Something followed me home from the woods
The house I lived in with my dad, stepmom and step sister when I was in high school was super haunted. My dad and stepmom recently sold the house. God willing I'll never have to go back, so I figured it was safe enough to tell some of the stories from my time there. This story is from just a week or two after we moved in.
Our house sat on a pretty steep incline. In the back there was room for a concrete patio and a little space for a vegetable garden. Past that, the ground sloped steeply up into very thick woods that were full of oak, birch and pine trees. The woods were pretty wild, but there was an obvious path that led straight off from our property into the thicket. It ignited my stepsister's curiosity as soon as she saw it.
She was a few years younger than me. I think she was about twelve when we moved in and I would have been fourteen or fifteen. Rita, my stepsister, was on me from the second we moved in to go into the woods with her. I used to go hiking with my dad before he started dating my stepmom, so to her that made me an expert on nature. But, the thickness of the underbrush in the woods behind the house really put me off.
Eventually, I gave in to Rita's constant wheedling and agreed to explore the woods behind the house. I talked Rita into putting on long pants to protect from brambles and we set out into the woods.
The incline was really steep and only got steeper the further we went in. The weeds and brambles along the forest floor were thick and cloying, clinging to our pants legs and pricking at our skin even through our jeans. The path we were following was narrow and roamed left to right seeking the easiest way past trees and bushes. It was probably a path used by deer and foxes and we struggled to follow it.
I remember Rita saying, "This is so cool! It's a for real forest right behind our house!" and trying not to scoff where she could hear or see it. I already felt like I was too old to play around in the woods. Those thoughts aside, I thought it was unwelcoming and king of creepy. Definitely not the kind of place I would have wanted to play even when I was her age.
It was quiet in the woods. As we stepped deeper and higher, the incline just kept going up and and up. We didn't hear any bird sounds insects. It seemed like the only sound was what our feet made as they pushed through the underbrush and what the wind made as it blew hot sticky summer air against our backs.
After a few minutes of hard going, the incline started to even out and soon we were walking downward, the forest floor now sloping away down into a valley.
"Have you ever been out in the woods like this before?" Rita asked, holding onto the back of my shirt as she cautiously descended down deeper into the woods. She was stepping carefully in my footsteps as she picked her way down.
"Not like this," I told her, holding onto a crooked tree as I held a hand out to help her over a fallen log. "We went to public parks mostly. They maintain their forests so they aren't congested like this."
"Isn't it exciting to have this as our backyard?" she asked with a smile, her hand small and strong in mine as she hauled herself over the tree.
"Yeah, it is pretty nice," I agreed even though I privately thought that the woods were too wild to be much fun to walk in. We had only been hiking for maybe fifteen minutes and I was already starting to breath faster due to the harsh incline.
We went a little farther and heard the sound of running water. It was the first sound other than the wind that we had heard since entering the woods.
"A stream!" Rita exclaimed. "Do you think it's at the bottom of the valley?" she asked excited.
"Yeah, probably," I grunted. "But, don't rush! You don't want to fall and get hurt in here." I kept a hand out to help her along all the same. The image of her with a twisted ankle or broken leg filled me with anxiety and I tried to keep a hand on her as she hurried ahead of me.
The stream was at the bottom of the valley, a small but fast moving creek that was perfectly clear. The bottom was covered in a fine silt and tiny rounded stones. Looking close we saw that there were little minnows swimming at the edges where the current wasn't as fast.
We both took off our shoes and socks, rolled up our pant legs and waded into the water. In the center it came up to our calves and , the current was swift. The water was blessedly cool and felt great against my feet. Rita was delighted, picking up stones to put in her pockets and watching the little fish swim around her feet and brush against her toes. For the first time since we started to push through the woods, I was happy that Rita had suggested it. This was a great find and was worth the hard work to get to it.
Then, seemingly out of the blue, I was struck with this strong feeling that I was being watched.
It was bright even that deep in the woods. The air was hot and the wind through the trees was humid. Even so I got a cold chill that ran down my back and suddenly my throat and stomach were in knots. There was some part of my brain, like this primal hind brain that pricked up and said 'holy fuck you are in DANGER'. I froze, barely daring to breathe, and looked around as much as I could without moving my head and I saw it.
I'm still not really sure what it was. It was standing further down the stream, which steadily moved lower between the hills. It was standing up straight and perfectly still in the center of the stream watching us. Small trees and shrubs grew all along the creek and leaned into the space above it to stretch for sunlight. This made it hard to see the person or figure through them. Their face was obscured by branches and leaves, but I could make out a little of their body and everything about it made me feel something was wrong down to the marrow in my bones.
They were in a human shape, standing up, arms at their sides, their legs straight knees locked. The water was visibly burbling around their shins so they were displacing the water. But, they were completely black. Not like matte black like they were painted black or wearing black clothing. Like, a complete absence of
light and color as if their shape was punched out of the air around them.
I grabbed Rita's arm as she danced past me, probably too hard for someone so much smaller than me. I remember in the corner of my eye I saw her turn to me with a narrow look, like she thought she was going to fight me. Then, she looked where I was looking and saw it. I was able to watch out of the corner of her eye as her body went through the same things mine had. She froze, her eyes went wide, her breathing shallow. Then, I felt her muscles tense and her knees bend. I realized we were like deer who had just spotted a predator. Some part of us realized we were prey and that the next few seconds would decide if we got out of this or not.
With a single shove, I pushed us both into movement. Rita took off up the embankment into the woods with a kind of grace and brutality I didn't realize she was capable of. Without her shoes, she leapt from rock, to root, to fallen tree like it was something she had done every day for years. Being bigger and bulkier than her, I didn't feel nearly as graceful but I felt that my panic and the adrenaline pounding between my ears made up for it. I kept up with her, pushing her with a hand between her shoulder blades or at the seat of her butt whenever I caught up.
Behind us, there was the horrible silence. We were a cacophony of crashing noises ripping through the woods and all around us, no birds sang, no insects chirped, not even the wind whistled through the trees.
That whole run back through the woods was a blur. I never once looked back for fear of what I would see and I didn't see Rita look back either. I kept my eyes glued to her back, carefully watched her every footfall in constant fear that she would slip or fall, but she never did.
Once we crashed back through the edge of the woods and into our yard, it was like the sound was suddenly turned back on. Not that Rita or I cared. We continued running as fast as our bodies would take us for the house and once inside we slammed the back door shut and I slid the deadlock home. I pressed my back against the door with my breath heaving for a moment before running to the front door and locking it as well. Then I went window to window on the first floor making sure they were all locked and that the curtains were pulled. Only once that was done did I collapse onto the living room floor with Rita.
"We left our shoes and socks by the creek," she wheezed, sticking her muddy feet into the air where I could see them.
"Who fucking cares," I gasped back. "I'll tell dad I lost them," I added.
That was really the start of it all. After it happened, for a while Rita and I assumed we had left whatever it was down in the creek. We knew our parents wouldn't believe us, so we never brought it up to them.
But, we didn't leave it behind. It followed us home and it made the next few years in that house utter hell. I have a lot more stories to tell about what happened after that, if you guys want to hear it. Let me know what you think.