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About a year has passed since it happened, it feels like a blur. Yet somehow my life has not been too dramatically changed, I keep going to work, keep paying my bills. Yet, somehow I feel compelled to write about what happened to me around this time last year. Compelled because I am beginning to doubt if what I saw, I really saw. And what I felt was genuine terror, or merely some self-contained psychotic episode brought on by my overworked and overtaxed mind. Nevertheless, I will write about if not for anything else than maybe writing about it will dispel the confusion and help me forget about the incident and stop seeing the terrible memories when I close my eyes. They are just in my head, yes just in my head…

My name is Simon; I won’t bore you with my entire life story. I live a rather dull and uneventful life, which makes the events which happened to me stand out even more as a result. Around this time last year I was returning from a long weekend at my parent’s house. They live out in a very rural area, very beautiful but also isolated and very difficult to get help should the need arise. I had left later than I had planned and had to get going. I said goodbye to my parents and drove off on my four and a half hour journey back home. It was starting to get dark already and I silently cursed at not having left sooner. I have very bad night vision and my cars brakes were terrible and needed some serious maintenance, so I hoped I would not hit a deer or something. My poor car was a 1986 Nissan Sentra, it needed a lot of work beyond the brakes but had lasted me this long and at the moment was my sole possession of any value.

I drove on slowly getting more nervous as the sun receded behind the horizon and dusk settled in, bathing the country road in light orange and finally fading to full dark shortly thereafter. I had enjoyed my time with my parents but now I was regretting having come out all this way, what if my car broke down here? What if I got a flat? What if I wreck somewhere? I did not even know where the nearest gas station was beyond the small local station by my parents’ house. That station must service a thirty mile area I thought glumly. Almost on cue, as if triggered by my thoughts the engine began to cough and sputter. Oh no! I thought as panic gripped me. I realized with dawning horror I had forgotten to fill up at that same gas station I was just thinking about. I was so lost in my reverie I did not even notice the glow of the warning light protesting my decision. I was almost empty when I arrived at their house and told myself that I should fill up before getting on the main road back home. God damn it! What the hell am I going to do?

I pulled over with the last bit of inertia the car had before finally shutting down, fully empty. Despite almost being empty I had made it another fourteen miles away from my parents’ house and unfortunately straight into no man’s land, since I knew the main road along with its Shell station was another sixteen miles away. What the hell am I going to do now? I cursed as I got out and checked the trunk just on the off chance I had put a gas canister back there, which of course I hadn’t. At this point I only had one chance; I pulled out my cell phone and sank back into the driver’s seat defeated by what I saw. No reception, not a single bar this whole area was a dead zone. I decided to wait in my car and see if any traffic was moving on the road this time of night. I was hopeful because it was not too late yet.

Unfortunately after almost 40 minutes I had not seen a single car on this road, moving in either direction. After waiting another 30 minutes with no change in the situation either cars or phone reception, I decided to set out to find help. I thought I had seen a few houses a little bit further past the forest that this portion of road was in, maybe I could get help from someone there, or perhaps I may get a single bar, or a car might happen by. Yes the idea beats the hell out of staying here, I thought as I grabbed the flashlight from the cars handy toolkit I kept inside and set off down the road.

After the first ten minutes of walking, I realized it may have been a mistake. It was getting very cold now that the sun had gone fully down. This excursion was not exactly on my to do list, so I had not thought to bring a jacket. A cutting breeze blew through the trees funneling the icy wind down the road into my path and the force made me shudder. I pressed on for another 10 minutes; I had no idea of how far I had made it since I had not gotten a bar back on my phone and couldn’t access my GPS. I checked my phone again just to be sure, when something darted behind one tree to another and rustled the ground loud enough to startle me. “Hello!?” I shouted and pointed my flashlight into the clearing between the trees where I had though I last saw the thing. “Hello!? Is anyone there?” I shouted again, clenching the light and almost crushing it in my nervous grip.

There was nothing but dead silence for several seconds and then a gust of wind rustled the tree and caused them to shiver in an eerie way that made them look almost alive. I then became sorely aware of just how alone I was out here and my heart began to beat faster and faster and I looked around, seemingly surround by the cackling and towering forms all around me. I began walking in the middle of the road since it didn’t seem likely anyone would be driving down it anyway, but mostly to stay as far from the rustling tree and bushes as possible. I knew it was just the wind, I would be just fine I am just jumping at noises because of the spooky atmosphere out here, anyone would. Yeah I knew it; it was just the wind……

The trees started clearing out, to my relief, and I saw the relative end of the forest. My hopes of rescue were soon dashed however, beyond the trees there were just flat grasslands, no houses in sight for what looked like miles. How!? I gasped; I knew there were at least some houses on my way here. It can’t be that far away it can’t be, did I go the wrong way? All I saw in the distance was what looked like the road veering into another shadowed forest. I began to feel panicked; I knew I was lost now I didn’t recognize any of this. But how could that be? This is the only road I know of to get through these areas. I did not take any turns. I couldn’t be lost.

I focused my eyes and looked again through the moonlight over the inexplicable empty expanse of fields. Just when I had thought that the expanse was empty, I noticed something new, something which might have been a sign in the distance. Oh thank God! I thought not knowing or caring what the sign might denote, just feeling thrilled at the prospect of getting off this road and getting help.

I began to jog off the road and towards the sign in the distance. The ground around me felt damp, it squished down as I ran across it. I wondered if this area was some sort of wetlands, but I knew of no body of water connected to it. I moved through the marshy ground a few hundred feet and looked again in the distance and saw that I could read the sign now it said “Fuel”, my heart leaped. A gas station I thought, elated at the prospect. What are the odds a gas station of all things would be here in the middle of nowhere and not even connected by a road? My excitement dispelled my confusion and I began rushing as fast as I could through the wet sticky ground.

In my haste I missed a sinkhole that had formed in the ground in front of me and I pitched forward into it. My face was blasted with mud as I barely caught my fall before hitting my head on a rock that was jutting out of the hole. The impact was excruciating and I felt like I lost consciousness for a few seconds. I was glad to regain my senses in time to pick myself up slowly and painfully, otherwise I may have drowned in the rising bubbling mud where my head had just been. I groaned as I rose back to my feet looking down I realized I had lost my flashlight and my phone. They were both gone and I reached down and began prodding around the pool of mud which had risen up to consume the sinkhole. After uselessly searching for several minutes, I came to the realization I was not going to find them. I was in bad shape now, though at least I could see fairly well with the moonlight overhead out here in the marsh. I hated to leave my phone but I was freezing now with the wind chill and now covered in wet mud I was beginning to feel genuinely cold.

I moved forward again towards the Fuel sign hoping that there would be a fully equipped station where I could get a new flashlight and even better maybe they would have a phone. I would rather call for help then go back through this marsh and those woods to my car anyway, but at the very least if nothing else I can bring some gas back to my car and get the hell out of here. After taking a few steps forward again I heard a huge splash behind me that made me nearly jump out of my skin. I almost fell again as a jumped back several steps looking back toward the mud pool. Shaking now, my eyes darting back and forth over the pool and anything I could see moving nearby. I did not see anything, just open ground not a single blade of grass moving, just dead silence and the moon glowering and foreboding in the night’s sky. I could feel my heart racing my throat dry from my breathing, after waiting and watching for what felt like a lifetime; I relaxed my shoulders and let out my breath.

I reluctantly turned back towards the station and began walking again, feeling my skin crawl and wanting to get out of here as fast as I could. Just then I heard something in the distance. With how quiet it was I just barely made it out, it sounded far off, yet somehow closer than I realized. “Someone is here….” That is what I thought I heard at least. My mind was racing, my body ached, but I pressed on, yet I felt that if not before someone or something was definitely watching me. I did not know how I knew, but I knew it.

My progress slowed as my feet sank deeper into the ground with each step. I was worried that somehow the ground would give out and I would have to swim the rest of the way. It looked like solid ground, but the surface gave way to deeper pits and a harsh quagmire and it threatened to go deeper still. Eventually, it leveled out but I sank almost to my knees in the foul ground. Every step became a supreme effort to move forward, but I was closer. I could see the light from the sign far in the distance and knew from how much closer it appeared that I was over half way there now. I just had to press on.

Suddenly I heard a strange buzzing sound in the distance, a few seconds more and I could tell the sound was coming closer. I could see nothing but the sound intensified and I looked back and forth for the source, my blood quickening again. Just as suddenly the sound stopped. I waited again several seconds more frantically looking all around for what had caused that noise and more importantly where it had gone. The next second an explosion of filthy debris buffeted me off the ground and into the water. An enormous cloud of huge buzzing insects sped by me, their buzzing and humming sounding like some horrible malicious cacophony. I kept my head down and put my arms in front of my face expecting the swarm to engulf me. However, the swarmed nearby me but then almost as abruptly as they had arrived, they fled off into the night. An eerier glow accompanied the strange insects as they fled into the night’s sky. I was terrified and again confused by the bizarre event.

For what felt like another hour I trudged on through the swamp like field, exhausted and disheveled. Just when I felt like my legs were going to give out the next few steps saw me rise slowly, implacably out of the water and reach solid ground again. Another hundred feet and I was finally out of the terrible swamp and on the outskirts of the lot with the sign. I could see at the base of the sign there was indeed a small fueling pump, oddly a single pump with no other objects in sight. And ultimately to my dismay there was no larger station, just a small wooden hut, which may have been an outhouse for how small and rundown the thing looked. "Oh God", I thought. What happens if they don’t have a canister to put the gas in? I wondered. Additionally I wondered how I would pay for it; I only had a debit card, so I hoped this rundown pump had a card reader. I continued forward and once I stepped one foot on the paved area of the station, a chill breeze blasted past me again and I thought I heard a faint whistling sound, almost like the forest, but why was it out this far?

I pushed the thought from my mind and ran up to the pump. The thing looked ancient and rusted out. I saw no visible means of paying, but at this point I honestly didn’t care so long as it pumped. I doubted anyone was around to try and prosecute me for stealing gas. To my relief a rusty metal five gallon can was sitting very close to the pump. I brought the can to the pump and opened the lid. Then I pulled the nozzle down and squeezed the trigger, nothing came out. I was just about to panic when I realized that these kinds of old tanks had to be unlocked to pump so maybe if all the other materials were around perhaps the key was somewhere here as well. It stood to reason at least. I looked around every side of the pump and even nearby on the ground to no avail. I then looked over at the ramshackle outhouse nearby. I didn’t know why but I really did not like the look of the thing. It felt wrong somehow, jarring and out of place, like it didn’t belong. I didn’t know why I felt that way. It made sense that some building would accompany a fueling station like this, yet this one felt wrong somehow, just wrong.

I moved closer to the shed and shuddered involuntarily. As I approached I was overcome by the smell emanating from inside. It smelled of the worst kind of infested decay. Like rotten spoiled meat and human excrement combined. I couldn’t turn back now however, so I pressed on and reach out and unfastened the latch on the door. The door fell back into the shed and the source of the foul stench was revealed. I almost passed out from the smell and the sheer horror of the sight before my eyes. A rotten and festering corpse of some unfortunate was seated upon the outhouse toilet. It stared toward the door a look of desperate horror etched on its face. I almost threw up from the sight and the smell, but I had not eaten in hours and I managed to force down a dry heave all the same.

The poor soul appeared to be a man, though with how decayed the corpses sickly green flesh and features were, it was hard to tell. He was dressed in the coveralls not uncommon to those working as mechanics, and in his right breast pocket was a ring of keys hanging from a clasp on his uniform. One of those must be the key I need. My body moved forward with jerky action that my mind was almost too terrified to comply with. I slowly bent down to the corpse covering my mouth with my hand. I gripped the clasp and pulled the key ring free with a gentle tug.

I started to back away when the corpse lurched forward and grabbed my arm. “Run” came a disgusting and throaty voice, this corpse literally speaking to me as it squeezed my arm to illustrate its point. I screamed as loud as I could, unable to believe my own eyes and violently pulled free from the ghoul's grasp, kicking back at it as I did. The thing fell on its face. Part of its skull erupting from the force of the fall, spilling out a jet of black blood from its ruined head. It was still moving and managed to look up at me as I backed away furiously. It locked eyes on me again and once again spoke, “Run……now…before it is too late, it is …..Coming….” And the dead thing died once more and possibly for the final time. I was beyond terror. Beyond belief. None of this could be real. I am asleep. I am dreaming. I want to wake up now. But I was not asleep, I know that now. I was awake and running for my life from the thing that came next.

After the majority of the shock wore off from my ordeal, I sprinted back to the pump and resolved to get the hell out of there as soon as possible. I started trying various keys with the pump, shock coursing through my body and causing my hands to tremble and almost drop the keys several times. I found the right key on my fifth attempt and brought the nozzle to the can and began filling it. In the distance I saw a cloud of buzzing insects take flight again. And in the sky the moon was veiled by thick dark clouds. The next second a thunderous roar rang out and the sky opened up with heavy rain, seemingly in the blink on an eye. I did not like how random and suddenly this storm appeared, and even less the fact that it robbed the light from the moon. I would have to stumble back to the road through the ever rising mud and muck in almost complete darkness.

I anxiously waited for the can to fill as the rainfall came down harder every second. Finally, with the can filled, I removed the nozzle and went to replace it back on the pump when a shock caused me to drop the pump onto the ground. The reek of gasoline was soon replaced by a terrifying and familiar scent… Blood. The pump was gushing gasoline at first, but it soon turned first rusty brown, then completely red as if pulsing blood from a freshly cut artery. I looked in my can to make sure it still contained gasoline and at least by the smell it appeared as if it did. The blood flow from the nozzle finally slowed down and then stopped and the rivulets of blood began moving from out under the cover of the pump into the rain.

The blood was washed methodically down the path towards the marsh almost as if guided by something and moving as no type of liquid had any right to move, neither altering course nor diluting in the rain. The path of bright blood finally disappeared into the marsh.

When the blood vanished into the marsh, the rain suddenly stopped. I looked out at the expanse of marsh, unsure of what exactly just happened. The silence after was maddening. For a time all I could heart was my own heart hammering in my chest. Suddenly, I heard terrible thunder crack followed by a noise almost as if someone was tearing through skin with a blade. A sick, sharp sound. The earth around the edge of the marsh began to spill over and two large layers of earth simply peeled back like an overripe fruit to reveal an even deeper sinkhole than any I had seen before.

Stricken by the sight I barely noticed another event out of the corner of my eye. The light by the sign began to move. A hazy aura emerged near the naturally occurring shadows of the sign. I froze with dread as I saw the shadows leave their positions and coalesce to form a larger individual shadow. After a painful moment of silence and stillness, the shadows began moving towards me slowly and I heard what sounded like footsteps. The shadows whispered to me, calling to me, beseeching and inviting. I stood dumbstruck for another second before the paralyzing spectacles grip on me was broken. The shadow moved ever closer and the steps grew louder. That was all the incentive I needed. I broke into a mad dash. I didn’t care that I would have to go through the marsh again I only knew I couldn’t stay here with the thing. I hit the water just in time to see the revealed sinkhole that was up-heaved moments ago vomit forth bloodied and decayed bodies from underneath the muck and spit them up onto the concrete. The corpses rebounded off the concrete with a terrible crunching sound and I saw that they were writhing and thrashing about after landing shrieking out “It is too late….” wailing and thrashing all the while. I began to shriek with them as I fled into the marsh; however my sanity did not flee with me.

I struggled through the mud; my feet sinking deeper than ever before, frantically moving and flailing but somehow managing to keep my footing. The presence was behind me. I knew it. That presence was death….. or something worse. New swarms of buzzing insects bombarded me and tried to knock me into the muck, but I pressed through the barrage, my heart racing and my limbs burning. I moved as fast as I could in my panicked flight. I heard splashing and loud thumps behind me and knew it was close. I pressed on faster than before, faster than I knew I could go.

I reached the shallow area and regained some solid ground stepping out of the mire as fast as I could when I was tripped up and fell forward barely catching myself in time to keep the can from spilling. I looked down and saw a dismembered hand clutching my ankle and a foot or so further back a blood soaked corpse leering at me and reaching out with its other remaining arm. The creature rasped at me “Join us…Fuel it…it doesn’t hurt…join …us” I kicked the hand back out at the thing and got back to my feet just in time to rush away from the emerging shadow, it engulfed the bloodied corpse and the thing fell silent and still again. I spun away from the shadow and ran again, ran for my life.

The terrible footfalls were still behind me. However they were slowly receding and the buzzing of the insects and the horrible whispers of the dead fading away as I put distance between myself and that awful place. My heart was pounding a mile a minute in my chest, my legs ached. My whole body ached, but I had to keep running. I had to. I ran on, out of the field and back onto the road and into the pitch darkness of the forest that yawned over the road leading back to my car. I ran on clutching the can and hoping I had not spilled any gas on my flight from the station.

I looked back only once before plunging into the abyssal darkness of the forest and wished that I had not. The moon was back out from behind the clouds but was now a terrible shade of crimson, the light cast down on the hellish mire, illuminating the surface and making the water look as if it were a lake of blood. Just past the edge of the water and slowly padding down the road I saw it, the accursed shadow, that hellish stalker moving inexhaustibly toward me and now leaving terrible bloody prints in its wake. My mind reeled at the nightmare vista and its awful denizen’s, but survival instinct took hold and I rushed on into the darkness of the forest.

I ran as fast as my tired legs could carry me. The forest was almost pitch black and I only knew I was following the road correctly by the sound of my footfalls on the pavement. I ran for what felt like an eternity doing my best to ignore the rustling of leaves and the aching moan of trees slowly shifting behind me. Their branches seemed to be practically reaching out to ensnare me on behalf of my pursuer. Yet no matter how fast I ran on I could still hear the slow, methodical march of the terrible thing behind me, never speeding up yet somehow never too far behind.

In the darkness and in my haste I almost ran straight past my car. I only noticed it after banging my arm and almost dropping the Fuel as I dashed past the area where I had broken down. I could still hear the foot falls and knew I didn’t have much time. I fumbled in the dark to the side of the car with the gas tank and grouped around for the hatch. All the while, the foot falls got closer and closer, never speeding up, yet never slowly down; it moved closer and closer still. The wind died, and the trees abruptly stopped moving. I gasped at the sudden silence and the apparent lack of the footfalls for a brief moment. I didn’t take any chances with what seemed like a brief moment of respite. I found the gas tank and flipped it open, squared up the canister as best as I could with no light to guide me and began pouring.

I could hear my ragged breathing and my heart beating out of my chest, yet the footfalls were gone. All of the noise of the forest had fled. I was acutely aware of the sudden shift and felt even more terror of the dreadful silence than I did with the groaning forest and the inescapable footfalls moments before. I poured until I felt that I had put enough in for my escape from this accursed forest. Just as I removed the canister and went to rush to the door and make my escape I was stopped in my tracks.

I could hear nothing, but I could feel a terrible presence and saw what little light that peaked through the trees vanish. I thought I could even hear breathing, not just my own terrified gasping, but someone else’s. My whole body shuddered as I felt icy air flowing towards me. I felt immensely tired now, almost as if I could fall asleep right here and now, the wind almost seemed like a lullaby. Just as my eyes started to shut I caught an image in the corner of my eye that still haunts me to this day.

Standing right in front of me, in a shadowy haze I saw the outline of a figure. This figure appeared to be changing and reshaping and absorbing the light nearby and I could not see much in my dazed state. Yet the face… yes the face I could see. And its terrible visage snapped me out of my stupor and I screamed at the top of my lungs. The terror induced panic urged me on, bowling past the almost formed creature. It saw me rushing into my car starting the engine and almost breaking my foot on the gas pedal to speed me away. Away, far away from the terrible shadow of death, that abyssal monster of some ungodly place that I in my misfortune, somehow come across its abominable lair. That manifestation of some malevolent spirit, which I still to this day try to believe, was just in my head. But those eyes, those demoniacal red eyes piercing my very soul, how could I just imagine something so evil?

There is not much else to tell. It was almost a year ago to this day. I have not visited my parents since then. I never had a good reason to give them as I have not told my story to anyone, until now. I did not think anyone would believe me. Even I can’t believe it was real. I know that this terrible experience must have just been some nightmare machination of my subconscious, yet it felt so real.

Yet as I sit here writing these words, and checking a text message I received on my new phone. I see something that makes me question my sanity again. I see a word that is now etched in my mind, so I may never feel safe or sane again. The message is from my old number and the message is just one word ...“Fuel”.