Length: Super long
It’s raining again.
be honest with you, I’m terrified of rain. I never leave the house when it’s
to give myself some credit, I never used to be like this. I used to love
watching the rain fall from outside the windows, but now I always have my
curtains pulled tight across the edges of the windowsill.
wish I could show you what made me the way I am, partly to warn you, partly to
can only write out my story like it’s some sort of fantasy. As if it’s just
another bizarre story on the internet that deserves to be forgotten in a week.
If you see it like that than that’s fine, but I wont forget. I’ll never forget.
2012, I was a 21 year old college student. I was absolutely madly in love with
nature and all things wild. I had spent my childhood roaming up and down tree
lines, fantasizing about mythical creatures and fantastic monsters. Now there I
was in 2012 as an adult, studying forestry with dreams of defending those tree
lines and fantasies I held so dear.
was absolutely ecstatic when my Professor announced an opportunity for some
extra credit. He suggested that we spend a few days of our upcoming break
walking along some trails and paths to remind ourselves why we were doing what
we were doing.
an avid hiker, I knew of a hiking trail a few hours over from our town that
offered plenty of room to walk with very little crowding. The only ones who
really walked more than a few minutes down the trail were the Park Rangers and
the chances of seeing one of them on the ever winding and expanding trails of
the forest seemed small.
Lily, want to take a trip down to the preserve with me?” I asked as the bell
finished tolling, signaling the end of the school day. The girl next to me, Lily, was a quiet and sweet girl. She had long brunette hair that stretched just past
her shoulders and gentle green eyes.
was the type of person who people admired from afar. Beautiful but silent. A
passing joke or compliment would make her smile but she’d very rarely comment
back. To most that’d make them move on to the next person, to me, that made me
want to be closer to her.
been friends for awhile at this point, whether or not any sort of romantic
intent was had between us I couldn’t say. We just knew we connected on some
sort of level.
of course. Just tell me when.” She looked into my eyes with a soft smile on her
face. I smiled back at her. I hoped this trip would turn out well.
few days passed, Lily and I spent our free time in stores gathering food,
supplies and tents together.
enough, we were all packed up and ready to head out. We took my small car with
our bags tied down on the roof, and took the highway a few hours east. By the
time we got there it was mid afternoon, still plenty of time to walk but also a
bad time to find parking. There was plenty of people here walking their dogs,
setting up lunches and walking the paths.
thought you said it’d be quiet?” Lily asked with a slight snicker. I rolled my
eyes in response.
sure these kids aren’t planning on hiking a few days in. It’ll get quiet, I
promise.” I spun around and began taking our large packs off of the roof of the
vehicle. For as big as they were, they were surprisingly easy to carry. Lily
slipped the straps over her shoulders and waited for me to start heading
towards the park.
we approached the trails entrance, we saw a Ranger loosely standing guard.
guys heading in?” He asked, there was no hostility or caution in his tone, he
was just merely asking a simple question.
that’s alright, right?” I questioned the fit middle aged man.
course, just let me know your names and take my card. If you need anything call
down to the station. There’s a couple Ranger shacks deeper in, feel free to use
them if you need too. Just make sure to clean up.” The ranger gave a welcoming smile
and handed me a small business card for the local ranger station.
you. Oh, and my name’s Max, and this is Lily.” Lily gave a small nod at the Ranger
and he nodded back respectfully.
“Well, Max and Lily, you enjoy yourselves out there. We’ll be patrolling around so if
you see us, don’t be scared to say hi.” With those words, the Ranger backed away
from the entrance and we began our trek.
spent half of the first day slowly walking in quiet appreciation. There’s
something so liberating about walking with no time limit. It’s like all of the
world stress slides right off your back and the only thing you have to worry
about is yourself. In that exact moment you’re all that matters. No bills, no
studies, no cares. Just avoid snakes and strange plants and you’re all set.
wasn’t too long into our journey before the sun began to nestle itself behind
the trees and the warm, but steadily dropping, temperature of the late
afternoons winds began sweeping under our sweaty clothes.
find a clearing to settle into,” Lily said, her head tilting from one direction
to the other looking for a place to set up. I nodded in approval and saw a
small opening further down the path, clearly made by others who took a similar
only took a few minutes to set up our tents in the clearing and to start a
small fire. After all that walking and hard work, we were finally ready to be
off our feet for awhile. Lily plopped herself down on the opposite side of the
fire I was sitting at and pulled out a granola bar to eat. I felt a rumble in
my stomach and pulled out one of my own.
place is really beautiful.” She said, taking a large bite out of the bar.
haven’t seen many animals yet though.” I unwrapped my food and placed it on my
lips ready to take a bite. I quickly glanced over at Lily and froze.
the increasingly darkening forest just off the trail just behind Lily, was
something about the size of half a football. It was cloaked in the darkness but
I assumed it had to have been some sort of small critter. I began to squint my
eyes trying to focus on it but whatever it was seemed to fade out of existence
going straight into the ground.
alright?” Lily asked. I realized it must’ve seemed like I was staring at her
with food half in my mouth. I laughed and shrugged, shaking my head softly.
sorry, I thought I saw an animal or something off in the woods. It was small,
could’ve just been a rabbit or something. It must’ve burrowed into the ground
though.” My friend peered over her shoulder into the silent woods and looked
around. I knew she wouldn’t see anything, whatever it was had left as quickly as I
caught sight of it.
ended up finishing our meal, extinguishing the fire and climbing into our
separate tents. I slept like a log, all of that walking had put me out like a
light. It wasn’t until the morning that I woke up.
so you know, I think we need to watch out for snakes,” Lily said softly, while I
was wiping my brow. I looked over to see her undoing the tents supports
from the forest floor.
you see one?” I asked, bending down and following suit with the camp clean up.
think so, I heard something rubbing on the bottom of my tent last night. I
opened my eyes and the indents on my walls looked like a pretty thick snake
trying to wiggle its way in.” She didn’t seem bothered by the potential late
night visitor so I kept her warning in my mind but continued on.
our journey went on, we realized that with every step we took, a storm was brewing overhead that none of the
forecasts we had watched warned us of.
much longer until it rains -,” Lily was interrupted by a large thunderclap nearby
in the clouds. I felt the earth shake below us before a few raindrops began
falling from the dimly lit sky.
“Thanks, Lily,” I said, arching my head towards her direction. She scoffed and I laughed.
The rain was little more than a small drizzle at that moment but it was clear
it was going to get worse.
hurry and find a place to set up.” I watched as she began to increase her pace,
slowly moving from a walk into a jog heading deeper down the trail. I followed
suit right next to her.
awhile, it seemed like we weren’t going to find a clearing anytime soon. We were
already on the verge of being considered undoubtedly drenched and to our luck,
at that exact moment of thought, another strong clap of thunder erupted
from above. This time the flood gates opened, rain began to fall with a
purpose and with enough force to erupt on impact, splashing everything nearby
with the drops’ watery contents.
right over there.” I heard Lily yell out, just barely audible through the
thunderous rain. She was running off the main path down a small side trail
nearby. I looked at where she was heading and saw a small cabin. I ran off the
path with her.
each step, more and more mud thrust itself against my legs. I increased my speed, hoping to catch up to my light-footed friend but something caught me off guard.
The tip of my foot slid underneath something and my momentum carried me
downwards, face first into a mud bath.
a few seconds I was dazed, just laying down in the runny muck pit. I eventually
looked down to my feet and saw what looked like a thin tree root also caked in
dirt erupting out of the ground. But as my eyes kept on the root, those initial
assumptions fell to the wayside.
shimmering of the mud was what made me realize that whatever this object was, it
was moving just beneath the mud.
it clicked in my head – the snakes Lily had brought up, I had just tripped over
one of them. I felt a shiver cross over my back and I jolted back up to my feet
and continued on my path, abandoning that snake behind. Without another
incident I made it to the cabin doors and busted inside, finally free from the
hurricane like storm.
“Wow,” a familiar voice rang out in the shack. I looked over to see a drenched but
otherwise clean Lily staring at me with an amused smile on her face. “Decide to
have a wrestling match out there?”
funny,” I said, looking down at myself. Mud was dripping off just about every
pore of my body. “I think I met one of your snakes you mentioned out there, it
decided to give me a little trip.”
really?” Lily said as she grabbed me and turned me around, searching the pack
on my back for something to help me clean up.
were right, they’re pretty thick. I wonder what kind they are. I can’t imagine
them being poisonous being that wide.” I felt the hands of my companion yanking
out fabric from my pack.
took some time to look around the cabin as Lily pulled the towels free. It was
wooden, old and completely empty. There was a cooking stove off to one side but
other than that it looked very sparse. Clearly it was only meant for a quick
one night stay.
get yourself cleaned up.” I turned back around and Lily handed me a bundle of
towels. I immediately wiped off my face and brow. The dirt was already starting
to dry and stick to my skin.
I replied her as she began setting up her things. I put my pack down against
the door and walked over to a window, still wiping myself down.
watched as the rain continued its assault on the earth, the dirt running like
rivers down the valleys and trails both natural and man made.
looks terrible outside,” I remarked. I heard a a small groan of acknowledgment
come from behind me. I let my eyes trail over the forested wetland over to the
path we took to get up here. My body locked up when I saw something right where
I tripped. Something was protruding from the ground like a small pillar.
rubbed the inside of the window fruitlessly to clear off the fog and
obstructing rain. I could barely make out what looked like a thick partially
submerged branch broken off on one end with small twigs splintering off
come and look at this.” I called out to Lily who was still fondling around with
it the snake?” She asked, rising to her feet.
don’t think so, it looks weird though.” I watched the mud coated object get
hammered by rain as Lily approached and peered outside.
that a broken tree root?” She suggested. I could only shrug. Whatever it was
Lily chimed in again. “Look at the color.”
more and more of the rain ran its way down the object, the less obstructed by
mud the object became. I narrowed my eyes, pushing past the raindrops on the
window and noticed exactly what Lily was talking about. Whatever was under that
mud was a pale shade of gray.
my god.” Lily gasped and grabbed her mouth.
is it?” I turned and looked at her, my eyebrow upturned in confusion.
at the end of it.” She said, holding her breath.
turned my gaze back outward and focused in.
was an arm reaching out of the ground, still as the grave.
my God,” my voice wavered slightly.
should call the Rangers and get them out here. Where’s their card?” She asked,
hand extended towards me. I reached into my pocket and pulled out a wet but
legible business card.
hesitation, Lily snatched it out of my hand and began dialing the number in.
I’d like to report something on one of the trails.” She paced back and forth on
the squeaky cabin floors. I turned and kept my gaze on the hand. It looked
petrified in place, fingers eagerly reaching towards the sky, letting the water
rush over it.
at, we’re at, uh,” I heard the voice on the other side
of the phone chirp up and Lily nodded.
Max, can you take a step outside and tell me what numbers are next to the door?”
peeled my eyes away from the hand. I felt an increasingly oppressive air
pressing its way inside the cabin. I shook my intuition away and walked to the
door. I opened it up and stepped outside.
peered towards the arm and could see it more clearly without the blurry window
between us. It was hairless, smooth and the fingernails seemed clean and
trimmed. The water that gushed over it almost seemed to vanish on impact as if
it was some sort of sponge.
had to force my eyes away from it to view the number on the wall.
took a deep breath repeating the number in my head before the sound of a loud
clap echoed off behind me. I jumped slightly on edge. I turned back towards the
direction of the arm and saw nothing in its place. Just the mud quickly
running down the trail.
swallowed hard and rushed back inside.
number’s 17, but I think the arm fell back into the mud. It’s not there
eyes went wide as she relayed that information over to the dispatcher. It
wasn’t too long until she pulled the phone away from her ear and hung up.
told us to stay put and that this storm’s not going to pass anytime soon. They
said they’ve got a ranger on the way and the police have been informed but it
might take them a while to reach us out here.”
bit my lip and looked back outside towards the empty path.
hope it didn’t get dragged away by the current,” I mumbled. Lily came up right
beside me joining me at the window.
sure they’ll be able to follow that mud slick down to wherever it goes. On the
bright side that rain cleaned you up a bit.” She gave a reassuring smile and I
looked down at myself. My clothes were still riddled with mud but the rain on
my skin seemed to have washed away most of the dirt.
on Max, let’s make ourselves at home at least. I’ll just lock the door in case,
well, you know.” Her voice trailed off.
case there’s a killer out there?” I mumbled at her as she walked over to the
door and flipped the lock. She turned around and averted her eyes from my gaze,
choosing instead to continue her mission of getting set up.
a few minutes of silence, we had our food laid out in front of us. We had agreed
that once the Ranger gets here, our little expedition was over. We had seen more
than enough in just the past two days than we could’ve in a lifetime.
eat and try to get some sleep,” I said, chowing down on some extra rations.
Lily nodded and joined in on the feast. With full stomachs we set up for bed. I
noticed my friend kept looking out towards the darkened windows. I could feel
tension in the air.
alright?” I asked. Lily shook her head dismissively.
just feel weird, like I’m being watched. I’m sure it’s nothing but just to be
safe -,” She ripped off her pillow case, then mine, before walking over to the
windows and draping them over the glass as makeshift curtains. “I just don’t want
anything looking in at us while we sleep.”
don’t blame you.” I made my way to my bedroll and caseless pillow before lying
down, trying to get comfortable. Lily did the same.
was a few hours into the night before I heard Lily’s hushed voice.
Max, wake up, do you hear that?” I opened my eyes less groggy then I expected
and met Lily’s gaze. She was staring at the wooden door of the cabin.
spent a few seconds watching the door before I lightly saw the handle of the
door jiggle. Someone was trying to get in.
do we do?” Lily asked, I was speechless.
it’s the -,” Our whispered conversation was interrupted by a loud knocking coming
from the other side of the wooden door.
jumped to my feet.
got to be the cops.” I began my slow meticulous walk to the door. “Who’s out
I yelled again. Abruptly the banging started again, loud enough to drown out my
took a step back from the door and kneeled close to the ground. Each impact on
the door rocked the wooden frames of the small cabin. I watched as one of the
pillow case curtains began to slowly slip off the window.
Lily whispered, tears in her eyes.
rushed over to the window just as the fabric fell and was met face to face with
the darkness outside. The banging on the door stopped suddenly. I very
carefully kneeled down and grabbed the fabric in my hands to toss back over the
out of the darkness was the palm of a hand, it slapped the window with a heavy
force. I could only see the pale palm in the shroud of blackness outside. I
quickly threw the pillowcase back on the window and backed up to Lily.
was shivering, her eyes wide with fear.
was the hand Max, that was the hand that was outside earlier.”
felt my heart drop into my stomach. I wrapped my arms around Lily for as much
my comfort as hers.
Thud. Thud. Thud. Thud.
wet palm of the hand kept slapping against the glass, I could hear ripples of
cracks spreading along the windowpane.
squeezed onto Lily as she balled up and kept my eyes focused on the pillow case
covering the glass, hoping it wouldn’t fall and expose that lifeless arm again.
could hear the struggling sounds of wheels rolling up towards the cabin. I let
out a sigh and a prayer that the Rangers had finally made it.
the sounds of the wheels stopping just a few yards away, I finally heard a voice
call out from the void outside.
Max? You in there?” The voice sounded familiar, it was the Ranger from the day
prior. I slid to my feet dragging Lily with me.
we’re inside, but someone’s out there,” I yelled. I rushed over to the door and
opened it to see the Ranger standing stiff off in the middle of the small
opening in front of the cabin. He was facing us but the light from his rover
coupled with his hat covered his body in intense shadows. His body seemed
out of that box and we’ll get you home.” The Ranger said, his voice seemed
different this time, disjointed from his body.
stayed quiet, something was very wrong here.
out of there. Now.” The voice grumbled, unrecognizable from earlier.
you alright?” I called out a little more than a whisper.
course I am, can’t you see my smile?” The Ranger tilted his neck backwards. His
hat slipped from his skull which allowed the light from behind him to
illuminate his face. His eyes were wide and full of both pain and fear, his lips
were quivering in shock.
backed up more into the doorway and watched as two impossibly long fingers
trailed their way from behind the Rangers head and made their way across his
cheeks to his mouth. They slid inside with little resistance and began pulling
his lips outward in a mockingly gruesome smile.
they kept prying.
watched as his lips strained with the force of the fingers inside of his mouth.
His lips became white with the stress placed against them before a shower of
red erupted from his mouth parting the centers of his lips like sliced meat.
so perfectly happy.” A voice called out from just behind the Ranger, its voice
thick and unnatural. I looked for the source and froze. There, right next to
the Rangers feet was a half submerged human face dug deeply into the mud. Its
black cold eyes shone from some unknown source.
this was, was a monster of the strictest definition. It gaze was so vastly
separated from humanity that there was no common ground between us.
I locked eyes with this thing, human in shape and deviled in eyes, I saw the
Ranger fall into the mud. Just behind his head was a long spider like arm
stretching out of the ground, seemingly changing its size and shape as if it
only faintly followed the laws of this reality.
was so thirsty, but now I’m so very hungry.” The submerged head called out
unblinkingly towards me.
another warning the Ranger’s body was ripped under the earth and devoured by the
mud. The ground where he was shifted and bubbled over like a small eruption.
The creature’s eyes stared at me with a deadening gaze. It was observing me.
out a small chirp from my mouth. Without changing expression, the head
effortlessly started gliding through the earth towards the cabin, fingers and
arms popping out from the earth around it like fins from a shark.
had stored enough courage to slam the door shut and lock it before running back
over to Lily, who had seen the whole thing.
is that?” She asked, her voice trembling. I shook my head and slumped down next
sat in silence until the sounds of scratching came from below the floorboards.
Hundreds of fingers tearing away flesh to the bone trying to burrow their way
upwards. All we could do was sit in the corner furthest away from the windows
and pray they didn’t get to us.
night we watched as the floors pulsated upwards and downwards as the foundation
began to crumble. Those arms were going to drag us and our wooden coffin
downwards into the earth.
didn’t know what to do. I sat there as the floor cracked open and mud crept up
through the seams of the boards like blood flowing from a vein.
sat waiting to die, but Lily had other plans.
grabbed my hand and yanked me up my feet. She stared at the door for a split
second before sprinting off with me in tow.
She opened the door and ran towards the Ranger’s vehicle. Luckily for us, the
ranger never shut it off before the earth took him down. We both hopped on its
seat and zipped off the path back from where we had come from.
hazarded a glance back towards the cabin to see it crumbling into the ground
but there was something else there. Still half submerged on the path mere yards
away from us was that unblinking head, its black eyes shone dead set and
emotionless on our escape.
kept driving and driving for God knows how long, until we hit some other
Rangers who were on a scouting mission up to us and their missing comrade. We
told them everything we could but the looks of disbelief said enough to us.
were labeled as emotionally distressed and unreliable witnesses. The powers
that be listed the disappearance of the Ranger and the cabin as accidental by
case of mudslide.
every time it rains, I wonder if somewhere out in the woods, a single head peers
out on the trails waiting for someone to pass by, a million hands waiting just
below the surface to drag them down into the earth.