The Forest Trail
I wish I’d never set foot outside that day. I wish I’d stayed home. Ever since that day, I’ve felt a strange emptiness, like a part of me is missing.
It was a gentle fall afternoon and I wasn’t trying to do anything, like usual. Well, anything except moving as little as possible. I was snuggled under a huge blanket with my snacks and my phone, and I had just decided on what show to binge on Netflix for the sixth time.
Suddenly, my friend called and told me about this really cool forest path they had found. They decided they wanted to explore the path and wanted me to come along with them. I, of course, told them they sounded insane; it was bad enough that it was almost dark out, but now they wanted me to explore a path they had just found. Absolutely not.
I should’ve declined and continued watching my show. I should’ve ignored their pleas and persistence, made a decision on my own… but I didn’t. Instead, I got up from my comfort cocoon and put on a coat and pants, then went outside to wait for them to pick me up.
We drove for what seemed like twenty minutes before finally pulling into a parking lot of a seemingly abandoned building. My body was screaming for me to ask to go home, but my friend looked excited, so I shrugged those feelings off and put them in the back of my mind. I tried to convince myself that it would be fun. I was led through the abandoned building before we stopped at a large hole in a wall leading out to a broken rusty fence followed by a seemingly empty stretch of wood.
This is when I finally opened my mouth to protest.
“I thought you said this was a forest path,” I said. “Not a creepy, abandoned, broken-down building.”
My friend only smiled and replied, “Oh, there is a forest path! It’s just a little out of the way.”
“Out of the way?” I blurted incredulously. “This isn’t just out of the way. This is the type of place people go to get murdered. Have you never seen a horror movie?”
My friend looked confused. “I have,” they said, then turned and made their way through the hole.
Reluctantly, I followed, as I didn’t want them to get lost or worse. We crouched under the broken rusty fence and explored deeper into the woods, and as we walked, my nerves started to settle. The forest was pretty; the evening air felt nice on my face. Plus, my friend seemed to know where they were going. A smile slowly crept onto my face as I silently enjoyed the walk. It was quiet and peaceful. The building we had walked through was now gone from view, but I wasn’t worried. As a precaution, I had been marking trees along the path with tiny bits of glow-in-the-dark tape just in case we got lost. As we walked, it slowly started getting darker, and my nerves started to rise again.
“Shouldn’t we start heading back before it’s too dark?” I asked, a hint of worry in my voice.
“Ah, we’ll be fine!” they responded. “We still have plenty of light left! Besides, you’ve been leaving a trail of tape, right?”
That did little to reassure me. “But what if one of us gets hurt and we have no cell service?”
“You don’t have to be here if you don’t want to.”
“Of course, I don’t want to. But I can’t exactly leave you behind. I wouldn’t forgive myself if something happened to you.”
“You’re worrying too much. I’ll be okay; I promise.”
Despite my friend’s claim, I still felt uneasy about leaving them alone, so I swallowed my fear and continued forward, when suddenly my friend broke out into a run.
“Hey! Wait! Slow down!!” I called as I chased after them.
“I think I see something up ahead!”
What did that mean? My heart pounded against my chest. I just wanted to go home.
Suddenly, we came to a clearing. We both stopped to catch our breath and my heart refused to stop racing.
“Woah! Check it out!” My friend pointed into the clearing, and what I saw made me sick.
Before us was a large stone cube covered in symbols, darker even than the unwelcoming woods around us. Around the stone were dozens of faceless human statues. They were all different sizes and body types, each sporting different bodily expressions.
“Woah,” my friend said, before casually approaching the murder cube.
“Isn’t this so cool?” they said with an unhealthy amount of excitement in their voice.
“Cool? It’s terrifying!! I don’t think we should be here!”
“Think I should touch it?” my friend asked with a grin.
I shook my head violently at the question. “No, you shouldn’t touch it! What If it’s dangerous?”
My friend only laughed. “It’s a rock! How dangerous can it really be?” And with that declaration, they laid their hand on it. Nothing happened…
“See? It’s not a big deal!” They laughed triumphantly, but those laughs quickly turned to screams as stones slowly built up around their body. Their eyes were filled with fear, they tried to move but couldn’t. They reached out to me for help but no matter what I tried, I couldn’t do anything. I was crying, and they were crying, screaming in pain as the stone covered more of their body, until suddenly the screaming stopped.
I stood up, now facing a faceless statue that reached out to me. I shivered at its eeriness. I wanted to go home. I couldn’t remember coming out here all by myself. I don’t even remember how I had found this place to begin with; all I knew was that the stones were creepy, and I wanted out. So, I followed a tape trail back to the building and continued walking until I was at the empty parking lot. Not a single car was in sight, so I called an Uber home.
Since that day, I feel like I’ve been missing something. My body feels like someone cut something out of it, and I can’t figure out what that is… that part of me is back in the forest… but I’m never going back there. There’s nothing of importance to me there.