Everyone knows to stay out of those woods. Everyone knows to resist taking the shortcut down that road.

And everyone knows... under no circumstances should you enter the house.

Of course, ultimately the choice is yours. No one will stop you. If you are a daredevil, a ghost hunter, or simply a curious individual, just ask anyone and they will give you directions to Blackwood Road.

At first glance, it looks like a perfectly normal road, winding through the dense forest. What could possibly be so frightening? You just have to find out for yourself. So you stroll confidently into the woods, guided by the bland stretch of pavement blistered from decades of frost-heaves. The walk is uneventful; you hear no insects... no birds... nothing. Mother Nature is holding her breath as you sink deeper into the cursed woods.

After a short while, you reach the house. It is quite unremarkable, with no particularly spooky features. One might mistake it for a perfectly normal house. You enter, feeling bold.

The door opens into a kitchen, small and very dusty. Aside from the dust you could swear someone was living here... Everything looks as if it has been frozen in time. How long has this place been abandoned? you wonder. According to the townspeople, ten years. They say a boy had died here, and that his spirit lingers in the house, punishing intruders. No one has returned to town with their sanity... and some never return at all.

You scoff at this nonsense. It's just a house! True, the silence is a bit unnerving, but certainly not threatening in any way. After reassuring yourself of this fact, you continue exploring. The dining room and living room offer nothing interesting, so you head upstairs. The claustrophobic stairwell leads to a single door, which you open to find a small study. This is where you reach the Point of No Return. Leave now and you can live out the rest of your life with no repercussions. If you choose to stay and keep searching, you will eventually feel a prickle on the back of your neck... as if someone is watching you. Do not search for the watcher. It does not matter if he sees you, as long as you do not see him. But you instinctively look around for the one watching. And unfortunately for you... you find him.

From the very moment you lock eyes with the ghost you are doomed. Nothing can save you now. You stare in horror at his face, pale and expressionless, not a drop of humanity left. His long black hair shines even in the dim light. His eyes are deep black, cold and unforgiving. As they bore into your soul, you feel your knees give out and you fall to the floor. You recover shortly and clamber to your hands and knees.

You look around and see what has happened to you. You are kneeling in the dust, staring across acres of wood floor. You see the boy, sitting directly in front of you... but now... he is a giant. Or rather, a giant compared to you. His size hasn't changed at all. Yours has. Now you are only as tall as his thumb.

The boy has a slight smirk twisting his lips as he watches you scurry around like a cockroach in a vain effort to escape. Deep down you know it is useless to even try, but instinct pushes you to keep searching for a way out. The boy simply plucks you off the ground, gripping the back of your shirt between thumb and forefinger. He raises you up in front of his face, as if to gloat. You lock eyes with him once more... but this time you see dark intent. He is toying with you. He is taking pleasure watching you squirm.

And the game is far from over.

You wonder what will happen next, what torment he has in store for you. Your question is soon answered as he tips his head back and parts his lips, revealing shining white teeth framing the red maw. He slowly lowers you inside, dragging out the fun for as long as possible. No matter how much you scream, thrash, or plead, you inevitably descend fully into his mouth, and he lets go of you and snaps his teeth shut, leaving you in pitch-blackness.

You keep still, shivering in silence and praying this is all just a trick. You can't bear the thought of dying like this... a meal for an evil spirit.

The boy is enjoying your flavor, licking at you and purring contentedly. You recoil from the tongue in utter revulsion as the slimy muscle slops saliva all over you. Disgusting and humiliating! However, once he stops licking, you quickly change your mind and wish for it to continue... because after the tasting...

Two things could happen to you now: Either he crushes your body into mush between his enormous teeth, or he swallows you whole and leaves you to be digested alive. Neither choice is particularly appealing. At least chewing would be over quicker, you figure.

But the ghost hardly cares about your opinion. He'll do as he damned well pleases. And in this case, it means nudging you backwards with his tongue, preparing to swallow you.

You fight back, of course. Your foot slips on the slick flesh, sliding down into the esophagus. Still, you continue the struggle. Survival instinct is a powerful motivator. But adrenaline only gets you so far, and the boy's throat muscles are much stronger than anything you could imagine. One gulp is enough to jerk your entire body down into the esophagus' relentless grip. The muscular tube crushes your chest, causing you to gasp desperately for air. For a moment you wonder if your ribs will give out and kill you. Maybe that would be less painful...

The immense pressure lets up and you fall onto a soft surface. Once you catch your breath, you look around in hopes of seeing some sort of salvation. In the absolute darkness an image is burned into your vision: The boy's blank, indifferent face. The last thing you will ever see.

The truth hits hard, like an avalanche. This is the end... your end. Never again will you see the light of the sun; never again will you breathe in the fresh, clean air from a walk through the park; even the little annoyances—rain, traffic, mosquitoes—you would gladly accept if only you had the chance to experience them once more.

You try to stand up, but the stomach flesh is far too soft and slippery; you end up falling and soaking yourself in digestive fluids. It's hot in here, hot and humid like you've never felt before. Breathing is becoming more difficult. The sloppy liquid coating your body causes your skin to tingle and prickle uncomfortably.

At this point you would give anything for a swift death... but you doubt the boy would be willing to oblige, since clearly this had been the intention from the beginning. You try, though. You pound on the walls, begging for release from this hell. The boy simply responds by patting his belly and settling down for a nap.

You hear... purring. Calm, gentle purring. The vibrations can be felt clearly through the stomach wall. There is a sickening irony to it all; the boy taking such simple pleasure from the torment and eventual death of his prey.

Your energy does not last long, sapped by the heat and hopelessness. You collapse against the wall, slowly sliding down to the bottom again. You are too exhausted even to weep for your fate. It's almost over now anyway. Just a few minutes before your eyes close for the last time and your breath ceases forever. In the meantime you look back on your life—your accomplishments, your failures, your past, your future...

Stars dance in your vision and you feel light-headed. At this point, the warm, tingly liquid feels comforting; a return to the womb. The beginning in the end.

As you slowly lose consciousness, you curl up and cuddle into the soft flesh, still thrumming from the purrs.

You awake to the sound of rustling leaves sweeping across pavement. You open your eyes and find yourself lying on the side of the road, across from the haunted house. You stagger clumsily to your feet, baffled as to how you got here.

Was this all just a dream?

No, impossible. It was far too vivid. But if it was real...

How are you still alive?

You stumble across the road and follow the driveway up to the cursed house. You look up to the second-floor window and see... a face. His face. It vanishes in an instant, but you definitely saw it. You continue to stare at the window until you hear a low chuckle carried on the breeze.

You immediately turn back to the road and leave, never looking back.

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