It Circled My Tent All Night

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It was the early 1980s, and my dad and uncle both bought a summer home in the countryside which had some beautiful dense woods behind it. We would often go there over the summer, and enjoyed the serenity of nature away from the city. At that time, my cousin and I would hang out a lot together, and we spent many hours hiking deep into the woods behind the house. And being independent kids, we decided to take my dad’s camping equipment and set up an overnight campsite about 100 feet from the house. We did this every day, and it became the thing we did every summer. Our parents were always nearby in the house, though, and always kept their windows open where they could easily hear us if we shouted. They were totally okay with us being alone in the woods at night, and sometimes even pushed us to spend more time there when we didn’t feel like it. It became our favorite getaway from the city, and each summer we looked forward to going.

One particular summer, we weren’t going to go because my uncle had to go out of state. But I had been waiting all year to go and was devastated after hearing that we wouldn’t be going after all. It mean’t that I’d have to go to day camp with all the annoying kids from school, and I was usually bullied there. Being a five hour drive north, my parents weren’t going to make such a trip without my uncle and his family – so the answer was no and no. I never was a nagging child and often tried to help out, but this summer you bet I acted like a bad boy. I made the summer pretty difficult whenever I could, and always mentioned to them how they could make it better. I didn’t want to wait another whole year, and tried my best to convince them with whatever tactic I thought would work. To my surprise, my constant nagging seemed to have worked on them, because one day they finally gave in. I later realized that it was probably because a family friend decided to come along with us and make the trip worth our while. We traveled together for five straight hours and finally reached our destination, and I could smell that pine wood scent again and got ready to build my campsite.

It took a little longer than usual because I was all alone, but I got it all set up nice and dandy. I had gone camping many times with my cousin before, and I felt confident enough to be alone in the dark. Although, I did decide to to set up my tent much closer to our house this time just in case. The sun began to set, and I glanced at my watch – it was probably about 8:35pm. There was this unusual quietness that made me a bit anxious, but I was usually chatting with my cousin and just thought I never noticed it. Part of our camping experience was reading science fiction novels until we got tired and fell asleep, and for this night I brought an exciting new book I had wanted to read for some time. Flashlight in one hand and book in the other, I began to read. This flashlight was one of those heavy metal ones that often flickered out. Hitting it a couple times usually did the trick.

It must have been around 4 am, when I was suddenly awoken by the sound of something brush against my tent. I wasn’t sure if I had imagined it or not, or if it was just some rabbit that had passed by, but I quietly sat up for a moment and listened to my surroundings. There were no sounds and nothing special to hear, so I assumed it was just a small animal, and so I tried to fall back sleep. A few minutes passed and I was about to doze off, when something about 40 feet away from me made this freakishly angry cat growl that turned into this old sounding woman with a scary hoarse voice. A cold shiver suddenly ran down my spine, and my thoughts began racing through my mind as I imagined what it could be. It sounded human, but it also sounded like an animal. I thought of yelling for my mom and dad, but I was way too scared to make a peep. I reached for my flashlight and turned it on, but instantly realized the mistake I had made, as the growl suddenly became quiet. I quickly shut off the light and hid under my sleeping bag, hoping it didn’t hear me or see the light. To my horror, it slowly approached and stopped right outside my tent.

For a while it just stood there, breathing loudly, and each breath sounded raspy and was full of dull pops, like its throat was filled with too much saliva. I thought it’d maybe will go away if I waited, but several minutes passed and it still didn’t move. I could hear it’s head moving back and forth like it was trying to find me or sense where I was, but I didn’t dare let out a breath or move a muscle. Every so often, it would scratch the wall of the tent like it was try to get in, but I prayed and prayed that it didn’t. I waited and waited; every single minute felt like an hour. It kept on circling around my tent all night trying to find a way to get to me, but it luckily never did. It wasn’t until dawn when the sun started to come up that I finally heard it scurry away and didn’t hear it anymore.

When my parents found me, they said that I was white like snow and couldn’t move. They took me to the hospital right away, and I stayed there for a couple of days. I only fully recovered a few months later, but I still get chills every time I tell this story to people. I never went camping for many years after that, but I did start camping lite with a few buddies of mine over the years; I’ve never gone into the woods alone, though. My dad eventually sold the house to some couple who lives there to this very day, and I never experienced anything like it since. What it could have been I do not know. Maybe it was just some crazy old lady; or maybe, it really was a monster.

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