Was looking through my old stories and found this one. Thought I would share:
It was John’s idea. “Hey Chris, Let’s go hiking,” he said, “it’ll be fun.” We drove 376 miles to go hiking in the woods. I don’t even like nature, but it seemed so important to him… The car ride here was a long one; 6 hours of pure agony. The first rule in John’s car is not to touch his radio, which he doesn’t even listen to… Instead, he plays this old ACDC tape over, and over, and over again. It was cool for a while, but after the first couple of weeks the shit gets old.
When we got there, there was a lobby and a place to park. And what do you know: No service on my cell… When we paid for parking, the man behind the counter asked us if we wanted a guide; we should have said yes. Instead, John left it up to me and my dumb ass declined. At the time, I thought I was getting out of hours of a guy telling me what’s right in front of my fucking face. I’d trade that for this any day…
John had been smiling the whole time, as if he were rubbing it in… Then again, he smiled the entire drive here, so maybe his face was just stuck like that. However the case, it annoyed the hell out of me. He’d packed so much, I’m surprised he didn’t have a tent in that huge pack. He’d packed water, snacks, a first-aid kit, and a compass.
About three hours and 2 bags of doritos later, we were lost. The compass was messing up, and these damned trees all look the same. “Well, what now?” I asked.
“Well think faster, the sun’s starting to go down…” The sun was indeed falling, just as my hopes for making it back before dark were doing the same. We ended up attempting to back-track, but we seemed to just be walking in circles. The darkness seemed to creep up on us, as we were soon surrounded by black. “Damn,” I said, “Why’d you have to drag me out here?” He didn’t reply, but simply looked off in some direction. “Well-“
“Shh!” He simply pointed in the direction he was looking. I looked, but saw nothing. “I don’t see sh-“
I look again; as my eyes adjust to the dark, I suddenly saw what he was looking at… Where he was pointing was a rather large mass. I couldn’t make out what it was, but it had red eyes that seemed to glow. Whatever it was, it was staring directly at me. As John and I slowly backed away, the eyes followed. Suddenly, we heard a howl in the distance, to our left. We jumped and looked in that direction. The instant we looked back, the eyes were gone, along with the mass they belonged to.
“What the hell was that?” I asked, still shocked. “I don’t know,” he replied, “but whatever it was, I don’t want to stay here to find out…” We started walking briskly in one direction; anywhere was better than there to us.our walk broke into a jog, and our jog broke into a run as we traveled onward. John lost his back on the way, but completely ignored it and kept on. The moon was shining so bright, illuminating our path before us.
We had to have ran for at least 4 miles when we saw a light in the distance. Our hopes were suddenly lifted as we veered toward the light. the sun had just started to rise when we reached the source of the light; it was a small cabin, and outside of the shack was a healthy fire in a fire pit. We were so full of joy as we ran up to the door and knocked.
When the door opened up, an old man stepped out. He was quite short, with a round belly and a white beard. His most distinct trait, though, was a lark knotted scar that ripped down the right side of his face. It looked as if he’d been mauled by a bear. He looked at us through tiny, beady eyes.
“What do’ya want?” he asked. He couldn’t have had very many teeth. “Sir, we’re kind of lost,” John said, “we would be very grateful if you would kindly point us in the right direction; we’re looking for the hiking reserve.” He seemed so spirited. I could hear the relief in his voice.
“Oh, I see…” said the man, “It’s due north-east of here, a good six miles…” He looked us over. “You boys seem like you could use some rest. Reckon I could offer y’all some food and a bed. You can hike up there after yer set’n ready.”
His words caught me off guard, and I could see the apprehension in John’s eyes as well. However, we weren’t going to pass up such a generous offer, especially since the hike back to the reserve would no doubt take another five or six hours, so we accepted.
The man stepped aside to let us into his home. “Ma’name’s Paul,” he said, “Please, make yer-selves at home…” As we stepped onto the threshold, we were shocked at what we saw. The cabin was much larger than it seemed to be; there were trophy-heads all over each wall, the most notable of which was a the head of a large boar, mounted directly above the fireplace.
“You’re a hunter?” Asked John. It was more of a statement than a question.
“I guess ya could say that…” Paul said, “I mostly hunt for food these days… All them bears know to stay clear of me, though.” He chuckled as he made his way to the fireplace. He walked with a cane. “This, though…” pointing to the boar, “This feller put up a helluva fight. Damn near tore my eye out…” he rubbed his scar as he spoke.
He lead us to a room in the back. It had two small beds, which clearly had not been used in a long time. “Y’all can sleep in here, I’ll be just out here if ya need me.” He pointed to the room we had just left. We thanked him as he closed the door.
“So, what do you think?” John asked, turning to me.
“The situation, or the old man?”
“Well in that case, I’m relieved that we’ll be back to the car soon, and the sooner we get there the sooner we get home.” I said, “And as for the old man, I don’t know… He’s kind, but he seems a bit off…”
John nodded, “I was thinking the same thing. Hey, I’m sorry I dragged you out here… Here,” he threw me his keys, “You can drive home. You can listen to whatever you’d like, I don’t care… Just not country, I hate that shit.” We both laughed. This was a serious gesture, as he seldom lets anyone drive his car, much less touch his radio.
“Thanks, man… I know what this means to you…” I said, twirling the keys in my hand. He simply smiled, nodded, and lied down. I crawled into the other bed as all of the exhaustion hit me at once. It wan’t long before I was sound asleep.
When I awoke, John was still asleep. I woke him and we made our way through the house; Paul was nowhere in sight. We stepped outside and there he was, feeding the fire. “You boys have a nice nap?” He asked as we made our way over to him. He seemed to be cooking something over the fire.
“Yes, sir.” John replied as he stretched and yawned. As I got closer, I could smell the meat in the pot. It smelled delicious.
“Mmm… What do you have there?” I asked, peering into the pot.
“Squirrel,” he said, “Kill’t ‘em this mornin’.” He held up a small pellet rifle as he talked. “‘S ready,”
He pulled out two bowls, scooping the stew into each of them. “You aren’t hungry?” John asked as he handed the bowls over to us.
“Aw, gnaw..” he replied, “I reckon I’ll get sum’ else later tonight.”
As we ate our stew, he looked off into the sunset. “That’s a pretty sight, there… The sunset really does look amazin’.” he said. “I reckon that’s the only absolute in this world, other than death… The sun will always go down, but there’s no guarantee it’ll rise the next mornin’, though… The sun sets on everythin’, too; it doesn’t discriminate. Who’da thought the end of the light, and beginnin’ of dark would be so beautiful…” He rambled on as we ate.
When the stew was gone, we said our goodbyes and left. The sun was almost completely gone, so we hurried. I lead this time. The compass was working again, so we kept it north-east as Paul had told us. As it got darker, I had to use my phone to light the compass. Soon, the sun was completely gone; in it’s place was the moon. It was large and full, much like the night before, providing us with just enough light to see our path.
I kept getting the feeling that I was being followed, but I saw nothing when I turned back to look. It eventually became too much, and I forced John to stop. “What?” he asked.
“Shh! Listen…” I whispered, looking the way we’d come. I then heard a twig snap, so I looked in the direction it came from. As I looked on, I saw the eyes from the previous night. I focused, and soon noticed that the mass was moving closer. As it stepped into the light, I soon realized what it was; walking towards us was a huge, muscular wolf. It began to snarl as is came closer, I could see the steam rising from it nose. And then it charged us.
We ran as quickly as we could; the wolf kept pace easily. I could hear it howling behind us. Everywhere we ran, the wolf was at our heels. I was starting to gain hope when the worst thing happened… I tripped.
It seemed instantaneous.. The wolf was on top of me before I even saw it. I found myself peering into its eyes, inches away from my face. It was then that I saw something that changed my life forever… Around its snout was all white, and next to its right eyes was a giant, knotted scar….
I stared in terror into Paul’s eyes as drool dripped onto my face… I couldn’t move; partly from his weight, partly from the shock. I just lied there hopelessly, waiting for death. I heard a whistle and turned to see John. He had a large stick, which he smacked Paul in the face with. Paul was thrown off of me. He stopped to shake off the blow.
“Run, Chris!” These were John’s last words. Paul jumped on him and sank his teeth into his skull; he was dead instantly. So I ran. I ran until my feet were numb, and then ran some more. I didn’t stop until I saw the light from the reserve. I was in the parking-lot when I turned and looked into the forest.
I didn’t see Paul, but what I did see were two beady, red eyes staring directly at me… I got into John’s car and started it. I drove to the police station and reported my brother’s death. I told him that he was mauled by a wild animal. What else was I supposed to tell them? That John was killed by a werewolf? No… I knew that they wouldn’t believe me… After they searched the woods the entire next day, they found no trace of John. They figured that a bear might have carried his body off to their den, but I know the truth…
So if you ever go hiking and you come across and old cabin, with a fire going outside and an old man with a scar… Stop, go back… Don’t make the same mistake John and I made….