Estimated reading time — 11 minutes
Fang of the Mountain
A foray into Horror by Stormy Strider
There are things in this world, dark things. Things that the mind cannot fully process, and so it blocks it out, or fills in the gaps. Things that terrify us to our deepest foundations. These things are the reason that humanity fears the darkness.
Because the dark is where these things dwell. Where they thrive.
And there are people who deny that those things are real. That something so terrifying can exist on the same plane as we do. These people are blind fools.
I know this because I have seen one of these horrible things. And I was lucky to survive the experience.
My friend and my brother, however, were not.
It happened the summer that I turned seventeen. My brother, Tanner, and I had planned a camping trip up north at our grandfather’s old hunting cabin.
The old man had left it to our father when he died several years back, and even though our relationship with dear old Dad wasn’t the best after he and Mom’s divorce, we loved the old cabin. We spent at least one weekend up there every summer. It was in a gorgeous wooded area that we had been exploring since we were little.
So we were planning to go spend the weekend up there, just me, my brother, and our childhood best friend, Anna. If I had known then what I know now I would have vetoed the whole thing so hhard it would make their heads spin. But you know what they say about hindsight.
So that Friday we packed all of our gear into my brother’s beat up pickup and left for the cabin.
It took us a four hour drive to get up to the place, but it was so worth it. By mid-afternoon we were unpacking the essentials and getting ready to go fishing out at the old Creek about a mile back in the woods.
It was on the way out to the creek that we found what would later turn out to be the first sign of something being seriously wrong.
Tanner was a few yards ahead of me and Anna, as we were quietly chatting. He stopped and called back to us, his gaze on something off the side of the somewhat overgrown trail.
“Hey, Sarah, Anna, come see this.” He pointed to whatever had caught his attention. We stopped talking and caught up to him.
I followed his pointing hand out to a lump of something laying in the tall grass. I squinted and looked closer.
It was a deer. A dead, rotted out corpse of a doe. It had been there for some time, because there wasn’t even the smell of rotting meat to accompany the poor dead creature.
“Ew.” Anna said, a little disgust in her voice. My curiosity was piqued, though.
“I’m going to check it out.” I stated, settling my fishing pole against a tree and the tackle box beside it. I stepped through the tall grass and a couple of sticker bushes, approaching the deer.
See, I collected the skills of different animals. I already had two buck skills, antlers and all, but I didn’t have a doe.
As I came around the corpse I found something interesting. All of its insides were gone. Not slowly decomposed into the ground, but completely gone.
I noticed something on the doe’s exposed ribs. I looked closer.
All along the ribs, and other bones there were teeth marks. A shiver ran down my spine, but I ignored it. I thought that the doe must have died and a coyote or some other scavenger had found it’s body and made a good meal of it. Even the skull had scrapes and gouges from birds pecking at it. So it was useless to me.
I didn’t bother looking closer, buy I should have.
“Find anything for your creepy ass bone collection?” Tanner asked as I stepped back onto the trail.
“Nah, something got at it already. There are marks all over the bones.” I told him as I picked up my fishing gear. We continued on to the lake after that, all thoughts of the deer going out if my head.
For the rest of the day, up until the sun started to set, we sat on the bank of the creek, fishing. Tanner and I had gotten into a friendly competition to see who could catch more fish. Anna won.
We headed back to the cabin, Anna carrying the cooler full of live fish. The whole way back I had this creepy feeling on the back of my neck, like I was being watched. I just ignored it, thinking it was nothing.
By the time we got back to the cabin it was getting pretty dark, so we put the fish cooler in the truck bed and headed inside.
We had a fire in the fireplace and our sleeping bags set up on the old camp cots in no time. We had a dinner of fire roasted hot dogs and pork’n’beans from a can. The whole time we were joking back and forth, and at one point we even devolved into throwing bits of charred hot dog at each other.
By the time we went to bed it was pretty late. We were all tired. I’m pretty sure we all passed out pretty quick. I know that one minute I was snuggling into my sleeping bag, and the next it was lights out.
I started awake some time later. I don’t know what woke me up, but whatever it was had the hair on the back of my neck standing up. I lay there for a few minutes, listening hard.
At first all I heard was Anna’s soft breathing, and Tanner’s muffled snoring over in the corner. Then I heard it. There was something moving around outside. I could hear it shuffling through the grass and pawing at the ground.
After a minute it seemed to fade away. I relaxed, figuring that it was a stray dog or a coyote. I drifted back to sleep.
The next morning I was woken up to the sound of Tanner yelling outside. I jerked awake and scrambled out of my sleeping bag, tripping over a disoriented Anna, who was attempting the same thing, in the process. We both managed to untangle ourselves and make it out the door in time to see my brother throwing a piece of broken plastic into the big trash can we kept up here.
It was a piece of our broken fish cooler. There were pieces of it strewn around the back of the truck, and what was left of it sat on the ground by the truck. The lid was gone and chuncks had been taken out of the side.
There was a large puddle of water that had soaked into the ground, making it a muddy mess around the cooler. Of the fish there was nothing left but blood stains and a few bits of torn flesh and bone.
It clicked that whatever had woken me up last night had probably been the culprit.
Seeing how the cooler was completely destroyed, that meant it was most likely a bear. And the huge footprints that were all over the mud seemed to add to that theory.
So we all helped clean up the mess, and then went to have breakfast.
I was glad that all of our other food was in the cabin.
After we finished eating and cleaning up from breakfast we decided we were going to go for a hike. It was decided that we would stick together, since the bear may still be in the vicinity. So we all got dressed and ready to go hiking up the trail behind the house. I got dressed in my favorite dark grey cargos a blue tank top. I had my grey hoodie tied around my waist and my well loved hiking boots on.
A few months back there had been a safety thing at school, and all of us had decided that we would wear something neon, just in case we got separated. My color was neon yellow. So I had a neon yellow hat on, my blonde ponytail sticking out the back.
Anna had in a pair of black jogger’s leggings with neon orange reflective stripes down the side and a matching jacket over an orange tank top printed with a large rainbow owl. And my brother was wearing his own cargos, in dark green, with a bright blue hoodie. He had a reflective blue arm band and a blue hat to match.
We all packed a backpack with trail snacks, bottled water, a few other useful things and our own emergency kits. The kits were another product of the safety course. They contained an LED flashlight each with extra batteries, waterproof matches, an emergency knife with a whistle, a compass, and a small mirror in the handle.
All set, we headed up the mountain. About an hour in we made it to a spot that we all liked. It was an outcropping of rock that had enough space for us to sit down and enjoy a snack. The view here was incredible.
After we rested and caught our breath, we kept going. It was around 3 pm when we made it up to the spot we usually hiked to. It was a spot next to the creek where there was a set of small waterfalls that dropped down into a small pool before narrowing out and flowing down the mountain to the spot we liked fishing.
Usually we would stay for a while and enjoy the view, but today there was a nasty surprise waiting for us. As we parted the trees and stepped into the clearing we were all hit with the smell of something dead that had just begun to decompose.
Laying next to the creek was the half eaten body of a raccoon. It was turned so that we could just see it’s insides spilling onto the ground. It’s little face was turned towards us, it’s eyes swollen and bulging. Anna turned and retched into the brush at the edge of the clearing. Tanner made a disgusted sound, and I turned away, unable to stand the sight.
As soon as Anna was able to control her heaving stomach we all three turned and headed back down the mountain without a word.
We were half way back to the rock outcropping, the sun just starting to set to the left of us, when we heard something out in the trees. It was shuffling around, and it seemed to be following us. Wordlessly we all picked up the pace.
We didn’t stop at our rock, we just headed straight back to the cabin. Our follower was still there, we could hear it crunching through the underbrush, tracking us all the way down the mountain. It was almost dark by now. At this point we were all pretty scared. Anna and I were holding hands, while Tanner rushed us along ahead of him. He had pulled his knife from his bag and had it ready.
We made it to the trail head and around the back of the cabin. We made it to the door just in time. Whatever had been following a distance behind us broke the cover of the trees and was sprinting around the cabin in. Anna was already inside and I was stepping through the door when Tanner shoved me into the room and slammed the door shut behind him. He dropped the bar that served as a lock into place and braced his back against it.
We were all scared out of our wits, but I think we all almost pissed ourselves in sheer terror when the thing on the other side of the door scratched against it and let out a high pitched whine.
It pawed the door again a few times before it gave up. We heard it retreat, but none of us moved for what felt like hours, but was probably just a few minutes. Anna was the first to move, getting up from where she had been sitting against the wall with her knees drawn up to her chest. She slowly shifted up and peeked out the lone window. I really wish she hadn’t.
She dropped to the ground again quickly, tears of pure terror streaming down her face. She mouthed something at my brother and I.
“Wolf.” There was a wolf outside, waiting. She slowly crawled over to us.Her blue eyes were wide and filled with fear. She hugged me and I held her, feeling her shaking like a leaf.
“It’s a huge wolf,” she whispered. “And it’s staring right at the door. Just sitting there watching.” She started sobbing. I held her and shushed her crying. Tanner wrapped his arms around us both and laid his head on my shoulder.
We sat there, all of us, scared to death and shaking. None of us dared move. We hadn’t heard it leave, so we all knew that it was still there, watching, waiting for us.
It was then that I realized that it had been there all along. It had been watching us from the first day. And it had been what had gotten at the fish. And now it was after us. A chill ran through me at the realization.
No sooner than I thought that then an unearthly howl split the air. It was loud enough that the widow rattled and we all had to cover our ears. Hot tears pricked my eyes, I was so afraid in that moment that seemed to last an eternity.
Anna’s scream shattered the moment, this being the last straw for her. Fear lanced through me again, a fresh wave of icy terror. I don’t quite remember exactly what happened next, just that suddenly she was up and running to hide and then there was a horrible shriek as the wolf tore through the door.
Tanner was dragged back and out of my arms, screaming and the sound of snarling and growling followed. Something hot and wet splattered over my back and I fell, trying desperately to claw my way under the cabinet where the firewood was kept.
Then it was back and tearing through the door. It slammed into me, and a white hot pain tore through my shoulder as it’s teeth sunk into me. In that moment I could perceive everything. It’s weight on my back, huge paws holding me down and cracking two of my ribs, blood pouring from my shoulder, it’s teeth buried in my flesh, muscle, and bones, and the putrid scent of it’s breath, like something long dead and rotting.
And then it was gone. All I felt was agony. I could distantly hear someone screaming, but it seemed so far away. I think I passed out then. For a moment, anyway. The next thing I knew was being dragged across the floor by my pant leg. There was something shiny in my field of vision, and in my delerious state I reached out and wrapped my fingers around it.
A knife, my brother’s knife. And just like that everything snapped back into place. My grip tightened on the hilt of the knife and I turned. The wolf had me by the leg, dragging me to the door. There was blood everywhere, and Anna lay across the room, her body torn apart. She was already dead.
I reared up and slashed the knife down at the monster that had a hold of me. The knife arched down and sunk into a huge golden eye.
The wolf dropped me and I yanked the knife free as the beast backed away, whipping it’s head from side to side. I scrambled to my feet and lunged forward, furious. I slashed at the beast, over and over, stappbing and slashing, driving it back. It yelped when the blade connected. I kept slashing, fury and fear both driving my hand until the blade lodged in the creature’s neck and snapped free of the hilt.
The monster wolf fell, eyes locked on me, wheezing and gurgling as blood poured out of it’s ruined eye and a few other wounds. I dropped to my knees, panting.
The thing that had been hunting us since we arrived dropped, and it’s breathing slowed as it’s life blood poured from close to a dozen deep wounds until finally, with one last rattle, it breathed no more.
I curled in on myself, the fear of moments ago being replaced with a deep sadness and pain. The beast was dead, but so was my brother, and my best friend. I let out a low moan, tears running renewed down my bloodstained cheeks.
And then the world went black.
I woke up in the hospital. It turned out that when we hadn’t called our parents that night, as we promised we would, they had called the police. The two officers had driven up to the cabin and found my brother, completely torn apart, out front. And they had found Anna’s body and me in the cabin, I was barely alive. I had lost a lot of blood from the attack. But the police officer who had explained everything to me had asked me something that made my blood run cold.
He asked me who the man that had been found in the cabin with us, stabbed to death, had been. I told him I didn’t know.
They released me from the hospital a few days later. I never went back up to the cabin. I’m too afraid to face what happened there. Too afraid to face what I have become.
There are nights that I dream of running in the moonlight, hunting down poor defenseless creatures and sinking my teeth into their flesh, their blood sweet and tangy on my tongue. There are nights that I wake up, covered head to toe in dirt and grass. And blood. The taste of copper in my mouth.
So now I believe in the things that live in darkness. Horrible things that send you fleeing in terror.
And I know that they are real. I know because now I am one of them. And I fear the night that I dream of hunting down some poor person and tearing into them. I fear it more than anything. And I fear the day that I don’t fear it anymore. The day that I become a real monster.