the distance, I saw what looked like an old farming community. Just a small town with a few buildings that had partially fallen apart, and trucks that had rusted beyond repair.
At a first glance, it looked abandoned. I parked my car on the side of the road, ready to call the myth bullshit. Then I heard someone call out.
“Why did you come here?” a weak voice said.
I turned towards the voice. It belonged to a frail old man, holding himself up with a cane. He was bald, and his teeth had all but fallen out.
“Who are you?” he asked.
Feeling mildly uncomfortable, I introduced myself.
“Why are you here?”
I explained that I had been given directions by an anonymous source, and that I was hunting down myths and legends.
He sighed. “Ignorance is bliss, but since you’re here… I will give you what you came for.”
Only then, did I notice that his leg had broken. He dragged it along as he limped around. The weirdest part was, that his skin was covered in scratches, all looking fresh.
“Are you alright?” I asked nervously.
He ignored the question, and simply gestured for me to follow.
“Are you alone here?”
“No, there are others.”
On the ground, I noticed what I assumed was a dead bird. Its torso had been ripped open, exposing the organs within. It looked like a cat attacked it. Yet, it tried to move around, alive despite its grave injuries.
“The bird, it’s – it’s – “ I tried to get out.
The old man glanced over at it without batting an eye.
“It’s not allowed to die. Nothing here is allowed to die,” he said.
He led me inside an old house. No sooner had I taken a step through the front door, before my nose was assaulted by the stench of rotting flesh.
There were a dozen people, littered around the room in various states of mutilation. Yet, they were all breathing, living with impossible injuries.
The myth had been proven true, but I couldn’t believe it.
“We need to call for help!” I said as I looked at a guy whose hands had no skin left on them.
“It would only make things worse,” the old man said.
I already had my phone out, ready to dial 911. But, out in the middle of nowhere, I didn’t have a single bar of signal to help me.
“Sit down, let’s talk.”
In shock at the sight, I couldn’t find the words to argue.
“You came here to learn the history of Silverwoods, and I’m going to tell you,” he said.
I sat down, and looked at all the suffering people around me. Most of them were too wounded to speak a single word, only letting out groans of agony where they sat. Every single injury looked fresh. It looked like not a single day had passed since acquiring them.
“Since our town was founded in 1911, we’ve been a regular farming community. A small town that hardly ever saw any visitors. Most of us were born and raised here, so on the rare occasion that someone passed through, it was a big deal. A cause for celebration.”
The man took a pause, and glanced at his broken leg.
“Then, in 1956, a man arrived in Silverwoods. With his fancy clothes and expensive car, he starkly contrasted our modest surroundings. He didn’t visit for business, nor did he look to settle down in the region. All he wanted, was to spend a year with us. At the end of his visit, he promised us a gift never to be forgotten.”
As he finished the sentence, I heard faint screams coming from outside. They sounded horribly hoarse, and emitted a clear message of agony.
“The man never said much. He just observed us as we went about our days, never shying away from lending a helping hand. He was polite, helpful, and within a month, we’d already accepted him as a part of the community. Still, he always wore that damn suit, and never seemed affected by anything around him. No matter the situation, he was calm, and looked in pristine shape.”
The screams got louder. Amid them, I could hear faint begs for mercy.
“Then, once his year in Silverwoods had ended, he asked us a simple question.”
“What was it?” I asked.
“Do you want to live forever?”
He paused, and sighed. The screams in the background felt ever more present, as if they knew I was there.
“At first, we laughed at the suggestion. Death wasn’t an enemy, but we didn’t hold it as a friend either. After a lengthy discussion, it all came down to a vote. I guess the outcome is clear…”
I stepped over to the window, and tried to figure out where the screaming was coming from. I wanted to run, but something deep inside me kept me from doing so. I pitied the people of Silverwoods, and I wanted to help them.
“So, you’ll live forever?”
He nodded. “He promised us that our bodies wouldn’t age. Alas, without time affecting our bodies, we lost the ability to feel hunger, thirst and the need for sleep. Our bodies can’t be killed by any injuries, disease, nor destruction. But, we can also never heal. Every injury we sustain, no matter how minor or severe it is, stays with us until the end of time. That is our curse.”
“What about the people screaming?” I asked.
He sighed. “It’s coming from the barn. That’s where we keep the people that wanted out.”
“Out? What do you mean?”
“Some people got the idea that they could elude our curse, by destroying their own hearts… others attempted to crush their heads. But, they were all wrong. They can’t die, they’re not allowed to.”
“How can I help you? Is there any way to stop this?” I asked.
Then, he laughed. It wasn’t a cheerful laugh, but one filled with malice.
“Stop it? We don’t want it to stop!” he said. “Ten years ago, that same man returned to our town. He hadn’t aged a day, and still smiled cheerfully as he greeted us. He offered us death, release from our horrific lives.”
“Why didn’t you accept it?”
He paused, his smile vanishing from his face.
“Because, he told us what happens to us after we die. And I can promise you, it’s a far darker fate than the one we’ve been condemned to.”
WRITTEN BY: Richard Saxon
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