Dense fog hung ominous and heavy in the air, shrouding the forest surroundings in a cryptic haze. The wind howled, sounding like wailing wraiths. Barren branches rustled like scraggly fingers clawing the air. The calls of hooting owls heard resounding in the distance. The luminous moon loomed overhead like a smile full of wicked intent. Goosebumps materialized, crawling their way across chilled flesh. A potent energy festered in the atmosphere, which would cause one’s stomach to lurch. The air was charged. Something was bound to happen—one could just feel it.
A glow shimmered off into the distance. Past the ancient trees covered in moss and vines, past the dewy forest floor, past the crumbling stone path, the heart of the forest sent out a silent call. The crescent moon illuminated the surface of the lake located there but never penetrating its dark depths. The water seemed to ooze murky mists, tendrils wisping through the air as if beckoning travelers closer.
Within the deep, shadowy waters, something seemed to simmer and swirl. Its presence could be felt churning the air. The surroundings became silent as if anxiously awaiting. It was as if the entire forest were sitting on the edge of its seat, holding its breath. Restlessness built.
Gurgling shattered the disquiet. Streams of bubbles emerged from the dark depths of the lake. The water’s surface became turbulent. Storm clouds rolled overhead, thunder booming overhead as gusts of wind sent tremors throughout the woods. The land itself seemed to shudder. Something was coming.
Lightning streaked across the night sky, as if breaking open the heavens. The churning lake spewed a mass of gurgling bubbles, seeming to want birth to whatever lurked within its depths. Something shifted beneath the tumultuous water. As the heavens raged, explosive thunder a battle cry, lake water began to seep into the forest floor.
Amidst the cacophony, the water’s surface was breached by some of its contents. Oozing, globby, rotting, grotesque objects began to emerge, bobbing on the lake akin to dead fish. A nauseating odor diffused into the air, an intense sucker-punch to the gut. Moldy muffins. Crusty cookies. Mushroom-infested cakes. Crumbling, maggot-infused pies. A sea of neglected and decaying desserts littered the waters.
“Seriously?” Karissa inquired unimpressed as she rested her head on her crossed wrists, leisurely lounging in her sleeping bag on her stomach. “I thought this was supposed to be a scary story.”
“What’s more scary and horrific than that!?” Serena exclaimed in a huff. “Think of all that spoiled food! It probably would have been delicious… but it was contaminated and soiled by that murky, gross, scum water.”
Karissa rolled her eyes. “Your tale leaves much to be desired,” she intoned blandly. “Maybe it could be salvaged if Gremlins appeared; it’d be a two-fer as they would simultaneously multiply and evilly mutate due to the food and water.”
Serena sniffed indignantly, but her response was cut off by the haunted cawing of a crow, looming nearby. Others soon joined in with resounding calls. Serena shivered, whispering, “That’s just eerie. It feels like they’re laughing maniacally at us… So creepy.”
Karissa raised a brow, indifferent to the environment’s attempt to reign in a spooky atmosphere. The wind picked up, shaking the tent violently and causing the lantern hung overhead to cast the tent in precarious lighting as it swayed vigorously. The gales began to howl outside.
“I wouldn’t overthink the crows or their supposed laughter,” Karissa advised with a shrug. “Sure, the night seems a little spookier now, but a lot of that can stem from overactive imaginations. It’s like that story where you’re told to imagine you are being chased by a deadly tiger and asked how to save yourself—you stop imagining.” She paused taking in the wide eyes of her bestie and slight trembling. “Crows cawing won’t harm us. We’ll be fine. Don’t let the whole Gremlin thing bother you either; it’s just a story. There’s no reason to be frightened—you know the saying, ‘The only thing to fear is fear itself.’”
Serena seemed slightly reassured but still not entirely convinced, warily eyeing the zipped tent entrance as if something was scheming to burst inside and snatch them up. Off in the distance a peculiar sound resounded… almost like the eccentric laughter some kind of small, but non-human, creature…
Serena’s eyes bulged, and she whimpered, “Did you hear that? Something’s out there… Something not human, and it’s laughing at us.”
Karissa sighed. “We’re in a forest, Serena. Other creatures call this their home. Of course, there’s going to be noises and animal calls—they live here. There’s no need to work yourself up into a frenzy about it, though. It does you no good,” she advised. “Just breathe, relax, and get some sleep.” This is the last time I let you talk me into a night of scary stories in the woods, Karissa thought. You wanted to frighten me but only succeeded in terrifying yourself.
Serena trusted her bestie, she really did, but she was apprehensive about what lurked outside their tent in the night. There was something unnatural in the air… She shivered and curled herself tighter into her sleeping bag, willing the morning light to blanket the earth in its warmth and illumination already. Who knew what was lurking out in the shadows…
Karissa scooched closer to her friend with a sigh, wrapping her in an embrace. Other beings may be out there in the night, but that didn’t mean that those beings sought to harm them. Haunting tales in honor of the spirit of Halloween, indeed. “Stop freaking yourself out with your imagination and sleep. We’ll be just fine.”
In the security of her best friend, Serena was finally able to completely relax, drifting off to a peaceful slumber. “Thanks, Karissa. You’re the best,” Serena whispered with a sigh of relief. Karissa soon followed suit, a small smile gracing her face as she entered dream land.
Dawn arrived gracefully, washing away the night’s scare in a blaze of warm sunshine. The world felt reborn. Serena stretched happily, beaming to greet the new day. Karissa had been right: they were just fine. Karissa yawned, shaking her head at Serena’s antics. Her friend was something else, truly.
Both were too distracted, Serena in her relief of morning light and Karissa at her friend’s change in demeanor, to notice the peculiarity of their campsite. Serena twittered about, happily skipping.
Their campsite wasn’t all that it seemed. It wasn’t as they left it. Things were slightly askew from how they left it. If anyone had been slightly paying attention, they would have noticed. There were also tiny footprints everywhere around the campsite, but they belonged to no known creature. Several eyes peered out from a tree hallow in the distant, small snickers escaping. The peace of the campsite would have evaporated in an instant if either had witnessed. The beings disappeared into the shadows as if they had never existed in the first place.
About the Creator
I've always enjoyed creating, whether it be art or stories. I've enjoyed creating art from a young age and have worked in a variety of schools. I adore anime & cats. Over the summer we adopted baby Tsuki/Tsukihime, my moon princess kitten.