Whispers from Beyond
A Deep Woods Haunting
The cabin in the woods had been abandoned for years, but one night, a candle burned in the window. The darkness blanketed the woods like velvet. Heavy and suffocating. The irascible autumn winds howled, echoing the deep, painful groans of a tormented soul sentenced to eternal suffering. And the candle flickered. Flickered with malevolence. Tauntingly, fervently, the flame danced – dancing as though it was reveling in my fear, feeding upon my forebodings, almost beckoning me – daring me to come closer.
I tried to convince myself that the light was nothing more than a reflection of the stars. It was merely an illusion, I reasoned. Yet, the candle meted out its dreadful warning. There could be no doubt that someone, or something, was in the cabin.
I distinctly understood the significance of that night. It had been ten years to the night since that horrifying tragedy at the cabin. I had been there. I delivered a load of firewood on that fateful October evening ten years ago. I was the last known witness to have seen her alive.
Lucija Novak was an outsider and a bit of an outcast among the townsfolk, but I had never accepted the narrative that she was crazy. Different? Sure, a little, but not crazy. Most of the stories whispered in rumors after her disappearance had scarcely more than a shadow of truth behind them. You know how people like to talk, and how people’s imaginations can sometimes wander. The talk of witchcraft and satanic rituals at the cabin was mostly fueled by campfire lore. Mostly.
Lucija’s father, a rugged woodsman with a strong disdain for strangers – and everyone was a stranger to him – had died mysteriously, leaving his cabin to Lucija. She had been there nearly a year before she was taken from this world. During that time, Lucija had labored tirelessly to transform the simple secluded cabin into a quiet home, tucked away from the tumult of society.
Townspeople distanced themselves from Lucija when she made her way into town for groceries and supplies, presupposing that she possessed her father’s abrasive presence, and Lucija’s own quiet, introverted demeanor did little to dissuade most onlookers. However, in reality, Lucija was little like her father.
Lucija had a quirky smile which hinted at her troubled heart, but behind her guarded exterior, there was a quiet, gentle kindness about her. Her long black hair and dark sullen eyes stood in stark contrast to her ghostly white complexion. The deep crevices in Lucija’s face chronicled the melancholy tale of a harsh life. There was a profound sadness in Lucija’s eyes; she seemed distant and untrusting, as though she had endured a painful betrayal. I understood Lucija perhaps better than anyone. During her short spell here, I had grown quite fond of her, even though she had repeatedly rebuffed my romantic gestures.
Nobody knows exactly what transpired in the cabin on that fateful autumn evening, although the profuse amount of blood left behind in her cabin casts little doubt on Lucija’s demise. Neither her killer nor her body was ever discovered. It was as if Lucija’s body had been swallowed up by the woods. The small cabin, now growing rickety from the decay of time, had remained undisturbed for most of the last decade, an ominous warning to some, and a curious invitation to others. Nevertheless, for many years, nobody had dared to venture inside. There is a dark, depraved curse upon the cabin, and some souls are best left undisturbed.
These woods clutch tightly to many mysterious secrets. There is a dark fog of evil which shrouds the forest: a prism through which the sights and sounds of the woods are distorted – a fog of evil that clings onto that dreadful night, indelibly etching its mark upon the woods as a sinister warning to all who enter.
It is said that Lucija’s soul is trapped, imprisoned in a desolate purgatory. Her soul, paroled from the dark recesses of hell, pierced through the veil into our world, and is condemned to wander the woods. It is believed that whatever occurred that night in the cabin was so wicked, so heinous, so profoundly disturbing, that her gypsy soul cannot rest. If you listen closely to the winds wailing through the dense trees at night, you can make out the distant sound of Lucija’s desperate groans of death and despair.
Sightings have been reported of Lucija’s ghostly figure wandering the woods, luring many an entranced passerby into a bewildering maze within the dense woodland. Several unexplained disappearances have been imputed to the vengeful ghost of Lucija. I myself have witnessed her phantom spirit, enticing me to follow her into the deep overgrowth, stalking me through the woods, but never have I succumbed to her tempting gestures.
As I approached the light, I stood paralyzed with fear. I could feel a depraved evil emanating from the cabin. Every fiber of my being warned me to turn back, yet I remained, as if frozen in place. My pulse raced. A cold draft engulfed me, chilling me to the very marrow of my bones. The deafening beat of my own heart muffled the sounds of the woods. THUMP! THUMP! THUMP! I drew a long, deep breath to settle my nerves, and I fixed my eyes upon the light emitting from the cabin. Thump . . . Thump . . . Thump! My heart continued to pound out a rhythmic alarm. I knew I would have to approach much closer to discern any details through the cold, mysterious mask of fog. From my distance, all I could distinguish clearly was the gesticulating flame of the candle, lapping excitedly at the darkness. My breath lingered with fearful anticipation upon the cold night air, while the stiff autumn wind, growing morose and gloomy, continued to echo its menacing warnings from deep inside the woods.
Kids, I finally reasoned. Of course. It was the ten-year anniversary of Lucija’s death, and kids had likely ventured out there for a thrill. It was merely kids, I mused, trying hard to convince myself. What fools they were to stray so deep into the woods on this horrible night, I thought. Suddenly, almost with a chuckle, I was struck by the irony that I myself had lost my way in the darkness. Of all the nights I could have wandered through the woods, there I was, almost as if I had been drawn by some supernatural force, drawing me closer and closer to the cabin.
That dreadful candle continued to flicker. The conspiring flame vexed me. Drawing me nearer. Taunting me. Stalking me. Urging me to confront a frightful past my mind had long since buried.
Thump . . . thump . . . thump: the heavy pounding of my heartbeat echoed from my chest cavity as I traversed the dark pathway toward the cabin. Slowly. Ever so slowly, I made my way. The candle, nearing its end, was now dancing a bit more erratically. I approached the cabin window with trepidation, fearful of what secrets the night might reveal. The flame from the candle crackled and frolicked in the dense, dark night air, clinging to its final vestiges of life.
Sensing my approach, and perhaps hearing the drum-like thump, thump, thumping of my heart, the ravens in the trees outside the cabin stirred angrily and took flight, their frantic wings fluttering out an SOS warning.
At first glance through the window, my eyes strained under a heavy hush of darkness. The candle, struggling now to stay ablaze, offered only a thin sliver of light to the room, and, as my eyes focused more acutely, I observed nothing but cold emptiness – a deep absence of life. The shadows, however, whispered dark secrets from beyond. The long shadows jumped across the room with the waning light of the candle, and there, on the walls of the cabin, an assembly of shadowy apparitions swayed in unison to the dim illumination in a sort of ritualistic dance. Cloaked in the cold, damp darkness, their disfigured forms leapt about the room to the cadence of the candle’s writhing flame. Their blurred shadows cast no clear outlines, almost as if they had been colored outside of the lines. At their feet, held at bay by their ghoulish masters, were large, rabbit-like creatures, their long ears standing erect and demonic fangs gnashing at the slender threads of light.
At the center of the cortege was a much larger, shadowy figure, cold, menacing and forbidding. Judging from its shadow, this creature must have stood eight foot tall, with thick, broad shoulders, and a serpent’s head, adorned with the short, powerful horns of a goat. Its vastness swallowed the room. The beast pirouetted toward me, and its large, reptilian wings slowly unfurled. The monster pranced in delight, its long, forked tongue flicking violently, piercing the murky night air.
My heart fluttered in mortal terror. My eyes fixed upon the beast, and I felt the blood drain from my face; a frigid chill quelled the night air, snuffing out any last trace of warmth in my lungs. My legs trembled and grew weak, and a sense of nausea overcame me. Under my breath, I spontaneously chanted a prayerful incantation. My heart sensed that I was in the presence of the devil himself, and it thumped out a warning like Morse code: THUMP! THUMP! THUMP-THUMP-THUMP!
At the feet of this ghastly beast, lying on the ground, her arms raised in defense, was Lucija. The monstrous devil towered over her, menacing and cruel; the stiff night breeze let out a deep, guttural, agonizing groan. Lucija recoiled in fright, inexorably snared in the throes of death. My anger stirred me to madness, and I searched deep within my burning rage for the strength to stand firm, for fear stalks its prey with vengeance. In despair, I cried out, “MURDER!” I could witness this evil treachery no longer. I burst into the room, brandishing my axe with as much valorous determination as I could summon. A gust of wind pursued me through the cabin door and settled into the room with a long, evil laugh.
I swung my axe gallantly at the malevolent spirits, as they darted back and forth, always just beyond my reach. Provoking me. Taunting me. Feasting upon my fear and anger. With each desperate blow of cold, hard steel, I felt the sting of wood chips and blood in my eyes. After a flurry of powerful swings, I paused to peer more closely through the pale, fading light. There I stood atop the ghastly shadow of Lucija’s dismembered corpse. The demonic apparitions belched out an ominous chorus of contented laughter.
In murderous triumph, the evil procession slowly receded into the darkness, and the candle’s flame fluttered with excitement. The foul, pungent odor of death burned at my nostrils and pecked at my eyes. I dabbed across my face with my sleeve to clear my vision. I was alone. Deathly alone. I stood frozen and exhausted. A harrowing silence flooded the room. The shadows, a chilling portal to that fateful evening, had revealed the cabin’s nightmarish secrets, projected like the macabre scene from a horror movie onto the cabin walls. Lucija’s delicate life had flickered out with the flame, which gave one last desperate gasp, a blood-red sputter, before being extinguished by a cold gust of stale night air, carrying with it a deep, agonizing whimper.
I fell to my knees in horror as I harkened back to my sinister deed. “ALMIGHTY GOD! NO!” I shrieked. I was her killer! I was the beast!
The restless ghost of Lucija Novak continues to haunt these woods. You can hear her tormented cries upon the wind, and if you look deep into the phantom silhouettes cast by the campfire flames, there, among the shadows, you will see the languishing specter of her accursed soul.
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