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Dark Woods Demon

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Author's note: This story is based on actual events. By Johnny and Elijah Henderson

©Schtar

Jacob cursed as he pushed through the thick underbrush trying to make his way to the tree stand he had built earlier in the summer. He was certain that this location would give him an optimal line of sight to the neighboring field in which he frequently saw large herds of deer. This was going to be his year, and he was sure of it. This is the year that I bring home my trophy buck, he thought, as he recalled the events of the day so far.

He had awakened at 4:30 A.M.  He began to prepare for a long day in the woods, on the back side of his farm. His first order of business had been to locate and rescue his gloves and camouflaged hunting gear from whatever undisclosed area of his home that his wife had hidden them. He would most assuredly need them this morning to protect him from the bitter cold November morning.

How could it be this cold, this early in the year, he wondered as he started to work on his second task of the day, which was to prepare a breakfast that would stick to his ribs long into the day. He wasn’t entirely sure what he wanted this morning, but he finally settled on toast, country ham, and scrambled eggs that were just a little too runny. He topped it all off with a large cup of coffee that had left a bitter after taste on his tongue, in fact, he could still taste it. After accomplishing tasks one and two, he packed himself a bologna and cheese sandwich for lunch, grabbed his Remington 30.06 hunting rifle, a thermos of coffee, and headed out the door.

He loaded his gear into his truck and pulled out of the drive way and turned right onto the one lane black top road that led to the backside of his property. After about two and a quarter miles he turned right again off the black top onto a dirt road that was gouged with deep mud filled ruts. He had travel about half a mile down that pitiful rut filled excuse for a road when he came to his desired location. He got out of his truck and loaded his gun and sauntered off into the woods.

Jacob had gone little more than 500 yards into the densely wooded tree line when he began to wish that he had put on an extra layer of clothing to shield him against the chilly morning air. Ten minutes out of the truck and he was already cold, and it was made worse by the cloudy overcast day, and the wind that was blowing steadily through the trees, making the autumn leaves rattle like dry bones. Oh well, he thought, it’s going to be a good day anyway, especially if I bring home a big one! Jacob took about ten more steps when an uneasy feeling began to creep over him, he felt as though someone had stepped over his grave. He got the distinct feeling that he was being watched, but by whom, this was his property, and it was posted, no one had permission to be on his land.

He had to be alone, but if he was alone why couldn’t he shake this eerie feeling that was scratching at the base of his skull? Something was off today, there was a deafening silence there in the forest, no bird, or insects, only the sound of the wind in the trees. Convincing himself that it was nothing more than a case of nerves, he continued to press on until he came to a clearing not far from his tree stand.

Stepping into the clearing Jacob saw the remains of what appeared to be a large deer, he wasn’t quite able to make out what he was seeing from this distance because the sun wasn’t completely up yet and the forest was still enveloped in shadows. Jacob walked closer to get a better look, and found that he had been correct.  It was a deer, a large eight point buck in fact. Looking at the remains, he felt a sense of dread come over him and icy fingers danced along his spine.

Something about this kill just didn’t seem right. The throat was completely torn out, and the stomach was ripped open, plus several of the internal organs were missing. It was the most grisly thing he had ever seen. This definitely wasn’t a coyote kill, and no hunter would have done this; they would have taken the head to have it mounted.

What could have done this, he wondered? A fear like nothing he had ever experienced before began to wash over him in waves, what is going on, he thought? At nearly 225 pounds, and well over six foot, he wasn’t one to give into fear, but now he couldn’t seem to calm down, and his heart was beating like a trip hammer.

The feeling that he was being watched was getting stronger by the minute, and he couldn’t shake the feeling that he was moments away from a bad situation. He slowly started to back away from the mangled carcass, and head back to his truck, and back to safety. No more than six steps into his journey his blood turned to ice in his veins, as a deep guttural, wailing scream shattered the eerie silence, and what was left of his courage.

He had grown up on the farm all his life, and had been an experienced hunter since childhood, he was familiar with every animal in this part of the state, not even a cougar, bob cat, or bear could have produced the scream that had torn through the early morning forest and filled him with such a bone chilling apprehension.

Primal fear now gave way to stark terror as he chambered a round into his 30.06, and turned around only to find there was nothing behind him. His mind raced with confusion, and he was confronted with a million thoughts at once. What should I do? What could it be? Should I run? Am I going to die? His survival sense kicking into overdrive, Jacob decided to continue on his previously contrived plan which was go to the truck, and get out of there while the getting was good.

Slowly, and cautiously he made his way toward the perceived salvation of his vehicle, silently praying every step of the way. With three hundred yards separating him from his only avenue of escape, Jacob began to hear heavy foot falls off to his left. He could hear the crunching of withered leaves, sticks and debris that littered the forest floor. Summoning every ounce of courage that remained within him, he forced himself to look in that direction, and that is when he saw the dark silhouette that followed him through the densely tangled forest.

Quickening his pace, he redoubled his efforts to reach the truck and get to a phone and call the sheriff, the game warden, or anyone that would listen. He couldn’t tell what it was that was stalking him, but he could clearly see that it towered more than 7 feet, and was incredibly massive.

Jacob couldn’t help but think that he was about to become a national statistic, a person who left home under normal circumstances and just disappeared without a trace. How many people, he wondered go into the woods and just vanish, and the authorities just assume that they have become lost, or injured, or been the victims of animal attacks, with their bodies never recovered. Please God, don’t let that happen to me, he thought, as he drew closer and closer to his truck.

75 yards became 50, and 50 became 30, and 30 became 10. Like a miracle he was back and opening his door. Throwing his rifle inside he pulled himself up into the cab, and started the engine and hit the gas, but the truck went nowhere. He had parked in a large mud puddle, and now the tires simply spun, slinging mud 30 feet behind him.

Oh no, not now he thought, I can’t be stuck, not now. Allowing himself a moment to think Jacob remembered, this truck is a four wheeled drive, there is no way I can be stuck. Reaching down he locked his truck in four wheel drive, and was prepared to punch the gas and leave this nightmare behind.

Unfortunately for Jacob some nightmares are not so easily left behind, and there is nothing worse than a nightmare you can’t wake up from, and Jacob was about to learn that the hard way. Hearing something to his right he instinctively turned, and immediately wished that he had not. It took him maybe a half second to turn his head, but he would have given anything in the world to have that half second back, because it was the last moment that his world would ever seem normal again.

In that split second, his world changed, it was no longer a place where the world was light, and safe, where he was just a husband, and a father, and a guy that liked to hunt, and watch football on the weekends. That reality had evaporated away like early morning fog, and all that was left was a world where monsters existed, and things really went bump in the night. And now an ambassador from that nightmare realm was standing just outside his passenger door, a visible reminder that his world had been turned upside down.

Jacob screamed as he stared transfixed on this escapee from a horror movie. In his most terrifying, fevered, dream he couldn’t have imagined that such a thing could exist. It was hideously ugly, easily standing 8 feet tall, with a thick, muscular body. It looked very apish in appearance, but then again it didn’t. There was just something about that face that was just wrong, almost like an obscene amalgamation of man and animal that had gone horribly awry.  It was the most terrifying thing he had ever seen, it was completely covered with thick shaggy black hair that was matted in areas with God only knows what, and it walked on two legs, not four like you would expect from some kind of animal.

What was this thing that had shattered his perception of reality? Was it a demon? Was a werewolf? It can’t be, he thought, those things don’t exist, maybe it was some kind of reject from the island of Dr. Moreau. Whatever it was, it was staring at him, and it did not look happy.

The menacing juggernaut threw its enormous head back and let out a bloodcurdling scream that resonated throughout the surrounding area and seemed to vibrate him to his very core. Shocked back into action Jacob threw his truck into gear and took off as though he were being chased by the very hounds of hell.

Jacob, mind racing, wondered what he was going to do. How will I ever feel safe on this farm again, he thought? Are my wife and children in danger? Where did this thing come from, and will anyone believe me? The whirlwind of thoughts that swirled through Jacob’s mind came to an immediate stop as he slammed on his brakes and nearly slid off the road.

In a state of disbelief Jacob sat staring at the large hackberry tree that laid across the dirt road and blocked his path, preventing him from reaching the blacktop, and guaranteed safety. How is this even possible, he thought. I just came down this road not even thirty minutes ago, and this path was clear. However this tree came to be across the road, it was painfully obvious to Jacob that he had to get that tree moved if he was going to make it home. Since he had neither chain to pull the tree out of the road, nor did he have a saw with which he could cut up this unexpected barricade, he was left with few viable options, one of which was walking, which he discounted almost immediately.

The most logical course of action that he could come up with was to call for help. His best friend Kenny Patterson owned the farm just over from his; if he were home he could bring a saw and cut the tree up for him. Jacob, with his nerves still frazzled and frayed, reached into his glove box and pulled out his cell phone and clumsily dialed Kenny’s number. The phone rang six times and Jacob was about to give up when Kenny answered the phone and said, “Hey, ugly, what do you want this early in the morning?”

As quickly as he could, he related the recent events to Kenny and said, “Man, please hurry, I’m not kidding there is something out here.” 

Kenny hearing the shakiness in his friend’s voice assured him that he would be there in a matter of minutes. Jacob thanked him and hang up the phone, and braced himself for what he was sure would be the longest few minutes of his life.

Sitting motionless with bated breath there in the truck, every sound made his imagination run wild with fear and expectance. Even though little more than three minutes had passed since he had spoken to Kenny, it felt as if hours had passed. Each tick of the clock seemed to be an eternity. Jacob frequently checked in all directions for any sign that, that nightmarish monstrosity had pursued him. In every shadow that the forest, and this irritatingly cloudy day produced he thought he saw the shape of the black beast that had followed him out of the woods, and he was afraid that he would lose his sanity long before Kenny arrived to clear the tree out of his pathway.

After what seemed like a lifetime Jacob heard the sound of Kenny’s old truck sputtering up the road, and in just moments he was able to see the old red Chevrolet as it made its way closer to him. Jacob’s spirits lifted when he saw his old friend, and a sense of relief washed over him as he realized that he was no longer alone.

Stepping out of his truck Jacob said, “Man, what took you so long, I asked you to hurry.”  Kenny, with an indignant look on his face said, “What are you talking about, you only called me eleven minutes ago, I think I made pretty good time.” Jacob could hardly believe that only eleven minutes had passed; it had seemed so much longer. After apologizing to his friend, and telling him exactly how happy he was to see him, both men walked over to the fallen tree, and made a discovery that startled them both.

The tree had not broken, it had not been cut, it had been pushed over and completely uprooted. All around the tree were large, bipedal footprints that had a somewhat human appearance to them, but if they were human, the owner would require a size 28 shoe.

Jacob and Kenny looked at each other, and then without a word went to work on the tree. Kenny took a Husqvarna chainsaw from the bed of his truck and began to cut up the fallen blockade, meanwhile Jacob pulled the logs and debris from the road. Mission accomplished, Kenny put away his saw and he and Jacob were about to get in their vehicles and leave, but before either man had even opened their doors, an earsplitting scream, that would have filled a Banshee with paralyzing fear erupted from the woods behind them.

Warily Jacob walked over to Kenny and whispered, “That’s what I was telling you about, I don’t know what that thing is man, but it looks like some kind of monster, and I think we need to get out of here, now.”

Kenny, who looked as though the blood had drained completely out of his face became very pale as he said to Jacob: “Jacob man, I’ve never mentioned this to anyone before now, but over the last few months that thing has been killing off a few of my cows. Their throats are usually torn out, and the bodies are mangled, and broken. I didn’t want anyone to accuse me of being crazy and making stuff up, so I never said anything about it. But, that’s the reason I rushed over when you called. I’ve heard that sound a few times off in the distance at night, but never this close, so I think you are right old buddy, it’s time to go.”         

Cautiously and with a sense of urgency, Jacob and Kenny climbed into their vehicles and expeditiously made their way back to the blacktop. Turning left, both vehicles began the two and a half mile trek that led back to Jacob’s house so they could decide what course of action should be taken.  

Jacob could feel the temperature drop as snow began to gently fall. He reached over and turned his wipers on as snow began to pelt the windshield harder. As he passed his neighbor, William Springer’s farm, he noticed a herd of deer grazing in the field that bordered his own property.

Having put a bit of distance between himself and the nightmare he had just encountered, Jacob felt a renewed sense of security as his fatigued nerves began to calm. Not willing to let this opportunity pass him by, Jacob turned on his hazard lights and pulled to the shoulder of the road, and signaled Kenny to do the same. Kenny instinctively knew what Jacob was thinking as pulled in behind him, and turned his ignition off. Getting out of his truck Kenny said, “What are you doing, man, we need to get out of here, now.” Jacob said, “I know, I know, and we will in just a minute man, I just can’t turn this down man. I have to take the shot that is a six point buck standing there. It’s not the trophy that I wanted but at least I won’t go home empty handed, and after the morning we’ve had I think we deserve a little something good.”  “Alright, just take the shot so we can go, I still don’t feel right about this,” Kenny said.

Steadying his rifle across the hood of his truck Jacob zeroed in on the buck and prepared to fire. That’s when he heard Kenny make a gasping noise and whisper, “Oh my God.” “What is it man, what’s wrong with you?” “Raise your scope three inches,” he said. Raising the scope Jacob immediately saw what had been the cause of Kenny’s alarm.

Standing just outside the tree line in the edge of the field was the creature that they had left behind, not even five minutes. Was this thing following them, was it after the deer, what was it doing? Jacob watched the creature through his scope for a full 30 seconds before it ever moved, and when it did, it ignored him and the deer and started to lope off toward William’s barn that was just about 500 yards from where the woodland demon had been standing. Jacob called out to Kenny and said: “Kenny, call William and tell him there is something trying to get in his barn.” “I know he has at least two mares with foals in there, and if that thing gets in it will kill all of them.”

In an attempt to be rid of this monster, werewolf, Sasquatch, Wendigo, or whatever it was, Jacob fired a shot but missed. The creature turned in their direction and glared at them through red hate filled eyes, and then began to run toward then at full steam. Kenny who was still on the phone with William screamed at Jacob to get in his truck and go. Jacob did as he was told, and Kenny followed suit.

Starting their trucks Jacob and Kenny both raced to Jacob’s house as though they were driving on the NASCAR circuit. Arriving at home Jacob, gun in hand, ran inside to get a phone book so that they could call the game warden and the police and get some kind of animal control out there to get rid of this thing. Jacob had just stepped out on his front porch when they heard gunfire coming from over at William’s place. Dropping the phone book and running back inside, Jacob grabbed his 12 gauge pump shot gun and some shells and handed them to Kenny, who took little time in loading it. Jacob and Kenny now locked and loaded, walked together to Kenny’s truck preparing to mount up a rescue for their neighbor William.

Simultaneously, both of them stopped in their tracks as an uneasy but familiar feeling crept over them, and Jacobs’ Rottweiler, and two German Shepherds began to whimper, and ran under the front porch to hide. Kenny, whose throat had suddenly gone dry as a bone, whispered to Jacob and said: “I have a really bad feeling about this.”

No sooner had the words escaped his lips, they heard a deafening scream erupted from the forest off to their right, and the creature exploded from the trees in front of them. Until now, neither man had been able to fully appreciate the colossal size and scope of the beast, but standing less than thirty feet away they were almost overcome by the sheer magnitude of it. Jacob had seen it up close earlier from his truck while sitting down, and had guessed the height at maybe eight feet, but now standing there looking up he could tell that this fellow was eight and a half, or nine feet tall, and would tip the scale at 800 to a 1000 pounds. It had inhumanly long arms that bulged with thick ropey muscle, that were easily seen beneath its long shaggy black hair, which covered it from head to toe.

The chest was larger than a 55 gallon drum, and there was little doubt that it could have pulled the arms off an ape, and now it glared at them with malevolent intent.

Jacob and Kenny both opened fire without hesitation. The creature screamed with rage as the bullets tore into its massive body, knocking it to the ground, but not killing or seriously injuring it. Jacob and Kenny watched speechless as it crawled in to the tree line, struggled to its feet and limped away. Jacob ran back to the porch and grabbed the phone book, and called the local game warden.

Nearly two hours later Gene Traughber the local Warden showed up to take their statements, and told them that he had been called out to answer numerous such reports in the area, but he wasn’t sure what to make of all these reports. “Guys”, he said, “I don’t know what to tell you, there is no animal in this area, or any area for that matter that fits your description”. “I’m not saying I don’t believe you, I just don’t know what it is.”

Jacob whose face was reddened with anger said, “Come here! Here is the blood from where we shot it, and here are the footprints!” A look of complete confusion washed over Gene’s face and he asked if they would care to go with him as he tried to track it. Jacob and Kenny agreed, but they said they weren’t going without a gun. Gene stated that he planned to take his gun as well.   

All three men loaded their guns, and set out following the deeply impressed tracks and droplets of blood, that had fallen on the withered leaves. They followed the trail for about a mile until arriving at a creek that was located deep in Jacob’s woods where the tracks that they were following were joined by others just like them. Some were smaller, but at least one set was larger. Deciding that the safest course of action would be to return home, they all went back to Jacob’s. None of them relished the idea of staying out in the woods longer since there was now apparently more than one creature, and the cloudy overcast day made the forest seem even darker than it would normally be this time of day.

Back at Jacob’s, Gene informed them that there was nothing left that he could do but file it under an unknown animal sighting, which made both Kenny and Jacob anything but happy. Jacob and Kenny spent the next couple of days trying to warn their neighbors to use caution when they were out in the forest.

Most of their friends just laughed at them and said they had probably seen a bear, or something. No one believed them except William, who had seen it himself the same day they had. He had even taken a shot at it, but missed. Jacob, William, and Kenny knew what they had seen, and they knew it was still out there, and they didn’t care who believed them, and who didn’t.

Over the next few weeks more and more neighbors began to take the story a little more seriously, as family pets began to disappear, and others were found brutally mangled. Other farms in the area began to find their cows and other livestock torn open with their throats ripped out. Just a week after shooting the creature in his yard, Jacobs’ own Rottweiler was found dead with its throat torn out, hanging across a limb in a tree in his front yard. It almost seemed like a revenge killing.

A few days later, one of William’s new foals died the same way. The foal's mother had to be put to sleep, because she had gone into shock over whatever she had witnessed there in the barn when her foal was killed.

Some people in the area still don’t believe. They think the whole story was made up. But, Jacob and Kenny know that there is still something out there in the forest. They still occasionally find tracks, or a slaughtered cow, or goat. They still hear the bloodcurdling screams off in the woods at night. They know that there is still something out there watching and waiting biding its time. Something cold, and cunning, and cruel, something not human with a taste for blood and revenge.

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