June 2nd, 2012:

Yep. It's that time of year again! Time for me to whip out the old Adventure Journal. This time I finally convinced Brittany to come along! I know, can you believe it? Her on a hike? It took a lot of convincing (and a dozen roses) to get her to say yes, but I finally did it! I wanted to traverse the entirety of the Sheltowee Trace. But I know she couldn't handle the full 260 miles of rough backwoods terrain. So I decided to just take a little piece of it that wasn't too awfully mountainous. It's really funny how Brittany reacted to the name of the trail but I'm not entirely surprised. Dog Slaughter Falls doesn't have a very nice ring to it does it? But I promised her the view would make up for the name. The poor thing really does need to get out of the city more often. As we were driving down the old gravel forest road she gripped the passenger seat of the jeep tighter and tighter. As if the lack of shopping malls and paved roads would kill her! Whitley County, Kentucky isn't exactly known for it's haute couture and fine dining. She'd just have to learn to adjust.

When we got to the trail head Brittany could hardly believe she was at the final destination. I can't remember her exact complaint but I know it had something to do with the lack of a parking lot. Like that would make a lot of difference once we were away from the Jeep and on our way. I just pulled off onto the uneven grass shoulder and put the vehicle in park. Sheltowee Trace was called that because "Sheltowee" was the name the Shawnee Indians gave Daniel Boone when he walked in this area. It means Big Turtle because apparently that's what he looked like to them with his big backpack on. I could see why the Native Americans would think that, though I think Brittany looked more like a pink, malnourished doe with a boulder strapped to her back. Of course she complained about the weight and size of her backpack but all she was carrying was her sleeping bag, food, clothes, and other necessities. I am the one who was carrying the tent plus all the things we would need. Eventually she seemed to get used to the extra weight though, much to my relief. I love her so much and couldn't imagine her not being my girlfriend but sometimes she really does have a sour attitude. I just know there is more to her than the shallow, superficial facade she keeps up. Like how she complained that her hiking boots were ugly. I told her they'd be a lot prettier to her than her designer sandals if she stepped on a rattlesnake. That made her be quiet about it.

We didn't make it all the way to the falls but that wasn't Brittany's fault. It was mine. I can't believe I never noticed it before but this time I found a tiny little unmarked trail shooting off to the left of the main path. It was so rarely used it was almost invisible among the weeds and ferns of the forest floor. The green had almost completely swallowed it up! I am not sure if I'll ever be able to find it again by just sight alone so I'm writing down that is was around the 3.4 mile mark on the trail. Curiosity got the better of me and I convinced Brit that we should explore the little path. I didn't really expect it to lead anywhere except maybe some cool Indian rockhouse not seen from the main trail. But the trail turned out to be long and one of the best hikes I've ever experienced. And that's saying a lot. The most surprising part of all was that the trail ended at a back country campground I'd never seen on any of my maps. But it wasn't abandoned. There were a handful of tents sprawled out in the little clearing, with backpacks hung from several of the trees to keep bears out of their food. It didn't take much convincing to get Brittany to set up camp here instead of going back to the trail we started on and finishing it. I had to give it to her. She did okay for her first hike and it was pushing ninety degrees the majority of the time. I set up the camping area while Brittany stared in shock at her very first blister that had formed on her left foot. She'd just have to get used to those. As evening closed in the other members of the campground began to slowly make their way back to the camp. There was an elderly man with long gray hair and a matching beard in sixties style clothes. Obviously an old hippie with a deep love of nature. His name was Warren and he looked like a really cool guy. I am going to have to talk to him soon. He may know about some awesome trails and places I've never heard of. I mean he did know about this campground right? It's not like everyone here just happened upon this mysterious little path by accident like we did.

There was a teenage girl in dark clothes and hair over her eyes camping with her parents who wore glasses and seemed to be interested in every bug, every leaf, every tree around them. But not in an admiring way, but a studious way. Obviously scientists. The girl seemed both happy and nonchalant about everything. I can tell she likes the woods and nature but you know how we all were as teens. She's just trying to act like she doesn't care. I also caught her rolling her eyes up at Brittany tonight after the fuss she made when I told her where she needed to go do her business after our dinner. I understand why people get annoyed at her. Honestly I do sometimes too. So I won't hold it against the girl. She seems like she's nice.

There was a younger boy, probably in his tweens camping with his dad. They seemed kind of cold and distant with each other. I wonder what's going on with them? I noticed sometimes the dad would make an awkward attempt to joke with the boy and the boy seemed to have none of it. Maybe since there is no mom there they are trying to get over a bad divorce. I know that can be tough on kids. Poor thing.

Lastly there was a tent on the far side of the campground that was ripped and dirty. It still had an old backpack hung in the trees with vines growing over it. It looked like whoever set up camp there never came back for their things. I think that is so strange. I took a look at the stuff. It's quality equipment! Kelty, Eddie Bauer, brands like that. Who would just leave that stuff behind!? But hey, that's not the weirdest thing to happen today. I told you about Brit freaking out about going into the woods and digging a hole in order to do her business? Well when she came back all of her angst and complaints were gone! I was starting to think she, you know, pooped them out of her? Her eyes were aglow with excitement! I've only seen her like that when there was a big sale at her favorite boutique. I'm glad she found something to give her some joy about being out here but the source of her happiness is worrying me a little. She sat back down on the log next to me and the fire and giddily exclaimed, "Guess what I saw, Scott!" I smiled thinking she must have spotted a deer or something but she replied when I guessed that, "No! A big dog with antlers! At first I was scared because it was really big but then I kept staring and realized it was so CUTE!!" I wonder if she has heat stroke. She's still out by the fire while I'm writing this. She knows I like my privacy while I write in my journal. I'd better go out and check on her. And bring her some more water. I hope I haven't pushed her too far.

June 3rd, 2012

Today was our first full day at the backcountry campground and Brittany and I spent it exploring the surrounding area and getting to know the other people here. Remember yesterday when I said that I was going to ask Warren if he knew about anymore good hiking spots since he knew about this hidden campground? Well, it turns out he had never seen the trail that led to here before either and decided to take it out of curiosity just like me! And as I went around to talk to the rest of the campers they said the same thing. But I was right about him knowing some other great spots and he clued me in to some great ones! I can't wait to check them out.

Turns out I was sort of right about the little boy and his dad. The father approached me later this afternoon and asked if I knew some good ideas on how to bond while camping. He said his wife and he had got a divorce back when she was pregnant with their son whose name is Matt. He had been out of Matt's life up until the last few months when he'd turned his life around and decided to try to have a relationship with his boy. I feel even more sorry for Matt now. It must be strange to have your dad just show up out of the blue after years of not knowing him then have said dad drag you out into the middle of nowhere to bond. The dad's name is James by the way. I felt a little judgmental about him when he first told his story to me but after seeing the way he really wants to bond with his son now, maybe he really has made a turn around? I guess I'll just pray for the best between those two.

The teenage girl is named Sammie and she came over to our tent out of boredom tonight after watching her parents identify insects for the last four hours. She says she loves the woods but not for the same reason as her parents. She wishes she could just explore and enjoy the beauty and freedom the forest gives instead of hearing a long list of scientific names spewing out of her parents' mouths day in and day out. She seems like she'd get along well with me as well as Warren. I love something she said to me, "Nature is so much more than a science experiment." I think this girl has her head in the right place. I never really got to talk with her parents but she said their names are Robert and Cindy. I can tell they are very submerged in their work at the moment so I decided to leave them be. They seem like the type who's conversation could go over my head in about five seconds anyway.

I found something really cool when exploring the area today. Brittany tagged along hoping to see her elk-dog again and Warren decided to join us as well. There are no trails other than the one leading out at the campground so I just used my G.P.S and we trail blazed a little. Brit did pretty well for her first time walking in the woods without a trail. She only fell in a leave-covered hole three times and only cried when she did it twice! The last time she just laughed. I really think she is starting to see the fun in this. I'm so glad. Oh, but I'm getting off topic here. We found an old house! It's clearly been abandoned for a long, long time. It's like a little Victorian era cottage. White wooden siding with intricate details around the roof. It's halfway falling down now and is covered in vines and bushes. The paint was peeling off of the siding and porch. It was beautiful and intriguing despite the disarray it was in. Or perhaps that just added to the charm. I'm not sure. But by the time we found it we were afraid we wouldn't make it back to camp until dark so we are going to go back and explore it tomorrow. I may ask Sammie if she wants to come too. This sounds like something she may like. It's better than Latin bug names at least!

June 4th, 2012

I explored the house today and it lived up to my expectations. It took a long, long time for the four of us to find it again. Yes, four. I was right, Sammie wanted to come with us. When we finally ran up on the decrepit house again it was already pushing into late afternoon/early evening. The sunset filtered through the trees, shining on the old house and painting it a light orange hue. The four of us just stood and stared at it for a few minutes. At first in awe of it but then in curiosity and for myself; I was planning on how to approach entering the rotted home. Finally I decided just to jump over the decayed hole in the middle of the front porch. Warren and I told the ladies that we'd test out the floor first just in case it wasn't stable. Brit seemed relieved and Sammie seemed annoyed and disappointed. The girl has a real love of adventure.

Warren and I pushed open the aged front door. It was hanging half off it's hinges and spattered with green moss and gray patches where the white paint had chipped off. Entering it we found a whole different world. It was almost as if we'd stepped back in time. Antique furniture was placed in the house just as it would have been back when it was in it's heyday, apart from magnificent amounts of dust, moss, mold, and grime. And the occasional bird's nest or other traces of animal life. Every step we took made the weary boards under our feet quiver and whine. The first room we entered was the living room. The orange sun cast it's light on an old burgundy velvet couch with sumptuous curves and a detailed cherry wood frame. Along with it were a green velvet wing-back chair and an old wooden rocker to keep it company. Under the couch was a chewed up oriental rug. Two bulbous kerosene lamps adorned two tables on either side of the couch and one lamp that had been sitting on a writing desk near the window had been knocked over with it's glass shards scattered around the room. Yellowed floral wallpaper hung in stips from the walls. The fireplace in the center of the room had black, ashen raccoon pawprints scrambling from it's mouth in all directions and on top were something Warren and I both found unnerving; nearly a dozen taxidermied animal heads.

There were several large bucks with spiders living in webs strewn across their mighty antlers. A couple of wolves and three foxes, two red and one gray. All staring at us with ancient, foggy, blank glass eyes. Some had hair loss and other damage. Others looked like they'd been nibbled on by some sort of animal. Then I noticed on the very far right there was an empty head mount with a note hung on it. I read the beautiful script on the paper. It was hard to make out after so many years of wear but I believe it said "For the Woltage"? What on earth is a Woltage? Looks like I'll never know since it seemed the old hunter never found one. After exploring the living room Warren went back to give the ladies a tour while I split off from him, too curious to see the rest of the house to wait and witness their reactions to the old place.

I wandered into the kitchen. There was an old, black wood burning stove in the left corner with a metal pot still resting on top of it as if the owner had been in the middle of cooking something when the place was abandoned. In fact, upon closer inspection it seemed that was the case, a pile of fugus in the cookware showed there used to be food in it. That unnerves me sitting here in the tent thinking about it just as much as when I realized it in the old kitchen. The kitchen table was scratched and the legs looked to have been gnawed on by an animal. China dishes were broken all over the floor and long wilted sticks which I believe used to be flowers sat in a milk glass vase in the center of the table. Why would someone just leave everything like this? Just abandon it? It makes me think now of the abandoned tent and equipment that's sitting not 10 feet away from where I am right now. It's really starting to bug me but I can't let my mind get too carried away. There has to be a sane explanation.

Well back to exploring the old house. I walked back into the dusty hallway that connected the lower floor rooms and went to the right down the dark corridor to the next closed, chipped door. I wiggled the knob and found it was unlocked. This must have been the master bedroom. A large cherry wood bed with large posts was the focal point in the room with two nightstands equipped with bronze metal kerosene lamps with blue globes. There was an old piano with raggedy, yellowed keys sitting in the corner of the room. I walked over to it to try to see if it would still make a sound and stepped on something. I looked down and saw fur and cold dead eyes. I'm ashamed to say I probably jumped 3 feet in the air and made a less than manly sound. Turns out it was just a taxidermied fox that something had knocked off a nearby table. Regaining my composure and patching up my pride with the fact no one had seen me do that, I stepped over the poor animal and made my way over to the piano by the window. I picked out a key that looked the most attached to the piano and gingerly tapped it. Hearing it make a faint sound I tapped it harder and an out of tune gong resonated through the rest of the house. It was much louder than I'd meant it to be. Turns out I'd scared the rest of the group who had made it to the kitchen by then. Oops! I turned around and walked back across the room, noticing a beautiful old dresser with a cracked mirror and glass perfume bottles with gold metal wound intricately around them still sitting on it and stepped back out into the dark, windowless hallway. Squinting to the right at the end of the hallway I noticed the silhouette of a stairway. I decided to check out the upstairs.

Checking every creaky step I finally climbed the small staircase. At the top was a doorway with it's door smashed on the ground as if someone had broken into the room. Maybe we weren't the first ones to find this old place? Peering in I noticed this looked like a child's bedroom. Going by the color of the objects in the room (and a few gender stereotypes) I decided this was a little girl's room. There were dusty wallpaper with pink roses barely still stuck to the wall. A little white canopy bed sat in the corner of the room with ripped pink lace hanging from the posts. The quilt was pulled off the bed and ripped in several places with what looked to be large claws. I thought it may be a bear at first until I noticed some brown fur stuck to the quilt. We don't have brown bear here in Kentucky so it couldn't be. I moved the ripped quilt and found something very interesting! An old book. Turns out it's the little girl's diary. I can't wait to read it and learn more about this family. I stooped down to pick it up and saw something move out of the corner of my eye. Like a shadow moving across the room. I looked over at the dim window. The sun was almost down by then and I realized I'd better get everyone home. The shadow was probably a bird flying past the window.

I walked down the creaky stairs and met Warren and the others back in the living room. Everyone seemed extremely happy with what they'd found in the house. It'd satisfied everyone's curiosity so we decided to head back to camp before it became too dark to see. I didn't expect us to take that long to find the old house again so I hadn't brought a flashlight. I should have known better. It's always good to be prepared for anything that may happen in the forest. Oh well. At least I'll know better next time. By the time we all made it back to camp we were exhausted. Sammie walked over to her parents to tell them about her day and Brittany plopped down on a log and massaged her aching feet. I made her some dinner from our MRE's then started writing in here. It's starting to get late. I guess I'll have to read the little girl's diary tomorrow.

June 5th, 2012

I usually save writing in here until night so that I'll be able to talk about my day but I figured I'd make an early entry. I'm up at six o'clock today because I was just too curious about the little girl's diary. I don't know why I'm so drawn to it. I thought I'd write down anything interesting I found in here. I really want to know why they just left everything like this.

So it turns out the girl's name was Annie MacKay. She was an only child and her parents were immigrants from Scotland. Her father was a successful hunter, taxidermist, and fur trapper. She got her diary for Christmas at the age of seven along with a fox fur coat her father made for her. That's so sweet even though I hate fur. But I have to remember that was a common thing back then since there were no alternatives to fur. Annie was an only child and her mother taught her school at home since her mother was a schoolteacher back in Scotland. She seemed to have a wonderful personality. A lot like me actually now that I think about it. She has shown her disdain for school already and I've only read a few entries. She'd much rather be out playing in the forest. She seemed to love flowers since she's pressed several into the pages of this diary. That must have been what she went out to find in the forest. She also really seemed to like to sketch things. For a seven year old she was very talented. There is several pages of animal drawings as well as flowers and trees. I think I like Annie. She seemed to be very sweet.

In other news I think Brittany and I are just going to hang out around camp for a while. She's still very tired from our adventure yesterday. That's fine. I'll just read more of the diary and maybe look at that abandoned camping stuff again. Maybe there'll be something salvageable I can use. I'll write more later. I just want to read more for now.

Turns out Brittany WASN'T crazy! James and Matt were out in the forest trailblazing and trying to bond and they saw that animal she said she saw! The wolf with the elk antlers. Matt said he saw hooves on it's back legs. This is insane!! How on Earth could something like this exist and no one find it before now?! I thought before Brittany was just tired and had either hallucinated it or had seen a coyote and some branches sticking up behind it and thought it was a strange creature. James and Matt both came back to the camp running and laughing with a spark in their eyes. It seemed whatever they saw had helped them do what they'd set out to do on this trip in the first place. Good for them. Robert and Cindy of course are both skeptical, amazed, and terribly curious. James says they were walking around enjoying the scenery when they noticed something out of the corner of their eyes. They looked to the left and it was standing about seven feet away from them! It was solid brown with deep blue eyes and had small antlers on it's head. James said it looked at them with the strangest expression on it's face. It just stood there for a long time. So they got a good look at it. Then it looked startled and turned it's head as if it'd heard something, gave them one last look, then turned and darted back into the forest with a gait that was both trotting like a canine and gracefully bounding like a deer. Matt says the thing that really stood out for him were the eyes. Not necessarily the odd color but their essence in general. He says they were very intelligent looking.

I just can't get over the fact it may actually exist! How is this possible? I've been hiking in these woods since I was a tiny little boy with my dad! We've seen just about every animal there is in this forest, or so we thought. Even if it is real what the heck is it? Is it some weird product of a wolf/elk love affair? Is that possible? Robert thinks it could be some evolutionary link between deer and canines. I don't believe in evolution so I can't say I support his belief but it is something to think about. We've all been talking to Brittany about what she'd seen and are comparing the differences and similarities. And of course Robert and Cindy have been writing notes like there's no tomorrow. Apparently Brittany saw another creature of the same species. She said her's was black with yellow eyes and very large antlers. Warren theorized that maybe that was a male Brittany saw and a female that James and Matt saw considering the difference in antler size. Cindy seems to agree with him but also thinks if it's not a gender difference that it could have just been that Brittany had seen an adult and James and Matt had seen an adolescent. Either way this is terribly fascinating. I'll have to finish reading Annie's diary later. This is too exciting to miss. We are thinking about all going into the forest tomorrow to look for more of the creatures. I can't help thinking about what I saw at the old house. The mount reserved for the "Woltage", the brown fur on the ripped quilt, and the busted down door. Could all that be pointing toward this creature really existing? I'm not sure if I can sleep tonight. Everything is so exhilarating!

June 6th, 2012

I finally got to sleep around 4 o'clock this morning and slept until 8. So I got four hours of sleep at least. I spent most of my night deep in thought about the new creature and looking out my tent's door every time I heard a rustling of the leaves or a crunch of a stick under someone or something's feet. Most of the time it turned out to be a squirrel or someone from our camp. But other times I looked out and saw nothing. Once when I looked out I swear I saw yellow eyes staring at me from the shadows of the forest. But it disappeared too quick to tell for sure. Maybe I was just too excited about what I'd heard last night.

After making another dried, ready to eat meal for breakfast, everyone strapped on their day packs and prepared to go out looking for more strange creatures. This is becoming less of a hiking trip and more of a mystery every day it seems. Sadly after looking for eight hours straight our little group didn't find anything. So we returned to camp and disappointingly sulked around camp doing what needed to be done. Like bathing and preparing food. Robert tried to cheer everyone up by saying that sometimes naturalists only glimpse well known animals their studying weeks at time. That's true I guess but I just really wanted to see it for myself. I decided to check out the abandoned tent today. I really wish I hadn't. Remember how I said it was ripped up? Well I hadn't looked inside it yet. There was blood and black fur everywhere. I wonder if the hiker had been attacked by a bear? There was no sign of a body anywhere. I'll have to report this to a park ranger when we hike back out of here next week. Brittany cried when I told her what I'd found in the tent and seemed scared the rest of the night. I didn't mean to freak her out I just figured she needed to know. Robert and Cindy are going back out to look for the creature tomorrow. I think I'll stay behind tomorrow. I don't need anymore disappointment right now. No matter how curious I am.

June 7th, 2012

Oh my gosh! Early this morning Brittany and I woke up to the strangest noise. It was a screech that almost sounded like two cars scraping together. I would have sworn it was something mechanical if it weren't for the low, growling undertone it had. I've never heard anything like that in my life. Brittany was still really scared after I told her about finding blood in the abandoned tent and started to cry. I held her the rest of the night and tried to calm her down. She kept saying she wanted to go home now. But I reminded her about the new animal and asked her if she wanted to find it again. She said yes and I told her then she had to keep calm and stay for a little while longer. That bear attacks happen and that we were safer than the hiker who had that tent. That I knew all of the proper techniques to prevent a bear attack. Finally she calmed down enough to fall back to sleep for an hour. I stayed up and held her. I really didn't mean to scare her like I did. Maybe I should have kept my findings from her? I sat there wondering what made that sound. I wonder if it was the creature?

Sammie is going to be staying in our tent tonight. Robert and Cindy went out to look for the creature this morning and they haven't returned to camp yet. It's already almost eleven o'clock. Poor Sammie is getting worried. I don't blame her. If they don't return by morning we'll need to send someone to look for them and have someone hike out to report the incident to the park rangers. Right now we are just trying to comfort Sammie as much as we can. Maybe they just got lost? I mean they are trailblazing. I think I'll try to keep her entertained by letting her read Annie's diary with me.

June 8th, 2012

I knew it! I just knew it! Annie's diary mentioned the creature. She said she saw one when looking for wildflowers in her entry on April 28th, 1892. She said she told her dad about it and he wants to try to hunt it. She didn't want him to saying it was too pretty to be killed but he wouldn't listen. Then on her April 29th entry she drew a sketch of it. It looks just as Brittany, James, and Matt said. Then on the second of May her father spotted the creature but was unable to get a clear shot so it escaped. After that she says her father became more and more obsessed with finding the creature. He named it the Woltage and made a mount for it's head for when he could bring one down. She mentions being very worried about him. He would leave on hunting trips more and more frequently and stay out longer and longer. It's starting to get light now. We need to all meet outside to organize the search party for Robert and Cindy. I'll let you know how that goes.
Running woltage sketch five

Sketch found in diary

Ugh. Still no sign of them. I was chosen among the group to go out and tell the park rangers about the disappearances. Warren took the others out to search for Robert and Cindy. Both of us were unsuccessful in our missions. I don't know how we're going to get out of here. I couldn't find my way back out to the Dog Slaughter Falls trail! It is like the brush has grown up around the trail already! And when I walked in the direction the trail was at there were several tiny offshoots of trails I hadn't seen before. I didn't know which one was the real trail so I just picked one. I walked and walked for about five miles then ended up back on the other side of our campground! It had taken me in a circle. So I started back down the trail again and chose another offshoot and after walking for two miles I saw it. It just jumped right in front of me onto the trail. The brown woltage with the blue eyes. It looked distressed but it didn't run away. It stood there staring at me. And it wouldn't move. "What do you want!?" I eventually asked it. And it almost seemed to answer me. It gave a screeching whimper. Over and over again. Turning in circles as if it were a house dog trying to tell me it needed outside to do it's business. I continued to watch the creature for several more minutes in awe of what I was seeing. But then it stopped circling and whimpering and stood motionless in front of me. Staring into my eyes. And then it changed. It bared its teeth as they became longer than what was biologically possible. It's eyes turned red and it grew in size. Blood spurted from its neck as an appendage that looked like ripped flesh shot out of the bleeding hole. Toward me. I jumped back and started to back away from the now menacing animal. It let out a familiar sound. The screech I'd heard last night. I tripped over a root and fell on my back and let out a scream.

Then it changed again. It's eyes softened and became blue once more. it's teeth shrunk to a normal size and the tendril retreated back into it's furry neck. When it returned to it's normal appearance I saw that it's eyes looked frightened and confused. It cowered low and whimpered. Then ran away into the forest. I got up and ran down the trail back toward camp. It was nearing the end of the day and the sun was getting frighteningly close to the treeline. I didn't want to be out here in the dark with those things. I didn't want to be out in the forest at all for once in my life. But I couldn't help but think back to what had just happened. The woltage had looked very upset before it changed. Then it looked almost as if something had snapped in it and then it realized what it'd done, reverted back to its old appearance and seemed very guilty and frightened by what it'd just did. It was strange but I suddenly felt more pity than fear of the creature. It had a conscience it seemed. I slowed to a brisk walk and tried to see in the overgrowing darkness. But the trail was so small I got lost and found myself in the middle of the forest with no trail and no idea where I was or how to get back. I continued to walk, hoping that the direction I picked was back to the campsite. I hoped that the rest of the group had found Cindy and Robert. I just wanted everything to be okay.

Finally I stumbled into a clearing and found myself back at camp. Thank goodness my inner compass was right. I saw the rest of the group sitting near a fire and noticed Robert and Cindy were still nowhere in sight. Sammie sat on a log with her head in her hands and I noticed they were one short. Matt was missing as well. James was pacing back and forth near his tent shaking his head and looking as one would expect someone to look if they'd lost their son in the forest. I ran up to Brittany who was sobbing and close to hysterics and asked her what had happened. "He.. he saw one of the creatures." She could barely make the sentence in her panic. "He ran after it and we heard that noise again. Then we went to get him and he'd disappeared. We searched and searched. He's gone. Just like the others." She hugged me tight and I rubbed her back to try to calm her down. We all moved our tents closer together tonight. So that we'd be close in case someone needed help. I'm going to keep reading Annie's journal tonight. I need to know what happened to her and her family. Three people's lives may depend on it.

June 9th, 2012

I read Annie's diary all night last night. All the way up to the October 13th post. That entry looked different than the others. The script looked messy and hurried and the page that was already stained with age was stained with little drops. It looked like tear stains. Here is what it said word for word. "It is already midnight and Father has not come home from his camping trip. He said he would be back by supper. I am so worried about him. I do not know what to do. I am writing in this because I have no one else to talk to about it. Mama went out to find him a few hours ago. She told me to stay here and to be a good girl and everything will be fine. I can tell it is not though. Something is terribly wrong and I am afraid it has to do with the Woltage. I don't know what else it would be. If they are not home by morning I am going to look for them. I don't know what I will do without them. I need to hear Father call me his "Blue-eyed Lass" again and hear Mama tell me how pretty my hair is. How it is brown just like her's was when she was a girl. I need them. I love them. I can't stay here any longer. I am going to go out looking for them."

Blue eyes, brown hair. It was then it hit me. It was a crazy thought but it was the only thing that made any sense. I jumped out of my sleeping bag and ran out into the dark forest. Looking around at the night I yelled out "Annie?! ANNIE!?!? I know it's you! Please answer me!" Then I just stood there, listening to my cries echo into the trees until finally I heard a rustling. The brown woltage with the blue eyes jumped out from behind a rock outcropping. Her eyes were wide and alert. Frightened. "I won't hurt you. I know you didn't mean to attack me." I tried to calm her down. Her legs were squared as if she was ready to bound away at any moment and let out a screeching bark. Then another. Then another. Then another. Then she looked behind her and ran suddenly toward me. Stopping a few inches from my face she stared at me with glowing blue eyes and nudged me with her nose. Over and over. Then looked behind her again. Another nudge then a whimper and she disappeared into the dark. I stood in a daze for a few minutes until I heard more rustling in the bushes. "Annie?" I called. A strange screech resonated from the bushes but it didn't sound like any I'd ever heard in the past few days. It almost sounded like it was forming syllables. The syllables "help... me"

With a growl a black and gray woltage with red eyes and long teeth dripping with saliva strolled out of the bushes. It's fleshy tendril was distended and stretched back behind it into the bushes. Suddenly its head snapped around to look at the bush and let out a menacing roar and pulled it's tendril forward. A new creature was jerked into the clearing. The only way to describe it was half human and half animal. A partially human face with a small half formed snout with canine teeth yet very human eyes stared up at me. His clothes were hanging in tatters and patches of fur were growing all over his body. His fingers and toes were fused partially together and a bony tail protruded from his rear. Worst of all the woltage's fleshy tendril was buried deep into a bloody wound in his neck. "Help me please." He screeched in a half human voice staring at me with tear filled eyes. I felt my heart begin to pound so hard I could see each beat jolting in my eyes. Every thought in my head told me to run but I couldn't get my legs to move. Another Woltage entered the forest meadow and steadied his bloody muscle on me. Then suddenly there was a brown blur and the other woltage went flying through the air. The blur ran forward and I saw blue eyes heading my way. Annie. She scooped me onto her back and we blazed through the forest with the other unattached creature in pursuit. She ducked and jumped over brush and took winding, complicated turns as I just focused on holding on and not hitting any tree branches. Annie was much smaller than the other woltage and each bound brought him closer and closer to us. His yellow eyes pierced mine every time I dared to look back. I knew I was done for when I saw his teeth nearing Annie's chocolate brown tail but just as he was about to close in Annie took a sharp right toward an indian rockhouse. She squeezed through a small crevasse. I looked back to see the large black woltage trying to squeeze through. I knew he'd eventually make it, but at least Annie bought me time. After riding for what felt like a lifetime we arrived at my campsite. She stopped just outside the clearing and I jumped down. I looked in her eyes and rubbed her snout. "Thank you Annie. I'm so sorry this happened to you." I whispered. She whimpered and nuzzled me before vaulting back into the blackness. I walked back into the campground where everyone was outside calling my name. Seeing me they were full of questions. I told them everything and to be careful. I didn't know if the black woltage would be back for us. For me. I have this nagging feeling that I lead them all here. Who knows how many there are out there. I've been up now for hours. It's almost four o'clock in the morning. We are hours from the sun coming up. This is the longest night of my life. I just want everyone to be safe. Oh no. I just heard a screech outside. I'm going to check if it's Annie.

January 5th, 2013

I was out hiking with my boyfriend and we found this cool backwood campground! I can't believe I found this. I've taken the Dogslaughter Falls trail so many times. Ever since I was a little girl. The campground is strange though. It's full of ripped up tents. I found this journal in one of them. I've been wanting a journal so maybe I can use this one. I haven't read what the former owner has written yet but it could be interesting. I wonder if he knows about the strange animal I saw today. It was a canine with deer antlers! Everyone back home will think I'm crazy I know but I saw it! I wonder if I can get proof of it's existence? I may go out hiking tomorrow and find out. What an amazing find!

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