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It was in my twenty-seventh year that I first came upon the house, hiking alone in the Alder Creek forest. The locals told me there was an old abandoned village deep in the woods, in a village whose prosperous years ended some hundred years ago, when Shaniko became the leading wool producer of the area. As a result, no one needed the wool from the town of Alder. Same thing happened to Shaniko a few years later when people found wool cheaper elsewhere.
I’m now thirty-nine. I hope… I am in desperate need of what I might find out there because my wife has become ill. Only for her would I ever think of venturing in those woods again. Only the love I have for her. I’m scared. I'm trembling even as I write this. But I must get this over with as the night is passing quickly, and soon it shall be time to go.
It was a bright and sunny day when I entered the woods. I was feeling quite optimistic about my journey. I was using a map I found in an old book called “Ghosts Towns of the Northwest.” I mention the town of Alder, but I never actually found Alder. I got lost and got way off track, miles and miles away from any known civilization. It was getting near full dark when I came across something peculiar. All the way out here, deep in the woods, where no man would need to wander, I came across a freshly carved Jack-O-Lantern. It was a deformed Jack-O-Lantern, which was taller than it was round, much like a human head but larger. It was oddly shaped and more bulbous on the left then the right, which makes its single tooth smile look like the grotesque rotten mouth of an elderly man who has suffered a stroke. Inside I could see something shining.
My curiosity got a hold of me and I bent down for closer examination. The first thing I noticed was how the eyes were shaped unlike any eyes I have ever seen carved into a pumpkin. Each spot where an eye would be was made of four holes, giving the pumpkin the appearance of having eight eyes. After examining the mouth and then the eyes, I looked at the nose with more focus. Then I noticed some movement behind the nose. I realized what it was, but it was too late; spiders quickly ran up my arm. I ripped off my coat and threw it as far as I could, then started wiping off the remaining spiders from my arm. Then I stopped, stunned, to see that the top was being raised from the base. The next spider—girth similar to that of a baseball glove, covered in orange slime and pasty seeds—had to squeeze out of the pumpkin it was so big. The spider spun and looked right at me.
I must have run two miles before I finally felt safe enough to stop, but only long enough to catch my breath. I headed in the direction I had come from, and as soon as I could, I started running. After a short while I came across a camper's sign. The sign told me after three more hours of hiking, I would be back to where I entered the woods. I had only walked maybe a hundred feet more when the fog rolled in all around me. I would be a fool to try to find my way back through the fog. So I gave up on trying to making it out of the woods that night. I would wait until morning, then walk out of the woods and try to forget the image of that giant spider.
I set up my small tent and climbed inside. Right before I went to sleep, I remember thinking, "God, please don’t let that spider find its way to me."
I woke up in the middle of the night when I heard a sound much like a door being slammed. Was I that close to the road? Was I so lost that I’m nearly out of the woods?
I put my tent back in my pack and headed towards the noise. Luckily the fog had lifted, at least for the moment. I started to think that maybe it was all in my head until I saw a light in the distance. An orange light. And then I could smell a fire. The woods were on fire—they must have been. I’m way too far out in isolation for there to be someone else out here. But of course there was that horrible pumpkin someone had carved out.
I walked slowly in the direction of the fire. Step by step I listened until I got just outside of the clearing and the blaze of the fire.
The fire drew my attention for a while. Its heat felt good on my now coatless upper body. As I stood there warming my hands, I noticed rather queer things around. There was a chair made from a log with the back support made from twigs nailed to the log. Behind the big flames of this bonfire I could see a house. Well, perhaps "a house" is missing the finer details.
I walked around the treeline to get a better view of the house. It was very old, architecture I had never seen before. The roof was completely flat and the house had more windows then walls, windows that give away the age of the building. Some of the cracks in the windows were filled with dirt. The place gave me the creeps and a feeling of dread swept over me. I was ready to leave the place when I saw more Jack-O-Lanterns. I shuddered at the thought of the spiders they might contain. Instead of running I found myself approaching the house, thinking that maybe the occupant could help me find my way out of these woods or at least provide a shelter for the night where I wouldn’t have to worry about such a twisted environment.
Before knocking, I decided to peek through the window. Inside was nicer then I would have imagined. It was had old furnishing, but not as weathered as the outside of the house. An antique collector would be ecstatic to come across such a find.
There was a beautiful old couch and chairs both covered in velvet, with detailed carvings in the wood and what looked like a solid oak table inside. But what really drew me in was an old truck. It was covered in a pale leather that resembled the color of skin. It wasn’t made with the same craftsmanship of the other furnishing. The seams were tacky and went all over the place. I was about to walk to the door when I see the inhabitant enter the room.
The man looked as old as the leather, with skin that looked just as leathery. He had unkempt hair and an even longer beard. The right side of his face was sloped just like that pumpkin. He walked over and opened a trunk, and inside, it was full of gold and silver coins.
I stood there awe-struck until he turned to me and smiled revealing one tooth and eight eyes. I have never been so scared in my life. A moment later, extra two arms and two legs sprung out of his body, tearing apart his fake skin and revealing him to be another ugly black spider.
I ran. I ran fast enough to win an olympic medal. When I finally got out of the woods, I was miles from my car. I never went back for that car and I never went near those woods again. I hitch-hiked out of there and spent the next year drinking, trying to get that image out of my mind. I know bigger men would have gone back for all that gold.
Now my wife is sick and the operation is more then I can afford. This is my only choice. I value her life more than my own. I will bring further observations upon my return.
The last entry John L Price wrote in his diary