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"If you go down to the woods today, you’re in for a big surprise. If you go down to the woods today, you’d better go in disguise.”
None of the friends that accompanied me into our ill-fated trip into the woods are actually here to assist me in telling you this story, so I’ll give you my interpretation. Please note that none of the perspective given is either biased, one-sided or exaggerated. The police have been informed so please don't inform them and this story is part of the police investigation into the events that unfolded on the 11th of April 2013. I have been told that this story needs to be heard. I will provide every single detail.
We arrived. Noah and I have split the alcohol between our two backpacks. We brought everything we could carry and made sure we weren’t stingy. We were going to ensure that we had a good night. Jumping off the bus and walking along the long path of the Lido led us past a restaurant and towards a small beach, beset beside a lake that bordered the road and the edge of the forest. Everything was empty. A pair of kiddie swings were gently rocking as we approached the entrance to the woods.
Our film is about a serial killer that goes insane amongst his friends during a camp in the woods and in a state of madness steadily designs a plan to massacre his friends and either bury or burn their bodies. We’d never actually decided how he disposed of them. I was going to play the killer. The film wasn’t going to need a cameraman because we’d decided on just setting the camera in different places in the woods, such as in the embrace of a branch or tucked beside a bag amongst the leaves. That was Noah’s idea. It gave it a voyeuristic edge. Getting deeper into the woods, Charlotte began to complain of feeling sick and having a headache. She kept stopping by the side of trees and opening her mouth as if to be sick.
“You haven’t even started drinking yet, babe!” called Bobby from my side back at Charlotte as we stopped again to see if she was okay. Bobby was holding my hand. Noah had the camera out and was taking photos at random angles, such as crouched down. At one point he climbed a tree to get an aerial shot.
“I don’t even know what’s happened. I just feel really fucking sick, guys,” moaned Charlotte, before spitting in the dirt and straightening her body. She wiped a string of saliva from her chin and steadily caught up to us. Bobby went from me to Charlotte to see if she was okay. The two girls spoke about something quietly. Noah and I went up ahead, leaving the two girls to talk. I looked back at the two and saw Bobby looking at me as Charlotte spoke to her. My girlfriend looked concerned.
Charlotte had been quiet most of the way. Eventually we’d arrived at what we deduced to be the heart of the woods.
“Guys, what the fuck is that?” Noah said, pointing off into the trees.
I turned my head quickly and saw nothing. “Very funny, Noah.” I went to carry on walking but my best friend caught me by my arm and gripped hard, still pointing in the same direction. He was gesturing me to look again. I did, and saw what seemed to be a large black... shape? It wasn’t a bush nor was it any kind of young tree. It was just a mass of blackness. I remember it was at that moment that I realised it was really starting to get dark, as I winced to make out the shape. Noah bravely began to stride over to the shape. It was at that time of year where the trees were re-growing their leaves and I think Noah was thankful of that, as no leaves were crunching underfoot as he crept over. The three of us stood watching Noah.
“You guys, it's fucking sticks. It’s a stick hut,” he called, relieved.
The stick hut served as temporary accommodation for us. We filmed a scene at the hut and then started to open a few beers. Charlotte complained of still feeling sick and didn’t want to drink anything. Bobby sat on my lap and Noah sat to the right of us, Charlotte to the left. The hut was really quite odd. It was a tee-pee like build and someone had obviously spent quite a while on it. Inside, we found a teddy bear and a selection of sweet wrappers. Some were quite new, but some were unrecognisable with names like “Marathon” that we recognised but hadn’t ever been sold in our lifetime. Other wrappers were completely white from decaying out in the woods for years. There were about six in total.
It was really dark now, the sky was a thick purple. After two beers, the smell started. Deep in the woods and amidst conversation of ideas for our film, a sudden gust of wind brought about a revolting smell of what seemed to be burning wire or plastic. It smelt toxic. Bobby, Noah and I all lifted our tops to cover our mouths whilst Charlotte seemed to be more intrigued by the smell, lifting her nose to sniff at it. I remember it reminded me of my dog when the microwave door opens at home and he bounds into the kitchen and lifted his nose in the same way, trying to eat the smell. Charlotte’s eyes were wide as hell. I remember that too, how wide her eyes were. The smell came in waves, until eventually it became too much to bear and we decided to split up and look for a new place to camp. Thinking back it was a fucking retarded idea, but it seemed clever at the time.
“I’ll go with Charlotte. Come on loud-mouth,” Bobby said sarcastically, going over to Charlotte and pulling her up onto her feet. “How do you feel?”
“Better,” Charlotte said back. She seemed resistant to get up off her log but it didn’t take much pulling for her to be up on her feet beside my girlfriend.
“Bye, beautiful,” Bobby said to me with a wink.
I should’ve kissed her. I should've kissed her one last time.
Still no place to camp so Noah and I stop and sit down by a tree. We use Noah’s camera with the torch on to light our way as we walk. It was really quite unsettling, but we weren’t scared. We’d been talking about "Dragonball Z" on the walk and it was taking our minds off of how unsafe we were in the pitch black woods. It was beginning to get quite cold too. It grew silent between us after a while as we struggled finding our way back to the hut.
“Mate, we could’ve passed it like fourteen times and not realised. I can hardly see my hand in front of my face,” Noah said, stopping in his tracks and sounding exasperated.
“Can’t you turn the light up on that?” I asked, going to grab the camera.
Then there was a noise. An extremely weird noise that I can barely explain but I know how it made me feel. It had all the features of a fox’s mating call, but it sounded far more distressed. If any of you have heard a fox’s mating call before, you know how ugly that sound is anyway. This wasn’t like that. It sounded like a little girl playing, as if she were screaming out in glee from a roundabout in a child’s park. We were ages from the park so it couldn’t have been there. We estimated the sound must’ve been about 600 footsteps away at maximum. There definitely wasn’t a girl in the woods, so we assumed it was a fox, nevertheless with nervous laughter we pressed on. We were only getting ourselves more lost.
INCOMING CALL FROM CHARLOTTE
“Charlotte? Where are you guys?” I asked down the phone and waited for a response.
Her voice came back with a weird pitch, like she was talking on a mouthful of caramel. “I go home. Meet me back at the witch hut? Bye.”
She hung up.
We carried on walking towards what we hoped was the hut. There were a lot of strange things about that phone call. Firstly the strange smell erupted from somewhere in the woods almost as soon as I pressed accept on my phone, secondly she definitely didn’t sound like herself and third I was sure I’d heard what sounded like muffled talking in the background. Like two people having a conversation behind Charlotte, which was just impossible. I distinctly remember hearing another male.
I didn’t tell Noah.
Walking with the dim camera torch we eventually came across something hanging from a tree branch. It was a very large tree and hanging by what seemed to be a pink ribbon was Bobby’s phone. My girlfriend’s blackberry was hanging from the tree, slowing turning in the dark. As I went to pull it off, Noah’s light caught some of the leaves and I saw a whole bunch of them were stained red. I took the camera out of Noah’s hands and shone the light on the leaves. Some of them were dripping. In the roots of the tree was quite a large mass of matted blonde hair. I at least assumed it was blonde, it was also drenched in blood. Fixated on this, I leaned in closer to the hair and then a wave of nausea swept over me. I straightened up and realised that the red ribbon was Bobby’s too. She used it to tie her hair up with. There was a rustle in the trees above us at that point and something fluttered down from the canopy. I think we were both frozen with fear at that point. The thing gently fell to the ground and I went over and saw that it was a single wrapper off a Kit Kat chocolate bar. Shaking my head, I turned around to face Noah. His face… I’d never seen pure terror before, not even in my wildest nightmares. I saw it that night on Noah’s face.
He stood with his head craned back, his mouth ajar in shock staring up into the tree. I didn’t look, I just ran over to him and shook him, dropping the camera. It was immensely dark now. I quickly grabbed the camera and shone the light on his face. He was staring right at me now, the same look of pure fear spread across his pasty face. He let out a terrifying shriek and I couldn’t help but run away. I felt something warm trickle down my leg as I took off as fast as I could, my heart pounding. I was fucking scared. I ran as fast as I could, piss streaming down my leg. I left him screaming there in the woods at whatever he’d seen up in the tree. I just couldn’t think. Often I’d clip and hit a tree and it really fucking hurt, like I’d broken my arm or shattered something. At one point I ran face first into a tree and broke my nose, a river of blood poured out of my nostrils and into my mouth but I got up, ignoring the searing white-hot pain that was flaring through my face and carried on running, my arms out in front of me like a zombie. Noah’s screaming stopped eventually. Either that, or I’d gotten far enough away that I could no longer hear him.
I’m writing this 418 days, a new relationship, a year of school and 51 sessions of intense counselling and therapy later and I still sometimes think that Noah’s still there. Still just screaming at the top of his lungs, screaming for death in the middle of the woods, caught in an eternal night. His brain unable to compute what he’s seen. His sanity unable to bear it. He snapped then definitely. It was the way his mouth had just fallen open, like he’d lost some brain activity. Lost his reason. I had nightmares for months of his scream. You just can’t begin to imagine how piercing and terrified it was or how fast and cowardly I ran and left my friend for dead.
I eventually came across the hut or what Charlotte had strangely called, the witch-hut. I saw that there was an extremely faint light coming from inside. A horrible thought occurred to me that the owner had come home. For some reason my consciousness suggested that I drop flat on my stomach as though I was a soldier, so I did. I slithered over to the hut on my belly and caught my breath in my throat as I heard what seemed to be weeping. Miserable weeping coming from the hut. I was out of the bushes now and the weeping grew louder.
“You can’t be real… This… this is a nightmare.”
I was close enough now to make out what they were saying. I’d also deduced it was a girl. I reached the hut and to my sheer dread, made a noise accidentally. The girl inside the hut instantly stopped crying and yelped slightly. She crawled out of the hut and to my relief I saw that it was Charlotte.
“Charlotte! It’s Daniel, stop!” She carried on crawling. I got up and ran over. “Stop, stop, stop, stop!” I grabbed her and turned her onto her front. She fought with me and the light flashed against her face. I saw her eyes were gone. I screamed then and I shouldn’t have. It was obvious at this point that something was wrong in the woods that night, something was there, uninvited and I’d probably just alerted it to where I was.
Charlotte covered her face, but I’d already seen everything. They’d been burned out. Most of the damage was to her nose, but it sprawled over her eyes and a bit of her top lip. The burns were huge bubbles of blistering pus and red sores. Her nose was partially dissolved.
“Daniel I don’t know if that’s you! My face hurts so much, just get out of here Daniel. Get help and send them back here to me! Please!” she pleaded for me to go, pushing me off away from her and out of my cowardly instinct, I did. I got up from my friend, laying on the forest floor without her eyes, burning in the dark. She quickly grabbed the scruff of my collar.
“You... You’re going to get help right?” she whimpered, shivering. A trickle of blood poured from where her right eye should’ve been.
“That’s where I’m going right now, Charlotte. Please just hang on. Here, have my jacket.” I felt useless. Completely fucking useless. I was about to vomit if I looked at Charlotte’s disfigured face for one second longer and my jeans were beginning to stink of stale piss. I threw my jacket off and clutched my heart, feeling the violent pounding rebound against my ribcage. I wiped hot blood from under my broken nose and brushed it on my jeans. I wrapped my jacket around her like she was a child. Shivers ran down my spine as she’d stopped talking and her forehead wrinkled. She was trying to close her eyes.
“I don’t know if I’m alive,” she whimpered.
I couldn’t leave Charlotte. I couldn’t leave her like I’d left my best friend there. God knows what he’d seen… or what had happened to him. I think about Noah every day. It’s the most terrifying part of this story for me. What the fuck happened to Noah. They still haven’t found his body. They found Bobby’s though.
Charlotte had stopped crying and was now just shivering. I found it strangely ironic how she’d been horribly burned and yet appeared to be freezing cold. I was in my t-shirt and felt nothing. Not a single thing. The more I thought about Noah and Bobby, the angrier I began to feel. I felt my body quivering with the desire to murder whatever had been up in that tree, whatever had driven Noah insane from a single glance.
“Bobby?” Charlotte whispered out of the blue, sending an icy shard into my beating heart. “Bobby?”
“It’s still me Charlotte. It’s Daniel.” I shone the light on her face and quickly took it off. I’d rather have sat in the dark than stare at Charlotte’s face. It felt safer in the dark. She whimpered as she changed position, and it occurred to me I had no idea what we were doing. I remember it just washing over me like the feeling a mouse would get when he realises he’s in a trap.
“What the fuck are we doing?” I asked Charlotte. “Why are we sat here?”
“Daniel we aren’t going to survive this. I heard Bobby scream and that girl's laughter. Daniel... what did this to me it's not even human it can't be human but it looks just like a small girl—" Charlotte spoke in short, breathy gasps but her story came out in one long sobbing sentence "—and she fell out of the tree and we went over to see if she was ok and I was really scared because the tree she fell out of was... really really tall and I stopped. And... and she did this to me. Oh God, Daniel, she was lying face down in the mud and her head snapped back to stare at us she had these big black eyes. She just got up and she threw this acid in my face and attacked bobby and I heard a zipping sound and then Bobby was gone. Daniel, she had a big man's voice, she laughed this really guttural laugh she sounded like an old man, laughing like ha ha ha ha ha." Charlotte's story was drowned out by her own unintelligible sobs. I couldn't understand the rest of what she said.
I was terrified beyond speaking. Absolutely terrified.
We got out. Charlotte could tell we'd gotten out too, through her burned out eyes she wrestled out of my arms and we both fell onto the gravel path. The moon was huge and bigger than I'd ever seen it, a fierce angry eye set in the sky. I was too ecstatic to realise that, how big the moon was that night. I crawled over the gravel until I reached the beach and then collapsed once again, sand getting clogged up in my teeth and caked against my gums. I weakly did a half push-up and looked around to see where Charlotte was. I got up fully, my aching arms and shattered, bloody nose really starting to hurt. I looked around the beach for a good few minutes before eventually deciding that she'd disappeared, and that really didn't bother me at this point. I knew for a fact in that moment that tonight wouldn't ever leave me. It wouldn't, how could it possibly just disappear, all trace of something terrifying. It leaves a bruise on the mind. It is something that can't be unseen. For about a week after, I couldn't go outside at all. I couldn't watch TV. It's more than a year after that night and I can't sleep with the light off and I still sometimes have nights where I don't sleep at all. Bobby, Charlotte and Noah are all now filed as disappearances. They aren't buried to rest underground. They're filed.
Photographs of all of us were in the papers, particularly me as it was my story that was the only reliable source of evidence. The woods aren't closed off though, they're still up and open to hikers, joggers, campers or anyone just looking to get laid/drunk/high. It scares me that they just opened the Lido up again. So soon as well, if my memory is as accurate as I hope it is then I believe they opened it back up a month after I got out. So feel free to go there, I won't try and stop you, though something else might. The investigation into Bobby's disappearance was re-opened recently when they found out that one of her uncles had been arrested on charges of possessing child pornography, which came as a stern shock to me. I however know, that no matter how coincidental, it has nothing to do with what actually happened. Something that can't be arrested is in those woods, something that was either conjured or crafted deep in the heart of the woods. Whomever had put it there must've been hoping that the thick walls of trees would render it unable to leave. You'll hear about soon if it ever did leave, I'm sure you will. No matter where you'll live, word will spread that something small and inescapable is on its way. Something that lives in the woods, uncontained by a slight shiver you feel in the middle of the night or the most horrifying nightmare you could imagine. Something young with a man's voice. Something that smells of burning plastic.
There were a few trails of people that got back to me. The majority of people were from my school, emailing me and texting me to see if I was okay, asking if I was ever coming back to school. There were a few people I thought didn't even like me that were saying random bullshit like, "oh if you ever need a shoulder to cry on I'm here for you." There was only one message of condolence that I decided to keep. It was an email sent from someone I've never heard of and can't seem to trace. I've put the trail in this document.
- 01/06/13 3:04am firstname.lastname@example.org said; /... "I'm sorry for the loss daniel"
- 02/06/13 6:43pm email@example.com said; /... "Hey thanks."
- 02/06/13 6:44pm firstname.lastname@example.org said; /..."its ok do u know anything about ruislip excvators?"
- 02/06/13 6:49pm email@example.com said; /... "china blonde"
- 02/06/13 7:03pm firstname.lastname@example.org said; /... "Sorry mate, that doesn't really interest me."
- 02/06/13 7:04pm email@example.com said; /... "its ok go on their website and check it out."
- 02/06/13 7:07pm firstname.lastname@example.org said; /... "are u on the website"
- 02/06/13 7:21pm email@example.com said; /... "some of them think they found what u guys found in the forest... they said it was a little girl lol she was in a tree eating chocolate bars but it was a guys hand she was eating in a chocolate bar wrappe and she spoke to them in a guys voice but she was about 9"
- 02/06/13 9:00pm firstname.lastname@example.org said; /... "did u feel lonely in the woods"
- 02/06/13 9:02pm email@example.com said; /... "let me know"
- 02/06/13 10:32pm firstname.lastname@example.org said; 1 ATTACHED FILE /... "china blonde”