The year my parents got divorced was odd and uncomfortable. They argued a lot more in front of me, some days the tension was so tight it felt like they both might snap. When school ended, they decided to send me off to my Aunt and Uncle's house for the summer, so I wouldn't have to be there during all the court proceedings.

They thought they were protecting me from learning the real reason behind the divorce, but I already knew. During a yelling match between them, Mom broke their unity candle and Dad lost it. He slapped her, hard, a couple times and she fell over the coffee table. The stress and injury caused her to miscarry the baby they planned to announce a few weeks later.

I heard it all. I had come home early from a friend's house, and I sat on the porch to wait for them to stop yelling. When I heard her fall, I panicked and ran back to my friend's house. I made up a story about how they went out and locked the house so he wouldn't be suspicious. Later that week I heard Mom crying in the middle of the night about losing the baby. Out at Aunt Laura's, I had plenty of room to roam around and explore. She and Uncle Joe owned 200 acres of farm land and 100 acres of forest.

Uncle Joe inherited it when his Aunt and Uncle passed. They never had children, but he worked on the farm and was like a child to them, so they left it to him. They added on to the farm house, made an additional bedroom and a library because Aunt Laura loved to read and they planned on having a child some day.

For the first week or so, I spent most days reading books from the library and didn't venture too far from the house. I helped out with farm chores from time to time, but only when I was needed. They usually had an older boy from down the road do the chores for a little money. {C}I finally settled in to being around the farm so I started to wander more.

Some days I stayed out from just after breakfast until dinner was ready. The pastures were easy to walk around, sometimes I found the remains of old fences and animal bones. One day I happened upon what I figured was the original farm site that was torn down some 40–50 years before. All that really remained was a very broken picket fence, a few lilac bushes, now almost trees, and a very beaten scarecrow lying on the ground where the garden used to be.

Bored with wandering the pastures, I took to exploring the woods. My first day out was great, I watched a herd of deer walk through the woods, nibbling here and there, found a large creek with fish swimming in it and even saw an owl catch a mouse. On my way home I nearly stepped in an old bear trap, that kind of freaked me out. I used a heavy stick to push the trigger, and it kind of closed, it was too rusted to fully snap shut. I carried it back and Uncle Joe told me to keep an eye out from them and bring home any I find. He would take them to the scrap yard and turn them in for a little cash.

The forest was a lot more fun to explore. I saw all kinds of critters, rabbits, skunks, opossums, raccoons, a variety of pretty birds and I would sometimes come across wild growing vegetables and fruits. I was casually walking deeper into the forest when I noticed that the trees seemed smaller, younger than all of the others. I walked further towards the middle of the new growth and eventually found a small cinder block ledge. Walking around to the other side, I saw that it had stairs that led down into the ground, and a door was visible at the bottom. Feeling uncomfortable I decided to head home early, not wanting to disturb someone living out there.

I asked Joe about it and he said it was abandoned long ago. Before his Aunt and Uncle bought that section of the property, the man who owned it was a very paranoid person. He dug his own bomb shelter, fearing some type of attack, and didn't trust construction companies to build it properly. His house was the one that was torn down out in the pasture, the forest was off to the south from the home. Thinking more about it, I realized that I was south of the old homestead I came across.

Joe's Aunt and Uncle tore the house down since it was in disrepair anyhow, and he stumbled upon the bomb shelter when he worked on the farm. Feeling less disturbed about the shelter, I asked it if was okay to look around down there. Joe okay'd it, saying the structure was very well built and after dinner he helped me find several lanterns to help light the place up. He joked that I probably shouldn't eat any of the food, but if I find anything interesting I should bring it back.

Aunt Laura said to definitely bring books back if I found any. The next morning, I was really excited about exploring the shelter, I scarfed my breakfast down, grabbed the lunch Laura packed for me and headed out with a backpack full of lanterns.

{C}I found the site quickly enough, took a deep breath to steady my nerves, then went down the steps and pushed against the door. It took a little might, but I eventually shoved it open. I stood there for a minute, opening and closing the door to loosed the hinges a bit, then lit a lantern and hung it just inside the entrance.

From there I could see a short hall that opened into a larger room, but the light wasn't enough to see past the doorway. I lit another lantern and moved forward into the large room, it must have been 10 feet by 15 feet at least. A long table sat against one wall, shelves took up two others, and the last wall had another doorway.

I ended up hanging two lanterns just to light to room decently, and started to look around more. On the shelves there were dozens of cans of food, as well as boxes of powdered food and emergency kits. I ran across a box with three gas masks tucked in it, decided they were neat enough to take back. I unloaded the remaining lanterns on the table and put the masks in my bag. On the wall above the table there was a map of the shelter's layout, which was handy. It looked like there were 5 rooms total, 3 more attached to this room and one set off down a hallway. The farthest room was labeled 'lavatory' so it made more sense for such a design.

At the end of the other shelves I found a few books, they appeared to be nuclear preparedness guides and old first aid instruction manuals. Laura would love these, so I packed them away. I grabbed a few more lanterns, lighting one, then went on to the next room. This room looked to be more of a general living space, a couch was covered in dust along with a couple recliners.

On the coffee table there were a few old opened food cans and a coffee cup. Someone must have stayed down here long ago, considering the amount of dust on everything.

I hung up the lanterns and wandered a bit more. I found more books, some light novels and a couple encyclopedias. In a cabinet there was a small chemistry set, an abacus, and a few educational books. I guess this guy was set to continue his kid's education if doomsday came around.

There was an old Erector set, a small one, so I tucked it in my bag. As I lifted my bag up to move on to the next room, I realized how much I had packed away. Figuring I had spent quite a few hours here as it was, I decided to head home.

I doused the lanterns as I left and walked back through the woods, excited to show off what I found. Laura was instantly engrossed in the books, Joe and I laughed about it. We examined the gas masks further and he told me more about them. When I showed him the Erector set, his eyes lit up and he went on for an hour about the sets he had as a kid.

As we ate dinner, we continued to discuss the bunker a bit and Joe remembered that he had bought some electric lanterns,extra lamp oil, and extra wicks so I wouldn't left in the dark if I lost track of time. The next day I ventured back out to the shelter and refilled the lanterns I used before relighting them. I moved on past the living area into what appeared to be the kitchen.

A crude sink sat above a bucket, which I assumed would hold the waste water until they could dump it. Several boxes of camp stove fuel sat untouched under a metal table. Certainly not a gourmet kitchen, a small icebox took up one corner, nonelectric. I peeked inside to see a pool of stagnant, awful smelling water. Quickly closing the lid, I noticed two doorways to choose from.

Glancing into one, I saw it was a hall, so that must go back to the bathroom. Not really interested in the shelter's pooping hole, I moved on into what ended up being the bedroom portion of the shelter. 2 beds took up one wall, a double bed for the parents, and a single bed for their kid. The dresser on the parent's side was empty aside from a change of sheets in the bottom drawer. The kid's dresser appeared to be the same, but as I closed the small top drawer, it sounded strange.

I reopened it and looked a little more carefully inside and realized it wasn't as deep as it should be. I removed the false bottom and found what looked to be a cheap leather bound diary, a rosary and a small bible. I put the rosary and bible in my bag, but the diary held my attention more. I sat on the bed and flipped through the pages quickly. It was a bit dusty, yellowed and some pages were ripped, the leather was worn and scratched with a few holes here and there. Intrigued, I turned back to the beginning of the book and started to read it.

17, May, 1965

Mom and Dad are fighting again. She hates his paranoia, keeps calling him a crackpot and he's threatening to leave her to the commies, again. I wish they would just divorce, but they won't even consider it. Johnny's parents divorced and they're doing just fine. His dad is even talking about remarrying. I finally got Dad to show me how to shoot the .22.

Mom hates the idea of me handling a gun, but if I'm going to join the army someday I should know how to. Dad's right about her sometimes. She's some liberal hippy supporter, bitching about peace and love, ignoring the realities of the world. I can't wait until I turn 18 and can join up, get away from this house.

20, May, 1965

Dad caught me down here again, chewed me out real good. He says I shouldn't come down here, that I might contaminate the place. Summer is coming up, so I'll be busy with farm chores if I can't get a job in town. Hopefully the pharmacy is still looking for summer help.

4, July 1965

Dad popped Mom for running her mouth at him again. She called the cops on him and now there's some big issue. He's a mean drunk, she knows that, and he's always drunk on the holiday. She can be a real bitch sometimes.

12, September 1965

School is starting up soon, I haven't seen Johnny since his Dad and his Dad's new girl took him to California. Last we talked he said he was going to see that park Walt Disney built, I hope he got a couple pictures. I can't wait to hear about how much fun that place is. He'll be the talk of the school all year.

29, April, 1966

Snow buried the shelter, so I was stuck in the house all winter. I hate hearing my parents fight. They are at each other almost all the time now. Dad gave me a black eye when I suggested a divorce. I'm sick and tired of this. 3 more years and I can leave here for good.

11, June, 1966.

I thought I saw someone down here when I came in, but it must have been my imagination. I hope the bed is comfy, I'm camping out here for a couple nights. Told Mom and Dad I was going to Johnny's but he's with his Mom on the other side of the state right now. His Dad remarried and is off on a honeymoon. I just needed to get out of the house. Night after night of fighting is driving me crazy.

The light above my head flickered and startled me. It must be running low on oil, crap. I looked around and saw that I was nearly in complete darkness. I turned on one of the new lamps and refilled the one other lanterns as I left the shelter. I probably missed dinner, I shouldn't have lost track of time like that.

Walking home in the dark was strange, I hadn't stayed out after dark out here before. I could see fireflies in the pasture and the faint light of the house as I trudged through the woods. Aunt Laura reheated some food for me when I came in, and I told them about the bedroom it the shelter. As I pulled out the rosary and bible I realized I left the diary on the bed.

I couldn't think about it too much though, the subject suddenly changed as Joe and Laura remembered they had news for me. Mom had called, she and Dad weren't doing well. Their last fight resulted in her getting a bruised face and Dad is in jail for the night. She called to tell Laura, but didn't intend for me to know. Laura hated that they were keeping the situation so secret from me, so she felt it was worth telling me about it. I told her and Joe that I knew a lot more than my parents were aware about, but I still felt depressed about what's took place.

The next day I took extra food and decided to sleep over in the shelter. Joe came out with me and explained more of the shelter's features to me. The radio installed in the wall, the vent fans and pipes that led to grating above the entrance door, we even checked out the bathroom and it was surprisingly clean. After noon Joe headed back home, leaving me alone in the shelter. He left a walkie talkie so I could call them if there was trouble. I turned the other lanterns low, went back to the bedroom and laid on the bed to read more of the diary.

12, June, 1966

I think someone might be out in these woods. I heard noises that weren't from any animal I know of around here. It's one in the morning, and if they try breaking in here I'm gonna shoot them. Probably just some marijuana smoking hippie, lost in the woods. A bunch of queers came into town a few nights ago, following some band.

12, June, 1966

I wandered the woods a bit to kill some time. It's pretty boring out here, but I found a creek I can fish in later this summer. I also found this strange hole in the ground. Probably some critter den, but it looked like it went straight down. It smelled strange too, like someone dumped perfume down there.

12, June, 1966

I read some of the books Dad left down here. Kinda boring, but it passed the time. I know how the basics of first aid now, that has to be good for something, right?

13, June, 1966

I should probably head home later today. I heard more strange noises overnight, couldn't sleep well. I'm starting to wonder if we have squatters out in the woods somewhere. Might have to search more, maybe tell Dad I saw signs of commies. He'd come storming out here with his shotgun ready t...

The page was torn, and the next few appeared to be missing. Odd, but then again it is rather old.

27, August, 1966

So much for writing in this at home. Dad caught me and freaked out, screaming about communications with the red bastards, giving them coded messages. He tore the hell out of this before Mom shouted at him and he turned on her. He spending the night in jail, Mom's got a broken arm. He only bloodied my nose, so I guess I'll be okay.

28, August, 1966

I don't feel like going home. Mom knows I'm out here, Dad doesn't, but who knows if Mom will even talk to him when he gets home. I guess this place just makes weird noises at night, it kind of freaks me out.

30, August, 1966

I snuck out to town, met up with Johnny and saw a movie. Should have picked something other than the horror film, but he was so worked up about seeing it. Walking home through the woods had me on edge thanks to that stupid movie. My imagination is messing with me, I keep thinking there's something following me around.

31, August, 1966

The police released Dad today. I was heading home to get some more food, but I could hear him shouting 50 feet away. Guess I'll just chow on some 'emergency' food. He won't notice a can or two missing. He's not that paranoid.

31, August, 1966

Something is down here with me. I can hear it moving around, and I swear I felt its breath on my neck as I was sleeping. I don't know where it is, but I don't think it's human. Not sure if I'll get back to sleep.

1, September, 1966

Went fishing yesterday, tried to ease my mind. The day was slow, and I fell asleep early. I woke up and saw something holding my diary. It vanished before I got a good look at it, but I think it was some kinda alien. It was lanky and reddish, with a weird bulky body. I can't stop shaking. I don't know what this thing wants, but it was reading my diary.

1, September, 1966

God, please forgive me. Please forgive my family. I don't know what I did to deserve this.

2, September, 1966

The police are idiots, all of them. They're calling it a murder/suicide, but that's not what happened. That thing, that thing did this, it killed them, that has to be it. Dad had a temper, but he wouldn't kill Mom, and he certainly wouldn't kill himself. He wouldn't damn himself to Hell, he just wouldn't. God, please, please help.

3 September 1966

I tried telling the police, I tried to warn them about that thing, but they wouldn't listen. I saw it again, last night. It came back and sat on me to wake me up. I stared up at that, that thing and all I saw was this mouth splitting its round head. So many sharp teeth, so many in that smile it game me.

4, September, 1966

Fuck those pigs, they won't listen, those assholes. I'm safe down here, they can't drag me away to the nuthouse. I won't be silenced, this has to be some alien, like that Roswell shit. They won't find this shelter.

The diary ended there, and I shivered in a cold sweat. I felt dirty for reading this all the sudden. I checked the time and there was still daylight left, so I ventured out to walk in the woods. I needed to get out of the dark shelter and just try to relax. As I wandered down to the creek, I told myself that book was left there as a prank. The kid must have thought it would be funny to leave that there, to play a joke on whoever bought the property. That was a sick joke to try and pull on someone.

I watched the fish swim for a while, and gradually forgot about dairy and its contents. Nagging thoughts came and went. Why did the crazy man move away? Could it be possible that he did die? I told myself to ask Laura and Joe when I got home, and put it out of my mind. As dusk came, I had almost entirely put the story from the diary from my mind, and was feeling hungry. I walked back to the shelter, turned up the lanterns and opened up some of the food I packed. After I ate, I felt quite tired, so I went to bed.

I tossed and turned all night. The bed wasn't that comfortable and I had strange dreams brought on by that stupid diary. Red monsters filled my dreams, and I woke several times, sweaty and out of breath. The next day I got home and showered, then decided to go into town with Joe as he went to do some shopping. He usually spent all day in town, catching up with people, so I figured I could use the time to investigate what really happened at the library. I entered the small brick building and a librarian directed me to the town news archives. I thanked her then started to sort through the tomes of newspaper scans. I quickly found the 1966 papers and skimmed through to the September papers.

I glanced at the front page and my eyes widened in horror. 'COUPLE FOUND DEAD IN HOME' was the headline. I skimmed the story and saw that the son was deemed missing. I quickly found the next day's paper, the police said it was murder suicide, son was found, but he ran off and police were searching for him. The next day, son went to police station, raving like a mad man, then left again. Police were in full search, fearing he may be a danger. People urged to report if they see him. September 4, nothing, September 5, son found wandering forest with gun in hand, police apprehended him safely, hospitalized him due to dehydration.

I read more and more, through 2 months of papers. The police determined the Husband killed his Wife, then himself and closed the case. The son was deemed mentally unstable and institutionalized, a few reports commented that he was ranting about aliens. The house and land were sold cheaply, and a small story on the last page of a paper commented that the house was torn down. I felt like there was a rock in my stomach as I rode home with Uncle Joe.

I didn't say much for the rest of the day, and Laura asked if I was alright over dinner. I asked Joe outright what happened to the crazy man who built the shelter. Joe's face dropped, and he just stared for a minute. The quietly told me about the murder, and admitted the house was torn down so no one would have to live in a house with such a terrible past. Laura commented that she'd heard rumors about the murder, saying that a police officer's kid said there was blood all over, and they'd been ripped apart.

I felt my heart sink knowing that at least parts of the diary were true. I asked about the son, and Joe told me it was determined that he developed schizophrenia and made up the alien. Some people suspected that he murdered his parents out of frustration from all their fighting. He lived in the mental hospital for 20 years before he was found in his room, dead from apparent suicide.

He somehow managed to disembowel himself in the night. I couldn't sleep for nights, I always woke a few hours later from nightmares. Joe and I went back to the shelter to gather lanterns a few days later, and I decided to not go back there ever again. A week passed and I started to sleep easier as I forced myself to forget about the shelter and its tale. I got the news that Dad was home from jail and the divorce was proceeding in court. It would be over soon and I could go home.

As I slept one evening, I felt very at peace in my dreams. I dreamed about a vacation to the east coast we took when I was younger, sitting on the pier to watch the boats, Mom and Dad walking down a ways to get ice cream. As I looked for them down the pier I saw something out of place. Crouching on the edge of my vision, a strange red creature turned towards me. I saw a toothy smile then my dream went black. I woke in the morning feeling shaken and sick.

After going to the bathroom and splashing my face with cool water, I headed to the kitchen for some breakfast. There I saw Joe with is arms around Laura, she was huddled over crying. They both looked at me, their eyes bleary and red, Laura started to cry harder. Joe put his hands on my shoulders and heaved a sigh. “Kiddo, the police stopped by a few minutes ago. Your Mom and Dad have died. They say your Dad snapped and killed your Mom, then took his own life. I know this is hard to hear, but we're here for you. We'll always be here for you.”

3 years and it's still strange to look at their headstones. I stood there and felt the hot tears slide down my cheek as I read and reread their names carved in stone. The bouquet of flowers trembled in my hand as I knelt to place it between them. I breathed deeply and wished them well on the other side, then stood and walked away. Memories of the funeral filled my head as I rode back to Aunt Laura's house. Gray clouds hung overhead as the priest said his sermon and committed them to the ground. Distant rumbles of thunder reminded everyone that the cool autumn storm wasn't going to hold off forever. As we got back to the house, the sky was like night and the moment we hung our coats heavy rain drops thudded on the roof. I was so numb for months, I can't really remember much. I heard the news from Joe and my mind just blanked. I didn't speak for days, barely ate, had fits of sobbing that lasted hours on end. The nightmares were vivid, but brief. That thing was always there to twist my dreams into horrors. I'd dream of vacations, family dinners, and birthdays, and as the dream came to a moment I cherished, it slithered in. It came about and with a wave of its grubby hand it turned my vision into a sprawl of blood and screams.

I was almost immediately placed into counseling, given bi-weekly therapy sessions and for months I cycled through various anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications. Laura and Joe got custody of me, no one argued against it. Staying on the farm wasn't bad I guess. The next summer, Joe hired an excavation crew to dig up the shelter. I didn't ask him to, I didn't even care for the place really. He said it was probably a hazard to have on the property, we didn't need it for anything. I overheard some of the crew asking Laura if there was a dumping site of some kind out there.

As they dug the place up they said they kept smelling something sweet, like a woman's perfume. It took a month before it was removed and filled in. New trees were planted and have been growing well. It took a while before I started wandering the woods again. Laura talked Joe into getting goats, and they liked to jump the fences. I took it upon myself to go and find them, they were usually around the creek playing. As summer came to a close I was feeling better, moving on with my life. Mid august is when the night terrors started.

Every night, I would toss and turn, crying out in my sleep, fighting off the visions. That demon watched me with his grin, mocking me, as I twisted in my sleep. I was hesitant to speak at length about the nightmares to the psychologist. I doubted he could make them go away. As the school year got underway The night terrors waned and I returned to a more normal sleep pattern. School work took my mind off of my grief, no one in my class spoke of it to me. They all knew though, they all whispered about it. Halloween drew closer and I grimaced at the thought of going into town.

All the masks and costumes made me think of that demon that followed me at the edge of my thoughts. The whole night made my stomach turn now, I just wanted it to be over as soon as possible. A couple friends, the only ones who didn't turn tail when I went 'crazy' kept asking about camping out on Halloween. They knew I now lived nearly surrounded by forest, and thought it would be great fun to camp in the 'spooky woods' as they called it. A week before the day I caved in and got permission to camp out there. Joe and Laura were happy to see me doing something normal, I guess I should have been happy too.

We packed more junk food than we could possibly eat, tents, sleeping bags, plenty of lights, and the general camping gear. It was midday when we set out the day before Halloween. The leaves crunched and twigs snapped as we trudged out way out to a clearing near the creek. I had found the spot on my first visit and would picnic there. There were a couple apple trees nearby if we got the urge to eat something that wasn't candy or chips. As we set up camp we heard the roar of a vehicle approach and soon saw Joe ride up on a 4 wheeler. He'd bought it in the spring to get around in the woods more easily.

He told us to keep an eye out for coyotes, and not to let the lanterns get too close to the leaves. He helped hoist tents and made sure we knew how to light and extinguish the small grill we brought for a campfire before heading out and leaving us alone in the woods. After we settled our sleeping spots, the guys wanted to go exploring in the woods, so I showed them along a few lesser used trails. They were like little kids again when we saw a small herd of deer walking through the woods, and they both jumped and shouted when a turkey took off flying. I guess they didn't realize those birds could fly.

We watched fish swim down the creek for a while and took turns seeing who could jump the creek the best. As we meandered back to camp, they felt safer in the woods and didn't stick as close to me. I wasn't paying much attention, the medication made me a little spacey, so I jumped a bit when my friend, Geoff, shouted in a panic. I quickly spun around and saw him waving a bit and looking at the ground. I jogged over, Lyle was gawking as well, and saw that they found another trap. I thought I had cleared those all out of the woods, but I guess I missed a few. As I looked for a decent stick to trigger it, I saw Lyle wave Geoff over to something he had found.

I quickly disabled the trap, this one was in better condition and crunched into the stick, then wen tot see what else they had found. Lyle dug in his pocket and pulled out a small flashlight before crouching down and shining it into a hole. Geoff and I hunkered down too, and the light seemed to be swallowed up into the darkness. Geoff commented that it smelled like honey and flowers, Lyle thought it smelled like his Uncle. We looked at him, a bit confused and he muttered something about him having a condition that made him smell sugary. We pondered what could have made the hole, and as we looked into it I got a creeping sensation of worry.

As dusk started to fall, we lit a fire and dug out the hotdogs we packed into a cooler. We cracked open sodas and happily ate the half burnt hotdogs before diving into some snack cakes. Geoff told us about his trip to Disneyland and made us promise that we would go there after we graduated. As it got dark, we all lit the lanterns hung around camp and Lyle decided it was time for scary stories. He was so excited, he got a new book of horror stories from his older sister.

She was big on the occult and other weird stuff, and always gave him neat gifts. She was a couple years older and already in college, but we saw her from time to time. Lyle eagerly started reading the book, and Geoff and I cracked jokes when the stories got silly. It was nearly midnight by the time he finished the book and we were sore from laughing and joking. A few of the outer lanterns were getting dim, so we put them out before dashing back to camp. As we added oil to the other lamps and tossed a little more wood on the campfire we started to settle down and relax more. Geoff, the sneaky teen he was, grinned like a cat at us before fishing out a small bottle of whiskey he had swiped from his older brother. Lyle and I were apprehensive but we obliged and over the next couple hours the three of us got properly sauced.

Feeling high, happy and sleepy, we doused the remaining lanterns, put a lid over the fire and retired to out tents for the night. I laid awake for a while, reflecting on how the night had been, and how normal I felt again. I don't know when I drifted off, but I roused a bit when I heard a tent unzip and someone stumbled away. I sat up a little and listened, then heard the sound of water hitting leaves and realized one of the guys got up to piss. I rolled over and got comfortable again, and started to drift off when I heard muttering.

The voice sounded confused, and opened my eyes, expecting them to call out for help back to camp. I heard hurried footsteps and suddenly felt on edge. My tent was crashed into and Lyle swore before fumbling to find the zipper. I bolted upright when he hit my tent and quickly grabbed a flashlight. Geoff groaned at us and we heard him start to get up. As Lyle opened my tent, I asked what was going on. He stuttered that he had seen something, and got scared. I asked how big it was, recalling Joe's words about the coyotes, and he said it looked deer sized. Geoff stumbled over and looked bleary eyed. Lyle recounted what he saw and I felt worse with every word he spoke.

“It was big, like, like a deer, but i-it walked funny, like hunched over kinda, li-like a monkey or somethin. It h-had these long skinny arms an' l-legs, and a b-ba-barrel shaped chest, and its h-head was like an egg or b-ball.” He was shaking badly and I couldn't catch my breath. Geoff scoffed at us, still drunk and tired, and told Lyle he must have still been dreaming when he went to piss. Lyle nodded a bit and seemed to calm down, then agreed with him that it was just a dream. Geoff stumbled back to his tent and I sat with Lyle for a while to make sure he relaxed. After a few minutes, he looked at me wide eyed and admitted he was too afraid to go back to his own tent.

I patted his shoulder and let him into my own tent, and we both slept restlessly until morning. It was almost noon when we all got up and Geoff was certainly the worst off of all of us. He spoke only in grunts and groans and barely opened his eyes. Lyle and I on the other hand were alert enough to realize something had eaten much of the food overnight. The cooler was tipped and backpacks ripped open, packages scattered all over. The camp-out was effectively over, so we cleaned up, packed out gear and started the long walk home. Hot showers felt wonderful, and a hot meal settled our bellies. Geoff and Lyle took off that afternoon and as night wore on I took to reading another of Laura's fantasy novels in an effort to ignore trick or treaters.

The winter passed fairly uneventfully, spring came and merged into summer, and as fall approached I paid a visit to my parents graves and marked the start of the month on night terrors. School went smoothly, time moved on, I was finally deemed okay enough to not be medicated anymore and I felt better about life every month. Before I knew it, I was applied to college and celebrating my first day of official adulthood. As I attended college classes, I made a few new friends who teased me relentlessly when they found out I had never had a girlfriend.

Winter semesters started and I decided to take an art class to fill credit requirements, and I figured it might be fun. The first day of class a girl clad in black smiled and waved me over to her. I was confused, but she was pretty and looked friendly enough, so I introduced myself. Turns out, she's a friend of a friend, and knew a bit about me. We hit it off and spent most classes seated next to each other, talking while working on different projects.

She admitted having a mild interest in the paranormal and when I asked if she was into all things goth she laughed and shook her head. She liked to wear dark colors because it fit her complexion, and showed me a couple pictures of her in floral, bright clothes. I'll just say I agree that darker colors suit her much better. Laura and Joe were thrilled to meet her, and I felt more normal than I had in a few years. Spring came and classes came to a close, but we stayed close. A few times a month we would drive to a larger city and visit the mall or the theater. One day we came across Lyle and he excitedly told us we should check out his sister's new shop on main street.

We wandered down to the center of the city and after a bit of searching found the small shop his sister, Agatha, had rented. It was a small bookstore and cafe, with a slight gothy feel to it. In the back she had a little 'Occult Booth' where she would do tarot and aura readings or Wiccan blessings. We hit it off with Agatha, who wasn't as we expected. We thought she'd be trying her best to be dark and mysterious, but she was actually really friendly and smiled a lot. Julia agreed to have her aura read and they both goaded me into it as well. As I sat on the stool with my eyes closed, I was told to clear my mind. All was quiet for a minute then Agatha made an almost whimper noise and I opened my eyes to see her grimace.

She said that my aura was pale blue but flashed red before disappearing. She looked concerned and asked if something was bothering me. Julia looked worried as well, and I figured my face had twisted with unpleasant thoughts. I figured they were both trustworthy, so I asked them to sit and told them about my parents death. For the time being, I left out the demon and the diary, but I did tell them about the shelter. The sat in silence for a bit and Julia came over to hug me.

She had tears in her eyes and I felt a little bad about making her so sad. Agatha closed up shop for the night and made us some coffee. She asked if I ever encountered anything strange, and I thought a while before I commented on the diary I read. She nodded and looked slighted lost in thought, her brow furrowed, as I told her about its contents then what I learned from the news papers. “I think I might know who you are talking about. Come on, let's go back to my place.”

As she drove us to her family home she told us about an uncle who was committed to an asylum. He wrote letters to her Dad, telling him all kinds of crazy things, some story about an alien monster roaming the woods, and that he might be able to tell us more about what went on.

She introduced us to her Dad and he was fairly jovial about meeting us. Agatha didn't waste any time and asked him outright about Uncle Kenneth. He made a short laugh then led us to his study where he dug out an old box. In it were dozens of letters and a few crude pictures. He told us that he and Kenneth used to be fairly close, they did farm work together every summer until his folks died. After he was committed, he didn't hear a word from him until a year later when he was allowed to send letters.

They wrote back and forth for years on and off until a couple years before he commit suicide. Agatha's Dad told us that Kenneth believed some alien monster had killed his parents, and was roaming the woods. He was so convincing in his words that at first her dad believed it. So he went out to the farm one summer and camped for a month, setting traps and wandering around, hoping to catch it. After catching numerous deer, and beheading a fox, he gave up and wrote to Ken that there wasn't anything out in those woods. As he spoke, Julia thumbed through the pictures and showed them to me. I guess I started to get a little more freaked out than I realized. “Son, are you okay?”

I snapped my head up and looked the man dead in the eyes, and he must have seen the terror on my face. Julia rubbed my shoulders and Agatha looked scared, her Dad simply stated 'You saw it, didn't you.' I nodded, slowly and deliberately, and swallowed hard before I spoke. I told them that after I finished reading the diary, I started to have nightmares and visions of that very same creature. Shortly after, my parents died, and I now believed that it wasn't a murder/suicide as the police had ruled it. I shook as I told them, this was the first time really telling anyone the full story and I was so raw about it after all these years. We all started at Agatha like she was insane when she suggested we hunt the thing again.

She argued that now we had someone connected to it and that they could probably catch it and destroy it now. Her father waved her off as being immature and ridiculous, and Julia quietly said that we might get killed as well. I admitted that I wanted nothing more to do with that thing, that I wanted to forget about it entirely. We talked in circles about it for hours, arguing about what was best to do before we were all too tired to deal with it anymore. As we said our goodbyes, Agatha's Dad pressed something into my hand. It was a folded envelope, I pocketed it for the time being, and we drove back out to where my car was parked. I took Julia home and promised that I wouldn't hunt the demon before heading home myself.

I lay in bed and thought about whether it was right to tell them about the creature or not. I pulled the folded envelope out, opened it and a small metal thing fell on my chest. I sat up and took a better look at it. It was an oblong copper pendant, with several unfamiliar symbols scratched into it, tied with a worn leather bracelet. A yellowed letter was in with it, and I unfolded it to see what it said.

I am sending this to you, in the hope that maybe it will help. I don't know what it does, or how it is connected, but I found it out there. After my folks died, after they were murdered, I went looking for that alien. I came across the hole, the perfume smelling hole I told you about before, and I nearly broke my leg stepping in it. I don't know what came over me, but I reached down in there and found this thing. Maybe it's connected to that alien monster somehow, I can't say for sure. I hope it helps you, I hope this thing doesn't come after you as well. Regards, Kenneth.

I didn't see Julia for a few days, but we agreed to meet at Agatha's on the weekend. I carried that pendant with me everywhere, and figured I would show it to them and maybe find out more about it. The shop had a few customers so we sat off at the back and waited for them to leave, sipping coffee and chit chatting to pass the time. As she closed up for the day, I pulled the pendant out and handed it to Agatha, asking if she'd ever seen it before. She shook her head and looked puzzled by it. Julia took a look at it and seemed to think hard while she turned it over in her hands.

The she lit up with realization and quickly pulled a book from her messenger bag. She said the symbols were from Native American tribes, probably several tribes, and that she'd seen some similar to it before. As she thumbed through the book, she explained that it was a book of lesser known Native ghost stories, tales thought to be only fiction, stories mixed between though of Tribes people and those of early settlers, but seeing that pendant reminded her of the last chapter she read.

As she flipped to the page, she pointed at an image with several symbols that looked close to the ones on the pendant. It looked like the pendant may have been intended as a way to drive off or trap evil thoughts. They would dig a hole then dump a mixture of fermented honey and mashed flowers into it before dropping the pendant in and burying it again.

'They used this as a way to seal the spirits of murderous men, evil children and scorned souls' read Julia. It seemed that they believed the thoughts of someone with great anger could manifest themselves into some kind of monster. I rubbed the bit of copper between my finger and thumb and thought hard about what she was reading to us. If they buried it, how could the hole reopen?

What caused it to appear time and again. What it a lure to latch into passing people, in the hopes of feeding off their anger? As she flipped past several pages, she suddenly gasped and Agatha covered her own mouth to keep from yelping. I looked at the book and saw on the page an grotesque illustration of the demon that has haunted me all this time. Its grin pissed me off, that shit eating grin.

I sneered at the book as Julia closed it. So this thing was a manifestation of evil thoughts. I guess that's why it clung to me, but what caused it to exist in the first place? Agatha brewed a large pot of coffee and Julia got online. We poured over historical records for hours and hours trying to discover a possible origin of this thing. Around 2 am we finally broke through and found a record of a logging camp that was set up here. The camp didn't last a year before tragedy struck. Half the loggers were killed and the rest were forced to gang up and kill the one man responsible. They reported that he was able to lift the other men clear off the ground the toss them aside like firewood, and that it took seven swings to fully lop his head off. After being beheaded, they said his face still smiled in a maniacal way, like his cheeks were being pulled to his ears.

When they buried him, they recalled that the whole area started to smell like fresh flowers, though none were in bloom. We pieced together that they must have disturbed one of these ritual sites and caused this thing to manifest. As we looked through the years after that, we noticed nothing for a couple decades, then a murder case popped up.

A hunter who camped there came home to find his wife and a coworker dead. He was charged with their murder after it was determined he killed them after catching them having an affair. A decade later, a young boy's schoolmates were killed at a sleep over, the kid was lock in an asylum and later lobotomized, believed to be incurably deranged. Twenty years later, a young woman is sent to prison after two of her friends were found disemboweled on a dirt road. Then the incident with Kenneth. The last case was that of my own parents murder.

I felt sick, tired, and mentally overloaded. Agatha invited us up to her small apartment to sleep, we were too tired to drive home safely. Julia and I cuddled on her fold up couch and I fell into a deep sleep. It must have been noon by the time I awoke. Julia was still asleep in my arms, but it sounded as though Agatha was awake and running her shop downstairs. I ran my hands along Julia's back and pulled her close to me in a hug. I feared losing her, losing everything normal I had managed to recover. She woke up a few minutes later, and for the first time since we started seriously dating, she kissed me. I grinned, squeezed her tight, and felt some of my fears pull away.

We showered and dressed, then joined Agatha in her shop. Between customers, we discussed what we should do, if anything. Agatha was adamant about exorcising this demon away, Julia and I were rightfully terrified of pissing it off. We went back and forth, Agatha pulled out several books and pointed out multiple rituals she was familiar with and started to sway Julia to her side. Julia started to look into the book she had last night again, to see if there was something about stopping such a vengeful, angry creature. As dusk drew nearer and closing time arrived, they pushed me into agreeing to take them out to the shelter site. It was decided that area was the most likely place for the demon to have manifested from.

Before we left, Agatha packed a kit of stereotypical items, candles, salt, chalk, pendants, incense, and crystals. Julia packed a few books on the rituals they decided would be best to try and we started our journey into the woods. We could only drive so far to the site, and had to abandon the car halfway into the woods. We carried bright lamps and walked the rest of the way there. I felt a looming sense of dread as we closed in on the former shelter, I began to sweat and felt cold. Once on site, we hung as many lanterns as we could, lighting the area brightly. Agatha and Julia began to lay down salt lines and place candles as I fiddled with the pendant, feeling a creeping presence come upon us.

Agatha and Julia were on opposite sides of each other, creating a large circle, when a sudden sharp gust of wind cut between the trees and extinguished half the lanterns. Julia screamed first, and I started to move toward her, then Agatha screamed and I whipped my head around to try and see her. Both girls lay on the ground, motionless and I felt as though my stomach dropped out of me. I heard a high growl circle me quickly and the lantern light turned a strange shade of reddish orange. As I scanned the trees I froze still when I saw the demon, crouching low and crawling toward me.

It stopped as well when I locked my eyes on it, then it slowly moved forward, stretching its limbs until it was practically goose stepping to me. As it got closer, the sweet, flower smell turned sickening and putrid. Its grin was as wide as ever and when it got within a foot of me it simply stopped. As I stood there staring at it, the smell turned to something metallic, it smelled like blood. I didn't know what else to do, I hadn't really paid attention to the rituals they talked about. I flat out told it to leave. Its head leaned back and to the side slightly, then its mouth opened and it laughed. It laughed at me for telling it to leave. I stood my ground and repeated myself, demanding that it go away, and it laughed harder, rocking back and forth slightly.

I started to get pissed off at it for mocking me. I gritted my teeth and felt like just punching it in its stupid face. It crouched and sat up a bit, balancing on its legs and stretched its arms wide. In a flash of movement it reached both forward and backward, grabbing the girls, hoisting them up and dragging them over to us. It held them just under the arms, close to its sides and chuckled.

Delicious. Doesn't it feel good? Doesn't it make you happy? Come on now, you don't want me to leave.

Its voice was shockingly smooth, but deep, and seemed to come from behind my head instead of from its gaping mouth. It set Agatha down, setting a foot on her, then focused on Julia. It ran a finger up her shirt, splitting it open before discarding it, then moved onto tearing her pants off. I shouted at it to stop, I refused to simply let it undress her, but it merely looked at me while it continued. When Julia was fully naked, it set her down, stepped on her, then proceeded to do the same to Agatha. Once both women were naked, It picked them up again and … played with them.

It bounced them around, as if a child playing with dolls, bobbing them side to side. It gurgled out these high pitched noises, what I assume were its attempt a mindless girl talk. It turned its head back at me and its smile seemed to grow larger. That fuck was mocking me again. I curled my fists in anger and tensed my body, thinking to myself about just tackling this demon and beating it with my bare hands. In a split second, it vanished, the girls fell to the ground. I stepped forward to try and catch them, but felt burning hot hands on my shoulders, stopping me dead. It was now behind me, breathing down my neck.

I felt a slick, wet sensation across the back of my neck and felt the sharp teeth brush lightly against my skin. I shuddered with revolt, and threw my elbow back. To my surprise, I hit flesh, hard, dense flesh, as I struck the monster. I spun quickly and saw that it simply stood there, knocked slightly to the side, seemingly stunned. I saw my vantage point and I took it. I threw punch after punch and hit it in the face and neck, it growled and gurgled at me before vanishing again. I stood, panting, my fists sore and my adrenaline pumping.

I heard it laugh again, only the sound came from all around me. I turned slowly to try and spot it, then felt the earth give way beneath my feet. I was pulled down, past soft, wet dirt, into a damp, hot hole that smell putrid, sweet and bloody all at once. I nearly vomited, and I felt that bastards hands groping all over. It shook my shoulders, tugged my ankles, slapped my head, patted my belly, and even grabbed at my crotch. I grew more an more pissed off, and this thing simply kept toying with me, taunting me and teasing me. I finally shouted 'ENOUGH!' and it stopped. Silence filled the small chamber I was in, and I began to lose my sense of time. Eventually I heard it breathing again, slow, calm breathing.

You're hateful, but you have no one to hate. Why don't you find someone to hate. It could be anyone, anyone at all. No one has to know you hate them, but they'll go away soon enough. Tell me who you hate, feed their name to me, give them to me.

I considered it. Anyone. Anyone was tempting. There were plenty of bad people in the world, people that disgusted me, that few would ever miss. Could I really feed them to this beast though? Could I really condemn them to a fate such as that?

I dropped to my knees, fell forward and dug my hands into the earth. I felt it loom over me, it whispered its almost chant like begging for more hate, for more anger. It pressed its body up against mine, wrapped itself around me and begged in my ears. It wasn't in control, I was. The angrier I got, the more it screwed it with me. I eventually reached the point where it knew it could feed off of me, and now it wanted to lap up the wrath from my pores. I shuddered as it clung to me, and started to gag from the stench of the pit I was in.

My mind whirled and I felt dizzy and I contemplated what the right thing to do was. Should I really give in to evil thoughts and pursue this path, letting this thing follow me like a stray dog? Could I live with myself for any murder I send this thing out to commit? I could be better than the others though, I could get rid of truly bad people.

Wouldn't that be good for the world? I groaned as the light of the sun pierced my eyelids. I rolled over on the grass and dead leaves and sat up. Agatha and Julia sat just a few feet away, their shredded clothes draped over them as best as they could get them.

When they noticed I was awake, Julia practically leapt into my arms and hugged me, beginning to cry. Agatha came over and offered me a paper cup of instant coffee. They told me that they awoke halfway through the night to find themselves naked and I was laid out spread eagle with my eyes rolled back in my head. When they touched me I screamed out in a horrific manner and slightly convulsed, then went still again. I muttered and groaned and they figured the thing had possessed me. They didn't know what to do, so they waited to see if I was going to wake up.

They asked if the demon was gone now, If I had beaten it. I simply nodded, and Julia hugged me tight again. Agatha seemed slightly leery of my claim, but accepted it and said that we should clean up and head to my home. It was the closest place and Laura and Joe were gone for the week on an anniversary trip, so the girls could get non torn clothes without too many questions.

Life since then has been good. I graduated college, Julia and I have been living together, she works at Agatha's shop now, and I took over the farm as Laura and Joe retired to another state. The world seems to be turning into a nicer place every day.

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