Like many couples, we too enjoyed partaking in the night frolics and witching hour adventures (as she and I called them). Simple little outings done together in the dead of night. This added element of danger both captivates and terrifies. All your senses are heightened; you can feel the intensified romance burning between your two souls. She and I always alternated turns when choosing where these escapades occurred. Tonight was her night. After a short deliberation, she selected a nearby park. Quite spooky, isn’t it? Never tried it? Walking in these supposedly fun, friendly places after dark — equipped with only a hot, moist hand to hold and your imagination to run free.
A warm summer air swept through the trees as we entered the park from one of its many trails. You could hear the rustling leaves all around us, these being followed by a tightening of my girlfriend’s grip on my fingers – and this is how I knew it had begun. I pulled her in close, planting a kiss on her cheek as we set foot to pavement. “A bit scared already, are we?” I laughed.
“No! Shut up!” she giggled, and leaned away from my side for the briefest of moments. Though I quickly felt her yank me close again as the wind howled its chilling song.
“Sure, sure, lovedust,” I said and we moseyed on.
This particular park, while beautiful and pleasant during the day, seemed almost maze-like after sunset. Dozens of trails zigzagged, weaved, and circled through the walking paths. The majority of these were lined with tall hedges, bushes, or other shrubbery. Trees from an adjacent forest invariably found themselves sneaking across the lawns. Their sparse limbs hanging low in the air like boney fingers reaching out into the night for unsuspecting victims. Now, however ornate and decorated these passageways may seem, you forever held the distinct feeling you might find yourself getting lost at any turn. A few scattered lights illuminated the walkways each time a new route branched off in another direction. Traveling farther in, the middle of the park housed a large man-made pond. Various bridges of varying sizes joined and connected over the water at several locations throughout its expanse. None of these contained lights of any kind along their troubling length (aside from one on the entrance of each side). You could just hear the sound of flowing water from a nearby river, while the pond itself remained still and quiet.
I guided her along numerous paths, taking a turn there and a twist here. The moonless sky leaving the woods eerily blackened (especially the unlit areas surrounding us, no matter which way you looked you could not see more than ten feet beyond the path). With each shaking of a bush or cracking of a twig, my girlfriend held me just a little firmer. Every unknown noise causing a shudder of fear to pass through her. I thought it cute and found myself looking forward to these small pressure changes in her body. Now was my time to strike. I asked the question only a fool would pose.
“Dare me to walk off into the dark?”
“–What?” she replied with some hesitation.
“You can come too, if you’re too scared to wait here,” I mocked.
“No, that’s stupid,” came the retort.
“Sure, whatever you say yella-belly! I think I’ll go off into them right now. What do you think about th–”
And as I nearly broke free from her fingertips, she clasped them once more in a rather stern manner. “What’s that!” she gasped. I believed this to be another of her known ploys. Some times when the girl becomes a bit scared she is prone to fabricating sounds and noises to get out of participating in any would-be spooky activities.
“Sure…” I said incredulously. But her grip grew tighter, so I looked back.
“No, I’m serious,” she continued, as I heard her feet hopping up and down ever so slightly. “Off that way.”
I traced the direction her finger pointed in with my eyes. And then I saw it… Sure enough, there it was. A dim blue light some ways off in the distance. It was only by sheer luck we were even able to see it from so far off. The zigzagging pathways usually prevent you from looking very far ahead or behind, but for some reason this spot allowed us to do so.
“Hmm, I’m not sure what it is,” I said, speaking truthfully. I didn’t think much of it and suggested we take another trail to our right. No sense in going looking for trouble, I thought. She sighed heavily — glad to still have me protecting her, or something like that. We traipsed along the turns like smitten lovebirds, albeit somewhat scared lovebirds at that. Every so often I would kiss her on the lips or give her a playful smack on the bottom. Anything to ease the anxiety night brings with it. Yet, through the stiffness of her movements I knew she still harbored worry in her heart. And perhaps rightfully so. My childish attempts to lighten the situation had no effect.
“What’s that?” she asked rather suddenly, pulling at my hand with enough force to stop us cold.
“Where?” I asked, whirling my head about in every direction. It’s just like a woman to raise a commotion over something and not tell you where to look.
“Over there!” she replied with a nervous squeezing of my palm.
Being the man in this relationship, I felt it necessary to remain courageous (or at least give the impression of such behavior). She pointed to my right at a connecting path. I glanced over. An unnerving sickness crept its way into my lower abdominal. For out there in the dark, again, I saw the same dull blue light – only this time a little closer than before. Standing a short distance ahead, staring us down like a wild animal poised to attack. Be cool, I thought. Be cool. Don’t assume the worst.
“Probably a new lamppost the city has installed. You know how they love park maintenance,” I told her with a goofy grin. She didn’t seem relieved in the slightest. Her eyes remained fixated on the light as she tugged me in any direction that would distance us from the specter.
“I don’t remember seeing any of those… I think it’s moving too…” her voice trailed off. And being completely honest here, between you and me, the apprehension in her voice brought forth the first sensations of fear within me. For no matter what front of bravery I had projected, it quickly faded into the darkness with her single utterance.
“Come on,” I said, “Let’s go this way. Don’t worry.”
We walked slowly, steadily along a new trail. One we hoped would lead us away from whatever controlled the malicious blue light. As we stepped, as the seconds ticked by, we soon felt a presence lingering behind our footfalls. A hazy illumination casting its menacing glow on the tree trunks just beside us. It could be only one thing… The familiar, unsettling blue light. It rounded the corner we had just taken. There it stayed, about shoulder level, gazing right at us. Unmoving and unwavering.
“Do something,” my girlfriend whined, “I’m getting really fucking freaked out right now.”
She was suffocating me. I couldn’t think with such pressure. Using my arm, I tried prying her off my body, allowing myself some breathing room. The adrenaline coursed through my limbs. There I stood, fast succumbing to tunnel vision, focusing entirely on the threat before me.
“Stay calm,” I whispered to her. “It will all be okay. It’s probably just a hobo with a new flashlight.”
I took a step toward the light. “Hello?” I heard my voice call out.
No reply. Just as well. I don’t need some drunk accosting me at midnight in the middle of a public park anyway. “Come on,” I said once more to my girlfriend before shoving her along rather hastily. She agreed all too willingly. Periodically I found myself looking to the rear, searching for signs of the blue light. Good… thankfully, nowhere in sight. Yet, at times I swore the dim blue haze was barely visible on the ground. The smallest semblance of its pursuing beam.
“What do you think that was?” she finally asked me, evidently feeling safe enough to speak.
“I really have no ide—“ and there it was… In front, up ahead. The dull blue light. I heard an awful, terror-stricken shriek burst from her agape mouth — but due to the adrenaline fueled tunnel vision reaction of my own, I barely registered the noise. Horrified. That is how I would describe myself in this moment. Truly horrified. Not the funny, ha-ha kind of horrified either. A truly petrifying horror. Frozen stiff I was, watching the light move toward us in a slow, languorous gait. Unrushed and unconcerned – all the more frightening. Watching and waiting. Teasing and taunting. I could bear the sight no longer. Something had to be done. We simply cannot wait. Take action! I made an effort to swallow whatever saliva was in my mouth (something to calm my nerves), but there was none to be had. Christ… I shouted the first thing that came to mind (perhaps I’d spent too many years performing menial customer service to ever sound intimidating), “Can I help you with something?”
Fear overtook the pair of us. She held my hand tighter than ever. Tighter than I wanted to be held. Her fingers cut into my skin like steel wires wrapping around an old wooden fencepost.
“Do you need something?” I asked again, putting forth whatever tough, confident voice I could muster. I probably sounded like a man pleading for his life. And maybe I was. Once again, there came no response. I desperately wished to hear something, anything. Break the silence! Give me an answer! The dull, yet unyielding blue light shined directly on us. It was held in such a fashion so that neither she nor I could see the creature raising it in our direction. Then I heard it… more disturbing than I could have ever imagined.
No, it was not a voice of any kind. No audible form of communication. But something much worse, and terrifying. The sound of deep, relaxed breathing through moderately clogged nostrils (or a mouth breather). I could hear the tiniest bit of wheezing emitting from somewhere behind the light. My girlfriend placed her head against the side of my chest, whispering in my ear “Oh my God… what can we—“ she never finished, but I knew the question. You know, I have never professed to be a brave individual. No acts of valor line my record. You won’t find me on a list of heroes anywhere. I put my lips against her ear, and without removing my stare from the light, not even for a moment, I spoke the only words which I could, “…run!”
And with that we were off. Our feet retreating, sprinting, hobbling — taking us any which way they could to the first perceived area of spotted safety. We instinctively dashed toward a light up ahead at the end of our current road. Brushing and bumping against a line of hedges as we scrambled our way along. Surely we would be much safer under this protective beacon of the night. She must have looked back over her shoulder because I heard her say, “Shit it’s still coming!” I couldn’t bring myself to chance a peek. I think if I had seen the blue radiance in that moment I would have fallen flat on my face, frozen stiff with fright. We ran beneath the first light… and didn’t bother slowing down. There would be no safety in the park. We knew that much. Lamppost or no lamppost, we had to get out. In this precise moment I heard the bizarre sound come again, only this time much louder and harsher. That wheezing clogged nostril trailing behind us in devilish pursuit. Now I really couldn’t look back!
We clambered onto the nearest bridge. A random chance act. Either some blessing of the night or a damning deed of the devil, I didn’t know which. Trapped on this narrow walkway, being hunted by some demon of the dark. The stomping of our feet instantly being muffled by the wooden surface. And then I saw it. No less than twenty feet from us. A fork in the road beneath an old, dim lamppost. It would have to be the shoddiest one in the park, wouldn’t it? In our moment of need, the weakest of protectors is all it provided. I gripped my girlfriend’s hand as solidly as I could, preparing to make the next turn to our right and out of this cursed nightmare. Wheezing and wheezing! That ghoulish wheezing! In my peripheral vision I spotted glimpses of the blue light reflecting on the water, gaining rapidly. Here I noticed, strangely, it didn’t bob back and forth, other than a minor motion or two. No, instead, it seemed to be fixed onto something or held by an inhumanly steady hand (especially considering our hurried rate of speed).
The turn was upon us! I didn’t miss a step. I darted to the right… and a moment later I experienced the most hopeless feeling I have ever felt in my entire life. For during that split second decision to turn right, my girlfriend had decided to turn left. Her hand broke free of my own. I heard the moan of terror utter from the back of her throat as the realization struck her. Something I can never forget. A repulsive gurgling for help. The best she could muster.
I’d like to tell you that I stopped, that I turned back and ran after her; that I chased after my girl until I felt her hand safe in my own once again. But I didn’t… I kept on running, looking back only once in sheer, selfish panic – to spot the sinister blue light veer off down the very same path which she had taken — as the sound of her shoes slapping against the pavement faded into the night, leaving me to hear only the pounding of my heart and gasping breaths for air.