28 Nov The River Trail
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"The River Trail"Written by
Estimated reading time — 9 minutes
During the summer of 2014, when I had just turned 17, I left my home in a Northern European country to live with a host family and study at a high school in the province of BC in Western Canada. I unfortunately cannot tell you the name of the village I lived in – as I fear that others might try to visit the places that I went to. However, I can tell you that it was truly a stunning area. High, snow-capped mountains dominated the light blue sky, and the areas surrounding the village were covered in the lush temperate rainforest of the BC coast. The forest again was full of beautiful lakes, rivers, streams and waterfalls. It is here my story took place.
You see, I have always been very fond of taking long hikes in the forest. When I first arrived in Canada, I thought it was a perfect idea to go for an evening walk in the forest daily, as it would allow me to explore this particular corner of the world. Most trips were no longer than four-five kilometers, as I often went out the door an hour or so before it turned dark, and my host family was loving and genuinely concerned about my security when I was walking alone outside in the forest during evening. Mind you, criminality was pretty low in the area, but grizzlies, black bears, cougars and coyotes roamed freely in the area, something posing a threat to humans.
Once during late fall, we got a day off from school as the teachers were having a professional development day. I was extremely excited, because I had been planning to go out for a twelve kilometer long hike to a local waterfall for a couple of weeks and finally had the chance to do so. I had already been there once with my class, but I was feeling a bit adventurous and wanted to go there by myself. After eating a rather late lunch, I went outside at 4PM and immediately headed for the waterfall. It took five minutes to walk from my house to the edge of the forest, and from there I knew I would most likely be alone in the forest for the next three-four hours. You see, the village I lived in only had a few hundred inhabitants, and few tourists came at this time of the year. The trail to the waterfall was narrow and creeping along lakes and streams, as well as up and down hills.
The clock was almost 6PM when I was about two kilometers away from the waterfall and down by the river. There I noticed that the trail split in two: I could continue on to the right to get to the waterfall, or I could try the trail on the left. The latter trailhead had a sign nearby stating that this was the “River Trail”, and that it continued for about 1,5 kilometers or so. For a tiny moment, I was excited, as I could not recall having seen the sign when walking in the area with my class. Then I tried to make my mind up. On one side, I had originally set out for the waterfall. On the other hand, I had already been to the waterfall once and it was starting to get dark. The River Trail would only be one kilometer shorter to walk back and forth compared to the Waterfall Trail, but that would equal at least ten minutes of precious sunlight on my way back home through the dense forest.
In the end, I decided to take the River trail. I was feeling somewhat uneasy walking on a completely unknown trail as twilight would find place very soon. But after having walked in challenging terrain the last hour, I was not just going to turn my nose home. Also, I was curious to see where the trail would lead, who knew if I would find a gorgeous place of the forest, maybe only seen by a few eyes besides mine?
As I was walking on the trail, I noticed that a few other people had been walking there fairly recently. What I did find interesting though, is that it seemed to be both footprints and handprints on the trail, and they were all leading in one direction, away from the point where the trails had split. For some weird reason that I cannot explain, this made me feel a bit uneasy. The fact that it was turning darker by the minute and that I was starting to hear noises, made me quickly regret my decision to walk on the River Trail. I still decided to continue on, while doing my best to pretend that the sounds from nearby bushes was just an act of my imagination.
It did not take me long to reach what I thought was the end of the trail, a clearing in the forest, circular and about ten meters across. There were a few thick bushes scattered along the perimeter of the clearing, while I could see a big, rectangular, white stone in the middle of it. This struck me as somewhat odd. As I walked into the clearing, I could see that there was an object laying on the big, white stone. I was not wearing my glasses and since the sun had already disappeared behind the massive mountains, I could not make out what it was. What I did see, was that it was perhaps six-seven centimeters long and a couple of centimeters wide. I fished for my cellphone in my pocket, and turned on the torch. Directing it at the white stone, I took a few steps forward. Then I froze in horror.
Lying on the stone in front of me was a severed and decomposing finger. I looked down at my cellphone and noticed that I did not have any signal. I cursed aloud, my instant reaction was to call the police. Now I would have to visit the police in the village centre on my way home, maybe having to bring a decomposing finger along with me in case they would not believe me. I had already been to the police once, and they were not interested in talking to a young, foreign student about anything. Just when I had turned off the torch and was putting my cellphone back in my pocket, I heard a sound coming from the bushes on one side of the clearing, as if something was moving in them. Then followed giggling. But the it was not a light chuckle, the pitch told me that this had to be a grown man. There was no way children could make such a deep and dark giggling noise. You know how characters in horror movies always seem to fail to do the only reasonable thing when hearing a weird sound– to get the hell away? It was just the same for me, I stood frozen in horror while staring at the bushes.
The giggling continued, and I took a few steps back from the stone while deeply regretting my decisions to come to the forest alone and walk on a completely unknown path. Suddenly the giggling stopped, while a totally unexpected thing happened. Something, or rather someone appeared from the bushes. It slowly rose up to a height of about six feet. It was definitely humanoid, but I could not make out any facial features. I laughed lightly, thinking that someone had really pranked me this time. I took a few steps forward again, to get a closer look at this person. I told them everything about how they had really scared me, and asked if they were from the village or just a tourist.
While walking around the stone in the centre of the clearing, I abruptly stopped. I was now close enough to observe the facial features of the person. That is when I realised that it could not possibly be human. It had two bulging, grey and white eyes that were staring intensely at me, while the nose was replaced by a huge, gaping wound. Pink, blistered lips and a huge grin with two rows of sharp teeth dominated the lower part of the face, while its face was chalk white. Its limbs were bent and pointing in angles I would never expect a human to properly function with. It was dressed in what seemed like a cloak. While I was observing this creature, scared of what it might do, it took a huge step forward. It was less than three meters away from me at this point.
When it started giggling again, I turned around and started running. For the first ten seconds or so, I did not hear any sound other than my feet hitting the ground, and thought that I was safe. The creature I encountered had decided not to give chase! Soon enough, that tiny moment of hope and relief was quickly replaced by fear when I heard someone else running. Turning my head ever so slowly, I saw that the creature was crawling on all four in my direction. It was starting to close in on me.
I ran faster, as fast as my legs could carry me. I was delighted that the sound of the running creature was getting lower by the second, while promising myself that I would never walk alone in the forest. Then it happened – I tripped. The pain was excruciating, my right knee hit a stone that was laying on the trail and I had trouble getting up again. I could hear something hit the ground rapidly, and before I knew it, the creature was upon me.
It flipped me over, so I was lying face to face with it while it stood hunched over me. Its face must have been only 30 centimeters or so from mine, because I could smell its foul breath. I gagged, and the creature started giggling again. Utterly terrified, I started reciting a few prayers. Some Catholic ones in Latin, and some Islamic ones in Arabic. Nothing happened, and the creature was still hunching over me. I tried once more to recite a prayer, and then something actually happened. The creature stopped giggling and slowly opened its mouth. It spoke to me. In a deep voice, it told me five words that made the blood freeze in my veins: “Your God has forsaken you.”
The smell was unbearable. My eyes widened as I realised that it was the stench of rotting flesh. I stuttered, while trying to speak to the creature. “W-w-what d-do you w-want from m-m-me?” The creature stared intensely at me with its huge eyes, before it told me: “You’re not leaving. Tonight we will dine on your flesh.” I looked puzzled at it, thinking “We?” My puzzled look was quickly replaced by a look of horror when I noticed more creatures climbing down from the trees on both sides of the trail. The one hunched over me started giggling, and turned around to other creatures. That’s when I eyed my chance to get away. I grabbed a handful of mud, and after squirming to make it face me again, I flung the mud into it’s eyes.
It jumped back while letting out a huge scream, but I did not have time to witness the creature’s reaction. I was back up and running for my life, literally. Behind me, I could hear a large number of feet and hands slapping against the ground. As previously mentioned, it was dark outside now, and I tripped often. Nevertheless, every time I got up and continued running, I did not intend to become the dinner of some freaky ass demon creature while hiking. After having run for what seemed like ages, I managed to get back to where the main trail split into the River Trail and the Waterfall Trail. I turned around to face the River Trail I had just come from, to witness something weird: at least a dozen of the creatures where standing at the trailhead, but none of them walked onto the main trail itself.
While standing there, I was trying to figure out if I was safe, or if they were all trying to trick me. It could be that they were pretending to stop chasing me, and then jump on me as soon as I turned my back on them. As I was observing them and they were staring intensely back, one of them spoke to me: “Soon…We promise we will find you and make you ours.” Then they all turned around and ventured back along the River Trail.
I was puzzled, but I had no intention of standing still in a dark forest with creepy creatures. So I did the only reasonable thing – I ran. I ran up and down hills and along streams and lakes. By the time I reached the outskirt of the village, I was exhausted. However, I finally felt safe. It was pitch black outside, as the time was now 7PM. I walked the last few minutes to my house, and almost collapsed when I entered it. My host parents were looking very concerned at me, and they told me how they were moments away from calling the cops.
Knowing that they would never believe me, I never told them the truth about the things I had witnessed while going for a hike. I just told them that I lost my trail, and hence got lost in the forest. Time flies, and I continued to hike almost daily, although I never ventured on the River Trail again. I would always see things moving in the bushes and hear giggling when I was approaching it.
When I went back to Northern Europe in June 2015, I was excited to be able to go anywhere, without having to avoid places in order to stay safe from some abnormal creatures. However, things have become a bit strange lately. You see, I have to walk through a forest to get to school, and I always have to walk alone in the dark. The last week or so, I have started seeing humanoid shapes in between the trees, and started hearing giggling. They promised to come for me, and they have not lied.
I have no idea how much time I have left. The creatures are creeping closer and closer to the trail every morning, and yesterday I could see their faces. They were staring at me, and giggling. I am currently standing on my porch, ready to submit my story and then walk through the forest. I just locked my door, and I am ready to hit the submit-button on my cellphone when I walk down the three stairs and look at the trailhead. I know that this is the day. The day when the creature’s promise will be fulfilled.
If you ever find yourself in the temperate rainforest of BC, Canada, and your trail splits into a River Trail and a Waterfall Trail, stay calm. Either take the Waterfall Trail or go home. Do not take the River Trail.
Credit: Omar A.