This is a true story…
My arms cling to my pillow hard like a father holding his young daughter, protecting her from the many sick perversions of the world. On my side, I lay frightened in a fetal position inside my sleeping bag. There were four other bodies in the tent lying next to me, but I can no longer feel their presence. Their heavy breathing has even disappeared. For all I know, I’m all alone in these dense woods… and I’ve never been this terrified in my life…
Earlier today, we celebrated my buddy Jason’s eighth birthday at his house. We were neighbors and also the same age. He had also been the first kid I met when my family moved here that summer.
Jason and another neighborhood kid, Billy, were trying to take the unused pieces of lumber from building our house to build their own fort. He had asked if I wanted to join, and so I did. Jason had also been in my first grade class that next school year. This only made us closer as friends.
His party was at his house, down the street, or through the trees behind houses, from my house. The plan was to have all fifteen, give or take, of us camp out in the dense forest where we had built a fort. Everyone was excited, even me, until his parents came out there to tell us a story before we went to sleep.
As we each slipped inside our sleeping bags, five in each tent, Jason’s parents sat in front of the three big tents lined up next to each other. Each parent told their own story. But before, they had told us something about these woods we’d never heard. They had known the area for many unexplained incidents, each involving the extra-terrestrial.
His dad went first, telling us of his true experience when he had seen something he’d never seen before. Then, Jason’s mom told of her experience as a little girl. She had been combing her hair before bed. She watched herself count to a hundred brushes in her bedside mirror. While she was about to reach her goal, in her mirror she noticed three small beings coming through the wall behind her bed. They were skinny and pale-skinned with huge black eyes that stared at her. They came toward her as she screamed. That’s all she had remembered.
Her story had been scary to a group of seven- and eight-year-olds, but the story that stayed with me throughout the night was the dad’s experience. He and a girlfriend had rented a cabin out in the woods as a romantic getaway. This was before he had met his wife, I guess. He said he woke up in bed in the dead of night. The nightly animals and insects were making all of their noises, but then stopped, all at once. He thought this was strange but forgot about it and closed his eyes.
With everything silent, he made out tiny footsteps along the wood floor coming from outside the room. He thought it to be a burglar perhaps and needed to check it out. But he couldn’t move. He was paralyzed to the bed on his back. He heard the footsteps slowly getting louder, closer to the bedroom door. He tried to get up but to no avail. His mouth wouldn’t even open to yell for help. It had him trapped while all he could do was he listened and watch as the bedroom doorknob slowly turned.
Sweat poured down his face as he shook in fear. After the doorknob made a complete turn, the door slammed open. He had closed his eyes, not wanting to see who or what was there. But he could feel its presence, whatever it is. He listened to the footsteps getting closer and closer to the bed. They were light-sounding, meaning whatever it was, wasn’t big. With that thought, he gained the courage to open his eyes.
With his eyes opened slightly like two small slits on his face, he was looking at something he’d never seen before in his life, something frightening, something that lived in your worst nightmare. It was short, grossly white, with big black eyes, and was standing right next to him. He didn’t remember what happened next.
I am not old enough for such stories; I think to myself.
The cold fear has my body frozen in a ball. I can’t move. My eyes refuse to close, not even to blink. They will not budge, as if something was holding them open with their long, thin fingers. I didn’t want to close them, anyway. The images inside my head are too horrific, and I need to keep watch.
Someone drugged me, it feels like. It’s like something has turned all my senses up all the way. It amplifies every sound I hear.
How could they sleep with all of this noise around us?
My body jumps in fear every time I hear a new noise outside of the pattern I put together. The hoots from an owl, the crickets chirping, all the outdoor sounds of the night I can hear. But it’s underneath these sounds I keep an ear out for something else.
Laying here, petrified, I wait and listen for the breaking of limbs, the cracking of sticks on the ground, any sound that tells me someone, or something else is out there, outside of the tent.
… and waiting.