31 Oct What Was Left Behind
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"What Was Left Behind"Written by Rebecca Harding
Estimated reading time — 46 minutes
Last summer, myself and my friend Jason (name changed for obvious reasons) broke all the rules.
Let me explain to be clear; this wasn’t a cross with the law, breaking the road rules or anything that would have pissed off our parents or gotten us kicked out of college.
No, this was another subterranean law, that of the Paranormal.
I’ll try to explain as best I can how this all came about, what happened to us and what I hope you take from this.
It started at summer break when we’d been searching the forums for stories of local haunted houses to do some urban exploring.
We’d done this a couple of times already, although the places were occasionally a creep-fest, it was just us freaking ourselves out and nothing really happened. So when we came upon a post of a User, of whose name I will not mention, talking about their research about this rural property two to three hours out of this jurisdiction, our interest peaked.
The User said that they’d started their search by looking into properties that had remained vacant after their last owners/tenants had dispossessed the land through various means: death, abandonment, you get the picture. They would investigate the history of the property, visit the site and take pictures for reference.
There were various links to a separate blog including a range of pictures of dilapidated houses overgrown in plants being taken back by nature or just falling down upon themselves. These images were beautiful and terrifying. Some of the stories just sad, others chilling.
Especially the specific one mentioned above.
The information he’d posted was from the town register and spoke of a small family (let’s call them the Gallagher’s) who’d owned the lot but disappeared shortly after Mr. Gallagher lost his job.
Even though they had what was a small farm to help ends meet and feed themselves, the family’s bad luck continued to an extent that they became poverty-stricken. This was compound by Mr. Gallagher, a proud man, who refused to accept the help of his neighbors.
His wife, however wasn’t so proud and accepted what she could to feed their young daughter. Though this seemed to have been further exchanged for bruises and a black eye or two as it was documented he husband had a temper, and was prone to violence.
Characteristic of the economy at the time there were many people out of work, and soon to further his misfortunes, vagrants started passing through the township looking to earn a living.
Co-incidentally, shortly thereafter these travelers begun to go missing, never quite finishing in the area or never quite making it onto the next town.
Suspicion grew of the culprit and when authorities came to question Mr. Gallagher they found mystery and death.
Mrs. Gallagher was found bound and drowned in a water tank. Their daughter was found with her hands severed.
Her hands were missing.
They found the house torn up; the furniture upturned and blood splatted on the walls.
Something large had been cooked in the fireplace, but only fragments of what they presumed bones was left.
The speculation was that their man of interest had been abducting and murdering the vagrants as they also found some of their belongings in the house.
No more bodies were ever discovered despite over 15 people, including Mr. Gallagher having gone missing.
Years passed and people occasionally still went missing while passing through the town.
Decades passed, the towns population shrunk.
People still went missing, but it had been so long it was it was no longer reasonable to assume there was a mad man on the loose as they had looked extensively for him all those years ago. By this time over sixty years had passed since Mr. Gallagher’s disappearance.
There was now an urban myth about the lonely roads about the township.
The User placed in more detail than what is here, I wont go into it further though, this is a cautionary tale; don’t follow my steps.
The one thing I will say though is they last posted two months ago. The last message they left on the forum stated quite randomly “Don’t loose sight of the road!”
Rule One: Don’t loose sight of the road.
Jason and I decided to take a day to look at the site. We took our camping gear as more of a precautionary measure just in case we decided to stay late and not drive back.
We chuckled at the urban legend on the way down thinking we would not be bothered by anyone.
Perhaps a little naïve given the light in which I write to you now, but half the fun of these outings was to fly by the seat of our pants. Given our past uneventful experiences we were more concerned out getting a flat tyre.
The road was scenic on the travel over, though we were in a built up area, a few miles out of the jurisdiction limits it becomes farms on either side.
It had been an unusually dry year, although it was overwhelmingly green there was a tarnished yellowing to some of the trees we passed and some of the fields had surrendered entirely. It almost reminded me of Utah during the fall.
Eventually the outcrops of trees became common until there were woods on either side.
It was about lunchtime when we reached a barely visible turn into the foliage that had almost been overgrown. The road was gravel and bumpy and after fifteen minutes or so we arrived at a dead ended clearing that was large enough to turn the car around.
To the northwest, surrounded by an ocean of grass, reminiscent of a cornfield (though some of it was, however not entirely), there was a two story wooden house. It looked dull, faded and windswept.
We took our phones thinking we’d do a quick once about the property before going inside, but we also took our portable chargers out of habit and of course if we decided to camp we’d have a top up.
We absentmindedly waded into the field.
That was a mistake, however we didn’t know it at the time.
As soon as we stepped into the tall grass it became quiet. The only thing we could hear was our feet crunching on the dry ground and the grass tussling about us.
When we emerged from the grass we were ten feet from the house. It was like a fence going all around the building. There was only dirt and bleached stones between the grass and the house, a little particular given you’d expect it to be overrun with weeds as tall as the grass. We paid no mind.
The house’s weatherboards were dry and bleached. There were four rooms down stairs and two upstairs. It was very no frills. There were nailed closed shutters around the house and surprisingly the front the back doors still hung to very rusted hinges.
To the western side it has a brick chimney and a collapsed water tank that jutted out as it’s girth tore it open. It still collected water in puddles dirtied by sodden leaf litter.
There was a shed to the rear made of corticated metal panels and wooden posts, it was quite rickety and inside from chains hung what I could best describe as rusted and tarnished farm tools.
The house seemed sturdy enough not to collapse on out heads so we went inside.
It was dark and dusty. Some light made it between the gaps of the shutters but we had torches as well.
What scraps of furniture was left was broken, bent or rotted.
A chair was collapsed in the lounge, covered in dirt and the floor in the lounge covered in ash from the blackened fireplace. The soot looked like it had been dragged under something heavy being pulled across the floor. It coated more than half the room.
A small room to the back contained a crate with some rusted out tins and broken glass. There were high shelves here with old metal cups on them.
Just outside the small room and to the font there was what looked like a kitchen area.
A heavyset table sat there. Remarkably it wasn’t falling to pieces. There was an old paneled stove at the far side of the room that had collapsed its legs on one side and sat off-centered with it’s doors and draws hanging open. Some more broken chairs here, but one mostly intact one that was upturned.
Cutlery was strewn about, some on the floor some on the table.
This place was a far shadow of its former glory. I was sad because of it but mesmerized by what these walls had seen.
We tested the stairs. They creaked and moaned like the floorboards but were strong enough, so we went upstairs.
There was a tilted bed frame upstairs in the larger room, along with some matted rags beneath it.
There were deep scratches in the walls.
I was unnerved. Jason however found this very interesting and ran his hand along it. Clearly the work of a vandal but he told me after snapping a few pictures that it would make a great story once we got back.
Someone had torn off the planks and shutters from the window in the smaller bedroom. They lay strewn about the floor.
There was an upturned and battered trunk at the far side of the room. It was empty.
I took a look through the window and the grassed plain seemed to go on forever.
Back down the stairs I noticed there was the slight sound of dripping. I couldn’t place it at first. It was constant though and echoed a little.
Directly under the stairs was a small door and we discovered the house had a kind of cellar.
The door was made of heavy wood, aged like every thing else in the place, but its metal latches were dulled not rusted. It’s hinges seemed somewhat askew and at one time there were fitting on the back of the door to slip a wooden plank across, however only one of the pair dangled there now.
We looked below to find a partially submerged room. The steps were blackened with moisture, broken, and rotten were the waterline lapped.
We shone the torch into the water. It was murky and brownish.
Whatever had been down there was ether long gone or ruined now.
Both Jason and me didn’t want to go down there. It looked dangerous and it may not be possible to get back up if we fell in.
We latched it shut.
We couldn’t locate any other water sources in the house to explain the dripping so we just accepted there must have been something underneath in there causing it.
This made me uneasy.
Rule Two: Don’t go in the water.
It had been an hour since we had arrived and we wanted to grab a bite to eat.
We walked out the front of the house and back into the grass. We were enveloped by the stillness, the rustling and the cracking underfoot.
We walked and walked, and walked.
I became worried and very anxious at this time, as this was taking far too long to get to the pickup. It had taken much less time to get to the house.
Jason looked as unnerved as I did and we picked up the pace.
After a minute we started running.
We ran in a straight line in the grass from best I could tell.
I thought we’d run into the trees soon as the clearing wasn’t that big just to keep running.
I was getting puffed, I’m really not fit, but I was panicking at that stage because this all felt so wrong and so just kept going.
We burst out of the grass stumbling to stop, almost crashing over one another.
We were at the back of the house.
The BACK of the house.
We went in a straight line from the front and ended up at the back…
I felt cold.
Jason swore a bunch of times, “What the fuck! What the actual fuck?!!” .
This was unbelievable.
I caught my breath. I told Jason to get a grip, that maybe we got turned about and that’s why this happened.
I didn’t believe it myself. I knew exactly has he did that we’d made a B-line for where we’d parked, but I was hoping this was all in my head and we could get back to the pickup soon.
We went back to the front of the house and I got a boost from Jason to see over the grass in the direction from where we came.
I couldn’t see the pickup truck.
That thing was huge! I just didn’t understand how couldn’t see it?
Jason wanted a boost up so he could try and look too. I tried, however he’s a lot taller and heavier than me so this didn’t work very well.
He couldn’t see anything either.
We tried several more times to get through the grass. All attempts ended with the same result.
I was beside myself by this time. I didn’t understand how such a thing could occur.
I felt hot, cold and clammy.
We both started to panic. We were trapped.
Rule Three: Lock the door behind you.
I hyperventilated and dropped to my knees. I did not understand how the world could move like the backdrop of some old Looney tunes cartoon on a constant loop in a chase scene.
My ears pounded with my heart and my tinnitus rang shrilly above it all making me dizzy and almost sick to my stomach.
I was so out of it and I could barely hear Jason to the right of me loosing his shit. He was screaming, swearing again. Thrashing at the long grass hemming us in.
My mind was reeling as to what to do next.
I couldn’t think.
I just couldn’t.
Jason stopped screaming. I don’t know when he did, I just remember looking over at him. He reminded me of my little cousin just after he’d just had a tantrum. I didn’t blame him though. It had been easy to forget at times that we were two grown guys in our early twenties.
I balked for a moment, realizing. How stupid could I have been?
I patted my pocket for my phone and found it right where I left it. I even had my cable and charge pack on me.
I checked the reception, it wasn’t great, but I’d gotten call out of this thing with worse.
I dialed my roommate.
It rang out and went to voicemail.
I tried again as sometimes he leaves his phone in a weird place and can’t take him a while to find it.
My roommate picked up.
I tried as fast as I could to explain everything, but before I got out my second word the line dropped.
I tried again. This time it rung out to no answer, not even voicemail. The call ended on it’s own.
I kept trying. I didn’t manage to reach him again and my texts didn’t get delivered either.
Jason had since noticed and tried to dial out with similar results.
We were stuck.
We sat there for a while looking around. We were calmer but still freaked out.
We took time to process and clear our heads. We’d emptied out pockets and counted our supplies: a half packet of skittles and a roll of mints. There was water, not great water, but water.
We had a few skittles and left it at that for now. I could have murdered a burger and fries about then.
The wind picked up as night slipped in.
We didn’t stop pacing around the yard until the sun had almost set. We may have stayed out later as it was a clear night, but I couldn’t shake the feeling something was out in the grass watching.
Jason said he felt it too.
It didn’t help the gusts were moving the grass about as if it was alive. And the rustling was louder now.
I swear there was whispering as my ears picked up the lisps of speech every so often.
It became more apparent the later it got, I was certain of what I was hearing now and Jason shared what I wished to be a thorough delusion.
Neither of us wanted to go in the house as its visage had become ominous and imposing, however we weren’t going to stay out here.
I was genuinely frightened at how surreal this place had become; before the madness was at least subtle, now it was blinding us.
Jason grabbed my arm.
He was pointing off into the grass. He said he saw something move.
I wanted to call him a liar, but his face said it all.
We backed into the house, torches ready.
For one moment I saw something shift in amongst the field.
I closed the back door behind us wishing there was a lock on the damned thing.
I wasn’t going to stay out here any longer.
Our nerves were shot after today. And going back into the house made things only a little better.
The wind whistled through the gaps in the walls adding to the already unsettling noises. The house seemed to shift a little with the stronger breezes, and I shivered under the draft.
Inside it was darker and dirtier, not that the wretched house was welcoming before, just that it now felt heavy and outright oppressive.
Everything was still and yet I could not stand to be in the living room looking at the trail of soot across the floor. The blackness of it seemed to creep towards me and made my skin crawl.
The constant dripping seemed louder now and I could feel a dank coolness settle about me.
We deliberated quickly where we should hold up.
It seemed apparent to us that we should make as little noise as possible inside this hollowed place so we whispered.
We decided on the smallest room downstairs, with the crate and high shelves, and sat against the wall adjacent the door. Close to the corner, so we could not see out the door. It was less claustrophobic this way.
We mumbled for some time about we were missing on TV and we occasionally twitched at a new noise now and then. We were on high alert with nerves standing on end as the hair on my neck with the newest breeze.
We stayed alert as long as we could; unfortunately we were both tired and exhausted.
I don’t know when it happened but I fell asleep.
When I woke the wind had stopped.
That was worse, as nothing now disguised the sounds inside the house.
The dripping was louder and the house smelt musky with mold.
Jason was asleep with his head tilted to one side; drool seeping from the corner of his mouth.
There was a faint scraping noise, like something hard on wood. It was irregular and seemed to reverberate under the floor.
I couldn’t decide where it was coming from, and I started to develop the idea it was moving.
I started to think of the implication, however given everything I couldn’t tell if my mind was playing tricks on me.
The scratching dragged on, becoming more muffed and muted before gaining clarity in its articulation.
It was moving!
I was sure now and it was getting closer, coming towards us.
Whatever it was, it was below and couldn’t know we were here.
The sound traced directly beneath us then stopped.
I held my breath.
The floorboard beneath me moved, as if it pushed up slightly from below.
I rocketed to me feet, there was no way I was going to stay sit there anymore.
The scraping did not resume.
It instead was replaced with muffled gasping.
Frightened, I shook Jason awake. He was startled and confused and I had to shut him up quickly.
I pointed to where I was sitting. Where the noise was from.
It had all stopped.
He pushed me back to observe the silence.
He glared at me, twitching his mouth as if to speak, but before he could we heard a metallic twang from the other side of the house.
He mouthed the word ‘fuck’ at me and stood up.
There was very soft shuffling sound.
We turned on our torches and crept to the threshold of the door holding our breath.
Reluctantly, we peered into the living room. The illumination of the torch showed us nothing more than what we’d seen hours before.
We heard a sharp sliding noise akin to nails on a chalkboard.
I cowered. My throat thumped with my heartbeat, I could hardly breathe.
My light swept the room.
There was nothing.
For every second, I became a little bolder. I took a step into the room and then another.
Jason followed. As I stepped forward he watched behind.
The sound had stopped now.
We crept towards the front of the house. All the while I could hear my breath and the groaning of the floor beneath us.
My chest tightened. We reached the kitchen and I flicked my light over the room.
It was still.
Then something caught my eye.
The cutlery on the table was now placed in a dinner arrangement, the desert spoon quivering slightly as if it had just been dropped.
The upturned chair was now standing.
I was livid and shone my light all over the room.
Something heavy and wet hit the door behind us.
The door leading towards the cellar was being jostled from the inside. The latch jumped but didn’t uncouple. We backed away from that side of the hall towards the front door and as we did I swung the light back into the kitchen, right into the dirty face of a little girl.
She looked passively at us, unblinking, as if the light didn’t hurt her at all.
The cellar door continued the fight against the lock behind us. We could now hear an accompanying a rasping gargle behind it.
Dark splatters leaked out the bottom of the door.
I tried to edge towards the front door, struggling to avert my eyes from her tiny little face, reluctant to move closer; too afraid to stand still.
I was pushed from behind by Jason trying to hurry me and then he saw her too.
He grabbed my arm and tried to drag me. He was yelling at me now, telling me to move.
Then I saw it.
His torch illuminated her soiled and tattered dress. Her skin was pale. Her hands were missing.
I could see the tatters of tendon and freshly sawn bone protruding from her sullen skin. Blood was congealed around the gash, but small droplets of blood dripped from the wound.
Jason had dragged me to the door when a loud crash came from upstairs.
There was an unearthly bellowing howl that shook the entire structure.
The air became hazy with reverberation and the little girl blurred like a smear off a sheet of paper, falling into nowhere.
All composure lost, we burst out the front door.
Though the wind had died the tall grass shifted wildly as if was a collection of happy cats tails glad to see us.
We skidded before its edge.
It was clear now. There were dark shadows milling amongst the tall deep grass tracking us.
We heard stomping from the landing inside followed by retching snorts and wailing.
I couldn’t tell if it was a beast or a ghost, but further crashing into the walls and pronounced heavy trudging gave me a distinct dread it was coming for us.
The thing inside howled thunderously, louder than before, this time we could feel it’s steps pounding inside the house, charging towards us.
I grabbed Jason by his jacket and dragged him with me. We darted around the side of the house, past the busted water tank as the front door clanged open.
The aerated haze returned with thickness.
Heavy footsteps pursued us, but we had a head start.
We ran into the rickety shed and pulled the door shut. It was rusted and heavy but with the both of us we managed to shut it. I grabbed a dirt-encrusted spanner to jam as a pin in the door to keep it closed.
No sooner had I slotted it in, something on the other side started pulling at the door trying the heave it open.
There was an unbridled torrent behind its force, its savageness thrashing at us through the air, dirt flying into the shed like swarming flies.
It was sticky and difficult to swat away.
We clung to the shed doorframe, riveting our weight as ballast on the door praying it did not give.
The shed shook terribly; posts wobbling against the assault, its weathered corrugated sheets were screeching as some threatened to tear free of its fixings.
The howling became wilder still, the tugging of the door stopping only to be replaced by pounding upon the door and walls.
Craterous dents formed in the impacted panels, and our attacker pounded continuously bending panels on the door inwards.
We pushed against the frame of the door. We could feel the structure groaning with every sunder
I could scarcely breathe as the air was thick and my eyes stung from the dirt whipping about.
Though I couldn’t hear myself, I was sure I was screaming, crying for dear life and pushing with everything I had against the frame to keep it out.
I thought I was going to die.
And then, suddenly, it stopped.
Jason and me hung against the wall pushing our weight on the beams for support for a while after in silence, my ears ringing still.
We imagined as soon as our guard went down then it would come back.
Tears smeared Jason’s face. I could see him clearly now, the haze was gone.
We tired and pulled ourselves together as much as possible, we were still speechless at what had just occurred.
At some point Jason took a length of chain that had fallen and looped it further around the latch to hold the door.
I recall grabbing a tarnished hand sickle dangling from the chains above imagining this might be useful if it came back. Although it probably wouldn’t save me, I felt much better holding this in my hand.
I checked my watch just passed 3am.
It was almost silent again, save for the grass that tapped on to the metal sheets.
We occasionally heard footsteps treading lightly outside and around the back of the shed through the field.
Occasionally throughout the night we caught inaudible whispers through the walls.
I presumed those were the shadowy things out in the untamed grass and somehow in my mind that was less frightening than the other thing that had penned us in here, but not by much.
We huddled together in the middle of the shed, back to back.
Jason told me we were fucked.
Rule Four: Don’t let it catch you.
We took turns trying to sleep.
Jason spent his time on watch playing games on his phone while I slept with my sickle in hand. I didn’t care at all he was distracted; this was all pretty grueling.
He woke me up before dawn for my turn on watch. I spent my time pretty much as he had while the quiet world around woke.
When the first light peaked through the cracks of the shed, I breathed a sigh of relief that the night was over. I reminded myself soon after that this would mean nothing should we not be able to escape this place; that we must try again to get back to the pickup. At least we now knew that this place was safe from Mr. Gallagher, or whatever that thing was. We had some sanctuary from whatever haunted this place.
I stayed put in the shed until mid morning, letting Jason sleep a little longer than what I did. It seemed perfectly safe to let him do so at this time.
When I woke him, he resumed watch and I slept until midday to catch up.
When I to came to, Jason was nowhere in the shed. In fact he had opened the door and done a few laps around the house, looking for any signs of anyone or anything from the night before.
I tucked the sickle in my belt. That thing was coming with me from now on and went to look for him.
I found him on the steps of the front porch, stretching him self up to see into the distance, to see the truck.
He said he still didn’t see anything.
We were exhausted and long past alarmed.
This didn’t look good for us.
We drank as much water as what was palatable and ate a couple of mints and some more skittles. Not that we had much in the way of rations to begin with, but these were almost gone.
My stomach growled constantly. It had been a while since I recalled being hungry and I now felt a strong appreciation for what was on the other side of the grass barrier.
We tried, after much hesitation, going through the long waves of grass again.
The field was calm with no malice during the day and concealed no darkened shapes or whispers for us.
It did, however continue its trick and always delivered us on the backside of the house when we left from the front. It also took us to the front when we left from the backside of the house.
I even tried cutting at it with the sickle.
The blade on it was surprisingly sharp even though the rest of it was terribly weatherworn.
This was concerning, as it was as if someone had maintained and sharpened them recently, reasonably we knew this couldn’t be.
When we went to collect one for Jason we found this was the same for the rest of the tools in the shed.
After this disturbing revelation, we made an attempt to hack at the grass.
We would get a few yards in before we unintentionally looked away from our progress and when we turned back the grass was there again.
Once we got twenty yards in, with Jason cutting the path to the front and myself watching the back.
I though we had almost made it out, but then the grass at the perimeter to the house folded in from either side closing in on us again.
When this happened we shat ourselves and dashed in the opposite direction until we found the house again.
We waited a little while before trying again.
Even when we failed at this we couldn’t stand to be idle, we were determined to get out.
By process of elimination we would tried every direction.
We looked to the sides, as it was closer to the tree line than the front or back, which just stretched off for someway.
Somewhat tepidly we walked towards the tree line to the east. To our surprise we hit the tree line and could enter the woods beyond.
Everything within the woods was still as if the wind didn’t exist.
The trees themselves were aged, sparse and greyed. The undergrowth consisted of dark shrubs and long vines winding themselves on the gnarled trunks.
The ground dipped and rose ahead, the distance was obscured by foliage and rocks strewn about.
I took my phone out and took some footage while we walked.
It was silent apart from the cracking of leaf litter under our feet and crunching of rocks.
There were no birds, I realised, no animals either.
This entire place was like some dead lifeless pocket that was suspended away from the rest of the world.
We continued on, stumbling on larger rocks concealed in the undergrowth.
The further we continued the more we began to see markings on the trees like gashes. These reminded me of the upstairs bedroom and I shuddered. I think Jason made the same association as he caught my eye at one point. He was far less enthused about how much of a good story his pictures would make now.
There was dark splattering on some of the trees and I instinctively thought of sap. Stupidly, I looked closer. The liquid had dried the wrong consistency for sap and it was flaking in places.
I wiped my hand on the substance and it shed on my fingertips.
Damped by my sweaty fingertips, the powder smeared dark and crimson.
I rubbed my hand on some unblemished bark desperate to get it off.
Not that I wasn’t already experiencing buyers remorse at this time, but I really had begun to hate this place.
Jason took some pictures and we moved on.
Further along, the collection of rocks beneath the foliage became frequent and we started crushing them as if they were dried clumps of dirt.
We could see bits on pieces of the rocks through the leaves, and given the color disparity between the rocks and dirt this seemed off.
Curious and confused Jason brushed back the thick leaves with his foot. He reeled a little, grabbing my jacket.
We both stood mutely again as the feeling of dread washed over us.
Jason had crushed what looked like a bleached bone underfoot.
I took the sickle and cut away the undergrowth revealing more.
I hoped so much that they were from some dead animal, but that one under his foot looked like a femur, another a rib and then something that looked akin to a shattered pelvis.
I told myself to get a grip as I cut away more leaves exposing more bones. They were surrounding us, everywhere, becoming thicker on the ground the more we moved in this direction.
Cutting another patch there was a human skull half bogged in dirt, its jaw dislocated.
As if we weren’t already freaked out.
I wanted to turn around and run but Jason told me that this could be the way out.
I wanted to believe him and I knew we had to try, so we kept moving forward.
Continuing on our feet kept hitting clusters of “rocks” that kept snapping and breaking underfoot. Or at least I pretended that’s what it was; I wasn’t going to look anymore.
Eventually we came to a clearing about five yards wide and across where the shrubs and vines were replaced with leaf litter. The trees: old, hallow and dead, seemed to encircle this space.
Even though the sun shone through the canopy, light touching everything in this space, I felt hopelessness here.
Human bones were piled towards the center of the clearing. Some of them looked old, and some appeared to have been fractured violently.
The tree trunks surrounding the edges were scarred with a blades edge. Some of the cuts were very old.
Some looked recent.
I was breathing heavily at this point and I felt eyes on me. I wanted to just jumped out of my skin and be anywhere else but here now.
A rotten stench hit us and we gagged.
Towards the other side of the clearing there was a bundle of matted clothing.
Jason crept over as quietly and cautiously as he was able, and taking a stick poked the shredded and saturated garment.
It was stained a dark color and fell apart under it’s own weight. Something black, hard and rectangle in shape dropped from it.
He poked it, like a kid trying to kill a fire ant.
It was a phone.
Jason took it. Even though the case was dampened the phone inside was dry.
He tried turning it on but it was dead.
Fortunately the phone was the same as his and Jason plugged it in to his portable charger for later.
Something above my head glinted, catching my attention. I scanned everywhere and saw a glint of metal poking out of the hollow of a tree.
I coaxed Jason over and he boosted me up so I could reach. I strained my hand into the crevice grabbing what seemed to be a small weathered box.
I pulled it out and climbed down to study it.
It looked like a simple jewelry box. Dull and rough as it was now, I could imagine at one time this might have had a glossed finish, the auburn timber from which it was made would have reflected the light beautifully along it’s grain.
The latch was simple and unadorned.
I opened it.
Inside, desiccated and claw like, was a small pair of hands, the hands of a little girl.
I dropped the box cringing away from it.
Jason gazed down at it, a repulsed quizzical look on his face.
“Fuck me.” He quipped.
He really liked that word.
I don’t know how long we gaped at the pair of tiny hands, but when we heard a twig snap in the distance we lost out focus and jumped to attention.
There was another crack, closer this time, so we bolted away from the way we came.
Our feet crushed and crumpled indescribable things underfoot as we darted though the brush.
The sounds didn’t follow us, but we didn’t stop either. We were too scared.
We ran and we ran, until we burst out of the tree line and into the grass on the western side of the house.
We stopped to catch our breath.
My head pounded again, high-pitched chimes rung in my ears and I swung on my feet almost falling.
We thought we were safe in the daylight. We were kidding ourselves.
There was clearly something in there that had followed us.
The sweat pooled on my back and cooled chilling me to my core.
I fell forward and rolled on to my side.
Laying there, chest heaving, I waiting to get my senses back.
I had no idea what to do next.
Rule Five: Don’t let it out.
We rested a while until our hysteria passed, taking as much water as we could bare. This place held us here; kept us contained and without water or food it was only a matter of time before we would starve, or worse.
I tried to push past that dark place. I still had the sickle, if it came to that, but I didn’t want to.
Not yet. I would fight this thing as much as I could.
I wish was a brave person. I caught myself a few times shaking like a leaf.
All I wanted was to get out of there.
After an hour Jason took out the phone he found and started playing with it.
We found, strangely, all the security settings on the phone were switched off.
I only could assume it’s previous owner had some forethought as to someone else encountering the phone. Or, they were just really terrible at the security settings on their phone.
Either way we started sifting though its contents looking for anything that would help us.
The messages in the text history were undelivered, mostly consisting of desperate messages and unconnected calls.
It was clear they’d experienced the same problem we’d had.
I tried dialing my phone again thinking optimistically.
It once again failed to connect to my roommate, so I tried my parent’s numbers.
He checked the Mailbox, but there was nothing of interest there; a few unrelated personal emails and some spam.
He toggled the browser window and found the forum we frequented.
‘Don’t loose sight of the road!’ it read.
This warning was the last thing he got out into the world.
Jason and I, like the two idiots we were, completely ignored it thinking of it as theatrics.
Jason scrolled through a number of pictures featuring the Gallagher’s property. They had a few pictures outside the house with an intact water tank.
So the tank breaking apart was relatively recent.
I was confounded as this new information was only two months ago and before this entire place was intact for over sixty years.
I felt, given what it was made of it should have fallen apart long ago.
Jason scrolled through the video clips. A good portion were about this guys dog, a stout little terrier mutt. The rest were snippets of other abandoned houses he’d visited.
The remainders were clips of the Gallagher’s house, three of them.
We watched them all.
The first just showed them, this guy and his two friends walking around the property just like we just had. It was pretty benign. Nothing struck me as unusual as they were laughing and exploring, talking about the houses history.
The water tank was still in tact as it had been in the pictures.
They went upstairs.
Then, they went downstairs to the cellar.
The cellar was dry. There were some freestanding shelves that had been felled, some of its panels snapped.
Piles of discarded tins and broken crates littered the floor. There were disintegrated metal barrels in one corner.
More farm tools lay around amongst some dirt, chains, leaf litter, rocks and dead grass that had been blown in over the years through a large crack in the western wall.
The wall had become cracked and fragile with age around a small window; the frame had fallen out, it was large enough for a medium sized dog to get through.
Light streamed through the hole, and they didn’t need to but they used their torches to rummage the contents of an old, ornate dresser behind the stairs.
They found an old comb in it, and a thimble? It was hard to make out.
The clip ended and we watched the second one.
The three guys were walking through the long grass. They were as loosing their minds upon discovering they couldn’t get out.
Hysterical, they narrated everything.
They were concerned.
They were frightened.
They were in tears.
We watched the last clip.
The User explained to the camera, whispering and huddled in the dark how they had been there three days hiding from the Thing they presumed to be Mr. Gallagher. That the first night they’d bunkered down in the smaller bedroom upstairs and barricaded the door.
They said they’d called out when they heard steps downstairs, but then there was a howl that shook the house and it came for them.
He said it was like an animal slamming into the door and that they’d torn the planks and shutters from the windows to help secure the entry point. He said by doing this they managed to hold out for that night.
The second night after they settled in the same way, he said they stayed quiet this time around, that the night began smoothly.
He said he looked out the window at one point down into the field and saw black shadows of people in the grass watching him.
There were at least fifteen of them, he said, they just stood there and watched. It freaked him out.
The User’s voice broke at this point as he gathered his thoughts; he explained that suddenly something charged at the door.
His friend to one side hushed him and he dropped into silence. His face was drenched in sweat, eyes red. He looked upwards.
The floorboards above creaked audibly and he swallowed hard.
They were hiding in the cellar, I realised.
He continued, softer than before, saying that had his friend not been leaning on the door the entire thing would have been busted in on them. They’d all had to brace the door, as the assault was stronger and lasted longer this time around.
That all they could hear was inhuman howling and dirt flying through the gaps in the door.
He lowered his voice again and the steps passed over him.
His lips trembled.
The door at the top of the staircase jiggled, but there was a thick length of wood holding stopping the door from being pulled open.
The door shuddered violently, before stopping altogether.
The steps moved away.
The User sighed despite himself and continued telling his story.
He said they were almost over whelmed, that the entire house was rocking and squealing. That something was beating the walls from the other room.
Screaming. They could hear screaming.
When the attack stopped, he said that the world went silent and they thought they’d suddenly gone deaf.
The User speculated that this Thing became stronger every night. That he only made his presence known after sundown, along with the other shadows out in the field, and that he went on the prowl like a beast.
He pleaded that if anyone was to find him, or his phone, to try and get out before It became too strong.
And that if you couldn’t, he gasped, to hide and be quiet because he may not attack you if he doesn’t find you. He suggested running if you could, and barricading yourself somewhere until the day comes, like they had.
He said finally that if they he got out he would delete all the information from his website, all the directions on how to get here.
The User, stopped at this point probably to reflect, before giving the password for his administrator access on his blog with clear instructions to anyone who found this to delete everything about this place in case he couldn’t.
He finished his appeal by trying to pull out any other information he could remember; most of it was just talking about how he thought the woods could show them a way out if the tried to zigzag back out into the field.
They obviously didn’t find the clearing.
He said that this place got weird when they lost sight of the road, any physical connection to the outside world; that this place was a trap.
Yeah, we figured that out on our own, but since I’ve wondered how Mr. Gallagher was keeping us there.
It has occurred to me that He, or It, whatever Mr. Gallagher became, might be stuck here, and it was the reason why we couldn’t leave ourselves.
I have so many questions and I wish I could put them to rest, but these will most likely never be answered, that is possibly for the best.
The daughter was also stuck here.
We have wondered why he had not mentioned the girl.
Perhaps he never saw her.
Was she the one screaming?
Screaming because he cut off her tiny little hands and stuffed them into a box?
She seemed benign enough when we saw her.
She was just, there.
These questions give me little comfort.
We continued to watch the clip, the User looked over to his friend, who was now whispering something inaudible at him.
His other friend hushed him.
They were silent for a good while before the User spoke again. They could hear footsteps heading outside now.
The sounds were circling the house, and they seemed to arch at the western side of the building.
There was a scuffle, and the phone with its light was stuffed hastily into a jacket pocket.
Being there was a hole in the wall from the outside going into the cellar, we could hear the concern that it could get in.
The video was silent and I could hear the tension between these guys as they waited in the dark to be discovered.
Nothing happened and we could here in the footage steps trailing away from that side of the building, fading into nothingness.
Eventually, the User pulled his phone back out of his pocket and you could see the wreck he’d become.
He started whispering quietly, but I can ever make it out.
A shriek of twisting metal could be heard drowning him out, and one of his friends started screaming hysterically.
The camera lurched away clacking on the wall and he braced.
The sound of water sloshed them.
We heard the User recoiling in horror backing up against the wall near the stairs.
He turned his phone towards the far wall to illuminate the way.
He asked, in what was a hoarse whisper, if everyone was alright.
Both his friends could be seen coming up from under the water, which continued to pour into the basement at a trickle now, the waterline was at their chest.
They were all right.
The water tank had been clearly, and inexplicably, full.
His friend ushered him to turn off his phone, as the hole in the wall was now larger than before, big enough for a man to get through.
They all seemed frozen in shock for a few moments before responding. Their eyes clearly angled towards the stairs and they started to move as covertly as they could in their hushed panic.
At a distance his friend stepped towards him but them fell awkwardly backwards and didn’t get back up.
His hands and legs could be seen peaking on the water line thrashing.
The remaining boys waded to their friend whom they tried to pull up.
The phone was dropped in a shirt pocket again and we could hear the two guys struggling to tug up their friend.
Their friend could be heard struggling, gargling in what I assumed was his last breath.
This fight continued for some time, but then his the sounds of writhing stopped.
The phone came out again to illuminate the dark.
They had managed to pull their friend up from under the water but he was still now.
They called his name, gently slapping the side of his face.
The light from the phone was in his face however his pupils did not dilate.
He was dead.
Around his neck, a deep red bruise had formed in the shape of a hand.
Stunned at a loss of what to do, the two remaining friends backed away from the body.
The User flashed the light of his camera around the water and he started to hyperventilate.
“It’s in the water. It’s in the water!” he shrieked.
They both made a B-line to the stairs and we could hear the sloshing of water between rapid gasps of exertion.
There was a terrified yelp and the User whipped around.
His friend was pulling on his jacket for dear life, pleading desperation in his eyes.
Before he could take his hand to pull him back, long fingers wrapped around his friends neck from behind.
In a smooth motion, as he descended into the dirty water to die, She rose, her other hand with a firm grasp on the end on his jacket, her knee in his back forcing him over.
Her body was pale and emaciated. Hair and clothes sodden, clinging to her face and form.
The skin around her eyes was darkened; green and sullen and every luster that should have been rosy was grey.
Her dress was whole, but frayed around the edges. There was no discernable color as it was patchy and disheveled.
She sunk upon him like a doomed ship; all the while his hands thrashed and churned the water.
I’ve replayed the events of the clip several times; taken in as much as what I could. Even though it’s burnt into memory I still feel it necessary to witness and pay homage these moments as they were their last.
We saw air bubbles perforated the surface of the water as the user stepped back, clearly reacting in shock.
His friend had disappeared into the unknown reaches of the flooded basement and she’d submerged with him, her eyes appeared to have locked with that of the User.
Her face had been calm, composed and sad. Or at least, that’s what I made of it.
They’d slipped back into the water and the futile struggle for life continued, masked by the dark.
The User for his part was stuttering, screaming unable to react to save his friend.
He backed away after a few short moments and scrambled up the stairs.
He climbed higher than the water level, using his phones light to check that she wasn’t coming for him and begun smashing his foot down on aged stairs until they snapped and splintered.
He managed to break three, but was too exhausted to get the fourth.
Climbing higher up the staircase, until he was right next to the door to the house, he stopped and dropped to his knees.
He was panting from his exertion and sobbing for his friends below.
The water had calmed and silence settled again.
The phone was dropped into his shirts pocket and he sniffled stiffly.
I could hear the scuffing of wet cloth as he wiped his hands with his cuff.
We could hear him shiver.
All we could see was the grey from his inner pocket.
He started quietly weeping again, taking short breaths.
I could see myself in his shoes, sitting in the dark just waiting for it to come after him.
Minutes passed and he regained his composure.
“It’ll be morning soon.” He repeated as a hushed mantra.
The User continued to repeat this again and again until he fell into a stupor.
Not long had passed but it felt like years.
Abruptly, the cellar door jolted loudly with an enormous thud.
He cried out in shock, and we could hear scuffling down the steps.
The inhuman cry wailed, cracking with distortion through the device.
Further thumping could he heard along with tearing of wood. Quick metallic pings sung out as the bolts holding the braces failed.
The door was open.
The User could be heard screaming, but his screams were soon consumed by the loud curdling bellow.
The phone erupted in distortion.
The clip ended abruptly.
The User was gone now and in the worst possible way it seemed.
If it weren’t the hunger, or the thirst, it would be the Mr. Gallagher, or his wife that would get us.
Mrs. Gallagher, from what I’ve been able to see is something entirely different.
Perhaps I am grasping as straws here, but how she kills is almost serene; passive, like her daughter.
Past the horror of what we saw her do, considering everyone there was effectively trapped in a cage with a something so malevolent, what she did was a small mercy.
I realised this at the time we were first watching this; that too many ways out of this place involved dying and that the forces that were responsible for it would become too overpowering to stop.
I spent the time after watching the clips quietly dumbfounded while Jason sat there looking grim.
I suspected he felt as desperate as I did, anxious to move but with nothing in mind that could be done.
We sat there for so long the shadows around started to stretch.
By this time I was laying on my back looking blankly above.
There were no insects there either. I wanted to hear something normal so badly.
I thought of my parents, my other friends and everything else that would happen after this.
I worried that they would follow our breadcrumbs, come after us and get stuck as well.
I hoped we could we hold out longer than the last lot of guys did and started plotting out practical ways of getting through the night.
It had come to the point that I was sure that the shed couldn’t take another rattling it had the night before. It would fail, maybe even fall in on us if we used it again.
I made a list in my mind of everything here and started scenarios of how useful those items would be.
Jason and me started talking with some urgency about this as the place around was cooling with the setting sun.
We weighed our options.
Eventually, we decided to pull what we could from the shed; tools, sheets of corrugated steel and any wooden beams we could tear off.
We couldn’t get much off the frame, only a few small sheets, but we took the tools and the chains piling them in the living room floor.
It was with apprehension that we entered the house again. After we’d witnessed the events of its previous explorers, crossing that threshold filled me with dread.
We tip toed in and out as quietly as we could; avoiding any look at the cellar door.
When we had everything, we took it upstairs and loaded it into the smaller room.
We swept downstairs for anything heavy; the broken stove was too heavy to get up the stairs and the table, although awkward to move, was pivotal to our plans.
I hesitated before picking up the table and I could see Jason did too.
The cutlery was rearranged from the last time we’d seen it.
I collected the knife, fork and spoon, placed them on the floor gingerly before Jason and I pulled the hefty table up the stairs.
We sealed ourselves in the smallest bedroom, placing the tabletop against the door. We took head of a broken pitchfork, and one not so broken, pinning a link of the old chain to the wall on either side by pushing it through the plasterwork.
We’d Hoped this would help to hold the table in place.
The small sheets of corrugated metal went behind the door at the bottom on either side and we used the planks to diagonally wedge against the table.
We placed the shutters on the planks so we could lean on them so we did not have to be in direct contact with the door or table.
This was so much more than what the User and his friends had done to survive their second night.
I dared to hope at this point that we’d make a third or a fourth night if necessary.
As the suns dying embers burnt on the horizon, the wildness amongst the tall grass could be heard as chatter through the open window. I could never make out the words between talking stalks and my nerves started to fray again as the world further darkened.
Jason and me took out our phones and made short videos explaining ourselves.
We transferred the clips from the Users device to ours. Jason still had the found phone on him but in the event things went sideways we had decided it was best to split the risk.
Lastly we turned the security on our phones off, locked them and put them in our pockets.
We still had a decent capacity in our portable recharge packs and had decided not to use our phones unless we needed to record a message or try and call out.
We’d decided to try and call out once a day.
We were hungry, but we had water so we had a few more days in us yet.
Finally we sat, backs slumped against the awkwardly placed shutters and waited.
The night was cool and quiet.
I was full of anxiety; my stomach was in a knot, however I couldn’t tell if this was because I was hungry or because there was something out there coming for us.
We sat in the dark occasionally shivering.
I could see Jason’s profile looking blankly at the far wall.
All was quiet.
The house moved gently with the breeze penetrating its every pore. We felt its chill especially because of the open window.
It was still.
We could hear the faint dripping become louder as the wind receded. There was dampness to the air now and a dank smell surrounded us.
Jason bumped my shoulder to ask me if I could smell it too. I nodded.
Similar to the night before scratching could be heard below.
Now that we were upstairs I wasn’t as concerned that probing hands were going to slip up through the gaps in the floorboards and grasp at us.
I now presumed to know what or who that was down there, and that was so much worse.
The hair on my neck stood on end as I broke into cold perspiration.
My heart thumped heavily in my chest and I could feel an echo of that throbbing in my temple.
I scrunched my eyes closed as it to use it as a barrier between it and us.
The scraping continued downstairs, moving around, searching. It circled and repeated itself many times, sometimes pushing on a board from below, which added an extra low creaking groan into the house.
She was tenacious.
Faint steps could be heard outside on the dirt rounding the house to the northwestern side. It was the same direction of the shed.
We held our breath.
We could hear the high singing of the sheds door as it was opened.
I was so very glad we were not there this time, the shed door was very heavy and whoever was below moved it as if it was nothing.
The hunt for us begun in the last place we’d been seen. I wondered if our pursuer cared we took his tools, but really it wasn’t as if he seemed to use them anyway.
Besides here’s no way it could be worse than what we were already in for.
It started in the distance, a low rattle that became louder and punctuated with metallic clanging. There was a tearing of what sounded like wood and then a series of snapping.
A cacophony groaned louder in the distance and then thudded in a short cascade.
The shed, we assumed, was being torn down.
We could hear what we could best describe as huffing, as heavy guttural breathing replaced the sounds of destruction of the fallen shed.
It squealed sharply, undulated by a deep-throated roar. I couldn’t fathom what could make such a noise. A noise that rumbled with it’s own power shaking the very foundations of the house.
The scraping below the floorboards had stopped now.
I wonder sometimes if she was as scared of him as we were.
His howl trailed onward, fading in and out.
I balled myself up and leant with more force against the shutters.
He was moving at this stage and I started to whimper.
When his pounding feet landed on the porch, he burst through the back door and became what I perceived to be a freight train rushing straight at us.
We could hear a smashing of hardwood against a wall below.
The floorboards quivered with reverberation.
Jason uttered his favorite word behind gritted teeth many times.
The wailing was guttural now, interrupted by snorting and snuffling.
We could feel the house shift as if twisting slightly.
I had the image of some animal attempting to pick up a scent.
I’m not sure, but I think it could smell us.
Holding my breath, I pretended this would help as I anticipated with its next move it would be right on top of us.
We didn’t need to wait long.
Thunderous stomping charged up the stairs and slammed into the bedroom door.
The force jolted us forward a little and I cried out.
Howling perforated my eardrum. I could have been next to police siren and it would have hurt less.
The haze that hung in the air like oscillations appeared again and I could sense the world tilt just a little bit.
The mass behind the door struck our blockade again and again.
We could feel the full force behind it as well as wild thrashing on the door itself.
What felt like damp dirt permeated the gaps around the door, flicking on to the wall and sticking to my skin.
I coughed; the air was now thick with whatever these particles were.
Struggling for purchase my hand pushed against the wall on one side. I could see with the faint moonlight coming through the window my hand had smeared the substance.
My tongue tasted a sharp metal tang and my mind reeled back to the slashed trees in the woods.
This was blood, I thought.
Unfathomable horror went straight through me, I could not put into mind what could even be doing this.
I panicked all over again, forcing myself harder against the blockade.
As if responding to my despondence, the strength behind the thing became reinvigorated; aggressively throwing it’s full weight against the door.
The table sprang forward at an off angle and even though we pushed it back it had jolted the chain with such force one of the pitch forks flew loose from the wall and clattered across the floor.
The chain clanked uselessly limp.
Without the retention of the chain the force behind the door had become difficult to manage.
Something sharp ripped at the corner of the frame, the assault continued and deafening howls punctuated the jolts on the door.
I looked at Jason, my face contorting with fear and strain. In the reflection of the moons light on the wall I could see him nodding at me to ‘do it’.
Taking the hand sickle from my belt, I jumped up. Seizing the jangling chain pulling it tight across the table.
The length almost slipped my clammy grip as another charge jostled our defense. In the small reprieve I had I looped the sharpened tip through the link and pushed it as far into the wall as I could manage.
The width of the blade only caught an inch of the wood and plaster before the chain link stopped sliding.
Door jumped again before being assailed by thrashing pounds on the door.
The little sickle pulled a clump of the plasterwork from the wall making the chain go slack again.
Jason groaned. He gave his all to buy me this time.
My heart hammered as I darted across the floor to get the broken pitchfork head. It was a mad scramble in my flustered state.
In my rush to turn I glimpsed through the window and everything seemed to slow down.
The inhuman wailing had become a mild reverberation, pushing against me. Beyond the window the moons light flooded the swaying plain below like some calm ocean. But within its tussling waves, causing me to go cold, were the shadowy silhouettes of people.
Many people, all shapes and heights.
All with their heads turned towards our tiny little window.
At a glace there seemed to be more than what had been described.
My spine tingled viscerally with hot and cold sweat.
The wind coiled around my neck, rising goose bumps where there hadn’t been any before.
One of the shadowy forms flickered like some sort of broken reverse light before going out entirely.
A heavy gust of wind shoved itself past me and I could now feel warm little puffs coming from behind me like breath.
I cringed in congealed terror and my mind went straight to the dark assumption place, making the lea that it was now behind me.
I struggled with my nerves not to turn round.
I didn’t want to make it real.
My body turned to face it on its own as if compelled to do so.
I still can’t fully explain what was there.
The shadow was a hollow visage of black. All I could compare it to was a dense swarm of insects moving in unison.
It’s eyes were vacuous, but something behind it sparkled with intent.
I gasped and stuttered as it shifted towards me.
Even though I backed away, it was as quick as lightening, and lunging, it struck me in the middle of my chest pushed me up and back.
My feet were no longer touching the ground, causing my brain to spin and my stomach to contract.
The back of my knees hit the windowsill and the world had tilted upside down.
My head skidded briefly on the shingled roof before tipping unconsciously left onto my shoulder.
I rolled once before plummeting off the roof, hitting the ground and getting the wind knocked out of me.
Gasping and struggling against the constant ringing in my ear, I struggled to pick myself up from the dizziness.
In the disorientation I became acutely aware of the ongoing thrashing and inhuman wailing inside the house, that I was now outside and vulnerable should it loose interest in the upstairs room.
I coughed involuntarily, still dazed.
Something clattered in the dirt by my side, my head snapping to it out of pure adrenaline.
It was the sickle.
I instinctively reached for it.
I wrapped my finger on its handle; noticing only then that a short distance beyond where it lay was a pair of tiny and very dirty, bare feet.
My eyes peeled upwards.
As if I wasn’t already struggling for air already, my breath stalled again at the sight of the tattered dress. This time I noticed a diminished blue color on it’s trim.
The little girl stood before me again, this time her wild matted hair appeared tamer, as it was parted to one side in wavy loose ringlets. Her face was marginally cleaner.
But the one difference that was striking me the most was her mouth.
She was smiling.
A little hand reached out towards me. It was now in place were her severed little stubs used to be.
They were no longer the dried husks we had found, but cherubic little digits, albeit a little unclean. The only thing that appeared to remain was a raised and reddened scarring about her wrists.
I jolted as if someone had snatched at me.
The smile did not move and she beckoned me.
Rising slowly to my knees, she edged closer offering her hand to me again.
She motioned with insistence, glancing once towards the rumbling house and then back at me.
I was transfixed and afraid, however in consideration to my peril understood she had some concern for me.
Steadying myself, I climbed on to my feet.
She took a full step at me, her little brown eyes locked on my gaze with urgency.
Her smile had faded a little now and her hand reached for mine.
I battled myself, thinking of how her mother lay in wait under the house drowning those within her grasp, that her father was a creature that seemed to tear those he encountered apart.
Bitterly, I was thinking of how she planned to kill me.
I was petrified by the certainty inside the house and frightened by the uncertainty outside. I was done hesitating though, so I took her little hand in mine.
It was cold and clammy.
She started to pull at me, directing me to the wild flowing stalks amongst the field.
My feet were heavy, I wanted to scream, but I followed along behind.
Entering the field the grass was less fierce, swaying rhythmically to the whim of the wind, the stalks gossiping amongst one another.
It was serene, calm and the sounds of the struggles beyond did not permeate the now peaceful world around.
She tugged at me still, all the while moving me forward.
I took my eyes off her at one stage and saw that less than three feet away the shadowed silhouettes stood watching silently.
There were many of them lined out at a distance to one another on both sides.
I shuddered and looked back at her.
We kept going.
After a little while she dropped my hand, dashed forward and disappeared.
Now alone in the rattling waves of grass, I felt eyes upon me like darts had been thrown.
I panicked, and bolted forward. This only got me a few steps before I burst out of the field, tripped on a rock and face planted into the gavel coming face to face with the trucks tires.
The Moons light irradiated the clearing, reflecting off the chrome on the hood.
My hands strung bitterly from grazing, regardless I reached out to touch it anyway.
My past couple of days had been so unreal I could even believe what was in front of me, but it was real.
Upon confirmation of how solid it was, I eagerly dragged myself up and rummaged my pocket for the key.
I had trouble coordinating the key in the lock, however though my fumbling managed to open the door and slip inside.
Slamming it closed, my finger hammered the internal lock down before sitting stunned and alone in the pickup truck.
My mind swam and my lungs burnt.
I took a moment to collect my thoughts.
I was out.
All my senses screamed at me to leave, turn the key, start her up and floor it.
I wanted to do so, so badly.
I slammed my fists into the steering wheel in despair and disgust.
I just couldn’t.
Starting the pickup I backed up.
I felt disorientated, sick to my guts, almost forgetting to turn the lights on.
As I did the beams danced on and over the top of the now benign field hitting the house in the distance, it’s window on the top floor open.
I toggled the high beam, the deliberated husk in the distance almost glowed as the light bounced off it.
An idea then hit me.
Leaving the car on, I jumped out.
I was in disbelief at what I intended to do, but I forced myself to do it.
Taking the sickle I hacked desperately at the grass, side to side, an arms length in width.
I would take another step and slash at it again, the light hitting the newly exposed layer.
The grass did not appear to grow back.
Pushing forward deeper into the labyrinth I went, the tall stalks had begun to mingle unnaturally again.
I ploughed on.
I felt the cold dagger stares coming from either side and in my peripheral vision I could see blackness shifting amongst the swaying.
The field became more agitated the further I moved in, but I was getting closer now and the closer I got the less silent the world became.
Reverberations filtered through the barrier before me followed by muffled bellows and shuddering grunts.
I was so close to the edge now.
The noise became intense.
Cutting down the final barrier, the haze in the air hit me again.
I started yelling out to Jason, screaming his name.
It didn’t help as I could barely hear myself.
The howling continued unabated and the house shook from the onslaught.
Perhaps it was my imagination but I thought I could hear screaming.
I looked hopelessly at my feet and then in shear desperation picked up a rock and threw it at the window.
I missed terribly.
I threw more after that, managing to land a few in the window.
I wanted to see Jason take a look out to see, however I knew he must be braced against the door keeping the Thing at bay.
If he were not the one holding its attention and keeping it occupied, then it would have been else where and possibly coming for me.
No wonder the field was so agitated, and yet the shadows hiding amongst it didn’t approach me or touch me.
I knew they could, but they didn’t.
Chancing a look sideways, I jumped, they there were practically next me.
The wind rushed about me, but perhaps that was their breath on me and not the wind at all.
Terrified of how close they were to me, I turned my attention back to the house.
They were all looking at me, but there was nothing I could do about them watching me.
The furious wailing continued above.
My head pounded.
There were no rocks large enough to make it that far around me and I was far too scared to move from the pathway I had cut out.
There was only one thing left I could toss at the window, the sickle.
I hesitated, scared that the walls would close in from either side and I would become trapped again, but I worked myself up to it and threw it.
It flew into the window. Momentarily I saw it bounce off the wall inside.
That was the last thing I could do to get his attention.
I screamed his name again uselessly.
A head jumped into frame, followed by a body jumping down hitting the roof.
The room behind exploded with splintered wood and dirt flew like so many flies swarming.
The haze thickened and the uncontainable wrath of the howl struck me.
I almost buckled under it.
Jason dropped to the ground after half catching the edge the roof.
He hobbled to his feet, looking hurt, all the time lurching towards me in labored steps.
It bellowed again louder than before. Angrier too.
The ominous stamping came at us now.
It knew we were here, and it knew we had found a way out.
I supported as much of Jason’s weight as much as I could and we hustled towards the pickup.
The squall behind pursued us and I could just hear the smashing of the front door slamming open.
We kept going towards to light.
Its feet pounded the earth after us.
I shook pathetically it was almost on us.
Reflectively, I turned to my head back only to see the grass peel in from either side.
We stumbled on hearing the Thing behind us thrashing about making what I could only fathom was grumbling roars of frustration.
Pushing forward, the wails of anger diminished.
The heaviness about the air diminished and silence embraced us.
I recall looking back at the edge of the grass once we had emerged.
I was drenched in sweat.
I had no words.
Jason had only one though.
We loaded into the pickup truck and drove until we found anything that remotely resembled civilization. Soon after I pulled over, I was too exhausted to keep going.
We spent the night under a lamppost at the edge of the county.
It wasn’t the most comfortable sleep, but we both fell under at the drop of a hat.
We woke the next morning to a tap on the window.
A uniformed officer in his wide brimmed hat greeted us good morning and asked us what we had been doing.
Taking a long look at ourselves, the dirt and smears on us, we struggled to even reply.
The officer caught my eye.
I swear he knew.
He sharpened his gaze at me as if he were angry.
“Don’t come back,” He said tersely “don’t tell anyone either.”
I nodded dumbly, stunned. Hours later I would be fuming about this.
The Officer got back in his car, turned back the way we’d come and left us to our own devices.
I drove us home.
My roommate, who’d wondered what the hell we’d got up to after pranking him, looked confused, as I came back in with the same clothes I left in days earlier and looked like I’d spent the night in a ditch.
I was overwhelmingly glad to be home, but didn’t respond to anything he said. Instead, I walked straight into my room, logged on to the forum using the User’s administration credentials and deleted all the information pertaining to the entry.
I instead left another entry without a location tag.
Rule One: Don’t loose sight of the road.
Rule Two: Don’t go in the water.
Rule Three: Lock the door behind you.
Rule Four: Don’t let it catch you.
Rule Five: Don’t let it out.
I then took a shower and slept for what seemed like days.
Later I would find out Jason had sprained his ankle from falling off the roof.
It’s been over a year now and I still can’t relax some nights. If I am alone in the house and I hear dripping, even faintly, I break out in a cold sweat.
I can’t stand music loud anymore, anytime I hear sounds remotely distort beyond recognition my hands shake.
My nerves are shot and I’m struggling so much more with school now.
It’s difficult to keep it together some days. Sometimes I think I see that same little girl out of the corner of my eyes, watching.
And I always, always, barricade my door at night.
My roommate has clearly noticed the difference and has asked me several times about what happened.
I never answered him until recently, and even when I answered him I lied about everything.
He probably doesn’t believe me, however this doesn’t matter.
Jason, like me, has just gone quiet.
We’re still friends.
We just don’t do this kind of stuff anymore.
I still have the Users phone. I feel so guilty about it because they’ve been searching for him and his friends for so long now.
One day the temptation to smash that thing will be far too strong. I’ve kept it so far because I felt I owed this to them to keep something of them alive, as proof they existed.
I have a bad feeling even though I blocked my IP address that one day they will come knocking on my door looking for an explanation.
I worry about this a lot.
There’s so much I recall, so much I’d like to forget.
Halloween just reminds me there are some things out there that we can’t grasp and really shouldn’t try too.
I know some of you wont believe me.
That’s okay I get it.
But please keep in mind the rules set forth above, otherwise one day you wont be going home.
CREDIT : Rebecca Harding