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It Follows

by Jeff Newman 2 months ago in urban legend
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Stories to scare around the campfire

“The cabin in the woods had been abandoned for years, but one night, a candle burned in the window,” Lonnie began but stopped short once the condescending jeers from around the campfire echoed back at her.

Lonnie Drewitt was one of the least popular camp counselors that summer. Her quiet, introverted personality and average looks didn’t win her any popularity contests; after all, teenagers were often superficial and cruel. Typically, she kept solitary company, but when Lonnie heard about the end-of-summer campfire, she couldn’t help but grow excited. With the season turning into fall and the trees shedding their leaves, Lonnie knew it would be time to break out the old ghost stories. This year, she even had one to tell.

Deciding to proceed without any further delays, Lonnie resumed her tale.

“Old man Nelson Brittles stared vacantly from out the cabin’s window. The pallor of his complexion resembled that of a ghost, but he was very much alive. The dark blue suit draped loosely about his sunken frame; one could tell it had fit quite well at one point. His right hand gripped the curtain tightly and pulled it back from covering the window, while his left shook out the match.”

Lonnie paused then to see if she had gotten anyone hooked yet, but sadly she had not. Most of the other camp counselors were off staring into their phones, actively trying to find their next hook-up. She knew that wouldn’t last long, though.

“Nelson Brittles had been on his way home when the incident occurred. Not far from here, about five miles up the main road, against mile marker 81, any passerby may find a faded wooden cross. The cross has long since fallen to its side, so to many, it resembles an X – as in X marks the spot. But that night, when Nelson Brittles passed by mile marker 81, that cross wasn’t there. In fact, it wouldn’t be until the completion of the incident I’m prepared to share with you that the cross would be staked to the ground.”

She took stock of her audience, and a couple of people around the fire met her gaze.

“Mr. Brittles flew around the curve of the road, desperately attempting to return to the sanctity of his home before the sun went completely down. See, it was a night much like tonight, in the early days of autumn. Brittles barely left his house, but on that day, he had a must-run errand to complete. The demonic girl that haunted him day in and day out had grown too much to bear.

It had all started innocent enough with the purchase of a new home. Moving day was uneventful, but slowly things changed. Little noises here and there would capture his attention from time to time. Misplaced objects, like car keys, would bother him – he would often question if he was starting to lose his mind.

But that was just the beginning.

One cold winter’s eve, as Nelson settled in by the fire to have his dinner, the girl manifested in front of him. At first, he couldn’t believe his eyes; after all, he had been nipping at the bourbon bottle most of the afternoon. Try as he might to convince the mind that it was just a figment of the imagination; the girl just wouldn’t go away. For hours they stared at each other. When it came time for bed, she followed him. Nelson was so uncomfortable that he didn’t even bother changing his clothes and never fell asleep. He kept one eye on the girl who stood in the corner, just staring at him.

Any attempt to engage with her verbally fell on deaf ears. No expression cracked her face other than that of a stone-cold grimace. He could swear that she never blinked.

And so it went, day after day, the girl would be there, just staring at him. No matter where he went in the house, she was there. When it started, he had friends and would invite them to this house. It wasn’t just for the company see; instead, he wanted validation, which was when the friendships soured.

He would press his company on whether or not they had seen the girl. Nelson would insist that she was standing right there in the room with them. But none of his friends could see her. Slowly, friend by friend, they stopped returning his calls, convinced that he had lost his mind and wanted nothing to do with it. His last remaining friend was over having a drink one evening when Nelson Brittles jumped straight out of his chair, exclaiming, ‘She touched me!’. The last friend had seen enough, put down his drink, and left the premises.

Nelson was friendless but not alone.

The girl started to paw at him more often. She climbed onto Nelson’s bed and sat cross-legged, staring at him while he dozed off. But she didn’t like when he slept, so she would poke at him to rouse him from slumber. The more his brain shut down and cried for sleep, the harder she poked. It grew to the point that it looked like someone had taken a small ball peen hammer and beat it on Nelson’s skin.

The experience aged Nelson badly. He stopped sleeping, eating, and eventually grooming – for he couldn’t stand the thought of that ever-present girl watching him from the shower. When he tried to ignore her, the angrier she became.

One morning when he had the idea to leave the house for the day to get away from her, she flattened the tires on his car. She would start fires in the kitchen when he tried to go about his day reading or watching TV. Nelson was convinced that the girl was a demon, sent there to torture him, break him down, and eventually take over the host.

But Nelson was more potent than his physical appearance let on. He had enough mental faculty to call for help from priests, mediums, and anyone who specialized in the occult. Nothing worked, though. Most of them thought he was some nutcase, while others were more than happy to take his money. It wasn’t until after the incident, when the girl straddled his chest in the middle of the night and screamed some eerie words in what he assumed to be Latin, into his face, that he made his final desperate call.

An online acquaintance recommended an occultist specializing in demon possessions to him. The occultist lived more than three hours away and wouldn’t come to Nelson; it had to be the other way. Fearing that he would never be able to leave his home, Nelson planned his escape.

By that time, the girl had taken to seething rapidly in the corners of the rooms he occupied, straddling his body each night like a succubus feeding. It was like she was biding her time, knowing it was drawing near. She was just waiting for Nelson to break down and give his soul over to her. Many of his previous attempts to flee had been barred, but that morning, as he gathered his belongings and walked to the door, he happened to chance a look back at the girl.

She was sitting on the steps across from the front door. She made no move to bar his path and gave off no destructive behavior. It was almost as if she wanted him to go. The very thought of her changing her behavior sent shivers up his spine. He couldn’t help the feeling that he was being set up. “

Lonnie paused to gauge the audience again and smiled when she realized she had pulled them all in.

“Nelson’s visit to the occultist was more than he expected. The man sat and listened to Nelson’s tale, inspected the marks on the body, and wrote down the progression of events. He told Nelson that, in hell, there were legions of demons – most of which stayed in hell. But every so often, one would venture out. To survive, it would have to attach itself to a host. That host could be animate or inanimate, but the latter would limit where the demon could go. To move freely, the demon must possess a soul.

He went on to tell Nelson that demons could possess souls in multiple ways. Some offered deals based on the potential host’s desires, others maimed and killed to take the body, while others tortured and annoyed until the host gave in. He told Nelson that he could feel blessed he fell into the latter and that his strong willpower caused him to hang on as long as he had.

When Nelson asked why the thing took a girl’s form, the occultist replied that a demon would often peer into the thoughts of the prey and pick a thought, an idea, a person that it could manifest as to protect its true identity. In this case, the occultist felt that Nelson must have some sort of longing for a family, a child, that never materialized. Nelson asserted he was correct.

Then there was the mystery of why the thing prevented Nelson Brittles from leaving his home, at least until that day. The occultist stated that if the thing was attached to the inanimate house, it must prevent its prey from leaving for fear that the prey may never return. But that didn’t mean the demon would stay attached to the same house forever. There were ways for it to feed off the thoughts and feelings of its prey. Legend had it that the demons often found ways to attach themselves to the prey just like they were inanimate objects. Once locked on, the demon would be free to move where the new host went. And while this wasn’t total possession, it was good enough to gain another foothold over the victim. Often, the victims thought the events were over when they could leave their homes again – but they were wrong.

Realization of that fact etched a grimace on Nelson’s face. There was a reason why the demon girl had let him wander from the home.

Grabbing his coat, he ran from the occultist house. He had a fleeting hope to return to his home and end this madness once and for all. The last piece of advice the occultist had given him was that fire purifies everything. Nelson knew he needed to trap that demon and burn it.

As his car rounded the bend around mile marker 81, the demon girl was in the middle of the road. Nelson never would understand why; perhaps it was instinct, but he slammed on his brakes and flipped his car into the gulley that bordered the road. Luckily, he could crawl from the overturned vehicle, take stock of his surroundings, and begin to run down the road.

When he saw the driveway that led up to the cabin, he took it. He could sense the demon girl following him, matching step for step. As he ran, his eyes swept back and forth, trying to find her, but she was nowhere to be seen. Still, he could feel her presence, and it felt angrier than ever.

Once Nelson reached the cabin, he rapidly knocked on the door. The entire place was dark, and the setting sun provided little light to see inside the windows. Seizing the moment, Nelson broke open the door to the cabin. Upon crossing the threshold, he felt a strange sense of relief that he hadn’t in months.

Nelson knew instantly that the demon girl was no longer attached to him.

The sense of relief he felt was like getting drunk for the first time. He was completely intoxicated with the feeling that his nightmare might be over.

Not wanting to waste any time, Nelson slammed the front door shut and began to search around the cabin for a light switch. Nelson didn’t know that the cabin was never equipped with modern amenities. The large crucifix hung over the fireplace should have been a dead giveaway that the cabin was a sanctuary, but Nelson never knew that.

He finally located a single candle and an old box of matches near the front window. Striking the match, he lit the candle and began to peer out the window. To his horror, seated out on the rusty swing set was the figure of the demon child, staring right back at him. Her eyes had grown black, and her mouth displayed gnashed teeth. He could hear the creak of the chains as she swayed back and forth.”

Lonnie paused for effect and mimed the swing swaying back and forth with her hands. She used her voice to issue a slow squeaking sound in perfect unison with the motion of her hands.

“Her hand motioned for him to leave the house. The demon needed Nelson to come outside, for it could not cross the blessed threshold. The previous owner was a priest who battled his demons but had the fortitude to stay strong in his sanctuary. Anyone who passed over the threshold would never be bothered by ill-fated spirits if they remained in the cabin.

With his washed-out and sickly appearance, Nelson Brittles locked eyes with the demon girl. There he stood for hours upon hours, waiting for her to leave. The small area of woods that the cabin occupied was eerily quiet, save for the creaking of the rusty swing set chains.

Hours turned into days, and the demon girl would not leave. The demon would continue its torture of Nelson, though. It would pretend to disappear, only to reappear right up against the window or knock at the door.

Nelson Brittles resigned himself to death in that cabin.

Years later, a few wandering high school students found that cabin and the body of Nelson Brittles. We buried his decomposed corpse next to the swing set.”

Lonnie paused once more. The expressions on the counselor's faces looked shocked at the delivery of the last line of her story. She could see the wheels in their minds spinning, formulating the questions.

“You found the body?”

“How do you know this story?”

“You made this up, didn’t you?”

Lonnie had heard them all before. It had been over thirty years since she found Nelson Brittle’s body and buried it. It had been equally as long since she made the pact with the demon to deliver it fresh prey in exchange for eternal life. It was a great deal on both parts – she got her basest desire, and the demon got free passage and unlimited souls.

Thirty years later, the cross placed by mile marker 81 for Nelson Brittles had faded and collapsed. Lonnie would often visit the spot on the road where the demon took absolute control over its prey. Though Nelson’s soul was never taken, the demon felt content as it bonded itself to the woods waiting for its next victim.

Lonnie stared at her audience around the campfire. The light from the fire flickered against their faces. A mix of emotions danced on their faces. Her dark passenger would feast well that night.

“You know,” Lonnie Drewitt began, “on nights like this, they say you can still hear the creak of those rusty swing set chains. And when you do, they say the demon is near.”

Off in the distance, the counselors began to hear the squeak of a swing moving slowly back and forth, coming closer and closer with each passing second.

urban legend

About the author

Jeff Newman

I am reading and writing enthusiast with a wide variety of interests ranging from history to horror and anything in between. I am a guitarist, self published author, movie buff, travel enthusiast, and cat dad to 13 awesome fur babies.

Reader insights

Nice work

Very well written. Keep up the good work!

Top insights

  1. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  2. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  3. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

  1. Eye opening

    Niche topic & fresh perspectives

  2. On-point and relevant

    Writing reflected the title & theme

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Comments (12)

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  • Jack Johnson30 days ago

    The ending was well done for a campfire horror story! If you got a sec, I would love to hear what you might think about mine: https://vocal.media/horror/cabina-di-pelle

  • Jyme Pride2 months ago

    You are so easy to read because you write so wonderfully! I was truly captivated. Your tale held me captive because I found myself hanging on every word. Here's my prayer: "Dear God, when I grow up, please let me write like Jeff Newman. Amen!"

  • Ashley Callea2 months ago

    Love this story- thanks for sharing!

  • Adam Stanbridge2 months ago

    Amazing! thoroughly enjoyed your story! Bravo!

  • Cathy holmes2 months ago

    this was great. well done

  • Kendall Defoe2 months ago

    You S.O.B... That was absolutely excellent and a perfect way for me to get my ass on gear and get things done! We'll done, sir!

  • Nixx Lea2 months ago

    Great job!! A fantastic story all around.

  • Carol Townend2 months ago

    This was disturbing but a fantastic read.

  • Laura Gray2 months ago

    That was such a great read! It's always the quiet ones...

  • P.K. Lowe2 months ago

    Such a riveting read!! And what a twist. Excellent work!

  • Linden Schneider2 months ago

    Excellent work! I really enjoyed that!

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