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For the past two or three years now, I have taken long walks through the forest just behind my house, mostly when I'm bored and there's nothing to do (it can get rather lonely living in a small house far away from any town or city). I never had any real problems with these walks; nothing that would ever cause me to feel nervous or uncomfortable. This all changed during the winter of 2010.
It was during what was known as "The Big Freeze of 2010." I looked out my windows at about half past eleven in the morning, and the whole forest behind my house was layered with snow. Because I was into photography at the time, I decided to go out and take pictures of the winter landscape and some trees from within the forest.
I went out into the snow and made my way into the forest where I usually like to have a walk. I had a small digital camera tucked away in my coat pocket. As I entered, the beauty of the forest amazed me, and I began to take pictures. However, as I was about to take the next picture, the camera stopped working.
I didn't think about it much, and just decided to continue walking anyway. That is when I began to have this strange feeling. The snow stopped falling, the sounds of birds stopped, and the blistering cold wind came to a halt. There was this horrible feeling of loneliness looming over me that I had never felt before.
I continued walking, hoping that something would rid me of this feeling. Even something like a caw of a crow, even though it is not a pleasant sound, would at least let me know that I wasn't alone.
As I continued this walk, there was suddenly a loud crack, then a sound of something crashing onto the bare forest floor. I jumped and looked behind me, noticing that one of the very young trees was lying on its side. My eyes scanned the forest, thinking that someone — or something — was behind me. I saw nothing. I had come to the conclusion that it was probably just some snow weighing the tree down, or perhaps the soil or roots were loose, causing it to fall.
The feeling of loneliness had left me completely. A new feeling had come to me, a feeling that I was being followed, even though it was unlikely that there would be anyone else in the forest. I resumed walking, this time much faster. I didn't know whether to go back or continue walking. I decided I would continue as I thought it would be unlikely that anything was behind me.
As I walked, there was another loud crack. I looked down, thinking that I had stepped on a stick, but there were no sticks around me. I then looked behind me. Perhaps it was a bird, I thought to myself. I scanned the woods again, this time for longer, desperately looking for the source of the loud noise.
Then I saw it. My eyes fixed on this tall figure far in front of me. It was a tall "man." It stood by a tree, and the trunk of a tree covered half of its long, thin body. From what I saw, it had a long, thick, dark cloak covering every inch of it; no skin or other body features were visible. It was perfectly still, not moving in the slightest. I stepped away slowly, not taking my eyes off it. But as my foot crunched down into the thick snow, it turned. It had two holes cut into the fabric of the cloak. Its eyes were not visible. We stared at each other for about a minute before I decided to turn and walk away.
I didn't want to turn away from it, nor did I want to look at it. I just kept walking. My mind was in a complete mess. I don't know if I was being foolish because I was scared. Perhaps it's just some tall man in a cloak, going around trying to scare me as some kind of strange joke, I thought to myself. I peered over my shoulder, hoping that it had not moved. It was still there, not moving, its eyes staring at me as I walked away from it.
As I got further and further away, I looked behind me and noticed it was closer. I began walking faster and faster, but I did not run. I looked behind me to see if it was there, but it wasn't. I thought it was hiding behind a tree, but it was not in sight. I decided to go back because it had clearly left.
For the first time in what seemed like a long time, I felt somewhat calm. I knew I wasn't alone, but at least I knew I wasn't being followed.
I walked back at a very steady pace even though I wanted to get back to my home as quickly as possible. I made it to the edge of the forest, and I took one final look behind me. I was hoping I would see nothing, but I was wrong. There it was again, and all my fears came rushing back. It was a few hundred yards away and approaching. It moved majestically across the snow and past the trees.
I tried to ignore it even though I was too terrified. I left the forest at a quick pace. My heart was pounding, and I quickly ran back towards my house. I glanced back, only to see it make its way back into the woods, its eyes staring at me constantly, its thick black eyes locked onto me. Its cloak brushed the branches of the trees as bits of snow tumbled down onto its cloak. Then it was gone. Its tree-like body disappeared into the foliage of the woods. For one moment, I felt safe.
When I got back into my home, I locked all the doors and closed the curtains. Even though I didn't know what it was, I knew that it stalked me whilst I was in that forest. For all I know, it could have been a man trying to scare me, but I know that I will never go back into those woods again after that experience.
It was a strange experience. I didn't know if the man in the cloak was a threat or not, or whether my brain was making me think he was following me. But I will never forget that day. Sometimes I think I can hear things outside my house at night, especially during the winter. Maybe it's just my mind, or maybe it is still out there.