I was camping alone in a woods on a chilly, slightly damp, and absolutely windless night. I was only an amateur camper, always bringing a charged laptop, lots of snacks, my smartphone: mostly anything to keep me at least a little bit connected to the outside world. Naturally, camping alone now, it was more fitting that I bring these things. After about 90 minutes or so in the surprisingly dark area, I became increasingly unnerved due to the sinister atmosphere.
After my dinner, a sandwich I had bought about 30 minutes prior to my arrival, I settled down to read, just a book about hiking in which I didn’t really have much interest. I fell asleep for about 45 minutes, then woke up to an even darker woods. I decided to hike, in spite of the book I’d read, since I was feeling the need to tire myself before sleep—or maybe I was just too anxious to rest?
I grabbed my lantern, put on my boots, and walked along the thin trail for a time. I heard rustling in the leaves, in sharp contrast with the otherwise mute environment. Now this sound was definitely more unsettling with the self-ensconcement that one has on a solitary activity such as hiking. I decided to focus on the physical act of hiking instead, but that didn’t stop it from working its way into my subconscious.
I came back to camp because of my uneasiness and surfed the web for about an hour to ease my worries. They were calmed for the most part, but I still thought with a murky confusion that distracted me from my surfing. The rustling came back, but steadier, almost rhythmic. This confusion was probably what prompted me to pack up for the camp shower about a mile from my location.
My packing seemed slow, and almost foreboding, and added to my torpor for the mile walk through uneasy ground. I anticipated washing away all of this uncertain murk from myself so I could finally get back to my tent so I could finally get some rest, but the rustling seemed to become even more rhythmic, almost applicable to a brushlike metronome. I checked behind me, and saw nothing, of course. I shuffed through the woods at a jostling pace so I could wash myself off from this murk and darkness and confusion—still nothing! just a single rustling noise against the silent, dark woods, now merely a path, not an aesthetic addition to my hike.
Finally making it to the shower house, I walked in, and the row of showers stretched long- probably thirty feet of white walls, with slight layers of mold accumulating in the showers. I unpacked my shower gear, undressed, and got in. There was silence now, a relief from the approaching rhythm of the rustling, but somehow it was unnerving, still. I realized how vulnerable I was, what with no clothing, dim flickering lightbulbs overhead instead of the bright lantern I had been attached to. I let the water run over me, and the sudden self-intimacy that comes with taking a shower provided a relief from the menacing companionship of the rustling.
I got dressed, but heard the rustling again, but even more rhythmic. With my terror amplified to how high it had been before, I walked into the woods. The brightness of the shower had left me unprepared for the woods as I quickly shuffled against the footsteps of the rustling. It must have been footsteps! I must have walked for half a mile before I ran in a fumbling gait back to the camp shower, which was now glaring white as the footsteps became faster, faster still! I ran into the solace of the shower, but heard them again!
I mustered all my courage and was about to turn to face my assailant, but I did not want to do so directly. I ran up to the bathroom mirror like in a nightmarish sprint before oblivion captures, the footsteps now a continual hum of hell-summomed evil—I ran, I ran! to the mirror, the humming-footsteps now almost inside me with closeness….
And the footsteps, the humming, the running stopped. I grew weak and fell to my knees, for what I thought was the footsteps was not my footsteps at all—but my heart.
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