This is a true incident that happened when I was very young.

I do not remember the exact date. I could only wildly guess that this was sometime between 2000-2002. I do not even remember which grade I was in at that time. I do not even properly remember my address, including the name of that small town where I had the misfortune to be a witness to this terrifying event.

But I could never forget what happened that fateful day. It is one thing when you read those terrifying creepypastas on the internet and get creeped out by it. But it is an entirely different thing to be a part of such a story in real life.

I was very mischievous back then, a far cry from my current introvert, lazy-ass form. But then again, most kids that age are not saints either. I lived in a small town somewhere in Odisha, India. It was not exactly small, but the settlements were spread in clusters over a large distance, giving it the appearance of a disjointed town.

My house was on the edge of a large forest. There were only a couple more houses in the neighborhood, effectively making it a remote location. There were already incidents of theft in the area, hence every house had a metal-grill door installed in addition to the regular door at the entrance for added protection, and ours was no exception.

Now the forest surrounding our house was full of guava trees. There were so many guava trees, one could see them spread out as far as the eyes can see. And as a kid, I loved guavas. I had a greed for those green fruits, a greed which I later came to regret.

I mostly picked guavas from trees at the edge of the forest with my friends. I usually found them scattered all around the ground, hence I rarely felt the need to climb trees. I would later wash them and eat them with pleasure.

One fine evening, I set out to with my friends to pick guavas as usual. When we reached our usual spot, we were shocked to see that the trees were devoid of guavas. We checked a few surrounding trees, ventured a little bit deeper into the forest, but of no avail. It was as if the guavas had vanished overnight!

Then I had this amazingly foolish idea to venture deep into the forest. Much, much deeper than we were allowed to. I wanted guavas at any cost, and the forest had seemingly infinite guava trees. I thought that if I kept looking, I would definitely find a tree full of guavas. My friends, well, disagreed with me. They did not have any obsession with guavas like I had, and were certainly not interested in venturing any deeper into the forest, especially as the sun hovered dangerously close to the horizon.

But I was determined to explore. There was still light, and it won't be dark until an hour or two. I disregarded their pleadings, and after making them swear that they won't tell my mom about it, I ventured deep into the forest.

Deeper and deeper I went. I lost count of how much time I spent searching for guavas. There was no clear path in the forest, but I moved only forward in a straight line, hence I knew that to return home, I'll just turn have to turn backwards.

After what felt like decades and passing acres of lifeless trees devoid of guavas, I came into a clearing. There, in front of me, was a massive guava tree filled with guavas!

I was overjoyed! My wish had been finally granted. Excitedly, I began to climb the tree. I had a small polythene bag with me to collect as much I could to take back home. The guavas were ripe and soft, just the way I liked it.

Then I heard a noise. The soft, crunching sound one makes when they step over dry leaves. I listened carefully, just to make sure. Another crunching sound. Then another. I looked down and saw him.

There was a man below, near the tree. He wore a loose, red-stained white shirt and dirty brown pants. He had the appearance of a typical local farmer, which should not raise any red flags. Nor the fact that he was there, deep in the forest with a sickle in his hand, for I knew that I certainly was not the only one plucking guavas from the trees in the forest.

No, the above mentioned characteristics are perfectly normal. I guessed he might have come looking for guavas just like me. Pretty normal.

But the fact that he did not respond when I repeatedly asked him if he needed some guavas plucked was abnormal. The fact that had a creepy smile as he looked up at me was abnormal. The fact that he kept circling the tree like a hunter circling its prey was abnormal. The fact that he had the sickle raised in his right hand instead of tucking it away safely in his bag was abnormal.

All of a sudden, he clung to the tree trunk like a lizard, all while keeping his eyes fixed on me. Then he slowly started climbing the tree. The way he was climbing the tree like an animal was the final straw. I jumped down the tree, as he was halfway up the trunk, and made a run for it. I was terrified, scared to death. I did not even care to put on my slippers. I ran barefooted, all the way back. All I needed to do was run in a straight line and I'd be home.

I never looked back. I was afraid I'd seem him right behind me if I turned.

Before long, I reached the familiar spot on the edge of the forest. Seconds later, my house came into view at a distance. I was relieved! I dashed inside and locked all the doors. My mom was watching TV, for I could hear it in the living room and she probably did not hear me coming. I ran to my bedroom on the first floor and closed the door. I sat on my bed to catch some breath. That face, I could never forget it. That terrifying smile.

That night, my mom asked me why I was unusually quiet. She was also surprised that I skipped my late evening cartoons, something that I had never done in the past. Obviously I choose to keep the matter to myself, so I lied that I was simply not feeling well.

After dinner, my mom gave me a couple of medicines and after tucking me in my bed, retired for the night. I was still shaken by the earlier incident, so I found sleep hard to come by.

Sometime near midnight, I heard a slight scratch at the grilled door at our house entrance. At first, I dismissed it as a random sound. Then I heard it again. Then again. My room had a balcony that opened on the entrance side of our house, so I went there to check the source of the noise. I looked below.

There he was. The man from the forest. Standing outside in front of the grill door, washed with the light from the nearby street lamp, looking up at me. With a creepy smile on his face.

I dashed to my mom's room and hid under her blanket. She woke up with a start and asked me what happened. I told her I was having nightmares. She took me in her arms and patted me to sleep. I could still hear the faint scratching sound coming from the front grill as sleep slowly came upon me.

I woke up late next morning. My usually strict mom had let me sleep a bit longer than usual owing to last night's events. I was somewhat comforted by the fact that I had a nice, warm sleep and choose not to think of that any longer. I had a habit of reading newspaper in the morning before I left for school partly because I liked reading stuff, and partly because my mom wanted me to cultivate the habit.

Somewhere in the middle page of the newspaper, tucked away in the corner was a small article about a dead body recovered from a forest near our town, accompanied by a picture of the dead body . It instantly caught my attention, and I dived further into the details. Then I saw the picture.

It was the man from the forest. He had the same outfit as the one I had seen him in. I felt terror gripping me hard.

Then I felt sorry for the man. I mean, he was terrifying and had followed me home and had a creepy smile, but I still felt bad for him. The guy whom I saw only 6-8 hours ago was no more, and my fear for the guy had turned into pity.

Then as I read the rest of the article, the last two lines made me drop my bowl of cereal straight onto the floor as my eyes grew wide in horror and shock.

"The victim's body was found below a huge guava tree in a small clearing deep in the forest. A doctor who had accompanied the police checked the body on-site and came to the conclusion that he had been dead for more than a week"