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The Quiet Path

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My walk to work is always the same. Ever since I discovered this quiet little path on the corner a few weeks ago. It’s a bit of a hidden gem really as it’s quite a pleasant walk, plus it cuts five minutes from my commute time. Its entrance is concealed by trees and foliage which keeps it from clear view of the road, meaning not many people seem to know it’s even there. In fact, I’ve only actually seen two other people using the path.

The first person I’ll meet on the path is an elderly gentleman. A tall man that always wears the same worn black coat and tatty hat. Every morning he would brandish a smile and give a polite nod of acknowledgement before proceeding to say, “Lovely morning for a quiet stroll.” I always give a warm smile in return and wish him a good morning before continuing on my walk.

A little further down the path I’ll come across the second person, a young school girl. We don’t really pay each other much attention, mainly because she’s always busy humming away as she walks by with her headphones on. She actually progressed to singing recently and she’s quite the little popstar. Once I’ve passed her, I won’t see another soul until I’m off the path and back onto the road.

So that’s pretty much what my morning commute has been like for the last few weeks…except for yesterday. Yesterday morning was…different.

I started it just like any other. I headed to the hidden entrance on the corner of my street. I walked the grassy path and came across the man as usual. He gave me his customary smile and nod but this time he neglected to say a word. He would always give me his habitual greeting about his quiet stroll, but not this time.

Next up, I was expecting to encounter the young girl on her way to school like always. However, as I reached the spot where we would normally cross paths, she was nowhere to be seen. No singing to be heard. I didn’t think it odd at the time. I guessed she was probably off sick or something like that and so I continued walking.

I wasn’t much further along the path when I heard it.

At first I thought it was the wind, so I thought little of it until…I heard the sound for a second time. I stopped dead in my tracks and listened carefully. It was faint but I could definitely hear whimpering. I desperately tried to put a direction on the noise but to no prevail. Slowly, as I listened on intently, the whimpering began to fade as it got quieter and softer until nothing could be heard but the gentle sound of the trees in the morning air once again.

I stood there disconcertedly in silence, as I pondered what possibly could have caused those awful sounds. I got chills as I considered the dark possible explanations behind them. Whatever it was I heard was unsettling and I didn’t want to stick around. I hurried away and finished my commute at running pace.

As you can imagine, I was distracted for the rest of the day. At work, I kept thinking about the whimpering sound. I kept thinking I should have done more. I kept thinking…I should have done something to help. Anything. Anything but just stand there. Had I not been so scared at the time, I’m sure I would have done something. I know I would have done. I was reluctant to mention it to anybody out of shame. Anyway, perhaps my imagination was simply running wild. Perhaps they were fine. Perhaps they weren’t in any trouble to begin with. I could have imagined it all! I hadn’t convinced myself that was the case though.

Out of fear, I avoided the quiet path on my walk home. Struggling to sleep that night from the guilt and worry, it took me hours before finally nodding off. Subsequently, I ended up waking fifteen minutes past my alarm today. I had intended to avoid the path but there was little choice for me but to use it, if I was going to have any hope of getting to work on time. I left in a frantic haste and quickly made my way to the path.

Due to leaving so late, I stumbled across the old man with his worn black coat and tatty hat earlier than usual. He looked as friendly as always. A smile. A nod, just like I expected.

“It’s quiet again.”

I gave a smile in return and walked on by. It took a few steps before I registered what he had said, and what that might mean. It hadn’t clicked initially but now I felt real dread in the pit of my stomach. I slowed down and gradually came to a standstill. What did he mean by that? There was silence. The man’s footsteps had also stopped. Slowly, I turned my head.

He was facing right at me. Just…stood there. However, now he looked different. His eyes were fixated on me intensely. A wicked smile grew wide across his face. Something about him had changed. He raised a hand, and slowly stretched out his long, bony index finger, inching it to his lips.


Credit to Rox0ra (Rewritten by Beddy Byes)

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