The Mistaken Path
The cabin in the woods had been abandoned for years, but one night, a candle burned in the window, the night I decided to take the path everyone in our little town was warned not to take. While overgrown, it was still passable, and I forged through the brush with gusto.
I had heard stories many times as a child, used by parents to keep us kids from going into those woods and getting lost. We were warned away from the cabin, told that trouble would come if we did not heed their words.
As I grew, the fear disappeared and it became a sort of rural myth to me, one of those quaint small town ghost stories told around a checker board on the old general store porch, or a fireside ghost story at Boy Scout camping trips. I dismissed it as small town ignorance and superstition. I mean, run down old shacks can be dangerous, right? Holes in the floorboards, roof cave ins, and all that, but that's it.
I was home visiting, and this night, you see, I had chosen the path leading into those woods for my evening walk. The same blocks with the same homes, and the same neighbors' waves and questions had grown wearisome. Isn't it funny how one choice can change everything?
The story had been an all but forgotten memory until I happened upon the cabin. For a second, I was transported back to 9 years old, being scolded in the kitchen for going in the woods and worrying my parents, them telling the story once again, and feeling the fear, the nervous laughter as I sat in my room later that night telling myself it couldn't be true.
I came back to the present. The night had fallen around me as if time had sped up, and somehow, I was now standing closer to the cabin, without memory of having taken the steps. I felt disoriented. I tried to turn, wanting to leave, but I was stuck in place, as if roots had grown down, down, down into the earth from my feet.
I watched as the candle flickered, and a shadow appeared behind the flame. There was no face, but I could feel it looking at me. It's gaze was terrifying. My breath quickened and I could feel panic begin to rise in my chest.
My heart was pounding in fear, every nerve alive, every muscle straining against the hold on me, wanting to run, but unable to.
I told myself this could not be happening. People do not just move without knowing, cannot get glued in place, and certainly shadows do not move.
I closed my eyes against the scene. I felt the wind pick up, lifting the hair off my forehead, rustling the dried leaves at my feet, and chilling my skin.
All of a sudden there was silence. Not one sound from any creature, not one twig snap from little feet, and the wind had stopped. I could feel the electricity in the air, making the hairs stand up on my exposed forearms.
I knew I shouldn't open my eyes. Nine year old me screamed inside my head DO NOT OPEN YOUR EYES! It was so loud inside my head, and I wanted to listen, I truly did.
Slowly, against my will, one agonizing second at a time, my eyes opened.
I was now standing on the porch of the dilapidated old cabin, directly in front of that window. I was in a panic now. Breaths short and shallow, hoping I would pass out and this would all be over. I could see more movement inside as if smoke had come alive to take shape, entering the world from an unknown place.
The candle suddenly went out. I screamed.
I screamed as I watched the dark shadow multiply into many unique shapes, almost, yet not quite, distinguishable from each other. They hovered there at first, building in me an unbearable suspense.
With a howl they came through the window and through me. I heard the glass shatter as the window broke, felt the still warm wax splatter my cheeks.
My throat closed up yet still I screamed.
It seemed like hours that these, things, flowed through me, showing me all the horrors they would rain down upon the earth, and that I, disbelieving in stories and myth, had unlocked by gazing upon the candle burning in the window.
I wished I could go back to nine year old me, be safely tucked into my bed as my dad told me stories, even this one. Tears flowed from my eyes, splitting on the little solid wax pebbles, becoming many different streams.
The time would come, they whispered. I could warn, but no one will listen.
"And that's when the search party found you, six hours later, correct?"
"Yes. Dr. Grant. I have told you this over and over. LOOK AT ME", I screamed as loud as I could as if the volume would make him believe. "THEY. ARE. COMING."
The door to his office opened. Two burly orderlies came toward me, one with restraints, the other with sedatives.
"No no no nonononononooo don't put me to sleee..."
About the Creator
Musings and imaginings from the brain of a fifty something year old Gemini who sold everything and moved to Los Angeles in 2018.
I am no professional, I write because it brings me joy, release, and peace.
Ooo creepy ending!