I’m Not Sure What I Saw In The Woods That Night, But I Do Know No One Will Ever Believe Me

Starting off with this firm statement usually lures people right into my story. It’s a great way to catch their attention and to know they will remain fully attentive to the end. But this story is just bizarre. And the statement makes total sense.

Nobody has ever believed this story.

It’s true, even if they don’t come right out and say it. Their facial expressions, the way they awkwardly shake their heads, avoiding eye contact. Some have even laughed out loud.

But this isn’t a funny story.

You’d think after three decades, a memory would grow blurry, fade, and then dissolve along with the trillions of other thoughts and memories stored inside of one’s brain. My mind is no different, but this particular memory is branded, burned into the tissue. The image is like a tattoo on my brain. I just cannot forget it.

* * *

I’ll begin by explaining the events leading up. It was late afternoon and I was with my friends Will and Paul—my only friends at that moment. It was near the end of August and I was eighteen years old. It was a sweltering hot day, the kind of sticky heat late summer is known for. We were swimming at a waterfall not far from town, about a 15-minute walk into the woods from an old dirt road. We were there for a couple of hours, and Will had some weed rolled up, so we were cooling off near the shade of some rocks smoking joints. Eventually, our hunger took hold and we had our fill of swimming so we headed back up the trail to the road.

We got to Will’s car parked on the side of the dirt road when suddenly Will started yelling and cursing very violently while kicking his car. Paul and I stood back for a second, confused and concerned, and I remember thinking Will had gone crazy and was yelling at us for a split second before I saw all of the broken glass. All of the windows had been smashed, and all four tires were flat, large slashes sliced down each. We decided someone had probably broken in to steal whatever was inside, but when finding nothing of note they chose to wreck the car out of spite. I swear, for every good person in this town, there are 10 assholes lined up right next to them.

After sitting on the side of the road, smoking cigarettes and getting more hungry and tired, we started getting restless. One car had passed in the span of 45 minutes, and they didn’t even slow down when we tried to wave them down. We had around an hour and a half of decent daylight left, and the long walk towards town, reaching paved roads where there would be more traffic or even a house, would be over an hour’s walk. After debating who would attempt the walk and who would stay, I volunteered myself to walk since I couldn’t stand sitting around anymore. I assured them I’d be back to get them in some way.

During that long walk, my mind kept wandering into the thick woods around me, and eventually, my feet started aching against the rocks and gravel on the road. I’d kneel down and rest for a second, but it wouldn’t take long to get a sudden eerie feeling from being so isolated on that road.

I love nature—forests are some of the most beautiful places—but on this day, unaccompanied, I felt genuine fear. It was definitely from being alone, because there really wasn’t much about the lush green woods that was scary. It was still daylight, aside from everything looking orange, almost sepia-toned. I guessed in a good 20 to 30 minutes, the sun would be below the trees, the rays cutting through the branches, and my fear levels would start to ramp up a bit. My imagination has a mind of its own in times like these.

Eventually, the low sound of an engine came from around the bend ahead. I quickly waved my hands above me as an old pickup truck slowed down and stopped alongside me. The window was rolled down and an older man wearing a wide-brimmed hat with a cigar in his mouth peered out at me. I explained our situation and he let out a laugh while shaking his head. Graciously, he told me to hop in and he’d drive me into town and that he was out looking for a spot to set up camp for a hunting trip the next day. On the way in, he asked if I wanted to call a tow truck, but I knew that would be out of the question for Will. Once we got into town, he asked where I lived and if I had access to a vehicle. I hesitated in telling him my address, but that my father did have a van. He then said if I could get the van, and if I gave him some cash, he’d give me four old dummy tires he had in his shed. He had tons of spare parts apparently and was a bit of a hoarder. I couldn’t believe his generosity and thanked him; I only had a 20-dollar bill on me, but told him that once the whole situation was taken care of, Will could pay him more if needed. He didn’t seem too worried about it.

He drove me to my house and I walked up the driveway; all of the lights in the house off. By now, it was getting quite dim, and I could only imagine how dark it was down that dirt road, Will and Paul no doubt anxiously looking over their shoulders.

I grabbed the van keys off the top of the refrigerator, knowing my dad would lose it when he found out I was taking it without asking. I’d like to think he would understand, but I knew it would still anger him. I began mentally preparing myself for the loud burst of his voice when I got home later. I grabbed a tire iron and small jack from the garage and waved to the old man as he yelled out for me to follow him. I started up the van and pulled out after him down the road.

If you’re beginning to wonder what the hell is happening here, the story is about to change. The reason I’m explaining the whole situation is to show much of a hole we were in. Stuck in the middle of the woods and suddenly this savior comes out of nowhere and offers everything we need. A funny story to tell later, except that every time something happens that seems way too perfect, you know something else can go wrong. Not just wrong, off. Out of the realm of the imaginable.

I loaded the tires into the back of the van and gratefully said my thanks as I handed him the 20. He asked if I wanted a few cold beers for us to enjoy later once we got this whole thing figured out, and like any awkward person who is offered food or drinks unexpectedly, I politely said no thanks, even though my mouth was drier than dirt. He insisted and handed me some dripping cold cans of beer from a cooler he had on his doorstep. I remember him standing on his porch as I backed out of the driveway, the light on behind him so he was only a silhouette looking at me, waving. To this day, I don’t know his name, but I’m sure he probably found out mine.

The drive felt short as I raced along the twists and turns of the road, just wanting this night to be over. In about 10 minutes, my headlights reflected off the unlit bulbs of Will’s car. As I slowly came to a stop, I remember feeling my heart drop and my palms begin to sweat when I realized they weren’t there with it. I let out a sigh, unsure if I should feel frustrated or grateful that they got picked up. Did they walk? Are they hiding on me, pulling a prank? Why would they leave if they knew I was planning on coming back for them? They knew I’d be back sometime, somehow, but maybe the same thing happened to them where some friendly stranger offered them tires and beer. At this point, nothing would surprise me.

I left the van running with the high beams on and got out, calling their names. “If you’re here, this isn’t funny,” I said. Paul had pulled quite a few pranks in his time—maybe he convinced Will to get in on it. I really hoped if that were true, they were hiding behind a tree, second-guessing their plan and feeling like total assholes. I called their names again, telling them that the joke is over, I have tires, I have cold beers, let’s do this and go home. My energy was drained and my patience was too low. I looked around with a shred of hope I’d see one of their stupid feet poking out of a hiding place; in the backseat, in the trunk, even under the car. I peered around in the woods, but I didn’t go in. If they were in there, I debated leaving them there and taking off. I looked down at the tires, thinking to myself there’s no way in hell I’d put the spare tires on myself and alone when suddenly I heard something move behind me. Finally, I thought. Let’s get this bullshit over with. I turned around and saw it. This thing, this… being. It wasn’t an animal, and it definitely wasn’t a human, no question about that. It was nothing my eyes had ever expected to see.

I first heard the rustling and footsteps on the twigs as I turned around and laid my eyes upon it. It was walking towards me, very slowly coming out of the woods. And it was tall, so tall, easily over seven feet. It looked like a person on small stilts—no muscle, no fat, just a long, tall, skinny figure. I don’t know how I looked at this thing, but I was cowering back, leaning against the hood of the car, trying to physically separate myself from it as much as I could.

At that moment, my eyes were gaping in horror, trying to take in what was before me. Its height was one thing, but through the darkness, as it approached the glow of the headlights, I saw its face. My 18-year-old voice screamed in terror.

I saw eyes—massive, bulging eyes. Its pupils were black holes, almost filling the eyeball and leaving very little whiteness. It had no nose, just a completely flat piece of skin where one’s nose should be. Its head was bald, and its skin was a faded color, wrinkled and rough like a withered root vegetable. The sides of its head were also flat, with no protruding ears whatsoever. It was simply an oval-shaped head, two large eyes, and the final horrifying feature: a mouth. A big, curved mouth. It was closed, and it was in the shape of a giant smile, covering the whole bottom half of its head.

I cried out in terror and recoiled, doing whatever I could to get away from this thing. It stopped walking once I made a sound and stood in the middle of the road. I climbed over the hood of the car and backed into the woods a bit, not knowing what to do, where to go, the parked idling van somehow not existing in my thoughts. From a distance, I noticed its clothing—a long green cloak, lit vaguely in the headlights but appearing almost black in the darkness, making it easily camouflaged in the night.

At this point, I couldn’t muster any sound due to having no verbal capacity left in me to let anything out. I was panting and out of breath, all air sucked out of me from pure fear, my mouth hanging open. My only objective was constantly ensuring I was more than 10 feet away from this thing. For an eternity, it just stood there, smiling, looking like it was wondering why I was terrified and what it should do. In my head, I thought about nothing except that this thing was going to kill me.

* * *

Throughout the years, I’ve talked to many people about this experience. The ones who seem to more or less believe me have used words like “alien,” “ghost,” “troll,” and “Bigfoot,” among others. The ones who don’t just dismiss it as a human being such as a lost hiker, prison escapee, disfigured person, a hunter, anybody. But this was not a human being. I know what I saw, and no matter what you say about the light tricking me into thinking I saw no nose, no ears, you will be wrong. I even went as far as reporting it to the police, because to me, it was an incident. Even though I was 18, a casual drug consumer and underage drinker (who had alcohol on him and marijuana in his system) with no credible proof, I was not afraid to go to the police and report what I saw. And because of it, the report is almost an urban legend, a ridiculous rumor that spread around town. I’ve heard more than a few people talking about the story making its way around. A few reporters contacted me, and I made it onto the local evening news. But even the police, the media, and most close-minded listeners of the story dismiss it as a person.

My confidence took a massive blow. I became overcome with anxiety and got too embarrassed to ever tell the story again, regretting telling anyone I knew that wouldn’t believe me. They all said the same thing.

I imagined it.

There’s no way my imagination could have ever conjured this. And it was about to get even more unimaginable.

* * *

It remained still on the road, and I debated how to move. Run like hell to the van? It was standing only a few feet from it.

I was trying as hard as I could to not look directly at the face of the thing, as it was rapidly scaring me into a state of pure madness.

I was shaking uncontrollably, clutching onto a nearby tree.

“Who are you? What do you want?” I called over to it.

It grinned. One of its legs moved forward and it lurched ahead towards me.

I bolted for the van. I completely flew there, without exaggeration — I don’t recall my feet hitting the ground more than a few times. By the time I made it, it was standing right there, its long arms within reach of me. I opened the door and launched myself in, slamming the door shut with such force that my arm cramped in pain. I quickly shifted into reverse and stomped on the pedal. It was facing the van, the grin on its face eating away at my sanity.

In a few seconds, I was back far enough to see the figure in the distance with the high beams still on. I spun the wheels to the left, sending the van into a small ditch, the back bumper scraping off the gravel. I threw the van into drive and pulled forward, reversing again until the vehicle was turned completely around, probably doing damage to the transmission due to how fast I was shifting gears. Now facing away from it, I tore off down the road at a fast enough speed to remain in control without killing myself in the process.

A few minutes up the road, the feeling of a nightmare washing away from my brain began setting in. My muscles tense and sore, sweat dripping, my heart racing, I couldn’t think straight. My mind was completely shut down, on autopilot as I passed the trees on either side. At this point, I had forgotten about Will and Paul or where they were. Thinking back now, I probably assumed that thing had gotten them, slowly creeping up on them as it did to me. My body was slowly but surely on its way to recovering when my blood suddenly froze like a shard of ice stabbed into my veins.

It was on the road in front of me. Standing there, staring. Grinning.

I slammed on the brakes, knowing I had no time to react and swerve, hoping not to hit it and potentially send it careening into me through the windshield. Over everything, I couldn’t comprehend how it was there and why it was still after me.

As I sat there with my gaze locked onto this inconceivable being, it talked to me. Four words I will never forget.

“You cannot escape me.”

I let out a painful scream, more hard and fierce than I ever had before. At this moment it was the most intense feeling of terror I had ever felt and ever will feel. It spoke to me without moving its mouth, without removing that mind-melting grin. The voice I heard was literally inside my head. It tunneled deep into my ears, into my mind itself, the ability to hear anything else now gone, replaced by a cold, hissing hoarse voice speaking those terrifying words. The volume made my head instantly ache with a sharp pain, and I was sure I was having a heart attack. My hands and feet felt completely numb from shock, but I somehow managed to step hard on the pedal one last time. As I accelerated forward, its long legs quickly sidestepped and it was out of the way. It moved right, aligning with my side of the van as I went past. To my left was a display of complete terror as its face suddenly glowed in my window, illuminating its sunken-in features, its eyes now bright red and peering into me, its grin now baring what resembled long, dark teeth. And in my ears, a blast of hissing and what sounded like the reverbing echo of a deep, ear-shredding shriek that violently rang through my head, vibrating my skull and causing my eyes to squeeze shut for fear that they may pop out.

I was now sure I was dead, or in the midst of dying, and that this thing had mentally consumed me in the same way it had spoken to me. My eyes were tightly closed and I was gripping the steering wheel in the same way a person would grip the edge of a building they were about to fall from.

I quickly opened my eyes as I rushed past trees, the blurry image of green and brown around me, tears pouring down my face, my heart savagely pounding like a caged animal trying to break out. Time lost all sense of meaning, an immeasurable amount of seconds or minutes passing before I felt the gravel turn into pavement below the wheels of the van, as streetlights emerged and rural mailboxes stood like figures on the sides of the road. I reached my house, pulling into the driveway as I spotted my father standing in the front window, staring out as I weakly shifted the van into park.

* * *

The twist concerning Will and Paul is that they did in fact get picked up by someone driving, and Will’s father was planning on phoning a tow truck the next morning. They apologized for not waiting, as they didn’t have any way of reaching me, but that was the last thing on their mind when I told them what happened. And even my two best friends didn’t believe me. My parents refused to even let me finish the story.

Why on Earth would a person make up a story this absurd? I could have easily seen a seven-foot-tall person in the woods, but how do you explain the rest? What would drive someone to make up a story like this?

Without physical proof, I have nothing to show, but when does trust play a factor in believing a story?

It apparently didn’t when it came to my parents. My father grew even angrier when I told him, even though he saw what a wreck I was, that I had tears streaming down my face and I was shaking uncontrollably. You were frightened by a tree, is what he said. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

I didn’t get a night of restful sleep for weeks, my eyes afraid to even look towards the window in my bedroom while I lay in bed.

I respect everyone’s right to an opinion, but the impact this has had on my life has been unimaginable. That thing’s face will haunt my life until its eventual end.

And the way it spoke to me has made me think I stumbled upon a supernatural being of some other world, some other plane of existence. It’s made me think it can appear anywhere, at any time. That it’s been near me, watching me, and I never knew it. That it will appear again and will repeat its message to the person with whom it came in contact, who knows it’s out there.

You cannot escape me.