There's nothing like turning off the lights, snuggling into bed, and reading a horror story. Whether it's a full blown book or tales that are just paragraphs long, it's incredibly entertaining to put yourself in a scary mood and allow the author's creepy words to send chills down your spine.
So lock the doors and maybe burn a little sage. These following spooky stories from reddit's /r/nosleep are sure to keep you up all night.
And fear not. Many of these have sequels, so you can keep it eerie all night long.
Written by: Skarjo
Have you ever forgotten your phone?
When did you realise you’d forgotten it? I’m guessing you didn’t just smack your forehead and exclaim ‘damn’ apropos of nothing. The realisation probably didn’t dawn on you spontaneously. More likely, you reached for your phone, pawing open your pocket or handbag, and were momentarily confused by it not being there. Then you did a mental restep of the morning’s events.
In my case, my phone’s alarm woke me up as normal but I realised the battery was lower than I expected. It was a new phone and it had this annoying habit of leaving applications running that drain the battery overnight. So, I put it on to charge while I showered instead of into my bag like normal. It was a momentary slip from the routine but that was all it took. Once in the shower, my brain got back into ‘the routine’ it follows every morning and that was it.
This wasn’t just me being clumsy, as I later researched, this is a recognised brain function. Your brain doesn’t just work on one level, it works on many. Like, when you’re walking somewhere, you think about your destination and avoiding hazards, but you don’t need to think about keeping your legs moving properly. If you did, the entire world would turn into one massive hilarious QWOP cosplay. I wasn’t thinking about regulating my breathing, I was thinking whether I should grab a coffee on the drive to work (I did). I wasn’t thinking about moving my breakfast through my intestines, I was wondering whether I’d finish on time to pick up my daughter Emily from nursery after work or get stuck with another late fee. This is the thing; there’s a level of your brain that just deals with routine, so that the rest of the brain can think about other things.
Think about it. Think about your last commute. What do you actually remember? Little, if anything, probably. Most common journeys blur into one, and recalling any one in particular is scientifically proven to be difficult. Do something often enough and it becomes routine. Keep doing it and it stops being processed by the thinking bit of the brain and gets relegated to a part of the brain dedicated to dealing with routine. Your brain keeps doing it, without you thinking about it. Soon, you think about your route to work as much as you do keeping your legs moving when you walk. As in, not at all.
Most people call it autopilot. But there’s danger there. If you have a break in your routine, your ability to remember and account for the break is only as good as your ability to stop your brain going into routine mode. My ability to remember my phone being on the counter is only as reliable as my ability to stop my brain entering ‘morning routine mode’ which would dictate that my phone is actually in my bag. But I didn’t stop my brain entering routine mode. I got in the shower as normal. Routine started. Exception forgotten.
My brain was back in the routine. I showered, I shaved, the radio forecast amazing weather, I gave Emily her breakfast and loaded her into the car (she was so adorable that morning, she complained about the ‘bad sun’ in the morning blinding her, saying it stopped her having a little sleep on the way to nursery) and left. That was the routine. It didn’t matter that my phone was on the counter, charging silently. My brain was in the routine and in the routine my phone was in my bag. This is why I forgot my phone. Not clumsiness. Not negligence. Nothing more my brain entering routine mode and over-writing the exception.
I left for work. It’s a swelteringly hot day already. The bad sun had been burning since before my traitorously absent phone woke me. The steering wheel was burning hot to the touch when I sat down. I think I heard Emily shift over behind my driver’s seat to get out of the glare. But I got to work. Submitted the report. Attended the morning meeting. It’s not until I took a quick coffee break and reached for my phone that the illusion shattered. I did a mental restep. I remembered the dying battery. I remembered putting it on to charge. I remembered leaving it there.
My phone was on the counter.
Again, therein lies the danger. Until you have that moment, the moment you reach for your phone and shatter the illusion, that part of the brain is still in routine mode. It has no reason to question the facts of the routine; that’s why it’s a routine. Attrition of repetition. It’s not as if anyone could say ‘why didn’t you remember your phone? Didn’t it occur to you? How could you forget? You must be negligent’; this is to miss the point. My brain was telling me the routine was completed as normal, despite the fact that it wasn’t. It wasn’t that I forgot my phone. According to my brain, according to the routine, my phone was in my bag. Why would I think to question it? Why would I check? Why would I suddenly remember, out of nowhere, that my phone was on the counter? My brain was wired into the routine and the routine was that my phone was in my bag.
The day continued to bake. The morning haze gave way to the relentless fever heat of the afternoon. Tarmac bubbled. The direct beams of heat threatened to crack the pavement. People swapped coffees for iced smoothies. Jackets discarded, sleeves rolled up, ties loosened, brows mopped. The parks slowly filled with sunbathers and BBQ’s. Window frames threatened to warp. The thermometer continued to swell. Thank fuck the offices were air conditioned.
But, as ever, the furnace of the day gave way to a cooler evening. Another day, another dollar. Still cursing myself for forgetting my phone, I drove home. The days heat had baked the inside of the car, releasing a horrible smell from somewhere. When I arrived on the driveway, the stones crunching comfortingly under my tyres, my wife greeted me at the door.
As if the phone wasn’t bad enough. After everything I’d left Emily at the fucking nursery after all. I immediately sped back to the nursery. I got to the door and started practising my excuses, wondering vainly if I could charm my way out of a late fee. I saw a piece of paper stuck to the door.
“Due to vandalism overnight, please use side door. Today only.”
Overnight? What? The door was fine this morni-.
I froze. My knees shook.
Vandals. A change in the routine.
My phone was on the counter.
I hadn’t been here this morning.
My phone was on the counter.
I’d driven past because I was drinking my coffee. I’d not dropped off Emily.
My phone was on the counter.
She’d moved her seat. I hadn’t seen her in the mirror.
My phone was on the counter.
She’d fallen asleep out of the bad sun. She didn’t speak when I drove past her nursery.
My phone was on the counter.
She’d changed the routine.
My phone was on the counter.
She’d changed the routine and I’d forgotten to drop her off.
My phone was on the counter.
9 hours. That car. That baking sun. No air. No water. No power. No help. That heat. A steering wheel too hot to touch.
I walked to the car door. Numb. Shock.
I opened the door.
My phone was on the counter and my daughter was dead.
The Woman Filled With Rage
Written by: inaaace
This story was is a word for word account of inaaace's uncle's otherworldly experience.
Are you typing? You are? Ok, ok… And your friends on the internet will read this? Ha, alright, but warn them that these are just old man’s memories… Ok, so back to the beginning.
So I graduated from Fordham in 1974 and I still had no idea what to do. Times were different then – we were able to find jobs easily, Jesus, I remember companies practically begging us to work for them. But I didn’t want to do some shitty desk job for the rest of my life. So I waited. Then one day, while flying to visit your aunt on Thanksgiving, I caught myself being fascinated with the complexity of air traffic systems. That’s all it took. I decided to become an air traffic controller. By the time I turned 27, I had passed all of the necessary tests and have accumulated enough experience to be hired and work without supervision.
Thing with air traffic controllers is that you don’t really get to choose where you’re gonna work in the beginning. Sure, we all wanted to work at JFK or Hartsfield-Jackson, but those jobs just weren’t available to us rookies. So I had to take a job in a bumfuck little town in Iowa called Atlantic. It was literally a single landing strip in a damn cornfield, but I had to pay my dues. And the money was alright.
Now, small airports like these usually only work 8-5, but this particular strip was in such a geographical location that there were a lot of flights going above us at any time, so we needed to stay open until 4am in case of emergency landing. By staying open, I mean I had to sit in the control tower, and there was one security guy sleeping in the airport’s only terminal.
It wasn’t that bad, really, I’d bring my books and crossword puzzles, and I’d spend hours on the phone with your aunt. You know how they say that the air traffic controller is the most stressful job in the world? Well, I was bored 99% of time, and that 1% was guiding small Cesnas into my cornfield airport.
So why am I telling you all of this? Well, about 3 months into my job, something started happening. Something that even today I can’t really… I’ll save you the talk about the supernatural, but what happened at that airport just ain’t right.
February 20th, 1979, I remember it like it was yesterday. It was your regular winter night in Iowa –winds and freezing cold, but no snow. I was spposed to work until close, although we didn’t have any flights scheduled.
Around 1am, I received radio message from a small Cesna about 30 miles from the airport. They were having really bad snow storm up in Omaha and needed to land here in Atlantic. I guess being open late was justified, after all. I got my binoculars out, verified the visibility and started guiding the aircraft. Though it was really windy out there, they managed to touch down. I looked through the binoculars to verify the landing went ok, and that’s when I saw her for the first time.
Just walking down the runway as if it were a normal street was this... woman? Shit, I don’t know. Now, there were about 100 things wrong with this situation. First, the woman was wearing some sort of short summer dress, or a night gown, and she was barefoot, believe it or not. Normal person would be cold dressed like that during the summer, let alone our winter. And then, you had to wonder what in the world was this person doing walking down the active runway, and how the hell did she get there to begin with?
“Flight 84, this is Alex from Air Traffic Control, do you happen to see a woman walking down the runway towards you?” I asked the pilot who had just landed.
“Huh, let me check.” The pilot answered.
Still watching through binoculars, I saw him open the door of the plane, then get out. He started walking towards the woman. Not going to lie, at that point I was having a lot of fun. Not much happened in Atlantic, Iowa and this certainly was entertaining. I couldn’t wait to hear her story. My bet was that she got in a car accident near the airport.
Well… The pilot walked up to her and I could make it that he was saying something. I saw (still through the binoculars) her lean to his ear and almost… whisper something to him. He just stood there for a good 10 seconds with neither of them moving. She was still leaned close to his ear. Then he snapped out of it, I guess, turned around, and literally sprinted to the plane. When I saw the propellers starting to rotate, I jumped on my radio.
“Flight 84, what are you doing?”
“Flight 84, I repeat, what is happening?”
Nothing. Then, the plane started moving, speeding up.
“Flight 84, you do NOT have permission to take off, I repeat, you are NOT cleared for takeoff!”
But there was no answer. That damn Cesna kept speeding up and then took off. Nothing I could do really, besides making sure that no other planes were above us at the time.
I tried one more time.
“Flight 84, this is Air Traffic Control… what the hell is happening?”
And then my radio started making white noise.
“nu…un…n… u…” was all I could hear coming from the radio.
“Flight 84, please repeat, you’re breaking up.”
“What a night,” I thought.
Radio started transmitting again.
“un… UN…RUN. RUN. RUN.”
“Flight 84, did you say “run”? Please repeat yourself.”
But nothing else came from out of that damn radio. The plane was long gone.
I sank into my chair trying to decipher what in the fuck just happened, pardon my French. Run? From what? What the hell… And then it dawned on me. The woman.
I grabbed the binoculars.
She was looking straight at me. Good 200 yards away, at night, she was somehow looking straight at me, eyes open so wide, it’s hard to explain what she looked like. I guess, you know how when someone is super surprised, their eyes widen? Like when you startle someone and their eyes just get so wide, some sort of defense mechanism, I susppose? That’s how she was looking. Straight at me.
“What in the world…” I mumbled.
At that moment, she started running towards my tower. Like not jogging, but really running. Still looking straight at me. I swear to you, goosebumps ran all over me like 10,000 cold ants.
You know I’m not the one to get scared, shit, I spent 6 years in Vietnam. But something about this situation, something about that pilot telling me to run and this…woman running towards me, something seemed so wrong.
“Joe, are you there? Joe?” I blurted into the radio. Joe was our night security guard. He didn’t answer.
Shit… I looked through the window just in time to see the woman run into my tower. I heard the door downstairs slam open.
I honestly didn’t know what to do. This wasn’t a rational situation, you know? If it were some sort of terrorist, or whatever, I’d know what needs to be done. But this… Was this situation malicious? It was certainly strange, and that exact weirdness, that not knowing what is happening is what made me run into the bathroom and lock the doors. As I turned the lock, I heard the control room doors open.
You know how in your generation’s movies you just hear quiet footsteps of some invader slowly looking for you? And then the shadow shows up under the door? Well, this was the opposite. As soon as those doors opened, chaos began. I tried peeking through the keyhole but all I was able to see is fast shadow running across the room, accompanied by tremendous noise. I swear I was so shocked that at one point I nearly opened the door just to see what is causing all this.
Then, a hard slam into the bathroom door had me nearly fall on the floor. And then, nothing. Silence.
I could lie and pretend I was brave enough to get out of that bathroom soon after, but I wasn’t, I’ll admit it. I stayed in there the whole night, waiting for the morning shift.
Around 7:45am I heard a familiar voice say “What in the fuck…?” It was Clark, the morning shift controller.
I opened the door to see a scene so twisted that even to this day I remember every detail. The control room was nearly totaled. Radios ripped out, papers and manuscripts everywhere, radar screens smashed to pieces.
When the police came, I gave the full report. It took 11 days to repair all the equipment and get the room fully functional. The security guard on duty that night was fired. They even started considering installing security cameras (I know, I know, today that seems like a normal thing to you, but it wasn’t back in the day). Police had no idea what to make of it, they just urged us to report anything suspicious.
I used the 11 day break to sort myself out, and by the end of that forced vacation, I was convinced that all of this was caused by some deranged woman, possibly a mental patient? Whatever made me sleep at night, right?
I came back to work on March 4th. I was a bit worried about working nights again, but I was convinced that whoever did this was far gone by now.
The next month or so was very uneventful, just how I liked it.
Iowa was scheduled to get hit with a big snow storm that day. Most of the flights were grounded, but some were still in the air, and I had to work. I hated it because if we did get hit with heavy snow, I’d probably end up being stranded.
I wish that was the worst thing that happened.
Around 11pm that night, when it was already snowing big time, I received radio message from a small private jet that was some 50 miles away. They were getting caught in heavy winds and the pilots wanted to land on our airport immediately. Now, jets like that would traditionally be too big to land at our strip, but the emergency like this called for overriding of guidelines.
“Flight 676, you are cleared to land, but we have to remain in contact at all times, this strip’s pretty short, do you acknowledge?”
“Sure thing, let’s just put this puppy down, shall we” the pilot said.
It was snowing heavily by that point. Thankfully, we had a cleanup crew deice and clean the runway before they headed home, so it was still in decent condition. Again, back then, we were way more relaxed about the rules. I took a look at the strip to make sure it was clear.
And out of nowhere, just when I forgot about her, she appeared. She was just slowly strolling down the strip, about 100 yards away from the tower. Her bare feet slowly moving across the freezing asphalt.
The worst part about it… She was looking straight at me again. Again with those crazy fucking eyes.
This is when I realized what the most disturbing thing about her was… She wasn’t blinking. I was looking at her for good 2 minutes, winds and snow blasting in her face, and she wasn’t blinking. It was almost as if she didn’t want to lose a fucking millisecond of looking straight at me.
“Flight 676, maintain, I repeat, maintain the altitude until further communication.”
“Traffic Control, this is 676, that is a negative, we cannot maintain with head winds like this. We have to land. Are we clear? We are 6 minutes away.”
I couldn’t risk the lives of people up in that plane. I had to land them, despite this… whatever this was walking down the runway.
“Cleared to land 676.”
I put down the radio and looked through the window. She was now some 10 yards away, coming closer to the tower.
Though I shouldn’t under any circumstances leave the control room, I ran down to the first floor and locked the outside door. I knew she was close and I knew she was coming.
When I got back to the room, I heard the radio.
“Control Tower, we are approaching the runway, please advise”
“Rotate 3 degrees right, acknowledge.”
“Copy that, we see the lights now. See you soon!”
I looked up through the window and could see the plane in the distance. There was no trace of the woman on runway. I sighed a breath of relief. I was going to deal with this issue after the jet had safely landed.
At that moment, a loud noise broke through the tower. I didn’t want to believe it, but I was afraid that the first floor door had slammed open. How the hell? I locked it, I know I did. And then, goosebumps overcame me again, almost as if my body could feel something that I couldn’t.
My first instinct was to lock myself in the bathroom again, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t leave the radio.
Footsteps on the metal stairs were getting louder. She… I assumed it was her, wasn’t running at least. But the violent sound of footsteps made me think she was, what, slamming her feet into the ground with every step she made?
“676, this is Traffic Control, I have visual confirmation. Clear to land.”
I heard the control room doors open. This is when I realized just how afraid I was. You know, I’m almost 70 now and am not embarrassed to admit how scared I was at that moment. Matter of fact, I was so scared that I couldn’t even turn around, if you can believe that. I just couldn’t face what was behind me. This was very unusual because I was always composed and rational. Always, whether it was being stuck in a ditch in Vietnamese jungle or being nearly hit by an 18-wheeler on the highway. Always calm. And there I was, staring straight at my radio, unable to turn my head and face it.
I’m sure your friends on the internet will laugh at how I reacted, but I guarantee most of you would behave the same. Your body just doesn’t behave normally when terrified.
“Traffic Control, 30 seconds out, here we go” came from the radio.
I slowly pressed the talk button on the radio, my teeth literally chattering.
“All… all clear” I muttered.
Then I felt a cold breath on my neck.
She was behind me. Breathing slowly into my neck. I could feel the lips move up to my ear. You know when you were a kid and someone was messing behind your back, making faces or bunny ears and you could somehow feel it? I could feel the mouth an inch form my ear, though I couldn’t even see her with the corner of my eye.
I was still nearly paralyzed. I admit, I used to ashamed of my inability to act in this surreal situation. But now when I look at it, no one can tell me they’d react any differently. It just wasn’t earthly situation, you know?
“Come down… to field… come down.” The whisper crawled into my ear.
You’d normally think that hearing a voice would somehow defuse the situation, or at least brush away any thoughts of supernatural, but that voice was so different than anything I’ve ever heard. I’m not a writer, I can’t explain it. It was cold, inhuman even. But what scared me the most was the anger I felt in it. Though she whispered, I could feel the rage. And, I don’t even know how to put it into words, her voice lacked something that every other voice had. I don’t know.
“Touched down! Traffic Control, 676 is on the ground. Hope you have some hot chocolate ready!”
The woman behind me snapped back and I heard what I assumed was running. I forced myself to turn around just in time to her running out, barefoot.
“676… welcome” I made myself say into the radio. Though my legs were still foreign to the rest of my body, I propped myself up and looked through the window. I was expecting to see the woman running out, but she was nowhere to be seen. I thought that she was still in the building.
This time I managed to get the security guy on the radio and he showed up few minutes later. He did a full walkthrough the tower, but no trace of the woman.
I started feeling relieved only when the police showed up. They thoroughly searched the building with no success. They did notice the trace of footsteps coming from the neighboring corn field to the tower, but there were no prints going back.
Imagine my situation at the time, just take a second to think about it. You are the only one to ever see this woman, I’ll call her a woman. I wouldn’t be surprised if the police started thinking that I was hitting the bottle during work. I decided to keep it to myself until I could prove there was this person disrupting (or haunting?) the airport. I couldn’t really quit, and honestly, would you? Probably not. I mean, yes, these were two absolutely surreal experiences, and I did feel some sort of intangible hazard, but I didn’t think my life was ever in danger. I decided to stick with it. Winter was almost over, anyways.
Spring brought more horror than winter ever could.
Written by: Darkhawkz
This is my first post on nosleep, but I feel you guys should know about this. If you want to get to the ‘meat’ of the story, you can skip ahead to the 4th paragraph. Growing up I always feared monsters. Even in college, which most would consider to be the time when you can be called an adult, my greatest fears were the monsters under my bed, in the closet or at the window. I would always tell myself how silly this was seeing as I was an adult at this point and I was still afraid of something I knew did not exist. That was until……. I met my wife. But before I tell you what happened, let me elaborate on how I met my wife to be and how much she means to me.
I met Natalie in college. I was a nerdy guy, yet she saw in me something that no other girl in my life had. She was an extremely kind person, who always had the sweetest of intentions. As I spent more time with her, I realized how many things we had in common. To me she was the most beautiful girl in the world. I could stare into her green eyes for the rest of my life, and that’s what I chose to do when I proposed and we finally got married.
Fast forward to married life, I am working now, while she is working on an online masters degree. Life is good, life is actually perfect, too perfect. Ever since we got married, I’ve told her everything, my deepest secrets, my deepest feelings, and most importantly, my deepest fears. I remember when I first told her about my silly fear of monsters, at first she laughed it off. But over time, she noticed how I would sometimes shiver in bed, lying awake in fear. Being the sweet heart that she is, she would hold me, and tell me it would be alright. My wife became my protector, she became the one to keep my fears in check. Her face became that of an angel to me, one that would protect me from whatever scary things life had in store for me. I came to trust those beautiful green eyes, and every time I saw her, I knew I was safe.
Now to the more……weird things that have been happening of late. The first incident that I can recall that could be defined as strange happened at 3:00 am one night. I woke up feeling extremely thirsty, and being the fearful guy that I am, grabbed the flash light to go get some water. As soon as I turned on the flashlight I noticed my wife wasn’t in bed. I looked over to the bathroom and the light was on and I could hear the water running so I assumed she was there. Half asleep I walked downstairs to the kitchen and almost had a heart attack when I saw my wife standing in a corner drinking water. As soon as I saw her though, I felt safe. She smiled at me as she sipped the water from the glass. I was too tired and I mumbled something about how hot it is as I got some water. She continued to smile at me as I finished my water and headed upstairs. As I walked back upstairs I called out that she should come back to bed seeing as it’s so late. When I get back to my room, there she was, sound asleep. This was the moment I became wide awake. I could have sworn she was downstairs having water. Afraid to go back downstairs, I woke her up and told her what happened. Half asleep, half upset, she comforted me and told me to go back to bed. The next morning she joked about how I’m so afraid of the dark that I see her everywhere as my protector. “Besides, I was using the bathroom when you thought I was out of bed” she claimed. With that warm smile, how could I think otherwise?
A week later, another strange incident. This was in broad day light, while on a Saturday morning, Natalie woke me up at 11:00 am and told me she was going to get groceries. At around 11:30 am I finally got out of bed and dressed up for a late brunch with my beautiful wife. I went to the kitchen and found her drinking a glass of water. I smiled and said “Back so soon honey?” She didn’t reply, just smiled as she sipped on her water. Before I could approach her, the doorbell rang and I immediately went to go see who it was. I opened the door. Yes, it was my wife, back with all the groceries. “Oh help me with all of this will you?” she jokingly snapped as she put down the paper bags by the door. As soon as she saw my color drained face, she knew something was wrong. She sat me down, got me some water and I told her what happened. This time it was in broad daylight, and I knew what I saw. As much as I had come to adore her beautiful green eyes, for the first time, I saw in them a strange fear. My wife was the strong one, never afraid. She told me there is something she should have told me a long time ago. She said this happened to her as a kid, a lot. Where her parents and siblings would see her in places they knew she wasn’t. They could never explain these occurrences, but seeing as it caused no harm, they came to live with it without really questioning these encounters.
It took me a few months to process everything she had told me, but I started to live with it also. Like I said, my true perception of fear was monsters, not my beautiful wife. Several similar incidents happen, for instance I would see her sitting in bed, only to find her cooking in the kitchen downstairs. And in all these instances, when I would interact with this ‘entity’ that I still saw as my wife, she would smile and not say anything. I actually came to find comfort in seeing my wife all the time, always smiling, always happy, and always perfect. It is important to note, however, that in all of these incidents, there was never any overlap. Meaning I never saw her in two places simultaneously. I guess any sane person would have called out to their wife when they thought they were seeing the entity. But like I said, I found comfort in her green eyes, in her smiling face, so honestly I didn’t really care.
Then today, everything changed. My wife told me she was going to visit her grandparents who live an hour away from where we do. She invited me to go, but seeing as it was a Sunday and I just wanted to be lazy, I told her to go ahead without me. This is when it finally happened. The overlap. I was in my living room watching TV when I got up to get myself a coke. There she was, my wife again, sipping water from a glass and just smiling. I was so used to it by now, knowing this was the ‘entity’, I smiled and said “And it is nice to see you are still watching over me!” She smile and continued to look at me with those beautiful green eyes I had grown so fond of. That’s when the phone rang and I turned away from the ‘entity’ to pick it up. “Hey sweetie, I’m going to run a little late since granny insists on me staying for lunch!” It was my wife, and as soon as I heard her voice, I heard a glass shatter, which my wife on the phone also heard. I turned around and saw that the ‘entity’ was now glaring at me, the smile no longer there. But rather, a very disturbing grin. She was pointing at me, with her head tilted at a perfect 90 degree angle. But that wasn’t what disturbed me, it was her eyes. They were no longer the green that I found so much comfort in. They were pitch black, like those demons in the movies. I stared at her as I was at a complete loss of words. “Honey, is everything ok? Did you drop something?” my wife asked on the phone. I whispered back into the phone “I didn’t, she did…….” At this point my wife screamed into the phone “HANG UP AND LOOK AWAY!!!!” I don’t know how I found the strength to do so, but I did exactly what she said. When I opened my eyes a split second later, she was gone. Confused and scared, I called my wife back who said she was already on the way “It shouldn’t have happened, it shouldn’t have overlapped, they said it wouldn’t……..they said she was harmless………”
I am too scared to just sit around and wait, I still keep looking over my shoulder. My wife should be home anytime now. As soon as she gets back I will ask her who she meant by “they” and what the hell is going on. She knows something and I have to know what it is. Never did I think that the one I hold so near and dear to my heart, the one who protects me, could become the monster that I fear the most.
P.S. If enough of you are interested, I will continue my story and update when I find out more information.
Trail of Whispers
Written by: thewhistlers
There was a bundle of papers wadded in a deep pocket of the backpack, but I didn't notice until after I got it home. I went back to the house where the estate sale was held, and a young woman answered the door. She couldn't say who the backpack belonged to and had no interest in the papers. Her grandmother was the one who died (of old age, natural causes). Apparently she was a bit of a hoarder, so I don't know if I'll ever be able to track down the source. The handwriting is tiny, and the pages are damaged. I'll transcribe as faithfully as I can.
The man on the trail is dead and will need to be moved. It is a more difficult task than I would have guessed, and nearly impossible for a 5’ 4” woman with no help and no gurney. I tried to drag him toward camp right after I found him this morning, but only succeeded in pivoting him and twisting his legs around each other horribly. Bodies look so wrong once they stop feeling pain. I never thought I would have so much experience with death, but I haven’t cried over the loss of someone since the lighthouse. This man shit his pants before he died, and moving him made the smell worse. It will bring the animals in. Still no sign of Ira or Bill.
I used Ira’s foam sleeping mat like a sled to move the dead man. It still took me an hour to drag him thirty yards, and now the mat is so torn up that I’m questioning whether it was worth the effort.
Gary Law. His driver’s license is in his wallet. He’s from Utah. I took the sight of him as a good sign at first. Another human on the trail might have meant we were close to civilization, but now I’m not sure what he was doing out here, or what it means. I can’t tell what killed him. No claw marks, no wounds on his hands. He’s stoutly built, but with a bagginess about his physique that makes me think he was starving. He died with his mouth open, every mucus membrane turned ash gray. I don’t think he was attacked. It’s a relief—if he had been missing pieces the logical thing to do would have been to move camp, but then Ira and Bill would have come back to nothing. I’m more afraid of being separated from them than I am of anything else. Still waiting on them both.
I spent all day yesterday stripping and burying Gary Law. He was shorter in stature, but his clothes should fit Bill well enough. His feet were small, so I’m keeping the socks for myself. They’re almost brand new, thick, blue wool. I can tell he wasn’t an outdoorsman. Everything else was new too: new shoelaces, new cross-trainers, new windbreaker, none of it quite right for someone trekking this far out. And the pants are from Banana Republic, pleated, and with a neat sheen. These aren’t pristine like everything else, and were hemmed by a tailor. I washed them in the creek, but they still smell like shit and death. Everything does, actually, to the point that I think the smell might be on me, in me. I weighted the pants down on a stone near the ridge that gets full sun. I miss bleach. I put green boughs on the signal fire today, but there was no answering smoke. I’m more worried about Ira than I am about Bill. It was Bill who found this trail to begin with. He always finds his way.
Bill came back today. He took his time coming through the trees, and I got so scared I almost fired the gun. But he clapped, and I clapped back, and he called out to say he was injured. It was the loose shale on the hill between camp and the cave where Lillian was killed. He got caught in a slide and wound up buried to his hips, and one foot wedged between boulders. He couldn’t get free until the rocks shifted again, which they did, that night, when a whistler came by. He’s sure it didn’t see him. He had to spend two days convalescing within sight of Lillian’s cave before he was well enough to hike back. Two nights alone out there.
I boiled water while I listened to his story, and gave Bill some aspirin from the dead man’s backpack. His foot needed to be wrapped, but I don’t think it’s broken.
“We should stop splitting up,” I said.
He nodded and pushed his pack toward me. There was salmon and berries and some mushrooms I didn’t really trust.
“We should think about hiking out,” he said. “Pick a direction and go. It’s been four weeks. We’ll only get weaker.”
“When Ira comes back,” I agreed, but Bill pursed his lips like there was something he couldn’t say.
But he only shook his head.
It’s been ten days now since Ira left.
I woke up this morning to a sound I thought was a whistler, but it was actually Bill, on his knees, crying at Gary Law’s grave. I yelled at him about it—about waking me up and making so much noise. He looked hurt, and I felt bad. I’m just worried about Ira, I think, and afraid. I don’t know what we’ll do when the weather starts getting colder. If we wait too much longer, hiking out won’t be an option. There hasn’t been any sign of rescue—no planes or helicopters, no smoke. No sounds but wolf howls and the distant whistling, like elk mating calls, almost. If Ira were here, he’d tell us a story to get our minds off things. He’s a registered nurse. He doesn’t panic.
I apologized to Bill last night. He shook his head like it was nothing, so I put my hands on his shoulders and apologized again, because I needed him to really hear it.
“Well I’m sorry you were alone,” he said. “We should never have left you alone.”
He was looking into my eyes so sadly, and I imagined he was remembering all of the awful things of the past weeks, and feeling the same guilt I felt. It was our research that brought everyone here, our recklessness and curiosity to blame.
Then he kissed me, and kept kissing me, and finally I kissed him back, because I was feeling something for once. Not even lust, really. More like homesickness. A little breakthrough of pain and wonder after all the bitterness and hardening and cold. We undressed each other and had sex in the tent. I don’t know why. I’ve never cheated on Ira before. Never even thought about it. This didn’t seem wrong, in the moment, but now it’s difficult to write down. It just felt like something we both needed. We didn’t say anything at all. Afterward he went outside to sleep by the fire, like he couldn’t stand to be so close. He spent this morning hauling water and wood, barely pausing to acknowledge me. I don’t think it will happen again. I don’t think either of us will tell Ira.
It’s late. We hear whistlers, just north of us, a chorus of them. Bill says he hears eight distinct tones, but I don’t know. It could be dozens. We put the fires out, and now we’re crouched in the tent with the knives and the gun. Bill reaches for me, puts himself between me and the sound when it crescendoes. I don’t think he knows why he does it. I don’t think it would make a difference. We won’t sleep tonight.
Ira is back. His coat is in tatters, and his hat is gone. He isn’t speaking. I would call it shock, but he’s the only one with medical training, and I don’t really know what to make of him. He walks and moves fine. He doesn’t look at me. Doesn’t seem to see me.
I feel so guilty. I’m the reason he’s out here. Now every time I look up I find Bill staring at me. He tries to communicate with looks, but all I ever make out is the fear and shame. Ira won’t eat. We zipped him into the dead man’s jacket and left him to sleep, but he’s been shaking and mumbling all afternoon. He seems exhausted, but he hardly closes his eyes. It’s my fault.
Ira hasn’t improved much, although he is sleeping now, and eating some. I’ve only seen him sick once before, food poisoning on our honeymoon. He was so stoic about it, and didn’t want my help. Now he hasn’t got much choice. I walked about a mile north and shot a porcupine, and Bill is setting up an alder smoker so we can save the meat. He’s getting serious about us hiking out, but I’m not sure how we’ll manage it with Ira so sick. “He made it back here, didn’t he?” Bill said. “He’ll snap out of it.”
Maybe so. Neither of us has speculated about what Ira saw. All we know is he was on the south side of the mountain. Bill has proposed we go west as far as the river, then follow it south. If he’s right about where he thinks we are, we’ll hit Red Hill before it starts to snow. There’s a lodge there, and a few permanent residents, or so the helicopter pilot said. If anyone is looking for us, they’ve certainly asked around in Red Hill. I’m glad we have meat now. I’ve been feeling weak.
Ira is recovering, and not a moment too soon. I woke this morning with his arms around me, and the look in his eyes said he knew where he was, who I was, and was bursting with something he wanted to say but couldn’t. “It’s okay,” I told him. “Be patient with yourself.”
We had a cold snap last night that left frost on the ground. All three of us cuddled together to sleep, Ira between Bill and I, and at one point Bill reached over to grab my shoulder. I think we’re done with the awkwardness. I think we both know we were just scared.
We don’t have anywhere near enough food for the journey, but we’re leaving tomorrow anyway. Bill has a cold.
I'll keep going through the papers and let you know what I find...
Hi all. I'm glad so many of you shared my enthusiasm about the first entries, though my enthusiasm has since twisted into something else. Yesterday, in the comments, I mentioned that I felt lucky for finding these pages at the estate sale. I don't feel lucky anymore. I feel guilty.
This is going to sound crazy, but the more I read and transcribe, the more anxious I feel about the pages and the woman who wrote them. Her name is Ruth--that comes out in tonight's excerpt. I still don't know much about her--I have no leads to share about the young woman at the estate sale or her grandmother. Yet, I feel like Ruth is close. Like she’s aware of what I’ve done. Like she’s angry. I can't explain it. It's as if I can hear her. Whispers of disappointment rising along with my own pulse. I'm certain now that she never meant her words to be used this way--to be posted online with so little context, offered up as entertainment. I didn't sleep well last night.
Still... I feel like we've started something now that needs to be finished. A few of you expressed interest in seeing Ruth's original pages, but I think that's where I should draw the line. It's where I can redeem myself. I'm uncomfortable with the idea of photographing the original documents--her original words--and turning them into just another memento mori for the internet to have its way with. At this point, it makes no difference to me if you believe me or not. I guess that might seem selfish, but you can't hear her like I can.
Anyway, here's the rest of what I've transcribed so far:
Third day of walking.
I wish I could talk to Lillian about what happened with Bill. She was young, ambitious, and so funny. Plus, she had a whole hoard of birth control pills. She and Geoff were dating. I forget how many you take in emergencies, and how soon after it has to be. But the pills are in her pack, and her pack is in the cave with the whistlers and whatever is left of her. She had the maps. She had everything that mattered. The cave is miles behind us now.
We built a big cairn by the stream. At some point, we’ll have to lead rangers out here, I’m sure. They’ll want to collect Lillian, and Geoff, and the helicopter pilot. I can’t remember his name. I hope one of us makes it out so his family can hear that it wasn’t his fault. He had three daughters, and was expecting a fourth. I can’t imagine what his wife is doing now. If anyone finds this: it was an electrical malfunction. He got us to the ground safe and sound. He was perfect, even fixed the problem, but then the weather closed in, and we couldn’t take off. Lillian knew the way, so we hiked to the lighthouse. And then the whistlers came.
It has rained for two days. The dead man’s jacket is nowhere near warm enough for Ira, and too big, but we don’t have anything else. At least it’s waterproof.
We hear whistlers every night now, just after sunset. Three or four of them, calling back and forth. Bill is convinced they’re tracking us. We stack rocks high around the fire.
We’re following a new game trail now, instead of the river. The walking is easier. I didn’t think twice about it until last night. Bill leaned forward on his elbows at the fireside while the whistlers seemed to be circling us.
“What if this isn’t a game trail?” he said, his voice a low murmur. “What if they made this?”
I don’t have the energy to think about that. It’s simple: If we’re walking a trail they made, if their nightly whooping is urging us into a trap, we’re fucked.
Ira curls up in a ball when the whistlers start calling. He writhes like someone is sticking him with pins. All he’s said so far is “Let’s go.”
It hailed today, hard. We had to take shelter under a tree, and when dark fell there were no whistles for the first time in a week. The silence was somehow more eerie than the threat of the whistlers. Ira felt it too, because about fifteen minutes after dark he stood up and started whooping and whistling out into the rain, calling and screaming in a tone that didn’t sound like him. Bill yelled at him to be quiet, but he acted as if possessed, calling out to them at the top of his lungs with his eyes rolling back in his head. Bill tackled him to the ground and beat him to shut him up.
“Stop it!” I said, at first, but when Ira didn’t stop making noise Bill looked at me, and I closed my eyes and nodded. He had to knock Ira cold to get him to be quiet, and he was sobbing while he did it, pleading with Ira to settle down. The wind was sharp, and I think it saved us. Every tree was vibrating and creaking and howling. The whistlers had likely all retreated to their caves.
Maybe they hibernate. Maybe they’ll leave us alone soon.
Ira was his old self this morning, as completely as if we had gone backward in time. He was up before either of us, heating water. He said he took so long to recon the south side of the mountain because the whistlers caught him in a trap.
“It was a hole, clearly dug with tools.” He was shaking while he spoke. “They only came at night, and I didn’t get a good look at them. I could hear them, and see silhouettes, but nothing definite. It was too dark. I don’t know what they wanted with me. I got out. I climbed out. And I ran.”
We’re well away from there now, finally reaching the end of the ridges and the start of a valley where everything is very green. I hope the change in biome means a decrease in the whistler population. Part of me wants to take steps to document as much, if it’s true, but all of our field notes were lost with Lillian’s gear, plus the night vision goggles and the cameras. My biggest fear is that we’ll all be killed, and our disappearance will inspire some other young researchers to come up here to solve the mystery for themselves. We’ll become just another line in the sick folklore that draws people to this cursed place. I would hate to be part of that cycle, knowing what I know now. The whistlers are very real, and they don’t want us here.
I dreamed last night that I was pregnant with Gary Law’s baby. Nothing else happened in the dream. I was hiking endlessly with Ira and Bill, and all three of us knew that I had been with the dead man, and it bothered us, but we wouldn’t talk about it. I woke up with my period, thank God. I’ve never been so happy doing laundry.
We’ve made camp by a small lake in the low point of the valley. It’s uphill from here to a distant saddle Ira thinks he remembers seeing from the air. It’s only about two miles away. Red Hill should be just beyond that, Ira says, but we don’t have the energy to push that far yet. We’ll rest today, and tomorrow we’ll move, and hopefully we’ll be drinking beer at the Red Hill lodge before dark.
Ira is the best shot, so he took the gun to look for rock ptarmigan. We lit two fires and agreed he’s not to go beyond shouting distance, but I still worry. The whistlers don’t seem willing to attack when we’re in a group. Lillian and Geoff were both alone when they were killed. Besides, I’m not convinced Ira is fully recovered yet. He says nonsensical things in his sleep, cries out and scratches. That’s new.
Bill and I went fishing after the laundry was done. It was stupid, doing it in that order. All we caught were minnows, and even that took hours.
He was staring at me while we sat. The cold was seeping into my bones, making me irritable. I haven’t been warm in weeks.
“What?” I said.
“He’s not himself. You know it.” He meant Ira.
“He’s better than he was. He’s okay. We’ll find him a doctor in Red Hill.”
“What if Red Hill isn’t on the other side of that saddle? What if we get up there and we’re facing another week’s worth of empty forest? What then?”
I realized my eyes were closed. I opened them, and the lake seemed oddly bright. Bill’s fingers were pressed against his brow.
“We’ll worry about that when we have to,” I said.
“I’m saying I don’t trust him like this, Ruth. He doesn’t remember the other night, after the hail. He can’t control himself.” He flexed his hands. “He could get us killed.”
“He’s my husband.”
“He’s my brother.”
I nodded, but that was all I could do. I have known Bill longer than I have known Ira, and spend more time with him most days, back at home, since we work in the same department. He introduced me to Ira at a Christmas party. Six years ago, now.
“What should we do?” I asked.
“I don’t know. But I think we may need to be open to the idea of cutting the rope, at some point. If he gets any worse, it may come to that.”
Bill started rock climbing on the weekends in college. “Cutting the rope.” It’s a metaphor for letting Ira die so we can live.
Yesterday, while Ira was still out hunting, we heard three shots in the woods. Two too many to take down a rock ptarmigan, and Bill and I stood, staring, tense, for just a moment before we hurried to put out the fires and pack what we could into our bags. Ira came running into camp, breathing so hard he couldn’t say what was wrong. He had no gun and no bag, and he grabbed my arm as soon as he was close enough and pulled me through the grass, up the valley, toward the saddle. Bill looked alarmed. He caught up to us and pried us apart. He yelled at Ira and handed me my haphazardly stuffed pack. All our clothes were still wet, torn from the line, and Ira’s eyes were wild. He stared off behind us, toward the woods he’d run from.
“It’s a warning,” he said. “I understand it now. It’s a warning.” Bill tried to talk him down, but then we heard the whistlers’ eerily musical voices. I’ve never heard it during daylight, and never so close as this. I followed Ira’s gaze into the trees, and stared, and listened. I couldn’t move my legs. I couldn’t even draw breath. I held onto my pack straps with a stony grip, like it was attached to a balloon that might whisk me out of harm’s way any moment.
Ira took my arm again, and now Bill was helping him, pushing me along the trail until I could run, until we all were running as fast as we could. The trail led straight into the open, and we all reacted differently, ducking through alders or sweeping wide from the trail to be closer to the cover of the hemlock. Ira took the shortest path, straight through the matted grass of the game trail, and soon he was far ahead of me, and it was all I could do to keep my eyes on him and my legs moving as fast as they would go. He was the first to reach the hill covered in scrub, the saddle between two jagged peaks. He ducked low as he ran, and I lost sight of him.
Bill’s bad foot and pack slowed him down, and I saw him stop and crouch, wide-eyed, beneath the trees, after we’d been fleeing for ten minutes that felt like fleeting seconds. Ira’s vanishing sent panic straight to my toes. It took me no time to decide not to wait with Bill. I had to catch Ira. I kept running until I reached the ridge, my lungs burning, but once I arrived there was no sign of him, no trail to follow. I lumbered to the crest of the saddle, clapping frantically, looking back over my shoulder for Bill, who was also gone. From so high up I could see the forest beyond, and the river, and a flat brown bay at low tide. No town. No Red Hill. I clapped, but neither of them clapped back. I was so exposed, but the whistling was distant now, and in fact I couldn’t pick it apart from the wind with any certainty. I walked closer to the trees, and built two fires with my firesteel and shaking hands, the second in the open of the hilltop, big and smoky. The hemlock makes for thick cover. There was plenty of dry tinder.
We left the tent behind, and the sleeping pads. Bill had the stove and the cooking pots. Ira had the gun. I have the hatchet, the firesteel, the wet laundry.
I made a lean-to with a small roof of boughs, and sat through the evening with my back tense against a thick tree, and waited, and slept fitfully. I did the same today, and kept the fires alive, and now it’s getting dark. I should walk back down into the valley to collect the tent, but the sound of the daytime whistle is stuck in me like a splinter. I can’t face the creature that made that sound, even after years of looking for it. I never believed the stories, not really. We came here to research the folklore. To listen to elderly trappers and hunters tell the outlandish stories they grew up with, to record them for posterity. We should never have come here.
No sign of Ira or Bill.
Is anyone else planning on sleeping with the lights on tonight? I don't care if I wake up at 3 A.M. and hear whistling or am incredibly thirsty.
I am staying in my bed under my covers where I'll be safe and sound. And I suppose it's time to read up on their sequels to further freak myself out.