This story is a recall of my encounter with a demon in the woods.
“Not necessity, not desire – no, the love of power is the demon of men. Let them have everything – health, food, a place to live, entertainment – they are and remain unhappy and low-spirited: for the demon waits and waits and will be satisfied.” – Friedrich Nietzsche
Back when I was in high school I used to live in a house that was about 100 yards from hundreds of acres of lush woods.
The woods were great for cutting through to get to the other side. My only other option would be to walk or ride my bike around them – which could take upwards of an hour.
So being younger, and a bit naïve, I never hesitated to take the easy route of cutting through the woods.
The Dark Path
The “dark path” as we called the woods was a massive assortment of oak, hickory and beech trees as far as the eye could see.
It was rumored that an odd family (the Morris’s) once lived in the woods in the 1700’s. I recall finding the foundation of the old house one summer – which was made of stone and brick I believe.
Apparently a group of teenagers accidentally burned down the old Morris house back in the 1960’s while they were partying in the house.
I remember some of the older folks in the neighborhood telling me to stay out of the woods, especially at night.
Did I ever listen to them? Nope. Did I mention I am stubborn as a mule when someone tells me not to do something?
One night back in the late 80’s I attended a party that one of the older kids was having at his house.
There was beer and lots of girls there too. I was not much of a drinker when I was younger; normally I could drink maybe 3 or 4 max and I was done.
Well, that night I had about 6 too many and I began to feel queasy, which really sucked because one of the older girls was hitting on me “big time”.
I began feeling like I was going to throw up and all I wanted was some fresh air. So I decided to go outside and breathe in the cool autumn air.
“Wow, that really worked, I feel better” I thought to myself. Maybe I’ll go back inside and see if that older girl still wants to “hook-up.”
As soon as I walked back in the house I felt queasy again, and my head started to spin too. “Shit” I thought to myself. So I went back outside again to try to make myself feel better.
I’m Walking Home
The party was about 2 miles from my home and I decided to leave and just start walking. I didn’t even bother telling anyone inside I was leaving.
Between the cool autumn breeze and the “beer buzz” I had – I couldn’t care less about the distance.
After about 45 minutes or so of walking home I had a choice to make. I could walk through the woods and be home in about 15 or 20 minutes, or I could go the long way and be home in another hour.
It was late, and I was totally jaded from the walk and my beer buzz was wearing off. I thought to myself, “screw it”, I’ll go through the woods tonight and maybe catch a little “skinamax” on the “tele” when I get home.
I began walking towards the little street that takes you to one of the main entrances into the woods.
There was an old Art Center on that same road that was once the home of Lillian Holt – a religious educator and amateur painter. The original Victorian farmhouse accommodated the Holt Center for the Arts.
Through the Woods I Go – The Demon in the Woods
As I was about to enter the woods I suddenly recalled another tale about the woods that an “old timer” had told me.
The story went that a secret cult would practice black magic in the woods at night; especially on weekends. Besides that wonderful tale, the occultists also would summon dark entities and sacrifice animals there too.
“Great” I thought to myself. What kind of sicko does that anyway?
Well, there was no more time for judgment, I had to go through the woods because I was getting so tired that I thought I might pass out.
Maybe the center for the Arts building is open and I could catch some zzzz’s in there. Nah, I am so close to home, I gotta go for it.
I began walking towards the entrance of the woods. All alerts are on. My eyes are wide open, my ears are perked, and I have my adrenaline on the back-burner in case I need to “book out of there“.
It’s so dark in here, I could barely see five feet in front of me.
I remembered to look at what I could see of the Moon as a guidance system. As far as navigating through there – I had walked that trail dozens of times and I knew I could do it in the dark.
My main concern at the moment was to keep a look out for any camp fires in the woods. I was told that the occultists would burn fires in there to summon demons. As far as I could see, it was freaking dark in there.
There was certainly no fire that was for sure.
The woods had a certain dark mystique to begin with, kind of like the woods in Tim Burton’s: Sleepy Hollow. It was just a dark, mysterious place.
At this time I am at least half way through the woods and it feels like I have been in there for over an hour, when in fact probably only 10 minutes have passed by.
Have you ever noticed when you are alone, and it is dark and quiet that your mind comes up with the most paranoid thoughts imaginable? Well, that was what my mind was doing that night.
“Man, I wish I had a flashlight on me” I thought.
I think I am still on the path but I cannot tell. One way to know if I was off the path would be that I would get snagged on sticker bushes. From what I could tell I was not getting caught on any.
“What the hell was that?” I stopped immediately, more like frozen with fear.
“There it is again“.
A sound I have never heard before in my life. No, it wasn’t a dog, cat or fox. It was a low, gravelly kind of sound. Like Bruce Springsteen with laryngitis.
Back in those days I almost always carried some type of knife on me, but not that night. “Shit, are you kidding me?”
There it goes again. I was trying to figure out where the sound was coming from, while at the same time walking again at a much faster pace without panicking .
From where I was walking it sounded like the gravelly sound was coming from above me. Like up in a tree.
Maybe it’s an owl. I didn’t know an owl could sound like that but there have been sightings of the Great Grey Owl in these woods before.
Yeah, that’s what that is, an owl. Whew, all is well again, or at least I thought.
Next, I hear the sound again above me and it sounded like something was falling from the tree, like a branch or something. So, I looked back and up to see what the hell it was.
Behind me, maybe 10 feet up in the trees was a shadowy figure. It looked like the grim reaper, shredded black cloak and red piercing eyes with a white shimmer to it.
It descended down from the trees and landed about 5 or so feet behind me.
It was tall, over 7 feet easily. It signaled for me to come to it, like it wanted to show me something. I had other intentions.
I ran like Carl Lewis in the ‘88 Olympics through the woods, straight out of there and into my house and straight into my bedroom. I looked out my window to see if anything was there. I didn’t see anything, thank god.
No one was home at my house that night so I stayed awake all the way till morning. I never did tell anyone about my experience in the woods. I thought that story would be better kept to myself, well at least until now.