The woods were once a place I cherished, where I spent my long weekends away from school. I live in the country, close to Cashe Lake, near the hamlet of Spedden. No one comes out here anymore; most of the town was burned to the ground some time ago. It only has 1 store now, a small store owned by some distant relatives of mine.
It is in this practical ghost town the creature lives. The abandoned houses are its playgrounds, the woods merely a place to hunt.
I found the first image of it on a cell phone that had been in the woods. A Nokia X7, the same phone I have. The phone itself was frightening to find for me. No one comes into the forest, especially not in the early spring, when the nights are cold. How it got there, it did not matter. I took the phone and charged it, curious to find out who had lost it. There were about 20 contact numbers, most of which belonged to people I had never heard of. Curiosity got the best of me and I texted some of the people, letting them know I had found the phone and wanted to return it. No one responded, so I checked out the images.
The first image was of a black and white cat, with large orange eyes. It was sitting on a blue couch, looking up happily. The next was a blonde girl, grinning like an idiot, beside a dark-haired man. Was it the owner and her father? Who knows.
The last images were what caught me. The first one was, well, strange. The woods at night, with a pale figure near the bottom of the screen, perhaps a finger reflecting the flash. The next, the forest floor. Then, well, the third was surprising. It was a wide mouth, with rather human teeth, the skin pale, lunging out of the darkness. The last was a very bright image, as if someone had taken a picture very close to someones skin with the flash on.
Unsure what to make of the pictures, I left the phone in my room and went to check out the woods, for more stuff left by the mystery person.
The woods seemed off that day. There was a strange, musky smell in the air, like an unwashed kid. Greasy, unpleasant. Had it been there earlier? I couldn't remember. There was a trail on the ground, made by something wide and flat. I saw a lone handprint, small and broad, with pointed finger tips. I couldn't see what had left the trail, but didn't worry. It was probably just a prank.
Night came and I slept restlessly, listening to the early frogs on the lake. There was another sound, loud and hollow: a deep bellow. We had bears there, but it wasn't a bear. I didn't sleep that night.
I went out again the next day, relishing the 4-day weekend. I had to find more stuff out there. No one just leaves a phone out in the woods, right?
There was a new crawling trail on the ground, this one leading to an old coyote den. The musty reek was strong here. I looked down the dark hole, shuddering in horror as I saw the rather slimy rocks. As I was walking back, rather unsure, I heard something.
A slight hissing sound. I turned and looked, catching sight of a low-slung body slinking into the thick brush. It was white and smooth, the underside streaked with blue veins. I stepped back and then started to run, seeing the bushes shake near me.
My parents don't believe me when I tell them what I saw. They assume it was nothing. That night, I looked into the field behind the house. A lone deer was lying in the recently plowed dirt. Something pure white was somehow attached to the body, writhing like a lamprey.
The morning after that sight I went to check out the deer. It was still there, side ripped open and bleeding, the wound edges ragged and pale. My dad dragged the body into the woods, shaken. Our farm is far in from the road, surrounded by trees, the house 2 stories of white siding and shuttered windows. The buildings are sandy brown from blowing soil. Chickens cluck softly in the hen house, while our dog sits on its ass in the front yard.
The woods seemed alright that day as I walked through them, listening to my dad's tractor in the distance. I saw the thing creep by, I know it, just a brief glimpse of the pale form as it darted into the shadows. I spun around but saw nothing. The whole time I walked I could hear it moving, but tried to ignore it, pretending it was just the wind. Why be afraid of it? I hadn't hurt me yet.
The next day it rained. My parents took me into town and I hung out at the old school, sitting on the rotten wooden swings and watching the rain pool on the metal slide. There was a sound from inside and I went into the school, knowing that it was safe inside. It had only been closed since about 89, and was still in good shape. The town used it for some dances still.
The halls were lined with rainbow lockers, bright and clean. It smelled like rain and floor polish, even if the old wooden floor was no longer shiny.
There was a rattling from down the hall and I saw some lockers swing open and hit together, a thin tail whipping past. I ran after, figuring it was a stray dog loose in the building. I rounded the corner, feet pounding hard on the floor. I felt my balance slip away and fell, seeing something loom from the shadows.
It was pure white in the darkness, veiny belly on the floor, head reared up to look down at me. It had a short neck and small legs, the head round with a wide slit of a mouth on the bottom floor. It stood on small, faintly withered hind legs, tail sweeping on the floor. The musty reek choked me and I rolled onto my side. It fell heavily onto the floor, sharp claws skittering on the smooth floor. I heard it snarl before it ran out towards the still open double doors, vanishing into the distance.
That night I could hear it howling at me.
When I returned to school that Tuesday, the bus had to go quickly through the town. I looked out the window and saw it, leaning against the rotten wall of a house, holding onto the mossy wall with those small hands, watching me with very small eyes at the end of its rounded head. I don't remember seeing the eyes before then.
Each night now it comes up to the house, howling at me, angry I know it's there. What is it? Is it human? Did it kill the person who had that phone? I still have the phone in my room, tucked under my bed. Whenever I go into the town I see it, hiding in the ruined houses, watching me, waiting to tear open my side and feed on my innards like some horrible parasite.
Maybe, if I see it on the yard, I'll film it. Maybe it will just crawl into my bed and kill me. I don't know what it is, only that it's here and won't leave.