Estimated reading time — 5 minutes
For several nights I have seen a man vanish into the woods behind my home; a man that I do not recognize. It started three nights ago. I thought nothing of it at first; perhaps he was a homeless man living in some clearing in the woods, or possibly a drug addict looking for a secluded place to practice his sickness. Either way, I did not read into it very much. But, eventually, my curiosity got the best of me and I began to wonder what it was that he did beneath those dark branches.
He appeared every night, at exactly nine o’ clock, in my backyard, walking toward the edge of the woods. I would watch from my bedroom window as he stood there for a moment and then proceed into the dark canopy. He walked slowly and with conviction, walking to a destination completely unknown to me. Eventually I would lose sight of him among the black trunks of the pines and my interest would make my mind race. Where was he going? What was he doing? The answers to these questions would, unfortunately, be revealed to me.
Another queer facet about the man’s nightly journeys was that I never once saw him emerge from the forest in the morning. At first I thought that he merely left while I was asleep, but I once woke up earlier than usual to test this thought. Even then, I did not see him come forth from the woods. This intrigued me greatly and I soon found myself wanting to follow the man, to know where it was that he went each night.
The following evening, I decided to follow him from a distance. I slept during the day, so that I may have the energy to complete my excursion, and woke up around six. As with every other night, the man appeared in my backyard at nine walking towards the woods. Once I saw him, I got dressed and set off after him.
By the time I had made it outside, he was a good ways into the forest, but I could still see his black silhouette moving among the trunks. I followed him for some ten minutes before he stopped suddenly. He did not move, but instead just stood there. I ducked below a bush to avoid him seeing me and knelt there perfectly still. The man stayed like this for a minute or so and then resumed his walk. At his continuance, I broke my cover and began my stalking once again.
It was not long before the man stopped once again, quite abruptly this time. As with the last occurrence, he merely stood in place, not bothering to look around, but rather listen to his surroundings. Without sufficient cover around me, I decided this time to lay down on the forest-bed, hoping that the darkness would blend me with the soil. I lay there for a little while, wondering when the strange man would resume his journey, when I heard a crack from behind me. I started slightly and then looked to see what had produced the disturbance. Seeing nothing, I looked forward again, but the man was gone!
Somehow, he had slipped from my sight while I was not looking. I thought that he must have snuck away as soon as he heard the noise that broke the nightly silence. I rose from my earthly hiding place, looking for him between the trees. He was not to be seen anywhere. With nothing to go on and without sufficient lighting to study the ground for prints, I decided that it was best to go home for the night. I immediately went back the way I came, wondering the whole time how the man had gotten away from me so quickly and without making a sound. Upon reaching my home, I decided that I would try to follow him again the following night.
I slept most of the next day, not waking until about three o’ clock. I waited with anxiety until nightfall for the strange man to appear. Nine o’ clock came around and the strangest thing happened: the man did not show up! Night after night, the man would appear in my backyard at exactly the same time, but not this night. This baffled and bothered me, perhaps more than it should have, and I spent most of that night trying to figure out what it meant. The only explanation that I could come up with was that he had decided to stay away for some time, having caught me following him the night before. I wondered if I would ever see him again or, more importantly, know what it was that he did on his nightly wanderings.
Three nights passed without an appearance from the nightwalker, as I had by then nicknamed him. I was sitting in my study, which faces the woods, with the window shades open and the lights dimmed. At nine o’ clock, I instinctively looked out the window. There at the edge of the woods was the man! My heart jumped and I put on my jacket with haste. Once again, the man began his trek through the trees and I followed him, keeping more distance between him and myself this time than the last.
It seemed like hours the amount of time I spent following him. The fog was heavy that night, which I think helped me follow him without fear of being noticed. He walked deeper into those woods than I had ever dared, or thought, to explore. I began to worry if I would be able to find my way out of the forest, or if I would have to spend the night beneath those menacing branches. After some time, the man came to a small clearing. He stopped there at the tree line for a while before emerging into the thick fog that clung to the grass in that open area. I moved towards the clearing, hiding behind a tree that was just on the edge.
Looking forward, I could see the man clearly, due to the light of the full moon. He was walking toward a particularly large tree on the other side of the clearing. It was very old, by my judgment, with gnarled branches that groped at the night sky, with not a single leaf to be seen on them. The most abhorrent feature, though, was the wide hollow in the middle of its fat trunk. The man stood before this hollow, staring into its dark abyss, not moving a muscle. I could faintly here him muttering something, but I could not make out what it was that he was saying. When I heard him speak no more, the man began to remove his clothing, revealing a most horrid sight.
The man was completely covered in pus-filled boils. They dotted every single part of his exposed body, giving him the appearance of a rotting plague victim of old. The sight of this revolted me, as I had never before seen such a disgusting example of human disease. Once the man was completely naked, he moved towards the tree and climbed into the hollow that he had for so long viewed with intent. Once inside, he turned around and sat there, completely enveloped by the gnarled wood of that most ancient tree. It was at this point that the most horrifyingly grotesque thing that I could never have even imagined happened.
The tree began to shake, its branches twisting and turning in the night air, yet without a breeze to cause their action. The trembling continued down to the trunk, which began to swell and contract in a horribly unnatural fashion. It was then that the man inside began to scream as the tree began to, as it seemed, eat him. Pus and blood flowed forth from the hollow as the man inside was crushed and churned within. The screaming turned to gurgling as it combined with the groaning of wood and the squelching of flesh, along with the occasional cracking of bone. I ran at this, terrified out of my mind. The entire time that I was fleeing, I could hear the horrid sounds of death behind me and the forest seemed alive with terror. Tripping and falling, I ran back to my home.
That terrifying night has haunted me ever since. I no longer feel safe in my home, as I feel it is too close to the forest that is the cause of my nightmares. But the most frightening thing about the entire ordeal is that the man that I saw consumed by that evil tree, the man that for all reasons should not be alive, still appears at the edge of the woods, at exactly nine o’ clock each night.
Credit To – Marcus Porche