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Dark Woods: The Elmridge Grasp

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Massachusetts can be home to some of the most magnificent autumns. This year was no exception. Traveling east from Spencer, the bus passed acres upon acres of untouched forests. All in the colors of brilliant reds, yellows, oranges, golds, and purples. I was on my way to Elmridge to meet an old friend of mine, someone I haven't seen in at least three years

The bus had stopped at Elmridge around an hour and a half previously where, upon arriving, a ravenous hunger had overwhelmed me, along with something else that I hadn't been able to recognize at the time. Without a car and without directions I had decided the best way to find my way to my friend's place was to get directions. With little pleasure I had found out the hard way that the people of Elmridge did not take too kindly to out-of-towners. So the next best thing, I figured, was to wing it. Do nothing but walk around town and hope I find the right house, I know the address at least: 28 Walnut Circle.

Well, I found it... at 8:30 at night. Dinner was good as leftovers get. Sleep was fitful, as I couldn't shake the damned feeling of being watched all night. When I did get to sleep I was plagued with nightmares. Every time I woke up a feeling of sheer dread swept over me and, for some strange reason, I knew this was a portent of things to come.

"Let's go... get your rifle," my friend commanded.

"Where are we going?" I asked, nervous not because I'd never been hunting before, but because of a lack of information. My friend was good at not giving information.

"Birchfield Woods," he said impatiently.

"I know that, dip-shit. I just mean specifically... like... are we going to a specific stop where will we set up, or are we just gonna walk around and shoot whatever walks in front of us?"

"That's not how you typically hunt."

"With you there are no certainties."

"Alright, here's the plan, we're just gonna walk around... and we'll occasionally stop to wait and see if anything comes by," he said.

I shrugged. "Sounds good, I guess."

"Just one thing," he said after a long pause, "if we get separated... keep running, you might end up at a cabin and if you, get inside as fast as possible."


"Don't ask questions... let's go," he said in a suddenly brighter tone.

Believe it or not, about two hours later a dense fog rolled in and not long after that we got separated. Completely ignoring what my friend had said, I just walked, calling out his name hoping for a response. I was growing desperate and it was growing dark. Running out of hope, I started heeding my friend's advice and started running in a full sprint. The next thing I knew I was on the ground, blacked out.

As I came to, a low growling could be heard from the bushes directly adjacent to me. Startled and jumping up to my feet the bushes started rustling. The growling grew louder as I drew my sidearm... a Smith & Wesson .38 special. However I knew it wouldn't do a thing. Terror setting in, I ran straight in the other direction with the growls growing dimmer. Then, a sudden shriek louder, it seemed, than anything I had heard before emanated from above and, as I looked above, all I saw was a grey-black mass practically flying from tree to tree above. I saw the cabin about 170 yards ahead and I gave it all I got in a desperate effort to get to the cabin. Adrenaline pumping through my veins, I remember nothing after that... just waking up in the cabin.

My friend was looking at me with a worried face.

"I thought you were dead," he said in a somber tone.

"What the fuck's happening?"

"Like hell I know. All I remember is after you came barreling through the door I looked out the window and...IT... it was just pacing.... waiting...I'll go check if it's still there," he said as he got up.

"Whatever," I said glumly.

He threw open the window and the shutters and not even a minute afterward a small choking noise came from him. Worried, I silently walked up to him and...hesistated. I knew something was wrong and I somehow knew what I was about to see would be the most fucked up thing I would ever see in my entire life. My hands were shaking I pulled my friend back and, to my shock, found that he had no face. It looked as if it had just been ripped off. Chunks of flesh hung, hanging. Veins and arteries were still bleeding, the blood making a gross 'pip' sound as it hit the wooden floor. I was terrified but I was even more scared to look up, out through the window, because I knew it would be there.

I couldn't help but look up, and I was not shocked to see it staring back at me. Mouth agape and a mass of flesh in its hands, it seemed to revel in what it had done. I couldn't tear away from its gaze. Then, in an act of instinct, I slammed the shutters and window shut and got into the furthest corner of the cabin. Everything then began shaking... the shutters swinging open and shut open and shut open and shut in an almost rhythmic pattern and slamming against the cabin windows.

Outside I could see the thing, just standing there with its mouth, that damned black pit of a mouth stretching open to impossible size. The door was vibrating and I feared that it would break off its hinges. Then, everything stopped. Not thinking clearly I barrelled out the door and just kept running. I could hear the growling coming from every bush and the tops of every tree. There was nothing I could do but pray. I had found myself becoming more and more religious as the whole ordeal took place. The next thing I knew I was on the pavement... again blacked out. That's when I got the fuck out of Elmridge and never looked back.

It seems you're not even safe if you aren't separated in the woods.

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