I have this really bad habit where, when I’m home by myself, I hop on the internet and venture into dark corners to find scary stories. Sometimes I go to Wikipedia and fall into a black hole of unsolved mystery pages, emerging hours later. Sometimes I go to true crime sites and then I have to get up and double check to make sure all the doors and windows in my house are locked. If there’s a spooky story on the internet, I’ll probably read it and freak myself out. But, my favorite internet scary stories, hands down, are Creepypastas.

I don’t know why I do it–maybe I get bored, maybe I have an overwhelming case of morbid curiosity. I don’t know why, but I love Creepypastas.

Part ghost story, part urban legend, part cursed email chain, these tales thrive for the same reasons folklore thrives. We love to hear outlandish, frightening, gruesome stories, and even the tiniest kernel of truth puts us under a spell. Creepypastas (so named for its original term of “copypasta” which refers to copy-and-pasted text that has gone viral) are user generated, meaning any random person on the internet has the power to contribute a creepy story.

The internet can be a nasty place, but Creepypastas are one of the nice (albeit weird and terrifying) parts about the internet. People from anywhere in the world can read a person’s strange story and have an immediate reaction. Indeed, Creepypastas are shared everywhere. People who have nothing else in common might bond over the chills they felt after reading a particularly good Creepypasta. Authors have gone on to write whole novels out of their Creepypastas, and Creepypastas have been adapted into short films on Youtube. There are whole communities devoted them writing and sharing them. They spread and grow and develop their own gravitas, their own lore.

In a way, Creepypastas are the 21st century equivalent of ghost stories told around campfire.

So come, gather round and let me share with you some of my absolute favorite awesome Creepypastas. Feel free to add your favorites in the comments!

 

creepypastas

1.   Candle Cove – Kris Straub

NetNostalgia Forum – Television (local)

 

Skyshale033

Subject: Candle Cove local kid’s show?

Does anyone remember this kid’s show? It was called Candle Cove and I must have been 6 or 7. I never found reference to it anywhere so I think it was on a local station around 1971 or 1972. I lived in Ironton at the time. I don’t remember which station, but I do remember it was on at a weird time, like 4:00 PM.

 

mike_painter65

Subject: Re: Candle Cove local kid’s show?

it seems really familiar to me…..i grew up outside of ashland and was 9 yrs old in 72. candle cove…was it about pirates? i remember a pirate marionete at the mouth of a cave talking to a little girl

 

Skyshale033

Subject: Re: Candle Cove local kid’s show?

YES! Okay I’m not crazy! I remember Pirate Percy. I was always kind of scared of him. He looked like he was built from parts of other dolls, real low-budget. His head was an old porcelain baby doll, looked like an antique that didn’t belong on the body. I don’t remember what station this was! I don’t think it was WTSF though.

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Jaren_2005

Subject: Re: Candle Cove local kid’s show?

Sorry to ressurect this old thread but I know exactly what show you mean, Skyshale. I think Candle Cove ran for only a couple months in ’71, not ’72. I was 12 and I watched it a few times with my brother. It was channel 58, whatever station that was. My mom would let me switch to it after the news. Let me see what I remember.

It took place in Candle cove, and it was about a little girl who imagined herself to be friends with pirates. The pirate ship was called the Laughingstock, and Pirate Percy wasn’t a very good pirate because he got scared too easily. And there was calliope music constantly playing. Don’t remember the girl’s name. Janice or Jade or something. Think it was Janice.

Skyshale033

Subject: Re: Candle Cove local kid’s show?

Thank you Jaren!!! Memories flooded back when you mentioned the Laughingstock and channel 58. I remember the bow of the ship was a wooden smiling face, with the lower jaw submerged. It looked like it was swallowing the sea and it had that awful Ed Wynn voice and laugh. I especially remember how jarring it was when they switched from the wooden/plastic model, to the foam puppet version of the head that talked.

mike_painter65

Subject: Re: Candle Cove local kid’s show?

ha ha i remember now too. 😉 do you remember this part skyshale: “you have…to go…INSIDE.”

Skyshale033

Subject: Re: Candle Cove local kid’s show?

Ugh mike, I got a chill reading that. Yes I remember. That’s what the ship always told Percy when there was a spooky place he had to go in, like a cave or a dark room where the treasure was. And the camera would push in on Laughingstock’s face with each pause. YOU HAVE… TO GO… INSIDE. With his two eyes askew and that flopping foam jaw and the fishing line that opened and closed it. Ugh. It just looked so cheap and awful.

You guys remember the villain? He had a face that was just a handlebar mustache above really tall, narrow teeth.

kevin_hart

Subject: Re: Candle Cove local kid’s show?

i honestly, honestly thought the villain was pirate percy. i was about 5 when this show was on. nightmare fuel.

Jaren_2005

Subject: Re: Candle Cove local kid’s show?

That wasn’t the villain, the puppet with the mustache. That was the villain’s sidekick, Horace Horrible. He had a monocle too, but it was on top of the mustache. I used to think that meant he had only one eye.

But yeah, the villain was another marionette. The Skin-Taker. I can’t believe what they let us watch back then.

kevin_hart

Subject: Re: Candle Cove local kid’s show?

jesus h. christ, the skin taker. what kind of a kids show were we watching? i seriously could not look at the screen when the skin taker showed up. he just descended out of nowhere on his strings, just a dirty skeleton wearing that brown top hat and cape. and his glass eyes that were too big for his skull. christ almighty.

Skyshale033

Subject: Re: Candle Cove local kid’s show?

Wasn’t his top hat and cloak all sewn up crazily? Was that supposed to be children’s skin??

mike_painter65

Subject: Re: Candle Cove local kid’s show?

yeah i think so. rememer his mouth didn’t open and close, his jaw just slid back and foth. i remember the little girl said “why does your mouth move like that” and the skin-taker didn’t look at the girl but at the camera and said “TO GRIND YOUR SKIN”

Skyshale033

Subject: Re: Candle Cove local kid’s show?

I’m so relieved that other people remember this terrible show!

I used to have this awful memory, a bad dream I had where the opening jingle ended, the show faded in from black, and all the characters were there, but the camera was just cutting to each of their faces, and they were just screaming, and the puppets and marionettes were flailing spastically, and just all screaming, screaming. The girl was just moaning and crying like she had been through hours of this. I woke up many times from that nightmare. I used to wet the bed when I had it.

kevin_hart

Subject: Re: Candle Cove local kid’s show?

i don’t think that was a dream. i remember that. i remember that was an episode.

Skyshale033

Subject: Re: Candle Cove local kid’s show?

No no no, not possible. There was no plot or anything, I mean literally just standing in place crying and screaming for the whole show.

kevin_hart

Subject: Re: Candle Cove local kid’s show?

maybe i’m manufacturing the memory because you said that, but i swear to god i remember seeing what you described. they just screamed.

Jaren_2005

Subject: Re: Candle Cove local kid’s show?

Oh God. Yes. The little girl, Janice, I remember seeing her shake. And the Skin-Taker screaming through his gnashing teeth, his jaw careening so wildly I thought it would come off its wire hinges. I turned it off and it was the last time I watched. I ran to tell my brother and we didn’t have the courage to turn it back on.

mike_painter65

Subject: Re: Candle Cove local kid’s show?

i visited my mom today at the nursing home. i asked her about when i was little in the early 70s, when i was 8 or 9 and if she remembered a kid’s show, candle cove. she said she was surprised i could remember that and i asked why, and she said “because i used to think it was so strange that you said ‘i’m gonna go watch candle cove now mom’ and then you would tune the tv to static and juts watch dead air for 30 minutes. you had a big imagination with your little pirate show.”

creepypasta

2.   Mother’s Call – Author Unknown

A young girl is playing in her bedroom when she hears her mother call to her from the kitchen, so she runs downstairs to meet her mother.

As she’s running through the hallway, the door to the cupboard under the stairs opens, and a hand reaches out and pulls her in. It’s her mother. She whispers to her child, “Don’t go into the kitchen. I heard it too.”

creepypasta

3.    The Portraits – Author Unknown

“There was a hunter in the woods, who, after a long day hunting, was in the middle of an immense forest. It was getting dark, and having lost his bearings, he decided to head in one direction until he was clear of the increasingly oppressive foliage. After a what seemed like hours, he came across a cabin in a small clearing. Realizing how dark it had grown, he decided to see if he could stay there for the night. He approached, and found the door ajar. Nobody was inside. The hunter flopped down on the single bed, deciding to explain himself to the owner in the morning. As he looked around, he was surprised to see the walls adorned by many portraits, all painted in incredible detail. Without exception, they appeared to be staring down at him, their features twisted into looks of hatred. Staring back, he grew increasingly uncomfortable. Making a concerted effort to ignore the many hateful faces, he turned to face the wall, and exhausted, he fell into a restless sleep.

Face down in an unfamiliar bed, he turned blinking in unexpected sunlight. Looking up, he discovered that the cabin had no portraits, only windows.

creepypasta

4.  The Smiley Man – credited to Reddit user blue_tidal 

About five years ago I lived downtown in a major city in the US. I’ve always been a night person, so I would often find myself bored after my roommate, who was decidedly not a night person, went to sleep. To pass the time, I used to go for long walks and spend the time thinking.

I spent four years like that, walking alone at night, and never once had a reason to feel afraid. I always used to joke with my roommate that even the drug dealers in the city were polite. But all of that changed in just a few minutes of one evening.

It was a Wednesday, somewhere between one and two in the morning, and I was walking near a police patrolled park quite a ways from my apartment. It was a quiet night, even for a weeknight, with very little traffic and almost no one on foot. The park, as it was most nights, was completely empty.

I turned down a short side-street in order to loop back to my apartment when I first noticed him. At the far end of the street, on my side, was the silhouette of a man, dancing. It was a strange dance, similar to a waltz, but he finished each “box” with an odd forward stride. I guess you could say he was dance-walking, headed straight for me.

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Deciding he was probably drunk, I stepped as close as I could to the road to give him the majority of the sidewalk to pass me by. The closer he got, the more I realized how gracefully he was moving. He was very tall and lanky, and wearing an old suit. He danced closer still, until I could make out his face. His eyes were open wide and wild, head tilted back slightly, looking off at the sky. His mouth was formed in a painfully wide cartoon of a smile. Between the eyes and the smile, I decided to cross the street before he danced any closer.

I took my eyes off of him to cross the empty street. As I reached the other side, I glanced back… and then stopped dead in my tracks. He had stopped dancing and was standing with one foot in the street, perfectly parallel to me. He was facing me but still looking skyward. Smile still wide on his lips.

I was completely and utterly unnerved by this. I started walking again, but kept my eyes on the man. He didn’t move. Once I had put about half a block between us, I turned away from him for a moment to watch the sidewalk in front of me. The street and sidewalk ahead of me were completely empty. Still unnerved, I looked back to where he had been standing to find him gone. For the briefest of moments I felt relieved, until I noticed him. He had crossed the street, and was now slightly crouched down. I couldn’t tell for sure due to the distance and the shadows, but I was certain he was facing me. I had looked away from him for no more than ten seconds, so it was clear that he had moved fast.

I was so shocked that I stood there for some time, staring at him. And then he started moving toward me again. He took giant, exaggerated tip-toed steps, as if he were a cartoon character sneaking up on someone. Except he was moving very, very quickly.

I’d like to say at this point I ran away or pulled out my pepper spray or my cellphone or anything at all, but I didn’t. I just stood there, completely frozen as the smiling man crept toward me.

And then he stopped again, about a car length away from me. Still smiling his smile, still looking to the sky.

When I finally found my voice, I blurted out the first thing that came to mind. What I meant to ask was, “What do you want?!” in an angry, commanding tone. What came out was a whimper: “Whaaat…?”

Regardless of whether or not humans can smell fear, they can certainly hear it. I heard it in my own voice, and that only made me more afraid. But he didn’t react to it at all. He just stood there, smiling.

And then, after what felt like forever, he turned around, very slowly, and started dance-walking away. Just like that. Not wanting to turn my back to him again, I just watched him go, until he was far enough away to almost be out of sight. And then I realized something. He wasn’t moving away anymore, nor was he dancing. I watched in horror as the distant shape of him grew larger and larger. He was coming back my way. And this time he was running.

I ran too.

I ran until I was off of the side-road and back onto a better lit road with sparse traffic. Looking behind me then, he was nowhere to be found. The rest of the way home, I kept glancing over my shoulder, always expecting to see his stupid smile, but he was never there.

I lived in that city for six months after that night, and I never went out for another walk. There was something about his face that always haunted me. He didn’t look drunk, he didn’t look high. He looked completely and utterly insane. And that’s a very, very scary thing to see. 

 

creepypasta

5.  The Grinning Man/Indris Cold – Author Unknown

I have a story to tell you, but I beg you not to read it. Please, don’t. I know it sounds stupid, but by the time you understand why, it will be too late. I know this will not deter many of you, but without this simple warning to ease my conscience, I may not be able to go through with this.

And I desperately need to go through with this. Let me start at the beginning.

I have an old friend, Joe, who I’ve known since grade school. I’m in my late twenties – so is he – and he’s been my friend for at least half of that time. I’d say that we knew each other pretty well after all of that time. This may seem irrelevant and uninteresting, but I have to stress this; I know him, and I know him well. What he did was… it was nothing he ever could have done without some outside influence.

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On the night of Friday, January 23, I was driving to his apartment to pick him and his roommate up; we made plans to go out, hit a couple of bars, and generally have a good start to the weekend. When I arrived, there were a number of police cars and ambulances outside the complex. I was, of course, curious, as I, like many people, rarely see such sights. As I got closer, I noticed a body covered in a bag in the street, surrounded by glass and no more than a few feet from a badly dented car.

I’m rather horrified, coming to the conclusion that someone was hit by a car and killed right outside the complex. As I finished gawking, I made my way inside and up the stairs to the third floor. That’s where my friend’s apartment is, and that’s where I found it wasn’t a simple accident.

The police were upstairs as well, talking to residents and taping off one of the apartments. My friend’s apartment. Panicked, I asked one of the officers what happened, why my friend’s apartment was taped off. I told him I was supposed to be meeting them for drinks, and asked if they were okay. The officer told me that it appeared that Joe had butchered his roommate with a kitchen knife and thrown himself through the plate glass sliding door into the street below.

I was a ghost, shaken so badly I could barely answer the simple questions the officer asked me upon finding that I knew the victims. My mind couldn’t process it. I knew him. He’d never do such an atrocity. It didn’t make sense.

I made my way back to my car in silence and drove home as though on autopilot. I couldn’t get the shock of it all out of my head. My wife asked me what happened and I explained it to her. She was shocked as well, but… she didn’t know him like I did. I told her I needed a bit of time and went to my room. She let me be. Lost, I found myself at my computer. I’m not really sure why I did it, but I found myself checking his email.

I know the passwords he commonly used, so it was hardly an issue to find the right one. I thought perhaps he had friends online who I needed to tell, or maybe I thought I’d find a window into what caused this. I really don’t know. If I knew then what I know now; I would’ve never done what I did.

I scrolled through his inbox, looking for familiar names. Joe, I, and several friends kept in touch online, and I instantly recognized several of those names in the last few days. The most recently opened email was what looked like a spam email with an attachment and no other information. Curiosity got the better of me and I opened it. The file itself was a picture, named nothing but a seemingly random string of numbers. It was simply a man, seemingly normal at a glance, but the longer I stared at it, the more disturbed I became.

He stood, staring, with a grin, sinister and unsettling, with eyes that were both vacant and focused at the same time. That terrible grin seemed to widen the longer I stared, and for minutes I was fixated at that horrible face, eyes burning as they stared back at me with equal intensity. Finally, I tore my gaze away to find the only other thing in the email: a single word. A word I can’t repeat. Not yet. I need to tell my story.

I couldn’t take the sight of it anymore. I had to close it. The face was still looking at me; I swear I could still feel his grinning stare. As I went to log out of his email and put that horrid thing out of my mind, I noticed the time it arrived: January 23, 5:35pm. We were supposed to meet at six.

He likely saw this less than a half hour before he died.

For the next several days, I tried to get it out of my mind. I attended my friend’s funeral. I tried to go on with my life, but I kept feeling uneasy. Every time I closed my eyes, I felt like someone was watching me. At night, I started to have unsettling nightmares. I couldn’t remember much of them when I awoke, but they all had the same elements: that horrible grinning man, blood, violence, and death. I couldn’t get a good night’s sleep. I was struggling at work. I kept feeling tense and on edge. I needed to know what was going on.

It was hard to really know what to look for at first; all I had to go on was that image and the single word that accompanied it. “Grinning man” is hardly a descriptive search and “haunted grinning man” or “cursed grinning man” wasn’t really any better. Still, I did what I could with my limited resources.

I actually found a reference to it, or what I thought was it, on a website dedicated to conspiracies and paranormal things and other things I’d normally dismiss as utter bullshit. Still, this wasn’t natural, and I was willing to try to open my mind to any explanation, since this seemed to defy anything conventional. What I uncovered about this “grinning man” was that it was an image that seemed to circulate among image boards and forums a few years back. The article said the picture was harmless, if not a bit creepy (though I strongly disagree on the term “a bit”), but it seemed that something about it, when coupled with a key word that was unknown, could trigger extreme psychotic bouts, irritability, nightmares, and hallucinations.

It seemed so utterly stupid – simple text and pixels causing such harm – and yet I was sitting there, realizing that I was experiencing those same nightmares, irritability, and hallucinations. Joe obviously experienced the psychosis, evidenced by his sudden murder-suicide.

I was stunned; I thought it had to be a joke, some kind of bizarre hoax, but I knew there was more to it than that. I knew what I was feeling and I knew my friend. That picture and that word… it had to be the keyword. What triggers everything? Oh, God, was this going to happen to me, too? Was I going to kill my wife and then myself?

I started to panic, but my rational mind won over. If it was just paranoia and hallucinations… those couldn’t hurt me, right? They only had power if I gave them power. I decided that I would end this, put it out of my mind, rationalize it away each time I felt it. That would be the end of it all.

As much as my rational brain helped me through the day, it couldn’t protect me at night. My dreams continued to degrade, ending in me waking in the middle of the night, cold sweats and heart pounding. I started taking sleeping pills, though I refused to tell my wife – I didn’t want her to worry, though I knew she could tell something was wrong with me. The pills did nothing, though; in fact, they seemed to make my dreams more vivid. I could remember everything when I awoke; every horrible, bloody detail, that grinning, inhuman face. I found I started sleepwalking. The first night I woke curled in the bathtub; then in the kitchen. Three days later, with a knife in my hand and the bloodied remains of our black Lab at my feet.

I can’t even remember the next things that happened after that. I know I cleaned up our dog, hid him in a trash bag, and said he ran off in the night and got lost. I was terrified. I had no idea what to do. I tried to medicate myself heavily. I locked up all the knives in the house. My wife knew there was something terribly wrong, but I refused to say anything. I don’t even know if I could at the time.

The only thing I can still remember clearly was the dreams. I was irate and easily spooked at the littlest of things. I thought it had to just be my nerves from all of this and lack of sleep, but… I remembered my friend, the website. I knew I was getting worse.

The thing I remember most about the dreams, aside from that horrible grinning man, is the emotions. I felt each death that was inflicted in the dream like it was real. Like it was my own hand disemboweling my friends, my family, and random strangers against my own will.

Like each death, each vision of terror he showed me, was not just a vision but my own work. Each horrible death in the dream made him grin a little wider. He wanted me to snap. He wanted me to become exactly what he was showing me. He wanted me to become him.

So, I come here to tell you this because I’m desperate. I need help. You see… I can’t bear the thought of harming my wife, the woman I love most in this world. Yet, I know it’s inevitable. He’s always there, watching and grinning, knowing I’m close to breaking, and nudging me ever closer to the edge. I know what he wants. I can’t let him have that. I don’t know any other way out.

I’m reaching out to you in hopes that he’ll leave me alone. Maybe if you, the careless reader who I warned away, will give him what he wants, he’ll let me be. I have to try. I don’t know what else to do. I’m so sorry. I hope you can forgive a man for acting in desperation.

 

creepypasta

6.   The Goat Man – Author Unknown

(This one is long but oh so good!)

Here’s my story:

>be 16
>be black and have family down in Alabama
>they farm and own a huge amount of land down in Huntsville
>uncle owns a big house and a bunch of trailers they put out in the woods for hunting or camping
>down south cousins suggest that we go out there to camp
>know I’m a city kid from Chicago so they tease the fuck out of me
>collect food, kill a pig and some chickens, and bring necessities to camp out for a few days
>we get to the camp and it’s obvious something is weird
>air has this weird electric smell like right before a storm, like ozone
>we think nothing of it and unpack and go down to a little creek to swim for a few hours
>All of a sudden some older white guy and a white teenager come out of the bushes
>he has a shotgun in the crook of his arm and says hello and ask us what we’re doing this far back in the woods
>tell him about my uncle, who he knows, and say we’re camping out
>he tells us we need to be real careful out here and stick together there was a big animal in the woods
>His son, who is my age asks if he can stay and hang out with us
>he says OK

I’m going to stop greentexting because the story is fairly long and the format is harder to write in.

So we end up playing football. Dicking around with me, there’s the white kid “Tanner”, five of my cousins, and then four of their friends. In total, there were five girls and six boys. We all were around 15-17.

We ended up just dicking the day away. So, we head back to the camp and pulling out some stuff for a campfire, even though the trailers both had kitchenettes. Tanner says that his family’s property sits up against my uncle’s. He wants to run home and ask his dad if he can come out camping with us. My cousin Rooster says he’s going to go with him since it’s going to get dark soon. One of the girls also wants to tag along.

It’s about 7 o’clock, and it’s starting to get pretty dark. They take flashlights and take the trail toward Tan’s property. The rest of us chill. We make smores, drink and kiss on the girls.

About thirty or forty minutes later, there’s the smell of ozone again. You could smell it over the smell of the fire we had started. This really nasty, coppery smell like right after you’ve had a nosebleed and it’s stopped. It wasn’t exactly like dried blood, but it was that nasty metallic, back-of-your-throat smell.

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We immediately think that it’s some kind of electrical malfunction, or someone left a hotplate on or some shit. We search the trailers and nothing is on, and we can all smell it. All of a sudden, we can hear people booking down the path toward us, and Rooster, Tan and the girl all come running into the clearing, out of breath. And they don’t even break stride; they all run into the trailer, right by where the fire is.

We all get the fuck outta there and into the trailers. They end up calming down; even Rooster is crying his fucking eyes out at this point. All the while, the fire is guttering lower and lower, so my other cousins say fuck it and are about to go outside to get the generator out of a shed between the trailers.

Tanner goes, “Fuck no! Lock the front door, ain’t nobody else going outside!” He’s been crying too, and his eyes are bloodshot and puffy and his pants are dirty as shit.

He goes on to tell us that they went up to his house. His father said sure, he could go out camping, but to make sure they were careful on the way back, and that maybe they should take one of the hunting rifles just in case.

Evidently, Tanner had seen something in their yard a few days before. One of their pigs had come up, ripped up and half eaten. They assumed it was just some big cats or coyotes, even though they don’t usually fuck with live animals.

He had gone upstairs and packed his stuff, and told his dad they would be OK without the rifle because coyotes avoid people. So they started walking back toward where we were camping.

So, Rooster finally stops crying and shaking; the girl already had, but she was just staring out the window with a dumb look on her face. He says they had gotten halfway into the woods toward the camp when they started to hear shit in the forest. It was almost pitch black by this time, so they weren’t sure at first what the fuck it was. The girl says that she heard something in the bushes right off the trail and they all beamed their flashlights over there and there was someone standing back in the woods in a little hollow. Rooster said they shouted at him and told him that he was scaring the fuck out of them and what a dick he was.

He says that’s when he realized that the guy was facing away from them. So they keep walking, and they start smelling the nasty coppery ozone smell. They say that they look off into the forest on the opposite side, and it’s a dude standing in the forest, backward slightly closer to the path.

So now they start powerwalking and Tan keeps going, “I should have taken the fucking rifle.”

As they’re telling the story, the smell is still super strong even inside the cabin.

They say that after they started walking faster, a kind of low gibbering had started coming from both sides of the wood. And as they started booking it back to the trailer, the girl said she had flashed her flashlight out into the woods to the side of them and had seen something jerking itself through the woods. The gibbering just got louder and louder, and when they could see the light from our camp fire, something had come out of the woods about 40 yards behind them onto the track, and they had just flat out ran as hard as they could to the trailer.

So we’re out in the fucking woods, and we’re assuming at this point it’s some rednecks or some shit trying to fuck with us.

All of a sudden, my other cousin, Junior, starts going on about how he went to school with a native kid that was telling him about the ‘Goatman’ or some shit. We promptly tell him to shut the fuck up because we don’t need any spooky talk right now.

But he just keeps going on and on about how it’s the fucking ‘Goatman,’ and how we’re in his woods and blah, blah, blah. Now at the time, I had never heard of this goat man or any of that, but then a couple years ago — the year before I graduated from college — I had a Menom for a roommate and I ended up asking him about it. And to sum it up, it’s basically a fucking man with the head of a goat and he can shape shift and he gets among groups of people to terrorize them. It’s also supposed to be kind of like the Wendigo, and it’s bad mojo to even talk about it and even worse if you see it.

Keep in mind, I didn’t know this back when I was sixteen. So my cousin is going, “The goat man’s going to get in and fucking get us.” The girls are all terrified and my cousins and I are all fucking trying to figure out if it’s just some hillbillies or if it’s some animal.

So all of a sudden the smell just goes away. Like to this day, I haven’t even experienced anything like it. Like, usually smells fade away or lessen. It just literally was there one second and then not the second.

So it’s after an hour, making it around 9 or 10. We’ve stopped shitting bricks enough to go back outside and stoke the fire again. We figure it was just some assholes trying to fuck with us, so we don’t go back home, because we think if we do, they’ll chase us through the woods or some crazy shit.

Nothing else weird happens that night. And we stay another night, and for the main part of the night nothing happens. At about 1 in the morning, we’re outside getting drunk and telling ghost stories. As someone is finishing some 2spooky story — I don’t remember what about — the smell comes back. It’s so fucking strong, that one of the girls literally starts vomiting.

I stand up, and you can actually feel how clammy the air is. I say we should get inside and this isn’t right; we should have just fucking left.

We all go back inside, and we’re standing around. My cousin just keeps going on about how it’s the goat man. And my cousin Rooster tries to shut him the fuck up, and all the while I’m just feeling that something is wrong, and I can’t figure out what the fuck it is.

We end up sitting in there for a while; the smell is just as strong, and we’re terrified and all huddled in this camper. We end up cooking brats for everybody because nobody wants to go outside. It’s one of those packs with four brats. We have a total of 3 packs. I grill them up on the stove and give everybody a hot dog. I get mine. After a while, one of my cousins gets up and goes over to the pot to get another one.

He starts grumbling about about how I get two brats and everybody else only got one, and I look at him like he’s fucking stupid. I tell him that everybody only got one because there were only 12 brats, if he wants more he should open up a new pack and cook some more.

That’s when the girl that had been out with Rooster and Tan just starts screaming, “OH JESUS, OH LORD, GET IT OUT!” She’s crying and shivering, and then it dawns on the cousin standing up what the fuck is wrong. Me and him both glance around the room, and then I feel my heart fucking sink. I run the fuck out of the cabin and the girl runs out with us. The trailer door is banging against the side of the trailer as everybody books out of the cabin.

One of my cousin’s friends ask us what the fuck was wrong. I start counting us. There’s only 11 now.

“I shit you not,” my cousin verified. There had been twelve people in the cabin. But being that everybody didn’t really know each other well, nobody had really noticed the whole fucking time that there was an extra person. And then I realized earlier that I had kind of noticed something was off. You know how when you’re just dicking around having a good time that you don’t sweat the smallest shit, and you don’t always keep track of certain stuff? I’m dead sure that someone else had been in the trailer with us, and that they had been there for at least a fucking day, eating with us. What makes it worse is, I could figure out which one because I don’t think anyone ever actually interacted with the other person/the Goat-man.

The girl kept praying to Jesus and we’re all sitting outside; eventually we get big-ass sticks and go back in the cabin, but there’s nobody in there. We count again, and there’s 11 people. We go back into the trailer and lock the door. We explain what the fuck happened, and the girl says that she realized too, and that when he was about to say something, the person sitting next to her had grabbed her leg hard and leaned over toward her and said something she couldn’t understand.

So we are pretty much scared as fuck as we huddle together, and I fall asleep. When I wake up, the sun is just coming up, and half the people are asleep and the other half are packing our shit up.

We all want to walk back home, but like four people want to stay until the sun is all the way up. And some people think that we’re just fucking around and still want to stay at the trailers. I just want to get the fuck out of the woods.

The girl’s name was Keira, the one that the Goat-man had touched. Anyway, I asked her if she really thinks it was something bad, and she says she just wants to go home and she doesn’t want to be out in the woods alone for another night.

So we decide to split up; the four that want to go can go, but I have to stay because I have the keys to the cabin and it’s my uncle’s and I have to lock up. I’m super pissed at this point, because I feel like people aren’t taking this shit seriously, and I definitely didn’t want to be out in the woods for another night. I spend the rest of the day trying to convince the rest of the people — now 4 girls and four guys — to get the fuck out of dodge. Tanner leaves with them to go get a rifle and says he’s going to be back. So there are just 7 of us left by 4 PM.

At around 5 PM he hasn’t made it back yet, and we’re getting extremely fucking antsy, and the only reason I stopped begging them to go back was because he went to get a gun.

it’s about 5:30 PM or so, when the one cousin that did stay says that the girl Keira is outside. We all look outside, and sure enough, she’s standing by the firepit with her back to the cabin.

I’m thinking to myself, if she was so fucking scared, why the hell would she come back? And then I get this nasty feeling in my gut. Keep in mind, the whole time the coppery smell has been gone. Now I realize I can smell just a twinge of it.

I say this to the rest of them and everybody — and these are the people that wanted to stay in the fucking woods after we had the goddamn Goatman in our midst — is laughing at me and asking if I set this up to scare them.

I’m looking at them like, “I’m not fucking bullshitting you at all right now.” I ask them why the fuck would I play like that? So one of the girls goes outside to get Kiera. She gets halfway to her and stops cold. Keira starts heaving; I don’t know how the fuck to describe it. Sort of like if someone with their back turned was laughing without actually making any sound. It was this fact that made me realize there was not a fucking sound in the whole woods; it was dead silent.

This was like later in September, so it was still fairly hot at the time, but it was super chilly some days too. And you could usually hear big-ass geese honking or some kind of birds or squirrels chitchatting.

So I step out the door and tell her to come back in the fucking trailer right goddamn now.

She backs up into the trailer and we lock the fucking door. We pull down all the shades except one, and put a guy there in a chair to watch her. She stands there for another 20 minutes or so. The guy turns to say that she’s still there. And there’s a HUGE fucking bang on the door.

We all jump the fuck up and scramble around the living room of the trailer. The banging is super fucking loud.

So now my cousin is holding one of the girls and the other two are kinda giggling with nervous laughter and me and the other two guys are shitting brix.

Then we hear Tan. He’s screaming.

“LET ME THE FUCK IN, STOP FUCKING PLAYING!”

So we go over to the door and open it, and he stumbles in with a rifle. There’s nobody else outside.

Evidently, he had walked up to the campsite. Nothing weird happened in the forest, but he had seen a girl. Mind you, he said it was not Keira standing there. When he had gotten to the edge of the clearing, she had turned toward him with the slackjawed look and just stared him down, slowly tracking him as he walked around the outside of the clearing towards the camp. He said it wasn’t till he was almost halfway to the trailer he had realized that she was getting closer to him. She had started off by the fire, and without him even seeing her move she had been turning, inching closer. He said he just ran the rest of the way back to the cabin thinking it would open. And when he got to the door and it was locked, he turned and it was about half the distance to the door.

He looks around the room and then gets super pale. He pulls me to the side and whispers in my ear, “You know there are only seven of us in here, right?” I get that feeling where you stomach drops to your nuts. It had been back inside the trailer while we were sorting out who was going where, and then when we all went outside to talk earlier in the day. It has just slipped right back in.

We looked out the window and there is nobody out there. So we recount everyone and then basically, I go over and ask everyone how many people were here earlier. And everybody says 8. I say, “Well, how many are here now?” They all do the count and then realize there are only now seven people in the cabin.

So Tan had brought back a couple boxes of ammo and his rifle. And he had told his dad that there was some kind of animal in the forest because he didn’t think his dad would believe him if he said it was Goatman. He says that his cousin is supposed to be coming down in a few hours and that in the morning we can all go back to his place and his cousin will drive us home.

Now I’m really fucking terrified, but I at least feel better because we can be American and shoot the fuck out of whatever it is if it comes back. But then my cousin gets into this huge argument with one of the girls because she thinks that I’m trying to be funny and prank them, and that she’s getting really scared and that I’m not funny. He keeps telling her I’m not that kind of person, and she says, “Well, how do we know the girl wasn’t just Tanner in a wig? Or if it’s really the Goatman, how do we know that this is the real Tanner and that Goatman just didn’t kill Tanner in the woods and take his gun?”

So we fucking get into a huge argument about this, where me and Tan are like, “we could seriously be in danger because at the very least someone has been sneaking themselves into our fucking trailer without us knowing and mingling with us, and at worst, something bad is in the forest fucking with us.”

One of the girls is crying and saying she wants to go right now, and we’re trying to tell her we shouldn’t because none of us are walking through the woods in the middle of the night. At this point the sun is starting to go down and it’s getting a little cloudy out.

We eat something and turn on the radio for a while, but we can’t really get a station out there with anything decent. So we turn it off at about the time that Tan’s cousin shows up. He was like 19, I think. At this point, the sun is just barely over the horizon and he has one of those heavy duty lantern flashlights and another rifle. He walks up to the trailer and we whisper to Tan asking if he’s sure that’s his cousin and he says yes.

The guy looks behind him and all around the camp, then walks in. He kind of glances at all of us and looks a little confused.

He says, “Where’s your other little buddy at? I figured she would meet me up at the cabin. Is she a little slow or something?” He also asked whether we had been cooking blood in the cabin, because it smelled like blood and hot pans all the way up the trail. We are all like fucking “NOPE.” But we ask him what the fuck he’s talking about with the girl he saw.

He had come down the same trail Tan had been using and he had come up on “one of youse guy’s buddies” standing in the middle of the trail, looking at him slack jawed. He had asked her a bunch of questions, but all she did was just look at him. Then, she smiled at him and he said he kept walking. She couldn’t seem to keep up with him and kept lagging a little behind him. He said he asked her if she was hurt or something, and if she needed any help. But, she had continued to stare. Eventually, he had been walking and turned around a bend in the trail. But when he turned around and went back to see if she was okay, the trail was empty. He’d assumed she had taken some short cut through the woods to our trailer.

We tell him the whole story of what’s been going on. I half expected him to say we were full of shit, but he just listened and then sat down on the couches in the living room.

Tanner’s cousin gets back to the girl. He says, when she had kept trying to lag behind him, it had kinda weirded him the fuck out, so he tried to keep her in front of him, but no matter how slow he walked, she was always lagging a little behind. And that he smelled this nasty smell, and it got stronger as he got to the camp. Eventually it got really strong. She had said something really low that he didn’t catch, and when he had turned around she had been right the fuck up on him, and he stepped back from her.

It was at this point he asked her if she was okay, and if she wasn’t, him to carry her back the rest of the way, and she just kept staring. He said he reached out for her, as in to grab her on the shoulder, but he must have “misjudged the distance” because she was off to the side of where he had put his hand, like she had moved while he was looking dead at her.

So at this point, we know this shit’s real, unless Tan is playing a joke, which we can tell he’s not because he’s almost pissing his pants.

So they load up their rifles, we eat some more, and we just kind of sit around until about 11. To this fucking day, every time I think about this, I really pray to God that it’s some huge prank that my cousins played on me and just never revealed so I would shit for the rest of my life.

At ’round 11, the stink of copper turns into an actual nasty gross blood-like smell, like cooking blood and singed hair. Tan and his cousin, Reese, get the fuck up instantly and grab the rifles.

There’s like a half-knocking, half-clawing at the door, and I shit you not, there’s this voice, and it sounds like when you see those YouTube cats and dogs whose owners teach them how to “talk.” It says in this halting, weirdly toned voice, “Let me the fuck in, stop fucking playing.”

It made my fucking nuts creep up against my body, and one of the girls just starts crying and calling on Jesus.

It was so fucking obviously not a person talking. It didn’t have the right cadence, and that’s some shit that I never realized until that moment, but all people have a certain cadence when they talk, no matter what language. All people have a certain kind of rhythm to talking.

This shit didn’t have any kind of cadence or rhythm. One of those YouTube cats, that’s what the fuck it sounded like outside the door. So now I’m in full on terror mode. We keep yelling outside, “Who is it? Stop fucking around, man!” and it just keeps saying, “in” or “Let me the fuck in” for almost 15 minutes.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qff9V27Weaw

It sounded like this almost, just not funny. Sorry for being on a tangent, but if you can’t imagine how this shit sounded, then you can’t imagine how fucked up the whole situation was.

So then the smell goes away for a while. And for the next hour or so, you can hear someone basically creeping around in the woods and shit. Every couple minutes it’ll come back into the door, and say something.

Finally when the smell fades away, it’s around 2 in the morning right now. Reese says, “Man, fuck this!” and opens the door and walks outside with his rifle.

He fires a shot into the air, and says something to the effect of, “In the name of Jesus Christ, go away!” He fires two more times, and then from the woods right up against the river across from the trailer, it sounds like something is slowly jibbering and hooting.

Then it starts screaming and it sounds almost like a woman and a cat in a bag screaming together. Like I seriously have never heard any shit like that, and you can hear the brush over that way start to shake, Reese fires over into the treeline and then starts backing into the house.

We lock the door, and we can hear this shit keening and screaming. Reese says something had come out of the bushes, super low to the ground and crawling toward the cabin. He had shot at it.

Pretty much, that was how the rest of the night went; it was literally screaming constantly for the next two hours, and we could hear shit moving out into the treeline. But it never came back up to the cabin until everyone had finally fallen asleep.

Tan had been sitting in the chair watching the door with his rifle; nobody else heard or saw this, and he told me two days later, after the whole thing was over.

He said he had been nodding off after the screaming and noises finally stopped, and he had been almost asleep when he saw someone come out of the bathroom and then lay down in the middle of the floor and go to sleep. He just assumed it was one of us and he had nodded off.

Then he said he kind of realized something was wrong, and while pretending to be sleeping, he counted us. There were 9 people in the cabin. He basically didn’t want to try to shoot at the fucking thing in the cabin and have it kill us all then and there, or have Reese wake up and start shooting and then we kill ourselves. So he just stayed awake all night, pretending to be asleep.

He said sometimes, it would stand up and kind of do this weird jittery thing, or heave like it was laughing. But then it would lay back down.

The story closes pretty weak, because from my perspective nothing happened. We woke up. And I noticed that Tan was a little jittery, and that he was avoiding looking at all of us. But we ate some breakfast, packed up and started walking to his house. He stayed last in the cabin and said he’d lock up and bring me my uncle’s keys; to just start walking and he’d catch up. Which I didn’t really want to fucking do.

We got a little bit up the path, and when he came running up, basically we just jogged back to his house. His cousin took us home.

There was a window in the bathroom. Tan had gone back to lock up and looked in there. We were too stupid to lock a screenless window. The window was fucking up when he went in there.

I’m guessing it had been doing that all along, waiting for us to fall asleep or slip up and then getting in among us. It walked with us all the Goddamn way back to his house, and then he said it lagged to the back of the group and looked him dead in the eyes before walking into the woods.

creepypasta

7.   Russian Sleep Experiment – Original Author Unknown

Russian researchers in the late 1940s kept five people awake for fifteen days using an experimental gas based stimulant. They were kept in a sealed environment to carefully monitor their oxygen intake so the gas didn’t kill them, since it was toxic in high concentrations. This was before closed circuit cameras so they had only microphones and five inch thick glass porthole sized windows into the chamber to monitor them. The chamber was stocked with books, cots to sleep on but no bedding, running water and toilet, and enough dried food to last all five for over a month.

The test subjects were political prisoners deemed enemies of the state during World War II.

Everything was fine for the first five days; the subjects hardly complained having been promised (falsely) that they would be freed if they submitted to the test and did not sleep for 30 days. Their conversations and activities were monitored and it was noted that they continued to talk about increasingly traumatic incidents in their past, and the general tone of their conversations took on a darker aspect after the four day mark.

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After five days they started to complain about the circumstances and events that lead them to where they were and started to demonstrate severe paranoia. They stopped talking to each other and began alternately whispering to the microphones and one way mirrored portholes. Oddly they all seemed to think they could win the trust of the experimenters by turning over their comrades, the other subjects in captivity with them. At first the researchers suspected this was an effect of the gas itself…

After nine days the first of them started screaming. He ran the length of the chamber repeatedly yelling at the top of his lungs for three hours straight, he continued attempting to scream but was only able to produce occasional squeaks. The researchers postulated that he had physically torn his vocal cords. The most surprising thing about this behavior is how the other captives reacted to it… or rather didn’t react to it. They continued whispering to the microphones until the second of the captives started to scream. The two non-screaming captives took the books apart, smeared page after page with their own feces and pasted them calmly over the glass portholes. The screaming promptly stopped.

So did the whispering to the microphones.

After three more days passed. The researchers checked the microphones hourly to make sure they were working, since they thought it impossible that no sound could be coming with five people inside. The oxygen consumption in the chamber indicated that all five must still be alive. In fact it was the amount of oxygen five people would consume at a very heavy level of strenuous exercise. On the morning of the 14th day the researchers did something they said they would not do to get a reaction from the captives, they used the intercom inside the chamber, hoping to provoke any response from the captives they were afraid were either dead or vegetables.

They announced: “We are opening the chamber to test the microphones; step away from the door and lie flat on the floor or you will be shot. Compliance will earn one of you your immediate freedom.”

To their surprise they heard a single phrase in a calm voice response: “We no longer want to be freed.”

Debate broke out among the researchers and the military forces funding the research. Unable to provoke any more response using the intercom it was finally decided to open the chamber at midnight on the fifteenth day.

The chamber was flushed of the stimulant gas and filled with fresh air and immediately voices from the microphones began to object. 3 different voices began begging, as if pleading for the life of loved ones to turn the gas back on. The chamber was opened and soldiers sent in to retrieve the test subjects. They began to scream louder than ever, and so did the soldiers when they saw what was inside. Four of the five subjects were still alive, although no one could rightly call the state that any of them in ‘life.’

The food rations past day five had not been so much as touched. There were chunks of meat from the dead test subject’s thighs and chest stuffed into the drain in the center of the chamber, blocking the drain and allowing four inches of water to accumulate on the floor. Precisely how much of the water on the floor was actually blood was never determined. All four ‘surviving’ test subjects also had large portions of muscle and skin torn away from their bodies. The destruction of flesh and exposed bone on their finger tips indicated that the wounds were inflicted by hand, not with teeth as the researchers initially thought. Closer examination of the position and angles of the wounds indicated that most if not all of them were self-inflicted.

The abdominal organs below the ribcage of all four test subjects had been removed. While the heart, lungs and diaphragm remained in place, the skin and most of the muscles attached to the ribs had been ripped off, exposing the lungs through the ribcage. All the blood vessels and organs remained intact, they had just been taken out and laid on the floor, fanning out around the eviscerated but still living bodies of the subjects. The digestive tract of all four could be seen to be working, digesting food. It quickly became apparent that what they were digesting was their own flesh that they had ripped off and eaten over the course of days.

Most of the soldiers were Russian special operatives at the facility, but still many refused to return to the chamber to remove the test subjects. They continued to scream to be left in the chamber and alternately begged and demanded that the gas be turned back on, lest they fall asleep…

To everyone’s surprise the test subjects put up a fierce fight in the process of being removed from the chamber. One of the Russian soldiers died from having his throat ripped out, another was gravely injured by having his testicles ripped off and an artery in his leg severed by one of the subject’s teeth. Another 5 of the soldiers lost their lives if you count ones that committed suicide in the weeks following the incident.

In the struggle one of the four living subjects had his spleen ruptured and he bled out almost immediately. The medical researchers attempted to sedate him but this proved impossible. He was injected with more than ten times the human dose of a morphine derivative and still fought like a cornered animal, breaking the ribs and arm of one doctor. When heart was seen to beat for a full two minutes after he had bled out to the point there was more air in his vascular system than blood. Even after it stopped he continued to scream and flail for another three minutes, struggling to attack anyone in reach and just repeating the word “MORE” over and over, weaker and weaker, until he finally fell silent.

The surviving three test subjects were heavily restrained and moved to a medical facility, the two with intact vocal cords continuously begging for the gas demanding to be kept awake…

The most injured of the three was taken to the only surgical operating room that the facility had. In the process of preparing the subject to have his organs placed back within his body it was found that he was effectively immune to the sedative they had given him to prepare him for the surgery. He fought furiously against his restraints when the anesthetic gas was brought out to put him under. He managed to tear most of the way through a four inch wide leather strap on one wrist, even through the weight of a 200 pound soldier holding that wrist as well. It took only a little more anesthetic than normal to put him under, and the instant his eyelids fluttered and closed, his heart stopped. In the autopsy of the test subject that died on the operating table it was found that his blood had triple the normal level of oxygen. His muscles that were still attached to his skeleton were badly torn and he had broken 9 bones in his struggle to not be subdued. Most of them were from the force his own muscles had exerted on them.

The second survivor had been the first of the group of five to start screaming. His vocal cords destroyed he was unable to beg or object to surgery, and he only reacted by shaking his head violently in disapproval when the anesthetic gas was brought near him. He shook his head yes when someone suggested, reluctantly, they try the surgery without anesthetic, and did not react for the entire six hour procedure of replacing his abdominal organs and attempting to cover them with what remained of his skin. The surgeon presiding stated repeatedly that it should be medically possible for the patient to still be alive. One terrified nurse assisting the surgery stated that she had seen the patients mouth curl into a smile several times, whenever his eyes met hers.

When the surgery ended the subject looked at the surgeon and began to wheeze loudly, attempting to talk while struggling. Assuming this must be something of drastic importance the surgeon had a pen and pad fetched so the patient could write his message. It was simple. “Keep cutting.”

The other two test subjects were given the same surgery, both without anesthetic as well. Although they had to be injected with a paralytic for the duration of the operation. The surgeon found it impossible to perform the operation while the patients laughed continuously. Once paralyzed the subjects could only follow the attending researchers with their eyes. The paralytic cleared their system in an abnormally short period of time and they were soon trying to escape their bonds. The moment they could speak they were again asking for the stimulant gas. The researchers tried asking why they had injured themselves, why they had ripped out their own guts and why they wanted to be given the gas again.

Only one response was given: “I must remain awake.”

All three subject’s restraints were reinforced and they were placed back into the chamber awaiting determination as to what should be done with them. The researchers, facing the wrath of their military ‘benefactors’ for having failed the stated goals of their project considered euthanizing the surviving subjects. The commanding officer, an ex-KGB instead saw potential, and wanted to see what would happen if they were put back on the gas. The researchers strongly objected, but were overruled.

In preparation for being sealed in the chamber again the subjects were connected to an EEG monitor and had their restraints padded for long term confinement. To everyone’s surprise all three stopped struggling the moment it was let slip that they were going back on the gas. It was obvious that at this point all three were putting up a great struggle to stay awake. One of subjects that could speak was humming loudly and continuously; the mute subject was straining his legs against the leather bonds with all his might, first left, then right, then left again for something to focus on. The remaining subject was holding his head off his pillow and blinking rapidly. Having been the first to be wired for EEG most of the researchers were monitoring his brain waves in surprise. They were normal most of the time but sometimes flat lined inexplicably. It looked as if he were repeatedly suffering brain death, before returning to normal. As they focused on paper scrolling out of the brainwave monitor only one nurse saw his eyes slip shut at the same moment his head hit the pillow. His brainwaves immediately changed to that of deep sleep, then flatlined for the last time as his heart simultaneously stopped.

The only remaining subject that could speak started screaming to be sealed in now. His brainwaves showed the same flatlines as one who had just died from falling asleep. The commander gave the order to seal the chamber with both subjects inside, as well as three researchers. One of the named three immediately drew his gun and shot the commander point blank between the eyes, then turned the gun on the mute subject and blew his brains out as well.

He pointed his gun at the remaining subject, still restrained to a bed as the remaining members of the medical and research team fled the room. “I won’t be locked in here with these things! Not with you!” he screamed at the man strapped to the table. “WHAT ARE YOU?” he demanded. “I must know!”

The subject smiled.

“Have you forgotten so easily?” the subject asked. “We are you. We are the madness that lurks within you all, begging to be free at every moment in your deepest animal mind. We are what you hide from in your beds every night. We are what you sedate into silence and paralysis when you go to the nocturnal haven where we cannot tread.”

The researcher paused. Then aimed at the subject’s heart and fired. The EEG flatlined as the subject weakly choked out, “So… nearly… free…”

creepypasta

8.  Footsteps – Dathan Auerbach

This is long, so I apologize for that. I’ve never had to tell this story with enough detail to actually explain it all the way, but it is true and it happened when I was about 6 years old.

In a quiet room if you press your ear against a pillow you can hear your heartbeat. As a kid, the muffled, rhythmic beats sounded like soft footsteps on a carpeted floor, and so as a kid almost every night – just as I was about to drift off to sleep – I would hear these footsteps and I would be ripped back to consciousness, terrified.

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For my entire childhood I lived with my mother in a fairly nice neighborhood that was in a transitional phase – people of lower economic means were gradually moving in, and my mother and I were two of these people. We lived in the kind of house you see being transported in two pieces on the interstate, but my mom took good care of it. There were a lot of woods surrounding the neighborhood that I would play in and explore during the day, but at night – as things often do to a kid – they took on a more sinister feeling. This coupled with the fact that, due to the nature of our house, there was a fairly large crawlspace underneath filled my mind with imaginary monsters and inescapable scenarios which would consume my thoughts when I was awoken by the footsteps.

I told my mom about the footsteps and she said that I was just imagining things; I persisted enough that she blasted my ears with water from a turkey baster once just to placate me, since I thought that would help. Of course it didn’t. Despite all the creepiness and footsteps the only weird thing that ever happened was that every now and then I would wake up on the bottom bunk despite having gone to sleep on the top, but this wasn’t really weird since I’d sometimes get up to piss or get something to drink and could remember just going back to sleep on the bottom bunk (I’m an only child so it didn’t matter). This would happen once or twice a week, but waking up on the bottom bunk wasn’t too terrifying. But one night I didn’t wake up on the bottom bunk.

I had heard the footsteps but was too far gone to be woken up by them, and when I was awoken it wasn’t from the sound of footsteps or a nightmare, but because I was cold. Really cold. When I opened my eyes I saw stars. I was in the woods. I sat up immediately and tried to figure out what was going on. I thought I was dreaming, but that didn’t seem right, though neither did me being in the woods. There was a deflated pool float right in front of me – one of those ones shaped like a shark. This only added to the surreal feeling, but after a while it seemed like I just wasn’t going to wake up because I wasn’t asleep. I stood up to orient myself, but I didn’t recognize these woods. I played in the woods by my house all the time and so I knew them really well, but if these weren’t the same woods then how could I get out? I took a step and felt a shooting pain in my foot which knocked me back to where I had just been laying. I had stepped on a thorn. By the light of the moon I could see that they were everywhere. I looked at my other foot but it was fine, and as a matter of fact so was the rest of me. I didn’t have another scratch on me and I wasn’t even that dirty. I cried for a little bit and then stood back up.

I didn’t know which way to go so I just picked a direction. I resisted the urge to call out since I wasn’t sure I wanted to be found by who or what might be out there

I walked for what seemed like hours.

I tried to walk in a straight line, and tried to course-correct when I had to take detours, but I was a kid and I was afraid. There weren’t any howls or screams, and only once did I hear any noise that scared me. It sounded like a crying baby. I think now that it was just a cat, but I panicked. I ran veering in different directions to avoid big thicks of bushes and collapsed trees. And I was paying close attention to where I stepped because by that point my feet were in pretty bad shape. I paid too much attention to where I was stepping and not enough to where those steps were leading because not long after hearing the cry I saw something that filled me with a kind of despair I haven’t experienced since. It was the pool float.

I was only 10 feet from where I had woken up.

This wasn’t magic or some supernatural space-bending. I was lost. Up until that moment I thought more about getting out of the woods than how I got in, but being back at the beginning caused my mind to swim. I wasn’t even sure that these were my woods; I had only been hoping that they were. Had I run in a huge circle around that spot, or did I just get turned around and start making my way back? How was I going to get out? At the time I thought the north star was just the brightest star, and so I looked and found the brightest one and followed it.

Eventually things started to look more familiar and when I saw “the ditch” (a dirt ditch my friends and I would have dirt-clod wars in) I knew I had made it out. By that point I was walking really slowly because my feet hurt so much, but I was so happy to be so close to home that I broke into a light jog. When I actually saw the roof of my house over a neighboring, lower-set house I let out a light sob and ran faster. I just wanted to be home. I had already decided that I wouldn’t say anything because I had no idea what I could possibly say. I would get back in the house somehow, clean up, and get in bed. My heart sunk as I rounded the corner and my house came fully into view.

Every light in the house was on.

I knew my mom was up, and I knew I would have to explain (or try to explain) where I had been, and I couldn’t even figure out where to start. My run became a jog which became a walk. I saw her silhouette through the blinds, and although I was worried about how to explain things to her that didn’t matter to me at that point. I walked up the couple of steps to the porch and put my hand on the doorknob and turned. Right before I pushed it open two arms wrapped around me and pulled me back. I screamed as loud as I could: “MOM! HELP ME! PLEASE! MOM!” The feeling of being so close to being safe and then being physically pulled away from it filled me with a kind of dread that is, even after all these years, indescribable.

The door I had been torn away from opened, and a flash of hope shot through my heart. But it wasn’t my mom.

It was a man, and he was enormous. I thrashed around and kicked at the shins of the person holding me while also trying to get away from the person who had just come out of my house. I was scared, but I was furious. “LET ME GO! WHERE IS SHE? WHERE’S MY MOM? WHAT’D YOU DO TO HER!?” As my throat stung from screaming and I was drawing in another breath I became aware of a sound that had been present for longer than I had perceived it. “Honey, please calm down. I’ve got you.” It sounded like my mom.

The arms loosened and set me down, and as man approaching me blocked out the porch light with his head I noticed his clothes. He was a cop. I turned to face the voice behind me and saw that it really was my mom. Everything was ok. I began to cry, and the three of us went inside.

“I’m so glad you’re home, Sweetie. I was worried I’d never see you again.” By that point she was crying too.

“I’m sorry, I don’t know what happened. I just wanted to come home. I’m sorry.”

“It’s ok, just don’t ever do that again. I’m not sure me or my shins could take it…”

A little laughter broke through my sobs and I smiled a bit. “Well I’m sorry for kicking you, but why’d you have to grab me like that?!”

“I was just afraid that you’d run away again.”

I was confused. “What do you mean?”

“We found your note on your pillow,” she said, and pointed at the piece of paper that the police officer was sliding across the table.

I picked up the note and read it. It was a “running away” letter. It said that I was unhappy never wanted to see her or any of my friends again. The police officer exchanged a few words with my mom on the porch while I stared at the letter. I didn’t remember writing a letter. I didn’t remember anything about any of this. But even if I sometimes went to the bathroom at night and didn’t remember, or even if I could have gone into the woods on my own, even if all that could have been true, the only thing I knew at that point was,

“This isn’t how you spell my name . . . I didn’t write this letter.”