26 Oct What’s in the Woods
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"What's in the Woods"Written by
Estimated reading time — 8 minutes
I’m a sleepwalker. I’ve woken up on the floor, in the hedges outside, and half-hanging out of the refrigerator with orange juice spilled down the front of my shirt – just to name a few. Most of the time it would end in uncontrollable laughter for my two roommates, and thankfully over time my embarrassment wore off.
Last fall, however, that all changed.
My roommates and I attend college in a fairly rural Midwest area, so the nightlife consists mostly of house parties and bonfires in cornfields. One Saturday night, my roommates and I were driving down a gravel road to the family farm of a friend when our high beams hit something about 200 yards down the road on our side. It looked like someone walking, so we thought maybe a fellow partygoer had some vehicular troubles (though we hadn’t seen any abandoned vehicles on the way in). We turned off the high beams and as we got closer we saw that it was a red-haired girl in a white dress that almost matched the fairness of her skin. I was in the passenger seat, so I rolled down the window and stuck my head out as Thomas slowed the car.
“Hey! Do you need a ride?” I tried to call out in the friendliest voice possible to alleviate any fears that may be caused by a carful of guys approaching a girl by herself in the woods. As Thomas continued slowing the car down I could hear the gravel crunching underneath us and eventually we came to a halt. The girl stopped walking and turned toward us. She looked at me and smiled, a sweet but knowing expression that matched the mild humor I saw in her bright green eyes. She was very pretty, her hair a deep shade of shining dark red against her flawless pale skin.
“I’m fine, thank you, I just like to walk.” She said, sounding distant but very sure of herself.
“Are you sure? It’s pretty dark out here, no telling what’s in these woods,” Dave chimed in from the back seat.
Her eyes darted quickly to the source of the question, and she issued a firm “I can take care of myself.” And began walking again.
“Alright,” exhaled Thomas, “I guess we’ll see her when she gets there.” So I said a quick “See ya later,” rolled the window back up and we rolled slowly past the girl and down the road.
The party was pretty fun that night, but for some reason I couldn’t get that girl out of my head. I kept looking around, trying to make sure she had made it safely but I never saw her. I asked others at the party if they passed her on the way in, but no one recalled seeing any pedestrians outside of the town. There was something about her that I found intriguing — maybe even a little unsettling – but I attributed the latter to our remote location and fearing for the girls’ safety. Dave suggested that maybe she lived around there and was just going for a stroll, but the only residence within 15 miles of that place was another farm that had been abandoned for over 50 years so I wasn’t convinced.
Eventually, the party died down and we got ready to leave. I hadn’t been in much of a drinking mood so I was sober to drive the three of us home. We piled in the car – Thomas and me in the front and Dave sprawled out in the back on the brink of unconsciousness. Several folks had left earlier to go out to a bar in town, so once again we found ourselves alone on the gravel road with a darkness so black it seemed solid surrounding anything our high beams and taillights didn’t touch.
About three miles from the party and another four or five miles from the road into town that connects to the gravel road, we spotted something on the ground beside the road ahead of us. At first we thought someone had tossed a white bag of trash out of their window to avoid dumpster fees, but as we neared we saw what it actually was – the red-haired girl. Thomas let out an appropriate “What the fuck?” and I nodded in agreement. She seemed to be sitting with her knees pulled to her chest and her head tucked into her arms, which were folded on top of her legs. My stomach immediately sank when I realized it was her. I knew we should have picked her up. She’s probably been sitting here the whole time, scared and alone. I figured that was why my gut was not letting me forget about this person.
She didn’t raise her head or look up at all as we pulled up beside her and Thomas rolled his window down.
“Hey, sweetheart? You ok?” Thomas asked through his open window.
“Hey! Can you hear me? Can we please take you somewhere safe?”
Before Thomas could even finish enunciating the word “safe,” I heard him make a horrible guttural sound like he was choking on his words and he frantically began scrambling to get away from the window. As he began struggling I saw the girl past him for a split second and she still appeared not to have budged since we first spotted her. Finally, Thomas caught his breath and screamed “Go! Gogogogo!!!” and began rolling his window up. His tone genuinely freaked me out even though I hadn’t seen or heard anything so I took off and we didn’t look back until we hit the road that would lead us into town.
“What the hell just happened back there?” I asked him. I’m pretty sure Dave slept through the whole thing.
“Mike I swear to fucking God,” Thomas began, still gasping for breath, “she looked up at me and her goddamn eyes were black. I could hear her talking in my fucking head dude. What the fuck?!?!”
“Wait, what? What the hell are you talking about? She didn’t look up the whole time, I didn’t hear anything.” I was starting to get uneasy, but this sounded like a crazy drunk guy rambling.
“Oh my fucking God, no dude, she looked right at me and I could hear her saying over and over ‘I’m what’s in the woods, I’m what’s in the woods, I’m what’s in the woods.’ But her lips weren’t moving at all.” He was getting me pretty good at this point, I’ll be honest. I felt like a ping pong ball was stuck in my throat. I couldn’t believe Dave was still passed out. I had no idea what was going on. I know that girl seemed strange, but this just seemed like something out of a horror movie. Nothing like that happens to real people, right?
No, not right. Not at all. We finally made it home, but not without looking in the side- and rear-view mirrors more than we looked ahead. We managed to wake Dave up and get him in the house even through Thomas’ hysteria. Once we threw Dave on the bed, I went in my room to start getting ready for bed. I was scared as shit, but it was so surreal I don’t think I even processed it that night. I was just happy to be at home where I was safe. I talked to Thomas for a while and managed to calm him down enough to go to sleep and I promised him we would talk about it more in the morning when we had had a chance to recover from everything.
The morning never came for Thomas. I laid in my bed for a while, wondering what was really going on with that girl (if she was, in fact a girl) and if Thomas had really experienced what he said he had. I honestly had no idea what to believe. I tossed and turned for a while, a little jumpier than usual. Eventually, I turned on some late night cartoons and was able to fade into sleep.
I didn’t dream at all. It seemed like I was asleep for a split second before I awoke again. I awoke in complete darkness. Thick like the darkness in the woods. Although it was pitch black at first, I knew I was not in my room. I was on my back on a hard floor. “Fuck,” I thought, “I’ve been sleepwalking again.” This room had a strong smell. Not a particularly bad smell, just a strong smell of wood and insulation and mustiness, like an old unfinished room. I could tell the floor was made of wood, not concrete so I knew I wasn’t in the basement. I was in the attic. Immediately I wondered how in the world I had managed – in my sleep – to push up the attic door panel in my closet ceiling and hoist myself in there. Slowly I realized the faint, pale light from the TV in my bedroom was sneaking through the open attic door and casting a flickering blue glow over the attic, causing the thick blackness to retreat ever-so-slightly.
That wasn’t the only thing I realized. I wasn’t alone. When the TV lent it’s brighter flashes to the attic, I saw her. Her? I don’t even know anymore. I saw it. I saw the white dress, the pale skin, the red hair – although it looked a little different now – and it was standing in the far corner of the attic near the exposed trusses, maybe thirty feet away from me. Its face looked very different, but I couldn’t see it very well. I would say that was the scariest moment of my life, but it paled in comparison to what happened next. It was as if the second I saw it…it saw me.
Its left foot slid out first, making no sound as it moved. Then, it crouched down in a squat and slowly lowered its left hand to the floor and began to walk – not crawl – on all fours toward me. Frozen in fear and still lying on my back, I glanced toward the open attic door. I thought for a second that I might be able to make it to the door, but as I was trying to gather my courage the TV turned off and I was back in the dark. With a sinking feeling, I tried to be brave and tell myself this was just a dream I was waking up from. That didn’t last long. As soon as I turned my face back toward the thing approaching me, the TV flickered back on.
The girl, this thing…it was staring at me, maybe six inches from my face. Its skin was still white as snow, but grotesque-looking blue veins bulged beneath its surface. Its forehead and eyes were unnaturally large and completely black, just as Thomas had said. I noticed its fiery hair looked different, and then realized its hair wasn’t red at all. It was blonde and almost completely saturated with blood. I could see the blood running down its forehead, into its black eyes and around the two holes where its nose should have been. The worst part was the mouth. Its thin lips curled back from pointed yellow teeth in a hideous grin that seemed to fade into the darkness on each side and never end. It was the horrific, unmoving visage I was staring at as the words “I’M WHAT’S IN THE WOODS” rang over and over in my head in a voice that seemed to belong to something incredibly old and unfathomably evil. Even though the screaming was all in my head, it felt as though my eardrums were about to burst. Over and over I heard this phrase “I’M WHAT’S IN THE WOODS” shrieked at me from the wheezing, nearly motionless monster that was before me. It seemed to consume me, the TV light fading out until I saw nothing but the grinning face of that creature. This is the last thing I remember.
I’m safe now. Thomas and Dave burned with the house, but somehow I made it outside, where I woke up. Almost everyone assumes I was sleepwalking and was already outside when the fire started, but I know what happened. The police don’t believe me, but I know. I told them what happened, and I guess that’s why I’m here now. Maybe they kind of think I did it, who knows. Seems the only thing they could prove was that I’m a lunatic. I don’t mind. The strong leather straps keep me in my bed at night. No worrying about where I’ll wake up or what I’ll do. I just go to sleep in my bed and wake up in my bed. I used to sometimes see the creature in my dreams, but they’re giving me something for that now. It’s…it’s not so bad…I just get a little…tired sometimes…I might…try to get some rest now…
Credit To – IndigoDoll