One night, twenty years ago, I met the devil. I’m sure of it, as sure as I am that I will meet him again someday.
I was just a girl then, no more than twelve years old. It was a summer night, August, in rural New Jersey where my family lived. I woke up a little after midnight to a soft whistling sound coming from outside my window.
I pulled the sheet away and walked to the window in my long cotton t-shirt that I borrowed from my dad. In the summer heat, those over-sized, worn-out t-shirts were all I could stand to wear. I got up close to the window and all I could see was my own reflection.
The window was only open a few inches because my dad had taken the screen out the week before to fix a tear. We didn’t want all kinds of insects flying in and out so we kept it cracked but not wide open. It was hot, but I was always a little afraid of leaving the window all the way open at night, even though I was on the second floor.
I pushed open the window with some effort. Our house was old and the window frames were bloated from the humidity. I pushed with all I had until it slid up suddenly with a jerk and I gasped a little at the abrupt sound. I held my breath, listening for sounds of movement from my parents' room. Nothing.
I stuck my head out of the window and looked out into the blackness of pine trees and shrubs that surrounded our house. The sound of cicadas was overwhelming and the air was thick with summer heat. I could see one small yellow square of light from a house a mile or so from us. I couldn't hear the whistling anymore and I suddenly felt silly for going through the trouble to open the old window to begin with.
After standing there for a moment, I started to feel like I was coming out of a dream and thought; perhaps I had been sleep-walking. I wasn't even sure if I had heard anything at all at that point.
I remember feeling wide awake and alive, excited even. Sometimes you have those moments when everything feels right on track in your life and it seems there is so much to look forward to and there’s almost a physical swelling of the heart. I used to feel like that a lot when I was young, especially in the summer, the magic season for a kid. I don't ever feel like that anymore. Maybe it comes only with the naiveté of youth; so full of hope and wonder, that it can't see the black ick of the world surrounding it, waiting to close in.
I felt that hopeful feeling on that August night. I was about to go back to bed, when I heard the sound again. It was whistling. It was a beautiful sound; melodious, complicated, and ever-changing, and my mood changed with it. I was anxious but excited. In hindsight I don't know why I wasn't more afraid. The sound of a human whistle floating up from the woods at night seems terrifying now. But I was enchanted.
I looked down eagerly. I was searching for the sound. Finally, I saw the bushes move right on the edge of the tree line in front of my window. The whistling got louder. I giggled at the sound. It filled my head and made me giddy. I started dancing. I remember dancing with my eyes closed and I felt so light. I felt all of my anxiety drift away into the night. All of the images of my parents fighting and my dog when he was really sick right before he died, and getting laughed at in math class when I didn’t know the answer, and all the worries and sadness that I had accumulated in my young life, floated away. I felt wonderful. To this day, I have never felt as happy as I did that night when I danced in my big t-shirt like no one was watching. But someone was.
The whistling stopped and my mad dancing stopped with it. I was panting and sweating and out of breath. I looked at my bedside clock and realized that I had been dancing around like that for nearly an hour. I went to the window and stuck my head out, desperate for a breeze and for that music.
I looked down and saw a boy. He was my age and as pale as the moonlight. He looked up at me with beautiful blue eyes, or hazel, or greenish, maybe even violet. They change every time I picture them. They were the most beautiful eyes I had ever seen. He was smiling at me.
“Hello”, he said in a voice almost as beautiful as his whistling.
“H-hello,” I stuttered back at the boy. I suddenly felt absurdly nervous that he may have seen my terrible dancing and would tell everyone in the neighborhood what a tremendous loser I was.
“What’s your name?” he said.
“Um…I’m Olivia. Who—who are you?” I sputtered.
“My name is Lucien. My family and I just moved into an old house down the road. It’s surrounded by so much forest. I’ve been exploring all night. We’re from the city, you see. Do you want to go on an adventure?”
“Now? I’m not allowed out at night,“ I said.
He smiled at that and it was the sweetest smile I had ever seen. I will never forget his face. It was the face of an angel. I already knew I wanted to sneak out and be closer to him, but the idea of leaving in the middle of the night was out of the question. My parents’ door was on the way to the steps and every floorboard on the way creaked. And yet….that smile made me feel safe and wild all at once.
“Come on,” he said. “I have my dog with me, we’ll be safe. Just then a large black dog, bigger than any I’d ever seen came bounding out of the bushes. He looked like my uncle’s mastiff but bigger and with long shaggy black hair. Despite all of that, he wasn’t intimidating. He was playful and ran around with his big pink tongue wagging and happy dog eyes gleaming.
I was delighted at the sight of him. I loved dogs so much and since our old Westie had passed away, I had longed for another friend to fill the empty space.
“See, he likes you. Come here Gorgos! Fetch!” he yelled as he threw a stick into the woods. The dog jumped into the darkness of the woods and all was silent until he jumped back out into the open with stick in his mouth. I covered my mouth as I laughed.
“Alright. I’ll come down to see the dog but we have to be quiet and we can’t go far,” I said.
He flashed a brilliant smile at me as his skin glowed in the moonlight. I grabbed some sneakers and snuck past my parents’ room, missing all the creaks by some stroke of luck.
I opened the backdoor and he was standing there with the dog. They were still as statues. The night was silent. Lucien still had his plastered- on smile but the dog was quiet and had lost all of his puppy-like energy. He looked like a guard dog.
“Olivia. I’m so glad to meet you. I am so eager to get to know the people around here,” he said with a notably adult tone that seemed odd coming from such a young boy. I looked at the dog again who was staring into the distance.
“Would you like to pet him? You can if you want. He won’t hurt you. He’s very obedient. “
“Yes. Sure, I’d love to pet him. I love dogs.” I reached out and gently touched the top of his head. It was surprisingly cold and rough. His fur was very course and he smelled very bad. I didn’t want to be rude so I stroked his head a few times as the beast stared straight ahead.
“Olivia, I’m so glad you came down to see me. I have to help my father around the house during the day so I haven’t been able to meet anyone my own age, and you are so…pretty, “he said while pushing a hair away from my face. It was a romantic gesture; one I had seen in movies and had always hoped someone would do to me.
“I….I’m glad I met you too…..um…I should probably go back up now, but we could go swimming in the lake tomorrow if you have time?”
“I’m afraid I can’t tomorrow. I’m not sure I want to go home at all. You see, my parents are always arguing and my father is a volatile man. He won’t let me leave his sight most of the day and hits me if I try to argue. This is why I go out and explore at night. I don’t know how else to be free,” he said looking on the verge of tears.
“My parents argue too. My whole family argues. It makes me afraid to say the wrong thing. It’s like walking on eggshells around them,“ I said, suddenly overwhelmed with emotion. I felt angry and sad and saw all of the cursing and fighting and started to cry. He kissed me then and it was bliss. I felt a deep longing I had never experienced before and never wanted the moment to end.
“I want to show you something, he whispered,” and his eyes looked so full of grief and sadness that I wanted to trust him. He took my hand and it sent a shiver up my spine, but I went with him.
We stepped into the darkness and I looked over my shoulder at my little house that looked unfamiliar and cold. I walked into the woods with a demon and almost never walked back out again, or maybe I didn’t. Maybe the part of me that really matters stayed in those woods.
We walked for a while and my eyes got heavy and I closed them. He led me by the hand and I slept while we walked. I must have because I woke up in a shed. He was standing at the doorway with his dog smiling at me as I woke up on the dirt floor of an old shed.
I felt a tickle on my arm and panicked as a saw a daddy long legs creeping up my arm. I smacked it off and jumped up, crying already. The boy was standing in the doorway with his dog. He started to speak but the cicadas were so loud that I had to put my hand over my ears. The sound of them echoed and re-echoed in the small shed. It was head-splitting. He was speaking to me but all I could see was his mouth moving. It looked like he was saying; Just wait.
Then he walked away. And the dog followed him. I tried to get up, but the blood rushed to my head and I blacked out. I woke up to the sound of snapping twigs and I jolted awake. I have never been so scared in my entire life.
It was then that I realized just how bad my situation was and in the darkness in the woods late at night, the imagination of a child can conjure up only the darkest of ideas. The worst of it was that I wasn’t imagining them. Someone or something had led me there and I was alone in the woods, completely lost. And someone was coming.
I listened for the sounds again and heard some grunting and heavy breathing. I hid behind some old crates at the back of the shed and I noticed the melted wax of candles all over the top of them. I ducked down and held my breath as a shadow fell in the doorway. A large man hauled a sack into the shed and stood catching his breath in the doorway.
I started to cry and shake and I held my hand over my mouth so I wouldn’t give myself away. I peered through the gaps in the wood to see if he had left. He was there and he bent down with a large hunting knife and cut open the burlap sack. He walked over to the crates and I thought he would see me so I closed my eyes and thought of my parents and hoped that maybe this was all a dream.
He lit the candles and the shed glowed with orange light. He walked back to the sack and pulled out a woman and she was dead.
I lost most of myself in that moment. The man began a ritual that I don’t have the strength to write out, but he spoke ancient words that sounded like Latin and he cut her. I can’t say more than that, mostly because I passed out and somehow was not found.
I woke up to the rising sun and an empty shed. There was no evidence of anything having happened except for the melted candles and the fresh dirt that had been thrown over the floor.
I stumbled home and hugged my parents and wept. I told them what I could remember. My mother called the police and gave me a sedative so that I would calm down and sleep. When I finally woke up, the cops were there and I told them what I had seen.
They found nine bodies buried out there around the shed and said it looked like some kind of satanic ritual. After a week of searching, they found the killer in his home about a mile away from that place. It was an old shack that everyone thought was uninhabited, but this vagrant had taken up inside and apparently there were drawings and words written all over the walls in blood and some kind of alter with bones all around it. There were animal bones and human bones. The man had hanged himself from a beam in the middle of the room and his feet had been chewed away by some kind of animal.
We moved to Pennsylvania near my mom’s sister’s place after that. I could never sleep in my own room until I moved to Philadelphia. The city feels safer. When I must visit my parents, I never stay long. I can see that black dog out of the corner of my eye whenever I’m near the woods. Sometimes I see him in the city too; in the park, when I’m sitting alone, but I hear the whistle everywhere. In my head, when I sleep and when I’m awake. He's with me always, waiting to take me again.
Written by Dgrady237