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I never knew true fear. I was not the one to be afraid. I never denied the existence of the supernatural, I was not a skeptic. But, I was never really afraid. Mostly because my parents were always away, traveling, exploring, whatever you want to call it, fine. That meant that since I was a teenager, they left me in an empty house, free to do as I wanted. They made a lot of money, so they left me with my own credit card as well. But, I was never interested in throwing parties, drinking or going out to any of the clubs my friends frequented. I would just watch movies, read and go to school and training. That’s also one of the reasons I felt quite safe. I was in judo for 12 years, I knew how to tie my belt before I knew how to tie my shoelaces. So, yeah, I felt like a badass. Well, until two nights ago.

I got a job at a small café, just so I could make some money on my own. The place was okay, except for the fact that its official closing time was at midnight, but the owner and his buddies had made it a habit of staying late and drinking, which meant that both myself and the bartender had to stay until they would stagger out into the night, leaving us behind to clean up the mess. On this particular night, it was about 2 A.M. when we were finally done. It was starting to snow outside. Matt, the bartender, was a pretty cool guy, and we got along fine. He seemed amused by the fact I was a girl in judo and would often ask me to just use my training to throw our boss out, when he was being a pain in the ass. But unlike me, he was barely making ends meet, so he was kind of stuck in this place. I locked up, only to see Matt slowly dragging himself down the street.

“Hey, Matt!” I yelled after him.

“Need a ride?” I felt bad for the guy. He nodded, and walked back to the parking lot.

“Thank you so much. It’s freezing,” he said, a tired smile on his face. We got in the car and he told me where to go. I was familiar with his neighborhood, and he didn’t live so far away from me. So I dropped him off, said goodnight and drove off. I was half asleep myself, so I turned up the radio a bit. That didn’t help much, because a moment later I realized I took a wrong turn. “Shit,” I mumbled. It was a one way street. Never mind, I thought, I’ll just drive down the road and probably find the exit to the main street anyway.

Boy, was I wrong.

I recognized the senior home by the road before I took a turn, so I knew where I was. But this street was clearly old. And it was in the middle of the heavily wooded area. Run down houses were barely noticeable between big, overgrown trees, and I hit more than one hole driving down the road. That’s when my radio changed to static. I tried other stations, but not a single one worked. This is when I started to feel a bit uneasy. Not because of the radio. You know that feeling, like someone is staring at you, but when you turn around there is nobody there? Well, that. I looked in the rearview mirror, and of course, the road was empty. Except for the fact that now the forest around the road got thicker and the only thing I could make out was a big building that looked completely abandoned. Where was I? I pulled over, and got my phone to check Google Maps. No bars. I tried to connect to the Internet, but nothing seemed to work. It was snowing heavily now.

“Fuck it,” I said, and turned the key in the ignition. It wouldn't start. In fact, not only the engine seemed to be the problem. The entire car was dead. Nothing lit up as I tried again and again. Okay, great. I’m stuck here. Without a phone, all I could do was walk down that damn road and hope that I could flag down a car back on the main road. That was wishful thinking at this point, because it was the middle of the night. But, I didn't have a choice. Just as I was about to get out, I could swear I saw someone run right past my window. I grabbed the handle and slammed myself up against the door. It was locked. Somehow, this stupid car, completely devoid of any life, managed to lock me in. I tried the passenger’s side, but you can guess the result. Then, I saw it again. Except this time, it ran behind the car.

“Hey!” I called out, not exactly sure to whom. Just as I turned my head back to the front, I heard someone whispering. Not like a normal whisper, but the one that made my skin crawl. It didn’t quite sound, well, human. Another shadow passed by. And I say shadow, because it didn’t have any actual shape. And then I heard moans. Not loud, put painful, tortured moans. I leaned against the window, only to see that there were no footprints in the freshly fallen snow. Then, slowly but surely, they started sliding down from the woods. At first they looked just like shadows, but as they approached me, some of them started taking on a human shape. Human-like, to be exact. And now, I was legitimately frightened. They surrounded the car, and I just froze. They were all around me, just whispering and moaning. Tears filled my eyes. I thought this is how I was going to die. One of the shadows, in a shape of a little girl, leaned against my window. Her face with a tortured expression, haunting, just standing there. She had no eyes, but the more I looked the more she seemed human. And when I heard scratching on my window I looked away and decided I wasn’t going down without a fight. So I turned the key once more, and to my immense relief, the car started. I floored it, backing up against one of the trees and somehow managing to turn around in this godforsaken road.

By the time I got home, I somehow managed to pull myself together and in the warmth of my bed, I fell asleep.

I got to work a little late the following day, and Matt greeted me with his usual polite smile. Then it faded away.

“What’s wrong? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”

I wasn’t sure what to say.

“I didn’t sleep well last night. Hey, do you know about that road by the senior home? Where does it go?”

“What road?” He seemed confused.

“You know, the one in the woods,” I said, waiting for him to remember.

“There is no road there. It used to be a hospital there or something, but it closed down like 50 years ago, and the only way to get there is now completely blocked by the forest. Why?”

Not wanting for my colleague to think I’m crazy, I just brushed it off.

“Doesn’t matter. Forget it.”

The day went by fast, and soon I found myself driving home. My windows started to fog for a moment before the heat got to them. And that’s when I saw it. In the fog, there was something written. I used to do that all the time when I was a kid, drawing hearts or writing my name. It was barely noticeable at first, but then I saw it clearly.

“Help us.”