I’ve never been much of a people
person. That’s why I decided to live alone in the middle of the woods.
little a-frame was cozy and cute, but, most importantly, it was cheap. Huge
pine trees towered over the tiny cabin. The area was certainly scenic, but
there was something unsettling about it as well.
the locals found the area just as eerie as I did. Whenever I made my trip to
the nearby town for groceries, I’d hear a different story from everyone I met.
Some folks said it was haunted, others spoke of government experiments gone
wrong, and some simply advised me to leave as soon as possible.
course I didn’t listen. In fact, the spookiness added to the appeal. No one
buys an isolated cabin in the woods without expecting a couple ghosts.
Unfortunately, the little cabin failed to live up to its reputation. At least
not until Fall.
moved in at the height of summer. It was so humid that even breathing was a
challenge, and the mosquitos were far happier about my arrival than I was. I
didn’t dare even touch the outdated wood-burning furnace.
the falling of the first leaf everything changed. A biting chill filled the air
and the morning’s brought a blanket of frost to the forest floor. I finally
decided to try out the furnace. Axe in hand, I ventured out into the forest to
find some fuel.
of the trees were old and far too big to cut down, I realized. Walking further
and further into the dense woods, I made sure to keep track of whatever
landmarks I could find. Eventually I found a tree that looked adequate.
pulled the axe back and, probably with more effort than necessary, swung it
into the side of the tree. Then I realized that chopping down a tree was much
harder than I’d expected.
an hour I’d gotten about halfway through the small tree. I dropped the axe and
sat down on the ground. Analyzing the blisters on my hands, I decided that I’d
finish the job tomorrow. Besides, I wasn’t feeling cold anymore.
began to walk home, but soon realized that finding home wouldn’t be as easy as
I’d thought. Almost every landmark I’d seen was gone. The burned tree, as well
as the one with the broken branches, were nowhere to be found.
I began wandering aimlessly, just hoping to find something I recognized. It
wasn’t until I felt the bite of night air that the fear began to set in. With a
shiver I realized that I had no idea where I was. I could be miles from my
house at this point. I sat down for a moment to think. Weighing my options, I
recalled being told that the best thing to do when lost is to stay still. Then
I remembered that I didn’t have a flashlight.
I sat there, wasting my time, a strangely shaped rock drew my attention. It was
definitely familiar, I thought absentmindedly. With a jolt I realized that that
rock had been one of my landmarks.
stood up and walked towards it. Sure enough, not far away, I saw the triangle
roof of my little cabin peeking out of the trees. Too sleepy to pay attention
to my surroundings, I simply crawled into bed without even changing my clothes.
woke up in the morning to the sound of my teeth chattering. Wind howled and my
bones were stiff with cold. Finally, I managed to drag myself out of bed. It
soon became clear that this was not the same cabin I remembered leaving
it looked the same, but there were also some very obvious differences. For
instance, there was a tree root going through the wall. All my personal
belongings were still there, but the wooden floors were dark with rot.
tree root disturbed me the most. I definitely would have noticed if it had been
there before, and it was causing a draft. I couldn’t explain what had happened,
but I still tried my hardest to combat it. A couple rags and old clothes
blocked out the draft, and the mushrooms and fungus weren’t too difficult to
wash off the floor. However, I couldn’t do anything against that rotten wood
smell that seemed to permeate even my own belongings.
was scared and didn’t want to do anything, but I couldn’t deny the fact that I
needed warmth. Axe in hand, I walked off into the forest.
only ten minutes of walking, I came across a small tree with axe marks in the
side. The same tree I’d been chopping yesterday. How it had gotten so much closer,
I didn’t know, but I started chopping all the same.
some time I hit something harder than the surrounding wood. Leaning down, I
found something white and chalky encased by the tree. With some effort, I
managed to peel back some wood with the axe. I felt my heart rate hasten when i
realized what it was.
in this tree, was a very clear vertebrae. Thoughts raced through my mind.
Something must have died there a long time ago, I told myself. The tree must
have grown around it. The image of a decaying body being slowly swallowed by a
tree flashed in my mind. It was probably a deer, I told myself. Then I went
night was even colder than the last. I twisted and turned in my sheets, trying
to protect myself from the biting night air. By morning my fingernails were
purple and my skin was pale. As I walked out to the woods with my axe, I took
little notice of the trees. Which were now propped up above the ground by their
roots, as though standing on spindly legs.
with cold, I pulled my axe back. But when I swung it forward, I never felt the
dull thud of wood. The axe blade never reached the target, but instead planted
itself firmly in the flesh of my lower calf.
didn’t understand what had happened at first. Shock and cold made numbed the
pain, and the blood didn’t start flowing right away. After the first drop fell
onto the morning frost, I began to panic. I fumbled around, searching my
pockets for my cell phone. With a muttered curse I realized I’d left it at
pulled myself up, holding onto the tree branches for support. Blood soaked my
jeans and dripped onto the ground. Then the tree moved.
and confused by blood loss, I made a weak attempt at escaping. The tree tore
its roots from the ground, along with several other trees. Together, they
formed a sort of railing. With as much surprise as I could muster in my current
state, I realized that they were helping me.
trees helped me with every step, roots and branches moving alongside like
snakes. When I finally got home, I grabbed my phone and dialed 911.
Before returning from the hospital,
I stopped at the store to buy an electric space heater.