It was Her
Cassidy is excited to share a scary story with her friends on their annual camping trip. What starts off as a spooky legend soon turns into terror, when the group begins to realize that some legend are real.
“The cabin in the woods had been abandoned for years, but one night, a candle burned in the window,” I began. “It sat about 500 yards from the settlement of Ravenborrow, a town that existed right on this very piece of land back in the 1600s. The cabin was said to be the home of a witch, Phoebe O’Mallary, who had been murdered by the townspeople, her body barried under the floorboards.” I could tell my friends were intrigued because not one of them had moved a muscle while I spoke, not even to take their s’mores sticks out of the fire. The marshmallows at the end of their sticks began to drip onto the coals. “The story I’m going to tell, is about the day the light from the candle caught the attention of a few young settlers from Ravonborrow, and the hell they would soon find themselves in,” as soon as I finished that sentence, a log in the fire slipped, causing an explosion of sparks to fly into the air. Not planned, but much appreciated. Everyone jumped, followed by a round of embarrassed laughter.
There were nine of us that night, three sets of couples, and three singles. I, as usual, was one of the singles. The six of us girls had gone to high school together, and every year since graduation we had done a group camping trip. The additional three guests were the significant others that had been strung along. This was our 10th trip, and since it was near Halloween, we decided to camp near the city of Salem, Massachusetts. I knew I had to bring a killer story for the campfire, especially since we were camping in the land of witches. Now, before I dive into the terrors that were to unfold that night, let me introduce the gang.
There was Shayan, 29-years old, super tall and attractive, and a thriving lawyer in NYC. Shayan was accompanied by her boyfriend Tom, an equally attractive but much less successful Amazon warehouse worker whose glory days were definitely left in highschool. Next was Clair. Clair was a 28-year old 5th grade teacher, also living in NYC. She had always been a bookworm, and aced every class back in school. Her husband, James, was a slightly older man in his early thirties who enjoyed bossing Clair around whenever he wasn’t working as a manager at a high-end steakhouse. Following Clair, there was Jenny and her high-school sweetheart, Fred. The two had been inseparable since highschool, and the whole reason guys were allowed on the trip in the first place was because she refused to go anywhere without him. The two of them ran a small business on Etsy selling engraved picture frames. Now for the singles. There was Megan, a music producer’s assistant based in Nashville who secretly hoped she would get discovered one day. Then there was Amelia, my best friend out of the bunch who was actually super talented and creative, but never lived up to her potential. She became a secretary at some business office out in North Carolina and hadn’t done much to advance her career since. Finally, yours truly, Cassidy, that’s me. I was living in a small apartment in Philadelphia making an OK living, trying to write something that would make me rich in my spare time.
We all sat around the fire, the couples clinging to each other while the singles huddled under blankets. It was my turn to tell a scary story, and I had found the perfect tale in an old book of legends at a thrift shop near my place in Philly.
I cleared my throat and continued with my story, “The young settlers were Timothy Wheeler, Mason Darty, Rachel Samuels, and Sarah White. The four teenagers, having grown up in a conservative, Protestant community, were always told that witches were evil, and that anyone who played with magic would be punished harshly-”
“They were hooking up weren’t they?” Tom interrupted.
We all stopped and stared at him, puzzled. Tom realized we were all confused.
“The dudes and the chicks in the story…they were hooking up right? Why else would they be going into the woods?” He insisted.
Shayan punched his arm, “Let her tell the story!” She motioned for me to continue. I rolled my eyes and went on.
“Ravenborrow had a strict rule that no one was to enter the woods for any reason other than to hunt or gather for food. At night, the woods were completely off limits. You see, it wasn’t to keep people from running away or anything like that, it was to keep them safe from whatever lived in them. The legend was that Phoebe O’Mallary haunted those woods, seeking revenge for her untimely demise. The woods in the story could be the very ones we are camping in now..” I looked around at the faces of my audience, glowing in the firelight. Tom looked unimpressed, as did James. I did, however, catch Fred looking subtly over his shoulder to make sure no one was behind him.
“Go on!” Amelia said, shaking my arm, “This is getting good!”
I laughed and then remembered to be serious for the sake of the scary story, “It had been 20 years since Phoebe the witch had been hung, and ever since, the town had experienced strange happenings. Every month on the 13th day, something in the town would die. It could be a bird that would fall out of the sky, or a cat that just fell over dead, but sometimes…sometimes it was a human. For that reason, no one was allowed to leave their homes on the 13th night, not for any purpose,” I explained, staring at each of my friends with an ominous grin.
“What if their house was on fire?” asked Tom.
Shayna punched him again, “If you don’t shut up…” she threatened.
I ignored Tom’s comment and continued, “The four teens, Timothy, Mason, Rachel, and Sarah had dabbled in dark magic, being the youth of a sheltered, Puritan community, it was the only thing they could do for fun…in secret of course. All of them thought it was just make believe, and that there was no witch haunting the woods. They would often sneak out after dark and get close to the cabin, daring each other to go and knock on the door. None of them ever did it, until the night when the candle was lit.”
All of the sudden, Clair jumped up, almost giving us a heart attack, “I gotta pee! Hold on!” she said, stepping over the log she was sitting on and disappearing into the forest.
“I told her not to drink so much water out here,” James said with a sigh, “She never listens.”
“Yea, God forbid she drinks water,” Megan retorted sarcastically, clearly annoyed with James’s comment.
“Hey, now that I’m not interrupting, can I ask a real question?” Tom asked, raising his hand like a kid in elementary school.
I sighed, “Sure, Tom.”
He lowered his hand and asked, “How come I’ve never heard of Ravenborrow? It sounds made up. Isn’t this supposed to be a true story?” He looked pleased, like he’d cracked a case or something.
“Well, it’s kind of a true story. It’s a legend, so people have been telling it for centuries, but no one has actual proof it happened,” I explained, trying to not sound condescending.
Tom nodded, his eyes staring up at the tree tops, “I got ya, I got ya. I hope the story actually gets scary soon.” I wanted to punch him.
“I’m pretty freaked out,” Amelia interjected. Leave it to her to boost me. After a few minutes, Clair came back and rejoined the circle.
“Ok, we’re all back! Keep going!” insisted Jenny. I didn’t realize she was so into my story. I sat up straight, and began once more.
“The kids snuck out on the 13th of October, meeting on the outskirts of town. They ran for the woods, laughing the whole way. They were going to attempt to summon the witch on the 20th anniversary of her death. Timothy led the way, the others trailing behind. As they approached the cabin, Mason, Rachel, and Sarah noticed that Timothy was frozen, almost like he was in a trance, staring at the cabin. When they asked him what was wrong, Timothy slowly raised his hand…” I slowly raised my hand and pointed straight ahead, “He pointed at the cabin, fear paralyzing him from speaking. The others looked in the direction that he was pointing, and there, in the window, was a small candle flickering in the dark.” I could see that Jenny, Amelia, and Fred were all starting to get scared, their eyes were wide and glossy. Clair sat motionless, her eyes staring back at me almost like she was in a trance. Tom and James both had smug grins, like I was telling them the easter bunny was real.
“The girls begged them to go back, but Mason, wanting to seem brave, smacked Timothy’s arm down and insisted that they go in and take a look. It was probably some other kids in town who had ventured into the cabin looking for a secret place to hang out. With a shove, Mason pushed Timothy forward, and step by step, the boys headed toward the front door of the old cabin. They could smell the rotting wood, and hear the creaking of the shutters as the wind rattled them against the walls of the house. Timothy gulped, his heart racing so fast he thought he may drop dead. Mason was scared too, but he held his head up and acted brave for the girls. They were about five feet from the front door, when they stopped. Everything was quiet. No birds chirping, no wind rustling the trees. It was a cold, dead quiet. Suddenly, a scream came from the two girls behind them. The boys turned to see the girls shrieking and pointing at the window where the candle had been lit. There, staring at them from behind the glass, was the pale, wrinkled, sinister face of a woman. “It’s the witch!” Timothy cried, turning to run back toward the village. He only got a few steps before an unseen force seemed to pull him backward.
Timothy dug his nails into the dirt as his legs were tugged in the direction of the cabin. “Help me!” He screamed. Mason ran forward and grabbed hold of Timothy’s arms. “Do not let go, Mason! I beg of thee, do not!” Timothy cried as the invisible force pulled harder. Mason dug his feet into the ground as hard as he could, battling with all his might. But it was no use. The invisible force pried Timothy from Mason’s grasp, and he went flying backward in the air. The cabin door flew open and swallowed Timothy whole, slamming shut once he was inside. The three teens left outside heard his screams fade, like he was falling into a deep tunnel. Once the door had slammed, the face of the witch disappeared, and the candle blew out, leaving only darkness.”
I paused to gage my audience’s reactions. This time, I could tell that everyone was interested, even the men. There was not a peep from Tom or James, so I knew they had to be a little bit scared.
“So…what happened to Timothy?” asked Amelia, wide-eyed.
I shook my head somberly, “No one knows. His friends ran back to the village and told the townspeople what had happened. The men of Ravensborrow went back to the witch’s cabin to search for the boy, but the only thing they found were the bloody, tattered remains of his clothes.”
“So he was naked?!” screamed Tom, bursting out in laughter. Everyone groaned and rolled their eyes.
I ignored him once more, “After Timothy’s disappearance, things in the town got worse. Every night, someone in town would die. It started with the girls, Rachel and Sarah. It happened during the night. Their families heard them screaming, “No, Timothy! No!” Their bodies were found crumpled up on the ground, their skin pale and their eyes rolled back in their heads. Perhaps Timothy had come back to have his revenge on the friends who left him in the woods to die. After the girls, however, it was a random sequence of which townsperson would die next. People in Ravenborrow turned on each other. Families began to pack up and leave. Within weeks, the town’s population decreased by half. It wasn’t long before the elders of the town accused Mason of witchcraft, being the only one of the four teens to survive. He was taken to trial on the 13th of November, 1692 and found guilty. He was set to hang the next day, but when the executioners came to take him to the gallows…he was gone. Like Timothy, the only thing left were the tattered remains of his clothes.”
“How could he just disappear?” asked Jenny, squeezing Fred’s arm.
“Some say he used magic to teleport somewhere else and started a new life. Some say he was the victim of the witch,” I replied. “Regardless, the town of Ravenborrow never recovered from the strange events. After Mason’s death, no one else died, however most of the villagers fled anyway, in fear that the witch would return. They say the woods around Ravenborrow are still haunted by the witch…and the souls of her victims.”
An eerie silence fell over the nine of us, the light from the fire casting shadows on our faces. I could tell that my story was a hit, everyone was terrified. I was about to ask if anyone else had a scary story to tell when Clair let out a slow, creepy chuckle that cut through the silence like a sharp, searing blade. We all stared at her confused and in shock as the chuckle turned into a laugh. I had known Clair for ten years, and I knew her laugh. It was soft and light like a bird. This…this laugh…was not her laugh.
“Clair…babe…what’s so funny?” James asked, putting a hand on her shoulder. Clair ignored him, continuing to laugh in that grotesque, sinister cackle.
Amelia leaned over to me and whispered, “What the hell is going on?”
I just shook my head, “I-I don’t know.”
Suddenly, Clair’s laughing stopped as abruptly as it started. She stared blankly at the fire, her mouth slightly agape. We all looked at each other, not knowing what to do or say. Finally, Tom decided to speak.
“Is this some kind of joke?” he asked, giggling nervously.
Clair slowly turned her head in his direction, strands of her dark hair covering her face like a dark veil. Through the strands of hair she muttered, “You’re gonna die.”
“Bro, what?” Tom asked, standing up.
“YOU’RE ALL GONNA DIE!” Clair screamed. Her voice had changed. It wasn’t hers anymore, it sounded like multiple people speaking. Like a group of angry people speaking through her. Before Tom could say anything else, Clair lifted off the ground, the fire exploding into a million sparks of light. Hovering a few feet in the air, she lifted her arm in Tom’s direction, sending him flying backwards and slamming into a tree. Shayan screamed and ran to his limp body now lying on the ground in a heap.
“I like your story, Cassidy. We all did,” Clair said in her new, terrifying blend of voices, “Welcome to our woods.” She then lowered her arm which sent a gust of wind like swirling around the campsite, blowing the fire out and leaving it completely dark. I could hear my friends scream in terror as they scrambled from their seats. The following minutes were a blur of rummaging around searching for flashlights and lanterns. Finally, I could see the sputtering of a flashlight a few feet away. It was James, frantically shining the light around the campsite like a mad man.
“What the hell is going on!?” he screamed.
Another flashlight turned on next to him. It was Megan. She shined her light at me, “Did you plan this?!” she yelled angrily.
I was at a loss for words, “N-No! How could I…How could we…”
“Where is Clair!?” James shouted. He shined his light from side to side. I could see Jenny and Fred holding each other tightly, Jenny’s face slick with tears. Amelia was to my left, sitting there in shock, not moving.
“Clair!” James called again. She had vanished.
A faint sobbing could be heard a few yards away. Megan shakily shined her flashlight in the direction of the sound. It was Shayan, curled over the body of Tom on the ground. His head had been smashed against the tree, and blood was seeping out of a large gash on his skull.
Shayan lifted her face in the direction of the light, her face covered in tears and Tom’s blood, “He…he’s dead. Tom’s dead…he’s dead,” she cried.
The six of us could do nothing but stare at Tom’s lifeless body laying under the tree. It all happened so fast and so strangely.
“What’s happening?” Amelia asked. Her voice was low and shaky.
I bent down next to her, “I don’t know, but I think the best thing to do is to head back to the cars and get help.”
“HELP? You want to get HELP?!” James asked sarcastically, “My girlfriend just killed a man by raising her hand! What the hell are we going to tell the police?” We all looked at each other silently, knowing James was right for once. “We need to find Clair,” he continued, “and get her to a f*cking priest or something!” he shouted angrily.
“Forget Clair! We need to get out of these woods, now!” screamed Megan, grabbing her backpack and her car keys out of the pocket. We all began to grab our things when a sharp, eerie cackle came from the woods around us.
Jenny began to sob, “Oh God, Oh God! She’s back!”
Fred held her closer, “Don’t worry babe, we’re gonna leave right now.” The two began to head for the trail that leads back to the cars. The walk back was about a two mile trek, and there were no lights along the way.
“You two go ahead, we’ll get Shayan,” I called after Jenny and Fred who were already sprinting away. I left Amelia, still sitting on her stump in shock, took a flashlight I found next to us, and went over to Shayan who was hunched over Tom’s body. I gently touched her shoulder, “Shayan, I know this is hard, but we need to go, now. We need to get help for Tom, OK?” I waited for her to respond, but I got nothing. “Shayan…SHAYAN!” I yelled, shaking her shoulder. Her body fell backward, landing flat on the ground. Her mouth was open and her eyes were rolled back in her head. I screamed and jumped back, crawling on all fours back toward the others.
“Go! Run!” I screamed. The others didn’t wait around to ask questions. James and Megan made a break for the trail. I grabbed hold of Amelia’s arm and pulled her behind me, “We gotta go, now!”
We ran as quickly as we could, sticks and leaves crunching under our feet. The woods were pitch black, and even our flashlights barely made a dent in the dark. We could still hear the distant, grotesque laughter, getting closer every second. A few minutes later we reached the trail to take us back to our cars. James turned around and huddled us together.
“It’s a straight shot back to the cars. Don’t look back whatever you-,” James’s voice trailed off as a splatter of blood dripped down onto his face from above. All of us, still panting and trying to catch our breaths, slowly looked up at the trees above our heads. Two dark figures could barely be seen. We shined our flashlights up at them and all screamed in horror. There, swinging from two nooses were Jenny and Fred. Their eyes had been gouged out, and blood was seeping out of their eyes and mouths.
“Go!” I yelled, shoving James, Megan, and Amelia in the direction of the cars. All of us took off down the trail in a flurry of panic.
I could hear Megan screaming, “Oh my god! Oh my god!”
James was in the lead, burling through the trees and shrubs like an ape. Amelia and I clung to each other as we ran. I could hear her breathing getting harder and harder, and could see the hot steam from both of our breath in the air.
We ran for what seemed like hours, never ceasing to rest in fear of what may be chasing us. As we came to the last stretch of trail before the parking lot, the eerie giggle swarmed around us like a mob of angry hornets. We all grouped together, backs touching, ready to fight whatever was there with our bare hands.
“Come on you f*cking whore!” James screamed out, flashlight in hand.
Megan was sobbing hysterically, “Please…please,” she muttered through her tears. I grabbed her hand and squeezed it.
I suddenly mustered up some courage, “Whatever you are…whatever you want…you already took four of us and our friend’s body. What more do you want!? We’ll leave! We won’t come back! Just let us leave!” I called out, my voice cracking like a boy in puberty.
The laughter grew quiet, as if whatever it was, was receding into the woods. I loosened my grip on Megan’s hand a bit, feeling like maybe the witch had listened. Megan turned and looked at me, wide-eyed and filled with hope. I could see her wet, freckled cheeks reflecting the dim light of the flashlight she was holding.
“Are-are we sa-,” just as Megan began to ask the question we were all thinking, she was torn from our small group like a piece of paper ripped out of a book. Her screams could be heard fading deeper and deeper into the forest.
“MEGAN!” Amelia screamed, lurching forward to try and go after her.
I grabbed Amelia’s torso and threw her toward the parking lot, “We gotta run, now! She’s gone!”
Amelia groaned in agony and managed to push herself in the direction of the vehicles still parked in the lot waiting for us. James didn’t wait for instruction, he took off, leaving me as the tail end of our shrinking group. We had about a hundred yards to reach the cars. I could just barely make out a lamp post from the parking lot through the wall of trees.
“We’re almost there! We’re gonna make it!” I called out to the others.
Almost as soon as I said that, I heard the muddled cry of James just yards ahead of me. I never saw the witch take him, but from the sound he made, I knew he was gone. I picked up his bloody flashlight which had been left lying on the trail and kept running. As selfish as it may seem, I didn’t care at that moment. All survival instincts had taken over, and I was running for my life and mine alone. Tree branches hit my face like tiny razor blades, and I almost fell several times tripping over the rocky trail. I could feel the icy presence of the witch all around me, but I didn’t stop. I had to make it to the lot. I saw the spot where the forest met the gravel of the parking lot and lept in the air over the threshold, falling on the ground, scraping my legs and arms. I didn’t care though, I was out of the woods. It was like the air lightened and I could breathe again. There was no darkness surrounding me, I knew the witch wouldn’t follow me out of the woods. I laughed a breathy, gaspy kind of laugh as I pulled myself up off the ground. I had made it, I was alive. That’s when it hit me…Amelia.
“Amelia!” I screamed, jumping to my tired feet. “Amelia!” I looked around the parking lot, even running over to the cars to see if she had climbed in. There was no sign of her. “Amelia!” I cried desperately. I could feel the hope draining from my body, and I slumped down next to my car, too tired to cry but feeling all of the pain one could feel after losing all of her closest friends. That’s when I heard it.
“Cassidyyyy,” The voice sounded like a knife was being slid across the surface of a glass. It was sharp and unnerving, and I knew exactly who, or what, it was. I slowly tilted my head in the direction of the voice, still leaning against my car for support. There, at the edge of the forest, was not Clair, but a tall, unnaturally thin, twisted figure of an old woman. Her white hair billowing around her as if there was a harsh gust of wind. Her skin was almost blue and the veins popped out of her hands and feet like worms. There, in her boney arms was Amelia, still alive and unable to move. She was paralyzed, like the only part of her body that worked were her eyes, which darted back and forth like a fly caught in a spider web. “Cassidyyyy,” the witch sang again.
I began to silently sob, only being able to watch my best friend helplessly entrapped in the arms of a monster. “Please,” I managed to mumble, “Please let her go.”
The witch let out a gurgly, amused cackle and stroked Amelia’s hair, “Oh, Cassidy, thank you for telling my story. I truly love the youth.” Amelia remained frozen as the witch menacingly taunted me.
“Let her go!” I screamed with every ounce of strength I had left.
The witch stopped cackling and stared, cold as a corpse at me. She raised one skinny, grotesque finger at me, the other arm still holding Amelia like a rag doll, “You, storyteller. Tell them all. Tell them all…” and with that, the witch began to sink back into the forest, Amelia still in her grasp.
“No!” I screamed, “Don’t take her!” My pleas were met with Amelia’s screams as they sunk further and further away from view. The farther away they receded, the more my vision began to tunnel, until everything was black. I slipped down onto the gravel, feeling the tiny rocks press against the cuts on my face. “No…no,” I muttered as my world faded.
I don’t remember what happened next, or how someone found me lying there in the middle of a remote parking lot on the outskirts of Salem, but they did. My first memory after that night was waking up to the bright, fluorescent lights of a hospital room. I slowly looked from side to side. There were little paper witches, bats, and jack o'lanterns hung around the room. On my right side was my mom, her head slightly tilted forward and snoring like she always did when she slept. I looked to my right and could see into the hallway of the hospital. Nurses and doctors walked by wearing silly costumes. I guess one of them noticed me and she eagerly ran in.
“Happy Halloween, sleepy head! You’re finally awake! It’s been weeks!” the nurse exclaimed enthusiastically.
My mom heard the fuss and woke in a daze, “Oh! Oh, you’re awake! Oh, thank God!” She hugged me tightly, tugging on the fluids cord they had injected in my arm. I winced and she backed up apologetically. I could see tears start to gather in her eyes, and all of the sudden, I remembered the events of the camping trip.
“Mom…where are they?” I asked, weakly. My mom began to shake her head, and stared at the nurse for help. The nurse, noticing my mother’s anguish, changed the subject.
“I’m going to go get the doctor, sweety. You just relax, it’s all OK.” With that, the nurse ran out of the room, her Minnie Mouse headband bouncing with every step.
I turned back to my mother, “Where. Are. They?” I demanded, squeezing her hand.
My mother began to cry and shook her head, “Oh, honey,” she sniffled, “They think it was an animal attack. All of them…found in the woods. I’m so glad you got away. I don’t know what I…” she trailed off.
“An…animal attack?” I asked, staring blankly ahead. My mother nodded through her tears.
I shook my head slowly, “No.”
My mother looked up, confused, “No, what, honey?”
I strangely started to laugh, a very bizarre, inappropriate laugh. My mother sat frozen, not knowing what was happening.
Once I was able to compose myself, I turned to her, still chuckling, “Mom, there was no animal. It was her. It was her!” I shouted. I began to laugh louder and harder. My mother nervously ran out of the room to find a doctor, thinking I was having a manic episode. “It was her! It was her!” I screamed, my laughter turning into terror. I screamed and screamed, remembering the bodies of my friends and their shrieks of horror. The doctor and a team of nurses ran into the room, held me down, and injected me with some sort of sedation.
I was discharged from the hospital a couple of days later with anxiety medication and a strict order to not be left alone due to the trauma I had endured. I learned very quickly that the best way to survive was to go along with the story the police and morticians gave. It was an animal attack. Perhaps a rogue black bear or a pack of stray dogs. It really didn’t add up, but it was the only thing that could logically explain the way the bodies were ripped apart.
I hadn’t told a soul about the witch, not in the past 10 years since. I had intended on taking it to my grave, a way of spiting the witch for what she did. I would not tell her story. I would not give her the infamy she desired. That is until I learned that they are going to be clearing part of the woods to build a neighborhood. If I don’t speak up, and tell of the terrors that exist in Phoebe O’Mallary’s woods, I know that many will die, just like my friends. So here is my tale of the witch, of her little cabin that may still stand in the woods, and of a little town called Ravenborrow that exists only as a ghost in the midst of the evil forces that lay on that land. Do with it what you will, but know, she’s waiting.
About the Creator
Hey guys! My name is Jenna and I'm a twenty-something post-grad living in the DC area! I mostly write for fun and it's always been a hobby of mine. I hope you enjoy my stores and that they bring some excitement to your day!
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