Ever since this event, I’ve been kind of paranoid. I don’t like my feet to be uncovered in bed, and I hate going barefoot. In fact, I can’t seem to stop thinking about something grabbing or biting my ankles when their exposed.
Let me tell you why.
A few years ago, the year was 2011, I lived in a scarcely wooded area in Southern Michigan. We weren’t too far from civilization, but we were far enough that we had plenty of privacy. Plus, it was always quiet.
We had lived at the place since I was born. It was my childhood home – All my memories come from that small house. I didn’t mind the dilapidated wood and creepy nights. My siblings and I had a lot of fun playing hide and seek, tag, or simply pretending to fight off trolls and dragons. A nerd in training.
One weekend, I believe it was a Saturday night, my parents invited friends over. They did this sometimes – They would barbecque ribs and pork tenderloins and drink with friends from work. It was fun. Rarely did it ever get too wild.
But it always meant that none of us were getting much sleep that night. They were loud, and I was too much of a light sleeper. So, I could have either stayed in bed and tried to go to sleep, or stay up with them.
I decided I would take my two little brothers out to the nearby woods for a game of hide and seek. Now, these woods are very thin and we had grown up in them. We didn’t think it was too spooky or strange to be running around and playing hide and seek in the woods at dark.
I decided to be it. I loved hiding and seeking, but those other two always threw a fit when either of them had to seek first. I didn’t mind. I nestled my arms and head into a tree and started counting out loud, the sound of my parents’ gathering still audible in the distance.
I could hear those two running around, trying to decide where to go. Eventually, their footsteps faded away and they found their places.
After thirty anxious counts, I turned to the darkness of the forest and scanned my surroundings.
My heart sank.
I guess I hadn’t realized it while my eyes were closed, but I was alone. In the dark. In the middle of the woods. Or maybe I was just getting a little spooked because my parents’ noise had died down a bit.
I swallowed hard, determined to find my brothers as soon as possible. We might just have to cut this game short.
The first spot to check that came to my mind was the old shack about five minutes out. I knew that’s where one of them had to be – The shack had always been off limits, and making it off limits seemed to make them think it was the best possible hiding spot.
I was hesitant to walk further away from the house, but the sooner I found those boys, the sooner I could get home.
After a few minutes of walking, I came upon the old shack. It was run down and decades old. The wood was falling apart in places, and animals had made their marks on it, whether it was with claws or horns.
“Jason?” I called. You never know when you can get them to giggle or accidentally call back and give away their position.
There was no response. I smiled and stepped closer very quietly.
Again I called, “Jason?”
Suddenly, his pale face appeared through a whole in the wood wall. His eyes were darting all over the place. Finally, he stared at me and waved for me to get inside.
“Found you!” I laughed.
“Sshhh!” He shushed me. “Get in here!”
I gave him a confused look. “Why? Come on out, I found you!”
He whispered loudly at me again, “Just GET in here!”
I rolled my eyes and walked inside. The moment I stepped through the doorway, he pulled me inside and shut the door. Then he shoved an old 2 by 4 against the door latch.
“What’s your problem?!” I found myself whispering, too.
He put a finger to his lips to quiet me and pointed out of the hole he had just been speaking through.
Confused and irritated, I got up on my knees and peeked through the large hole.
Immediately, I fell back and kicked myself away from that wall. I covered my mouth, otherwise I would’ve let out the loudest scream.
When I looked through that hole, standing exactly where I had been standing only seconds ago, a creature at least six feet tall stood, staring in through the hole right at me.
It had an arm stretched out against a tree as if it was holding itself up on it. The thing was covered in fur that got thicker the further up towards its head.
Its face reminded me of both a person and a bear. I found myself hoping that it was just a bear standing up, that we had just found ourselves face to face with something natural.
I found myself crawling back to get another look. My curiousity took hold – I had to be sure of what I was seeing.
But the moment my face shown through that opening, all I could see was dozens of teeth before I jumped back again. That creature had snapped at me! It then began to sniff the wall. I could hear it huffing the air.
My brother quickly shifted over next to me and we held onto eachother. I began to panic – My other brother, Joey, was still out there. I had no idea where he was hiding. I prayed that he was okay.
I could see the silhouette of this animal as it walked around the shack. Every so often, it would claw at the thin, worn boards.
Tears fell from my face. At that point, I think both of us were crying. We waited there for at least an hour before the sounds were gone. Whatever was out there had left. But we continued to wait. We waited there until familiar voices shouted for us. Our parents and their friends had come to look for us.
I was so happy but too afraid to move. My body kept me from getting up and going outside to meet them. Eventually, though, my father kicked the shack’s door open with ease and my brother and I ran into his arms crying louder than ever.
As I opened my watery eyes and looked around, I saw Joey standing with my mother. It looked as if he had been crying, too. At the moment, I thought he was afraid he’d never see us again. It wasn’t until later that month – when we weren’t too afraid to sleep in our own rooms again – that Joey told me he was crying, too.
He said he had hidden under some brush not too far from where I had been counting. He watched as I finished counting and walked off toward the shack. He said only a few seconds after I began walking, he saw something tall, covered in gray fur walking slowly behind me. Walking on two legs like a person.