hen I was little, my grandma used to tell me a creepy story.
Back then I didn't consider it to be creepy at all, and instead found it rather amusing.
Now that I am older, however, remembering it makes me feel... slightly uncomfortable.
Here is how it goes:
never learned when it exactly happened, but my grandma was around 15 at the time, so I assume it was back in the 1950's. She and her younger sister were watching over the cows as they were grazing in the meadows. It was their daily routine, so they didn't have any difficulties with it.
When the sun was almost down, they took the cows to the well. The well was not actually a well, but a deep natural waterhole deep in the woods that folks used as a drinking spot for their cattle. This was also a part of their daily routine.
However, the cows took longer than usual to sate their thirst this time, and by the time they were finished, it was pitch black night, with no moon and barely any stars. Grandma and her sister were not concerned about this; they would simply unleash the cows, that could find a way back to their stable even blind, and follow them.
And so they did. However, it was still dark, and my grandma's sister tripped on a root of a tree, and sprained her ankle. My grandma stopped and turned around to help her up, but by the time she was back on her feet, they discovered that they had lost the cows.They were now alone and hopelessly lost in the forest. They couldn't hear the cows, or anything else, for that matter. Even the howling of a distant wolf would be comforting for them, wrapped in the enclosing and unnatural silence as they were.
They dared not go anywhere until the dawn, so they decided to make camp there. My grandmother went to gather some branches, while her sister stayed and tried to get a little fire going. They eventually managed to start a fire, but the forest was still unnaturally silent, save for the cracking of burning wood. My grandma managed to somehow yank her sister's ankle back in place and bandage it, but she would still not be in any condition to walk. Still, with pain significantly reduced, she managed to fall asleep.
Grandma stayed up, stoking the fire to keep any critters away. Eventually, she got drowsy and decided to go to sleep as well. Before she retired, she stoked the fire with enough wood to burn for hours. She then found the softest tile of forest floor, and closed her eyes.
Just as she was about to fall asleep, she heard a voice, and immediately sprung to her feet. The forest was silent, so she figured she only imagined it. But after some three minutes, the voice was back, and she was awestruck to realize that it was the voice of her older brother. Even better, this time she understood what he was saying:
"Over here, my dears!" the voice called.
My grandma awakened her sister at once and told her what she just heard. Her sister was skeptical, but after three more minutes, the call repeated, and she got excited.
Not wasting any time, my grandma took her axe, chopped off a branch, and then proceeded to make it into an improvised crutch for her sister. She then took a large branch and wrapped it with her scarf to make a torch.
They set out into the woods, following the voice that repeated exactly every three minutes, almost like a recording. But back then, in rural Yugoslavia, the recording was something unheard of. They continued to follow it, and after about an hour they were out of the forest, and on the meadows.
They could see their house from there, and now more excited than ever, rushed as fast as they could. When they got there, they were greeted by the sight of nearly an entire village up on their feet, armed with axes, torches and rifles; a search party, they realized, organized for them.
Their sudden appearance caused great relief to an entire village, and most of all their parents and brothers. They explained that when cows returned alone, they were concerned, but after about two more hours, they started to get worried sick, and organized a search party.
When they asked the girls how did they find the way back, my grandma told them about the voice of their brother calling to them, guiding them out of the forest. Everyone fell silent. They were bewildered, as their brother never went near the woods that day.
It has been more than 60 years since that event. My grandma, now the sole survivor of her entire family, still tells me the story from time to time, and I listen as hard as ever. But now, I feel that the mystery of the strange voice that saved the life of my grandmother on that dark, silent night, will forever be left unsolved.
Written by Helel ben Shahaar