12 Oct Why We Fear the Dark
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"Why We Fear the Dark"Written by
Estimated reading time — 8 minutes
I don’t have much time, so read every word carefully… because detail is not a vanity I can afford right now.
My name is Seth Anderson. I am a 43-year-old accountant from Washington. I am married, I have two daughters, and I was mortally afraid of clowns for a time in my life. That time lasted from my tenth birthday party up until last night.
Before I delve into why I am typing this at three in the morning, I need you to ask yourself if you fear the dark. If your answer is no, you need to CAREFULLY reconsider your answer, for that would have been my first response a mere couple of hours ago. Now, there is nothing I fear more. At this point, I would live with clowns just to forget what happened. I know that sounds funny coming from a near-middle-aged man on the internet, but hopefully you’ll take my words into consideration if you remotely care about your mental health, let alone your life.
There is a reason we were born into fearing the dark, but it’s far from the scientific explanations that have been built upon over the years. There really isn’t a right word for what it is, but the best I can say is that it’s just… wrong. It’s not the dark itself, it’s what festers in it; what is unearthed when the sun hides behind the horizon. It’s everything wrong with the world, both physically and morally. When it happens, it’s almost as if time has shattered, nothing makes any sense.
I remember everything so vividly, but to recall the event is almost like having a nightmare.
It all started a few hours after I returned home. I live in the woodland area, so it is quite a drive back from where I work. I was raised in the woods, and most of my childhood consisted of walking trails and climbing trees, so it only felt right to settle down away from the city lights to let my kids experience the wonders of the outdoors. To clear my mind of documents and papers, I walk the rugged trails within the forest behind my house, which allows me to relive some familiar feelings from when I was a kid. Overtime booked me an extra few hours, so by the time I arrived home, the kids and wife were already in bed. Without thinking, I grabbed my walking stick and water bottle and flew out the glass sliding doors. Almost forgetting to close the doors, I quietly slid them shut and trudged through the unkept yard and found myself at the edge of the forest.
I gazed into the piney wonderland, but my eyes only met with a wall of darkness. This was very strange because the forecast for last night was a full moon, which should have given ample light to walk the paths. The moonlight was almost nonexistent, as if the land was absorbing it. After turning my phone flash on, I began my walk into the abyss. Around a quarter of a mile in, I look up from the path and realize I can’t see more than a few feet in front of me. It was like looking into a tub of oil, the trees drowning in the dark until you pulled them to the surface. And ever stranger was the fact I couldn’t hear anything. The only sounds to accompany me were the sounds of my footsteps and breathing. I mean this was VERY unnerving, even during the winter you could hear the sounds of trees rustling in the wind. Pushing the thought out of my head, I walked faster and returned my gaze to the ground. Then I stopped. Rather than a worn dirt path, I was standing on underbrush and shrubs. Something wasn’t right, and every feeling in my body was screaming it at this point. I turned around and walked for what seemed like an hour, looking for the path, but it felt like I wasn’t moving at all. At that moment, my flashlight flicked off.
My mind went blank. All I could feel was an overwhelming sense of dread and terror. It was like thousands of blades were hovering inches from my body. Moving felt wrong, breathing felt wrong, just being felt wrong. I frantically pressed the power button on my phone, but to no avail. For some unknown reason, the sense of an impending doom was creeping on me. As second pass by, the closer whatever I thought was after me was getting closer. My body shot into overdrive and I began sprinting further into the void. As I stumbled through the forest, my eyes slowly adjusted to the dark. I could see faint outlines of trees and bushes. I ran for what felt like hours, hoping to break into a clearing or just find a source of light. That’s when my phone started ringing. I stopped dead in my tracks, slowly grabbed for my phone, and raised it to my face.
All I could feel was horror: The contact read off as “Mom.” I didn’t know what to do or what to think. I couldn’t tell if I was more horrified because I was lost in a void of a forest that I know better than the back of my hand, or the fact I was supposedly being called by the woman who died giving birth to me. I mean, I couldn’t even make a call because I didn’t have any service, let alone receive one. The caller didn’t have a number, it was just blank where the number would be. I had so many thoughts racing through my head… and I never had a contact in my phone that went by “Mom.” Reluctantly, I slide the answer button and raise the phone to my ear.
I heard absolutely nothing. I tried speaking but the only sound that came from the other side was static. As I was about to hang up, the caller hung up. With bigger problems than a malfunction, I took advantage of the flashlight of the phone. I had 30% battery left, which would have been enough to find my way home. Before I even turned on the flashlight switch, the number called again. Dumbfounded, I answered once again and listened.
Just as before, I heard nothing.
I tried speaking once again, but still received no reply. The caller hung up. I brushed it off, turned on the flashlight and began jogging in the direction of home. At that point, I wanted nothing more to get back to that place of safety.
About half an hour later, it happened again. My phone buzzed, alerting me to an incoming call. This time, I answered and angrily shouted at the caller, asking them why they were calling.
Then I heard something.
It was faint, but it was definitely there. It was the sound of a man. His words were inaudible, but he sounded very familiar. I replied to him by asking him to speak louder, but the words were still inaudible. The caller didn’t hang up this time, so I did. As soon as the connection was cut, though, the contact called again. This time, I screamed curses into the phone, threatening him with whatever was on the top of my head. He spoke again. His voice was much louder, but heavy static prevented me from putting any of the words together. I angrily hung up and switched to the flashlight. Not even a minute later, the number called again. I had no intention of speaking further, but force of habit prompted me to answer… and before I could end the call, the man screamed, louder than before. Though through heavy static, it almost sounded exactly like me. I shakily ended the call, and switched back to the app.
That’s when I heard it.
The screaming didn’t stop when I ended the call. I could hear it a distance away behind me, growing louder by the second. It wouldn’t stop, the static filter was thicker. My heart was racing and I felt the urge to run. My legs felt like concrete, but I managed to get into a running pace up the hill. The screaming was getting closer and closer, no matter how fast I ran, it sounded like it was only 10 yards behind me and getting closer. It was deafening; I felt my ears were going to burst at any second. I couldn’t hear my own breathing at this point. It was getting closer, it felt like it was only a few feet behind me.
Then out of nowhere, it stopped.
Screaming or not, I wasn’t slowing down. I ran until it felt like my heart was pumping battery acid, then I ran even more. The further I ran, the easier it was to see. After about twenty minutes, I could make out trees. I shut off the flashlight to save power, then glanced over my shoulder to see if whatever was screaming was chasing me. There did not seem to be anything, so I slowed my pace to walk.
Hours seemed to pass, and I walked so long that it should’ve been sunrise. The clock on my phone was stuck on 00:00, though, and I had no way of telling what time it was or how long I have been in the forest. After trudging for what seemed like an eternity, I broke into a clearing. Relieved, I checked my surroundings for any landmarks, but I was clueless to where I was. Then I saw something in the middle of the clearing: It was a giant hole, circular in shape with a diameter of about 150 feet. I crept towards it to get a better look and couldn’t believe my own eyes.
It was almost like a stone tower, but built into the ground. The walls seemed to be made of a cobble stone material and there were wooden planks sticking out of the walls that wrapped around the entire tower like a spiral stair case. I could see roughly 20 meters down, then it was just black, as if the dark where a liquid sitting in a glass. I have been walking these woods for a decade and never seen this thing before, I was left completely shocked. To my utter dismay, my phone ringed again. Rather than a call, it was a text message from the same caller from earlier.
do you see me
I immediately scanned the area around me. I watched the tree line for movement but saw nothing. After assuring nothing was around me, I leaned over the edge of the hole and looked into the inverted tower. What I saw will haunt me until the day I die. Down on the wall directly below me, I saw a hand reaching out from the blackness. Beside it was a face.
I don’t think I have ever screamed as loud as I did in that moment. The thing mimicking me had an ear-to-ear grin plastered on its face, but the most disturbing part were its eyeless sockets. Just before I could get up to run, the thing started to twitch rapidly, opening its mouth to release that god awful static scream that haunted me hours before. It started to crawl up the wall, its limbs making movements only possible if every bone in your body were broken.
There isn’t much I remember after that. I recall running the hell out of that place and back into the tress. After that, it was a blur of trees and screaming. Last thing I see before blacking out is the back-porch light of my house illuminating my screaming wife and my two girls. My wife called an ambulance, but I woke from unconsciousness before they even arrived. I declined their service and lied to my wife saying I was a just a little lost and passed out from a panic attack. She was reluctant to go back to bed but eventually did.
That was two hours ago.
About twenty minutes after they went to bed, I heard it again.
The screaming returned, and it won’t go away. I’m looking out my window now and I can see it: It’s just standing out there by the edge of the trees. It doesn’t move, it has been standing there for hours. I tried calling the police, but the lines have been cut and service just won’t go through. I tried to wake up my family, but the staircase up to their rooms is gone. It’s like I never had a staircase at all: There’s just a hallway opening ten feet off the ground. No matter how much noise I make, they won’t reply. All I hear is soft wailing echoing from their rooms. I tried leaving but the doors just won’t open. It’s like they are welded to the wall.
I’ve been here for hours, yet the clock won’t move from 3. The screaming won’t stop. I am not sure if it ever will at this point. I’m not sure what else I can do besides hope that this email gets to someone out there. Please, don’t be brave, fear the dark. Just stay in the light, it can’t follow you there.
That thing is still just standing there.
I think it just moved.
Credit: Jeremiah Sewell