Where The Shadows Thrive

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic


Broke down on a mountainous lonely road between home and work, Josie Metcalf is frightened by strange noises from the surrounding forest. Is something stalking her or is someone just playing a sick
game to frighten her? Josie will soon learn the truth even if its not her intention.


Where the Shadows Thrive

Baile Scath, Kentucky

November 12th, 2001


 

The dark wild forest was scary at night.

Josie Metcalf was walking on the paved two lane highway eastbound towards her home town of Baile Scath in northern Kentucky. It was dark, freezing and she didn't have a thick jacket. The chilly wind kept gnawing at her body like a hungry animal, stealing away her warmth as she walked with both arms wrapped around her body, trying to preserve what little body heat she could.

Josie checked her smart phone for the umpteenth time to see if she had any bars but was disappointed to see that she still had no service. Having no cell phone reception was very inconvenient. If she could have called a tow truck, she would have been home already, instead of trudging along like a war beaten refugee. It was three minutes after one in the morning. She was usually asleep by now. Why in the hell did she agree to be out so late?

Josie worked in the next town over, Whitfield, and had attended an after hours party at the local bar with some of her coworkers. Initially, Josie didn't want to go. She so seldom attended any festivities with the people she had worked with for years that this time she felt obligated. Josie had been glad she went, having a surprisingly good time up until about an hour ago.

The fifteen mile stretch of wilderness between Baile Scath and Whitfield usually took her about twenty five minutes to drive. At around 11pm, she had said her goodbyes and left the party. Ten minutes later, in the middle of the wilderness, her car's engine had coughed a few times then died completely. Josie managed to coax the car off the road and onto the shoulder yet couldn't get it to start.

Her car was dead.

Josie had waited to see if any passing traffic would stop and assist her. After an hour had passed, she knew she was going to be stuck walking home. Not one other car ever drove by during the time she waited. At this hour, on a week night, Josie should have expected as much. Both Baile Scath and Whitfield were small towns usually asleep by 10pm. Instead of freezing in the car, she got a thin jacket out of trunk and, deciding the exercise would help warm her up, she started walking home.

Josie wished she had worn dress pants as she usually did to work. On this particular day, she had wore a skirt leaving her bare legs at the mercy of the frigid air. Her entire lower body was freezing. She had scoured the car trunk for any emergency items and had happily found a flashlight. Unfortunately, the batteries were probably ten years old and were dead. Only the bright full moon illuminated her path, when it wasn't periodically hiding behind overcast clouds. While the moon was masked, Josie was forced to walk in nearly complete darkness.

The forest was quiet around her except for gentle breeze whispering through the boughs, as though the trees were secretly conspiring behind her back.

Although the road was paved with high quality asphalt, painted with modern double yellow lines, flanked with newly constructed shoulders and set with brand new reflectors, both sides of the road were surrounded by complete wilderness. The six foot shoulders on either side were light gravel and doubled as emergency lanes off the main highway. Beyond the gravel was thick trees, shrubs, heavy bushes, high grass and wild animals.

Josie was traveling only six feet from the edge of dozens of square miles worth of wild forest. Any attempts at shortening her walk by cutting over a ridge could end up with her getting lost in the untamed backwoods of Kentucky.

Josie checked her cell phone again. Still no service.

The cute flats were so uncomfortable on her feet that Josie thought about taking them off but thought better of it. The asphalt was probably freezing and her feet were cold enough as it was. She left her shoes on.

To make matters worse, the street lights on this hilly winding road were spaced about a quarter mile apart so most of the time, Josie was walking in shadows except with the bright moon decided to show itself.

To get her mind off her unnerving predicament, Josie's thoughts drifted to the man she had recently met.

Josie was twenty-nine, pretty, self reliant, financially comfortable and painfully available. She had reached the point in her life where she desired to meet the right man, get married and start thinking about children. Although she had struck out every time before, since there seemed to be a chronic shortage of good available men, Josie finally believed she may have met Mr. Right.

They had met at the supermarket checkout line of all places and started chatting. She found that conversation came easy, discussions naturally and subjects comfortably while talking to this man. His name was Matthew and once they had exited the store, they continued their discussions in the parking lot. After an hour of getting to know each other, he asked her out and she happily accepted. Their date was set for tomorrow night. Josie was looking forward to it, her excitement comparable to child waiting to open presents on Christmas morning.

Even thinking about her date with Matthew now, sent an eager tingle of excitement through her entire body. She could hardly wait.

The trees continued their low hissing conversations in the lazy breeze but beyond that, Josie heard a small sound, furtive yet very distinct; the sound of someone giggling.

She stopped walking, her senses perked, her heart drumming quickly in her chest.

Had she imagined it?

Clearly, there was no one in the woods at this hour. What made her doubt her own hearing, ultimately, was the fact that the giggle sounded like that of a small child.

There it was again!

This time it wasn't just a giggle. Josie also heard someone talking in hushed tones followed by another shushing the whisperer.

The dark trees fell silent. The moonlight thankfully illuminated the eerie forest temporarily. She could see no movement in the hallows beneath the trees. Still, the brightness of the moon did little to warm the cold fear she felt inside. The fine hairs on the back of Josie's neck slowly stood on end.

As frightening an idea of someone following Josie along the treeline was, it was even more unnerving that her stalkers could be young children. The high notes of the hushed speech and giggling she heard was unmistakably children and that made her blood run cold.

What could small children possibly be doing out in the woods on a cold night like this one? Perhaps it wasn't actual kids she was hearing but merely the chiming of their disembodied spirits. Maybe long ago, children had died in the area, their pitiful corpses buried somewhere nearby and their souls restlessly wandering the dark terrain. Maybe they were anxious to meet her, wishing only to talk to her, shyly whispering about their lost lives.

Stop it!

Although it was freezing, Josie felt beads of sweat running down her back and down her stomach. Her insides were twisted into a knot of fear. She decided to move on, hurrying down the asphalt road toward town, onward to the next street light, heading home for warmth and safety.

Josie walked as fast as she could, resisting the urge to run. For some inexplicable reason, she sensed that if she broke into a full sprint, that it would somehow incite an attack, as if her stalkers were toying with her, prolonging the fun. Their game would immediately turn deadly if she attempted an authentic escape.

What am I thinking?

After half an hour, Josie could no longer hear the murmurs, the whispers and the giggling following her along the treeline. She slowed her pace, grateful that she had somehow escaped. She was short of breath, panting. There was a street lamp here, the light shined down on her, bathing her in the soft amber glow. Josie felt safer in the light, as if the darkness itself was a threat to her, some rabid beast with tooth and claw ready to strike while she was amidst the shadows.

The road she traveled on had been very curvy up to this point. For the first time, Josie could see about a quarter mile down the road where the next street light was located. In the glow of overhead lamp, Josie could see that there were a few people hanging out on the shoulder, goofing around, probably teenagers.

Josie was happy that there was at least some other sign of life, a representation of humanity here in the woods besides disembodied voices and ghostly giggles. If the group turned out to be college aged kids, they might hassle her or worse. She wasn't too worried about it. Most local kids were respectful and overall decent, not murderers or rapists.

Josie began to walk to the next street light. The dark woods were still threatening to encroach upon her on either side of the road. She was hopeful that since there were people present, maybe there was a house nearby where she could use a phone to call for a ride. She checked her cell phone again and saw that she still had no service. Josie knew she was at least five or six miles out from Baile Scath. Best case scenario, a good Samaritan would allow her the use of a phone and she'd call for a tow truck. Worse case scenario, she'd have to walk the rest of the way home.

As Josie got closer, she saw the group was actually three kids. The tallest was probably twelve or thirteen, the second tallest was maybe ten and the shortest couldn't be older than eight. They were tossing a small white ball back and forth between them, joking and laughing. Josie got close enough to call out to them except before she could, they suddenly scattered, running out of sight down the embankment off the side of the road.

Josie reached the street lamp and saw that below there was no thick foliage or trees. It was a dirt hill, smooth, the swath was about ten feet wide, worn and sort of steep. After about forty feet of hill, it leveled out into a dirt clearing below her. The kids were there still tossing the ball back and forth. Even though Josie was clearly in view, they paid her no mind.

“Excuse me,” Josie called down to them.

The kids stopped throwing the ball. All three of them looked up at her.

Josie was suddenly overcome by a rush of fear. The tingles of terror started lightly over her skin, becoming stronger until she felt butterflies in her stomach and her legs were wobbly. Josie tried desperately to identify the source of her sudden anxiety but couldn't find anything specific. Somehow, the scene before her was frightening and she attempted to rationalize why.

The first thing Josie noticed, was that on the flat clearing where the children were playing, the light of the street lamp barely reached them. In almost complete darkness, the children were still throwing the pale ball to each other. Secondly, she couldn't make out any features of the children's faces, only that they were wearing heavy clothing against the cold, two were in hoodies and the other was wearing a black knit cap. Details about their features were lost in the shadows.

Josie fought against her queasy fear, deciding that the subtlety of her deductions didn't warrant her fright. She was probably still spooked by the voices and giggles she had heard in the woods earlier. Perhaps these children were involved somehow? No. She had heard the giggling a few miles back. Josie decided that she was just being silly.

Josie waved down to the three kids, “Hi there. Can I ask you for a favor? My name is Josie Metcalf. My car broke down a few miles back, do you think your parents would let me use one of your phones?”

All three children remained silent. Their gaze on her was apparent, although she still couldn't see their faces.

Once again, the hairs on the back of her neck stood on end and she felt a coiling lump of fear in her stomach. Josie shook off her fright and tried again, “Hello? I really could use a little help here, guys.”

No response.

What the hell was wrong with them?

Josie called to them a third time, “Hello? I'm sorry, do you not understand me? I really need some help. Do any of your parents have a phone I can use?”

Although the embankment was steep and smooth, Josie risked going down it. She got about halfway down, slipping and sliding, barely managing not to fall on her ass.

In unison, the three children suddenly bolted. They ran off away from her, through the trees and vanished into the darkness.

Josie sighed impatiently.

Great. Thanks for the help you little bastards!

She reached the bottom of the hill and walked over to where the kids had been playing. There were a few thin dirt paths barely visible in the low light. Josie considered following one of them, hoping it would lead her to a residence. She decided this area was too wild for a home since there was no apparent road. Josie decided to go back up the hill and keep walking.

As she turned away from the path, Josie heard giggling and whispers of muffled talking behind her. She felt a flush of fear, tingling goosebumps and shiver racing down her spine. Instead of running away in terror, Josie turned, bravely facing the treeline.

“You think this is funny?” She hollered angrily, “I'm stuck out here, need some help and all you can do is laugh about it? Shame on you! You little brats!”

Josie saw that before running off, one of the boys had dropped the pale ball they had been playing with. It was resting in the tall grass a few feet away from the thick brush. Irritated, she stomped towards it, prepared to kick it as hard as she could into the treeline.

Josie stopped dead in her tracks.

It wasn't a ball.

It was a skull.

A human skull.

The three boys had been tossing a human skull back and forth as if it were a toy. A. Human. Skull.

Josie cried out in fear and ran back up the hill as fast as she could. She could hear quick movements in the trees behind her and she knew the children were chasing her.

Josie saw that two more boys suddenly appeared at the top of the hill under the street light, cutting off her escape route. She screamed and ran to her left, away from the safety of the light but also staying clear of her pursuers. The main road was now to her right and the terrain sloped down on her left. The moon had mercifully peeked out from behind the overcast to grant her some visibility with which to navigate the trees. Josie stumbled once, got hit in the face with a low limb, got scratched on her arms and legs as she ran frantically. The boys were giggling maniacally behind her.

Who or what were they?

What kind of sick children played with skulls and laughed at someone's misfortune?

Why were they chasing her?

Deep down, Josie knew the answers and she was far too freaked out to admit them to herself. Not yet. She wasn't ready to accept what her fight or flight reflexes were subconsciously screaming at her. Josie still clung desperately to the idea that perhaps this strange, isolated group of young boys were just having fun, just trying to scare her and at any time soon, the joke would be over. They would all have a good laugh about it all. Josie would use one of their phones and be on her way home.

She was taller and heavier than the largest boy she had seen so far. Normally, she'd face these brats down and teach them a lesson but something inside, a primal knowledge, way down deep within her survival instincts, warned her to run. As sure as Josie was that the sun would rise in a few hours, she was convinced that facing these boys meant sure death.

How she could rationalize such an outrageous instinct was beyond her understanding.

She could hear the boys swiftly moving through the brush behind her from several directions, gleefully chasing her. God, how many were there? Josie ran hard, pumping her legs and swinging her arms with purpose. After a few minutes, she felt that she had somehow outpaced them. The noises of the boys' pursuit were becoming less obvious. Josie felt a short thrill that she may have outran them until she tripped over a fallen log and crashed face-first into a tree trunk.

Josie refused to cry out in surprise and pain. She wept quietly, laying out flat on her stomach, gathering herself, feeling blood dripping from her nose and her forehead. She was dazed so she lay still for a few seconds, willing herself not to pass out.

The giggling and murmuring grew steadily louder.

No!

They were almost on top of her.

Josie held her breath, curling into a tight ball defensively, trembling from head to toe. Did the boys have weapons? Would they club her to death? Stab her to death with knives? Attempt to rape then kill her? Tears ran down her face but she held her sobs in, not making a sound.

Amazingly, Josie heard the boys hastily move past her.

She wept some more, this time in relief.

As quietly as she could, Josie stood up and hurried back to the flat dirt clearing.

After a few minutes, Josie realized she must have been off in her sense of direction. She didn't find the dirt clearing. Somehow, she had gotten turned around in her haste to escape. Josie smelled the distinctive fragrance of tomato vines. The dirt underfoot was soft and she could see a few short corn stalks up ahead.

A small garden?

The moon was hiding again, so it was very dark. The dim landscape seemed surreal, like a dream, with everything subdued and slightly indiscernible in the darkness.

There was a small shack off to her right, Josie could barely make out its outline against the dark trees.

She was tromping over dug rows of freshly planted produce.

Josie gasped. Up ahead, just past the small garden, she could see a house.

The boys were still off behind her looking for their prey, Josie knew she only had a few minutes before they figured out she had given them the slip. They would eventually be heading back this way.

Instead of blindly rushing to the house in hopes of finding a phone, Josie stopped and listened over her own raspy breathing.

All was quiet.

She stepped away from the small garden and onto a well worn dirt path and hurried toward the house.

Josie still clung to the tiny hope that maybe there was a working phone inside. Just maybe, her nightmare was almost over.

Her hopes were dashed to bits as Josie realized that the house was dilapidated. All of the windows were broken, the screens missing. The stairs leading up to the wrap around front porch had completely collapsed, leaving an uneven ramp. The roof sagged, the porch drooped, the weathered wood siding was so bleached that it was bright even in the dimness. She had a better chance of finding Jimmy Hoffa alive within the house than she did a working phone.

The dying house must have been abandoned for decades. Like a skeleton baking out in the desert sun, the house stood in this small clearing of the forest, slowly giving way to time, getting bleached, gradually breaking down to become one with nature.

Josie ran past the home because the terrain looked like it inclined. She needed to get up hill and back to the main road.

On the hard path ahead of her, Josie saw her car.

How on earth?

She had no idea how her vehicle had gotten here and she didn't care. Josie ran to it, finding the driver door unlocked. Fishing her keys out of the jacket pocket, she tried desperately to start it. As the engine weakly turned over, it was obvious that there was still something wrong with it. Her car was still not running.

What the hell?

Her mind raced to figure out what was going on. Fear, duress and exhaustion were impeding Josie's thought process. She could only conclude that the boys had somehow retrieved her broken down car from the main road and had pushed it here.

But why?

The moon appeared at that moment, brightening her surroundings and Josie saw another automobile parked off the dirt path next to the house. The boughs of the trees were thick overhead dappling the landscape with shadows. There was just enough moonlight coming through the thick branches to see.

Josie cautiously left her car and walked over to the other car. Behind it, she could see dozens of other vehicles parked in rows here. There were full sized pick ups, mid-sized sedans, a mini van and several compacts here, all different colors, all different makes and models. The furthest cars settling into the overgrown makeshift junk yard were the oldest, some of them were rusting, so that a timeline of automobiles was clear. These boys had been collecting broken down cars since at least the 1950s. Why?

Josie started to cry again.

Her heart almost stopped as she heard a tiny giggle directly behind her.

Josie cried out in a panic, spinning around to see a small boy standing there. He was wearing a gray hoodie, dark overalls and was barefoot. His face was downcast.

“Get the hell away from me!” Josie warned.

The boy was probably eight to ten years old and was chest high to her in height. His voice was gruff but high-pitched as a small child's should be. He gleefully said, “I get to play with you all by myself.”

“No. You come near me and so help me God, I will beat the shit out of you!” Josie warned him fiercely.

The boy met her eyes.

Josie screamed in horror.

The boy's eyes were black. Black as pitch, as ebony as the deepest recesses of hell. There was no whites to his eyes, no irises, just inky black orbs staring back at her, shiny obsidian spheres burrowing holes into her soul.

He was smiling and Josie saw that his teeth weren't like hers either. There were no incisors, no bicuspids or canines visible to her. The boy's teeth were like a shark's: triangular, sharp and serrated.

Josie's heart was beating so fast that she was on the verge of passing out. She couldn't believe what she was seeing. This had to be a gag! The boy was just wearing costume contact lenses and wearing false plastic teeth to scare her. This had to be a joke! It had to be!

Her foot came into contact with one of the broken down cars behind her. Josie realized that she had been slowly backing away from the bestial child, if it could even be called a child. It was more like a spawn from hell.

The black-eyed child moved quicker than Josie imagined, jumping at her, monkey quick, climbing up onto her shoulders like a spider. The creature was laughing the entire time as Josie screamed and tried to throw it off. She fell against one of the ruined cars as it tried to bite her head, getting a mouthful of her long dark hair instead. It was clinging to her like Velcro, she realized it had needle sharp claws that were dug into her clothes preventing her from tearing it loose. One of its spindly pale arms was exposed in front of her face as they struggled, so Josie bit it as hard as she could. Her bite didn't break the skin but she could feel her teeth digging through the thin flesh and right into the bone.

The black-eyed child squealed in pain and tried to pull itself free. Josie used the chance to grab it off her shoulders and she slammed its head down as hard as she could against the metal roof of the car. The urge to live overtook her. Josie went wild with her desire to defend herself. She slammed the small creature's head against the car again and again, adrenaline pumping, her survival instincts on fire. One of the thing's flailing arms reached her face, it's hand raked across her cheek, immediately drawing blood. Josie continued hammering the damned thing into the hood until blood was streaming from it's skull and it stopped squirming and squealing.

It was completely hairless. No hair on the head, just smooth pale skin. It was impossibly thin, much more slender than a regular child would be, nearly skeletal. Josie's eyes were blurred by tears. She didn't feel guilty because it was abundantly clear that these black-eyed children weren't human.

Josie felt that she hadn't killed an poor kid in self-defense. She had killed a predator that intended to murder her. She let the body go and it slid down off the car limply and onto the ground, lifeless.

These black-eyed children, these monsters, had been preying on people who broke down along this road for decades. No doubt, there were graves nearby of their past victims. These things probably ate people as surely as Josie ate beef and pork.

Josie knew she had to escape. It had taken everything within her to kill just one of the damned things. If a bigger one attacked her or she was grabbed by more than one, she would lose the struggle and would be bitten and clawed to death then eaten.

She shuddered in fear and revulsion.

Josie had no idea where the main road was. She went back to her car, popped open the trunk and found a heavy crowbar to use as a weapon. Josie also grabbed a package of three road flares, stuffed them into the pocket of her jacket then ran uphill, hoping to find any signs of the street lamp above her. The trees were so thick that she couldn't see past a few dozen feet at a time.

She wanted to run yet forced herself to stay calm. Josie moved as quietly as she could through the dark trees, watchful. The first one had managed to come up right behind her without her being aware of it's presence. If it hadn't giggled, it could have attacked her without warning. She refused to let another one of these little creeps sneak up on her again.

Josie left behind the property from hell, this abandoned home and pitiful garden where death lingered like moths around a light. This place was nothing more than unhallowed ground where the shadows thrive instead of light, where decency and hospitality were absent and only ghastly cannibalism remained. Josie refused to become one of the black-eyed children's victims, she would not die and be placed on any missing persons list. She was going to survive. She would fight to the death if she had to, rather than becoming easy prey for these vile creatures.

Josie wondered how all these vehicles had not been found by search parties or the authorities. Perhaps, because the cars were removed from the main road, search parties were never sent to the area to look. Since there were no visible roads, perhaps the police assumed there were no residences out here, so they never searched.

Josie went up the hill about one hundred feet and could tell that this was not the way to the main road. She had become turned around again in the darkness and had no idea which direction she needed to go. Josie's chest heaved, her breaths were raspy wheezes and her body ached from exertion. The hill she was on was devoid of tree cover so she looked around desperately searching for any indication of direction.

Against her will, Josie began to cry again. Fat tears streamed down her cheeks, her body lurched with heavy, silent sobs. She had never felt so scared and desolate in her life. She was lost, stranded like a ship on a stormy sea with no land in sight, no way out and no where to go. The moon hid behind the veil of clouds covering the terrain in darkness.

The moon.

She remembered that while driving the moon had been ahead of her, on the left side of the car. It was now behind her and on the right. Josie was thrilled. She faced the direction where the moon would have been while she drove and then determined the correct direction that would lead her to the road. Her course was behind the house she had just left.

Invigorated, Josie hurried in that direction.

She suddenly heard loud whistles echoing through the forest, causing her to jump from fright. It was undoubtedly the other black-eyed children. Josie's pursuers were communicating with each other, zeroing in on her location. She redoubled her efforts to hurry. Her throat burned, her heart was pounding, her legs ached. Through sheer will and determination, Josie kept running.

Behind the house was a clearing about a hundred feet long by forty feet wide. She would be exposed while moving through here. Josie noticed the entire clearing was camouflaged from the air by high netting tied to the trees. She could see the outline of the net against the shining moon. The net was suspended thirty feet off the ground and had olive drab mesh and fake vegetation weaved into it. Josie had only seen such camouflage in military movies.

Josie really didn't want to cross through the clearing except that it was the fastest way to get to the road, so she risked it. As she made her way across the dirt clearing, along the tree line around her she saw skeletons hanging from the trees, suspended there by cord, rope and twine. Fully completed skeletons, tied together with string, dangling like bazaar wind chimes, they were large, medium sized and small. Josie clamped a hand over her mouth to keep from screaming. Her stomach was wrenching; she could taste bile at the back of her throat.

These skeletons were not props or plastic Halloween decorations. They were actually the remains of the black-eyed children's victims. Josie didn't take the time to study any of the grisly bones but she could see that patches of hair still clung to some of the skulls. Black and brown stringy material was still visible on some of the rib cages and limbs.

She heard loud giggling around the house far behind her. A shrill whistle, close by, cut through the quiet night like a jagged lightning bolt, sending her into a state of panic.

Oh God!

Josie got through the clearing and raced between the dark trees. Although there was a thin path for her to follow, low branches scratched her face, the brush clung to her clothes, grabbing at her legs as she ran by. Her arms were battered as she barreled through saplings and broke through drooping branches and thick brush. The forest itself seemed to align with her pursuers and was bent on slowing her escape.

Suddenly a pale form appeared out of the brush, arms stretched out, reaching for her, body midair as it leaped at her. Josie tried to duck under her attacker letting loose a deafening shriek as she did. She avoiding being body tackled but she felt the creature grab a fistful of her hair and jacket. As the creature fell, its weight pulled her off balance and although she strained with all her might, she was dragged down.

No!

“Please,” Josie begged the thing pitifully, “Let me go. Please don't hurt me!”

Josie was on her belly, her legs spread out behind her. The black-eyed child was sitting on her thighs pinning her down, keeping her legs spread with its feet. With quick grasping fingers, it pulled her skirt down, exposing her light blue panties.

“Need. Want. Must have!” the creature mewled.

God, please no!

Josie tried to roll over. The creature used its strength and weight, pushing her face down. Her exhaustion kept her from using all her might. It was clawing at the lower hem of her jacket, pulling it higher while trying to yank her panties down. Josie felt the cool night air on her exposed skin, her buttocks were partially exposed. She felt the thing lick along her tailbone.

You motherfucker!

Infuriated, Josie pushed with all her might and rolled onto her back. She raised the crowbar and her legs defensively as skittered on top of her. It was bony thin, light weight like the other one she had fought, Josie should have easily been able to lift it off of her except that it clung to her clothing like glue with its sharp claws.

This black-eyed child was an older specimen, at least equal to Josie in height yet much thinner and lighter than she was. It scurried insect-quick trying to roll her back over onto her stomach as she tried to throw it off of her. They struggled together momentarily, kicking up pine needles and cones.

Josie knew she was in danger, not only from this black-eyed child she fought with, but from its friends who were getting even closer. If she became surrounded, she was as good as dead.

The black-eyed child's bald white head was uncovered and in the limited moonlight she could see its ghastly sharp teeth and its soulless black eyes. A long black tongue hung from its mouth, clear drool dripping from its lips and onto her belly. “A little taste,” it whispered urgently, “just want a tiny taste.”

To her horror, Josie realized for the first time that the creature was completely nude. All four of its bony pale limbs were trying to pin her down and below she could see it had a massively erect penis, snow white and as thick as her forearm, aimed at her. The erection was much too big for the average man and freakishly large for such a bony thing. Josie's insides lurched at the idea of being violated by the foul creature.

Fuck no!

Josie panicked, her efforts fueled by her disgust. All of her fear switched immediately to anger. As they struggled, Josie kicked out at the thing as hard as she could, successfully planting one of the tips of her shoes into its privates.

The creature fell away from her, howling in pain, writhing on the ground nursing its groin.

Josie dragged herself to her feet. She struck down at the damned thing as hard as she could with the crowbar. She was aiming for its head, wishing to split its skull open. The darting thing ducked away at the last moment. She struck its shoulder with a sickening thud. The black-eyed child squealed in pain again and rolled away from her. Josie expected it to continue it's attack. Instead, the bony thing retreated, disappearing into the underbrush, scurrying away like a spider on all fours.

Josie could hear more whistling and calling in the trees back towards the house. They were coming. She had no idea how many there were. Her instincts told her that they were on her trail again. She felt butterflies of panic in her abdomen and a fist of fear squeezing her heart. Josie righted her disheveled clothing, turned and ran as fast as she could wondering if she could outrun them. Even if she could, what then? When she finally reached the road, they could still get to her and drag her off the highway into the trees to a gory death or worse.

The package of road flares in her jacket pocket was striking against her side as she ran. Josie suddenly had an idea.

Not slowly her pace, Josie dropped the crowbar, unwrapped the flares, stripping off the protective wrapping. These flares were as old as God's dog so she said a silent prayer that they would still fire. She popped off the cap of the first flare turned it over and struck the end of the flare against the rough striking surface. The reddish fire erupted instantly and Josie turned, throwing it as far as she could to her left. Amazingly, the flare sailed free of the thick tree branches, traveling a good thirty feet away. With an audible whooshing sound, the dry underbrush and dead leaves ignited into a bright blaze. Josie lit the second flare and heaved it high and far to her right and again, the desiccated brush was burning brightly within seconds. She dropped the third and final lit flare directly behind her.

Normally, Josie would have been overwhelmed with guilt at destroying nature. Not this time. These trees had witnessed evil, the brush and grasses had captured innocent blood. This patch of wilderness had been tainted, cursed and needed to be purged. The flames would cleanse this forest, wipe it clean, leaving a chance at new life and regrowth.

Josie heard screams and squeals of fear behind her as the forest fire raged out of control. She turned back momentarily and feverishly screamed, “That's right you little bastards! Burn! I hope you all burn in hell! Burn you little fuckers!”

The fire climbed high into the thick canopy and spread wide, devouring the dry bushes, gorging itself on all the pine needles and leaves that carpeted the ground. The flames were now lighting Josie's way, even she couldn't believe how mightily the forest was burning already.

A few minutes later, Josie broke out of the underbrush and saw the wide dirt clearing and straight ahead was the hill to the main road. She wept with happiness. A state trooper's cruiser was parked at the top of the hill, with its blue and red beacon lights flashing. Over the roar of the blaze she could hear the police radio and a young male trooper appeared at the top of the hill calling down to her, “Jesus, Lady! Are you alright?”

Josie was near the point of complete exhaustion, she was too out of breath to call for help so she frantically waved her arms, indicating she was in trouble.

The trooper came down the hill toward her. He called to her, “I'm coming to get you out of there!” Josie expected a gang of black-eyed children to spring forth from the trees at any minute, swarming her and the kind trooper, biting and clawing them both to death.

The trooper reached her safely. He was a handsome Hispanic man, a few years younger than she was. He slipped an arm around her waist and pulled her arm over his shoulders. He half carried her up the hill to his cruiser.

Josie was panicked. The trooper was trying to calm her down but she kept looking around frantically, practically screaming, “They'll kill us! Get out your gun! Shoot them! They hide in the darkness! Not children. They look like kids but no! You can't let them fool you! They have teeth and eat people! This isn't a forest! Its a graveyard! There's a junkyard of cars! Please get out your gun! They're chasing me!”

The trooper called for an ambulance and, at her insistence, took out his gun and kept it ready just to calm her down. Josie huddled trembling in the front seat of the cruiser under a blanket as the fire raged below. She kept expecting the black-eyed children to erupt from the trees at any moment, in force, dozens of them, rushing the cruiser, too many for the trooper to shoot, to drag her off to a certain doom.

Josie woke up in the hospital bed, hours later, thrashing about, screaming about creatures trying to eat her. She had to be sedated because she was so hysterical, she fought against the nurses and orderlies.

The next day, after she had calmed down, Josie asked the two detectives interviewing her if they thought she was crazy. The detectives in unison shook their heads. They had found some evidence that supported her outlandish story. They refused to go into any details. Josie felt relieved at not being viewed as crazy by the authorities.

In the days that followed, dozens of remains had been found at the site were the fire had raged. DNA testing closed many cases of missing persons in the area. Families finally received closure about their loved ones, some of which had been missing for decades. There were no signs of any black-eyed children. Police sketches were made. Paranormal researchers interviewed Josie about her encounter, she made national press statements about what she had witnessed and was a guest on syndicated radio show devoted to the paranormal. Josie didn't care if anyone believed her. She just wanted everyone to know the truth.

Josie Metcalf then ducked out of the public eye, moving to the high desert where there are hardly any trees, not disclosing exactly where. Still plagued by nightmares, she wrote a few books about the black-eyed children and made quite a bit of money. Rumor has it that she used her income to travel around on lonely roads, heavily armed, hunting for the very creatures that almost killed her.

 

Author's Note: If you enjoyed this story, please read Where the Shadows Thrive 2 :)

 

 


Submitted: November 12, 2017

© Copyright 2021 Cthulu45. All rights reserved.

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Comments

Celtic-Scribe63

I highlighted a few things which stood out for me, which I liked.

It was a very well thought out thrill ride to read.

Thanks' for sharing it. I look forward to reading your other work.

Mon, September 17th, 2018 5:48pm

Author
Reply

Thanks so much. I'm so glad you enjoyed it :)

Tue, September 18th, 2018 2:06am

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