There is unrest in the forest
There is trouble with the trees
|"The Trees" by Rush|
The events that led to the unusual discovery were quite accidental. The locals who refuse to enter the woods thereabouts would say that it is quite the opposite. No, they would argue that it was clearly a warning from that supernatural world we share our existence with, but rarely encounter. The locals would like to keep it that way.
It started when Jess and Harold McCollum were hunting in the woods down by Shades Creek. These woods are largely uninhabited and owned mainly by the county. The brothers had been hunting for some part of the day and were just about to call it quits when Harold stepped in a hole. This was no ordinary hole though.
Jess was ahead of Harold several hundred feet and did not witness the accident, but he did respond to Harold's cries and went back to check on his younger brother. He found Harold lying in an awkward position on the ground with his right leg buried up to mid-thigh.
This entire event would have been dismissed and probably never recounted had not Harold got his leg stuck. For no matter how hard Jess pulled, Harold could not get his leg free.
It was at this time that both brothers were trying to figure out a solution to Harold's predicament that Jess discovered the peculiar nature of the hole. Jess cleared away the brush from the hole and began to dig in order to free his brother. It wasn't long before he had revealed enough of the hole to cause the two brothers to stop and inspect it. It was rectangular in shape and was rimmed with crude bricks. Harold commented that it appeared to be a well, but Jess didn't think so because it was not round.
Eventually the decision was made that Jess would have to leave his brother and return with tools and manpower. Harold was none too keen of this idea but had little choice considering his situation.
So, Jess departed and Harold was left by himself. It wasn't long before darkness fell and Jess had still not returned. Harold started to get scared the closer it got to dusk. He had the most unsettling feeling that there was something in the hole that was not of this world. Images of some twisted, gnarled hand groping inches beneath his foot kept returning to his mind. He would struggle to get free but it only made his leg hurt worse.
Harold's situation progressed until he was positive he felt something grab his ankle. He started to wail and scream in a horrible tone. It was at this time that Jess returned with his father Frank and their neighbor Thomas Norton. Jess would say later that Harold's cries sounded like cries of hopeless despair.
The three men had brought picks, shovels and flashlights. They set to work and finally freed Harold after about two hours. Poor Harold suffered a fractured ankle, and lost his shoe down the hole, but the damage to his psyche, during that early evening stuck in that hole, had left a mark on him that would last a lifetime. The reason not being that he merely felt ill at ease while being stuck, but because of what was later found in that hole.
Thomas had told of the peculiar hole and Harold's ordeal to another neighbor named Ernest Perkins. Ernest was intrigued at what the hole might be and asked Thomas to take him to investigate it. So the two men returned the following day with rope and flashlights to try and determine the depth of the hole.
The width of the hole was about one foot and the length of the hole was about three feet. A flashlight was lowered by rope into the hole and it was determined to be about twenty to twenty-five feet deep. There appeared to be some type of metal grating half protruding from the dirt at the bottom of the hole. At the bottom of one of the long sides was a square opening cut into the bricks suggesting an entrance of some sort. There was not any sign of Harold's shoe though.
Ernest looked bewildered at Thomas and said, "If I didn't know no better Tom, I'd say we was lookin' down a chimney."
The two men decided to return and try to dig into the area where the ceiling should be in order to find out if their assumptions were correct or not -- no matter how incredible the possibility of a house being buried in such an odd location might seem. They went straight to the McCollum residence to tell of their discovery. Frank thought that it sounded ludicrous, but agreed to return with the two men to investigate for himself. Jess was eager to go, too, but Harold refused to even entertain such thoughts.
So, the group returned to the site of the hole and Ernest and Thomas lowered the flashlights down again to show Frank the grating and the opening on the side at the base. Frank had to admit that it did resemble a chimney in every respect, but the idea of a house being completely buried remained open to speculation.
Many theories were thrown around all the way from a sinkhole to a volcano but none fully accounted for this unique structure. All that was left to do was to dig through were the roof should be and see if their theory was true.
Surprisingly, it didn't take long before Thomas hit what he at first thought were roots but soon realized was the roof of the house. It appeared that the structure was an old log cabin. Jess was sent to retrieve an ax while the other three took turns chipping at the wood with a pick.
By the time Jess returned the men had poked a hole in the roof and they could barely discern that there was indeed a large opening by shining a flashlight through the hole. With the ax, the hole was soon made large enough to admit a person. By shining the flashlight in now, a couch, chair and table, all in a dilapidated state, could be seen below. Jess volunteered to make the descent by rope into the cabin to see how many rooms the cabin possessed.
Jess slid down the rope into the stale air of the cabin and began to explore about the main room. His flashlight cast a feeble light about the dusty, dry room. There wasn't much of interest in this room, which appeared to be the living room/kitchen. The fireplace could be seen now, it's dirt-encrusted hearth allowing faint rays of light to filter down from above.
On one wall was the front door of the cabin securely closed. Two windows were in this room, one broken from the immense pressure of the soil. A pile of dirt had formed underneath the window partially filling that portion of the room. On the opposite wall was a doorway leading into an adjacent room. The flashlight did little to penetrate this room as Jess cautiously approached the opening.
The air grew noticeably colder in this room, an effect Jess attributed to the room buried deeper in the soil. The flashlight beam revealed a large bed in the room. Lying on the bed was a sight so grotesque that Jess began to scream. He stumbled backwards into the larger room screaming hysterically for the men above to save him. They barely had time to do anything though because Jess dropped the flashlight and climbed out before the men even had a chance to begin pulling.
Jess stood there pale faced, gasping and mumbling something about the corpse on the bed. So Ernest decided he would go down and investigate the room himself. He was lowered down into the main room where he retrieved Jess' dropped flashlight from the dirt-covered floor.
Ernest scanned the room until he found the doorway. He approached the room and the hairs on the back of his neck stood up. He, too, felt the air drop in temperature. He steadied himself, took a deep breath and then entered the room.
Ernest stared, transfixed at the form lying on the bed. The form was that of a mummified human. It's skinned dried and withered, but still clinging to the bones. The face was frozen in a horrible testimony of fear. The eyes were grossly wide and the mouth was opened as if in mid scream. The lips pealed back to add to the skeletal appearance. The figure was lying in a curled posture with it's hands clutched to it's breast. And inside one of it's dead hands was clutched the pages of a rolled up parchment. It looked to Ernest like the creature was protecting these pages from whatever horror was after it.
Ernest got the feeling that this pitiful husk of a man was pleading to him to take the papers. The men above began to call after Ernest to see if he was all right. Ernest attempted to yell but his throat was so dry that only a hoarse moan escaped his lips. He swallowed and yelled to the men that he was fine. "There's a mummy down here alright! And it's got somethin' in it's hands! I'm gonna try to pry it out!"
"Dumb thing to do," muttered Frank. "We should just cover it up and leave."
"What if it's gold or somethin'? We could be rich," Thomas said.
"Shouldn't rob the dead Tom. It's bad luck."
Meanwhile, Ernest was slowly approaching the corpse. He never took his eyes away from the face of the mummy. He gingerly reached out and tried to take the papers but the hand was clenched too tight. "Come on now sir," he whispered. "These here papers won't do you any good no more." And then as if the corpse had understood it relaxed it's grip. People would later say that it was all Earnest's imagination but he knew better.
With the document in hand, Ernest backed out of the room still looking in the hideous face. He called for the men up top to help pull him out.
Back on the surface Ernest unrolled the dry parchment papers and read them aloud to the others.
I am writing this because my time is short. I have spent many hours and resources attempting to escape but to no avail. So now I have resolved to write this and pray.
By the grace of God I will be delivered, but if not, I hope this text will reach the right person and they will burn this cursed forest down. Only then shall I truly be at rest. Now, if my time permits, my story. You shall see what brought about this terrible nightmare.
A log cabin by a lake in the wilderness is what I've dreamed of, and so when I came across this real-estate deal I couldn't pass it up. I sold most of my possessions, keeping my truck, camping trailer and a sparse amount of furniture. I also acquired what tools I would need for building a log cabin by hand.
I would not settle for anything less than a small cabin built by my own efforts. And the -- oh how it pains me to say this now -- beautiful hardwoods of this area seemed perfect for the job. The trees being held in place with iron pins and red dirt clay mortar. The former being purchased and the latter being found in abundance in this region.
So, the next several months were spent living in my trailer and working diligently, hewing and notching logs, mortaring clay, driving fastenings and familiarizing myself with my new environs.
Finally, the day came when I had the basic structure of the cabin in place. The only items which I had not built myself were the windowpanes and the iron nails and pins. Still lacking the fireplace and porch that I desired, I was able to move in.
I resolved to build my fireplace next, as it would be required for cooking as well as warmth during the coming winter. The porch would have to wait ‘till spring, at which time I could use it to sit and enjoy my new home.
I started the arduous process of hauling fireplace rocks from the river to the cabin. It was during this time that my hell began unfolding.
Every night I would lie in bed and read before retiring for the evening. During those moments of reflection between passages, I would gaze out of my bedroom window. From the angle of my bed I would have an unobstructed view of the river and sky.
Then, one night, I noticed a tree limb was obstructing part of the view. Strange that I had never noticed this before. I dismissed this, however, as a lack of perception on my part.
A few evenings later, I looked up to discover that the limb had completely obstructed my view. This filled me with a strange sense of wonder. I tried to rationalize how a tree could grow so fast, but this was absurd. Then I thought that obviously the limb had fallen or broken and had eventually come to rest in my line of sight.
The next morning I inspected the tree to find that the limb was completely sound and healthy. At that moment that tree became the focus of my attentions.
The next few days I watched the tree. Every time I had to walk by it I avoided it with a wide distance, because it filled me with a profound uneasiness. From carrying rocks from the river I had worn a path, which consisted of a wide arc around that tree. It seemed silly but I refused to walk under the stretching boughs of that tree.
Then the night came where a scraping at my window awakened me. Looking up I saw that the tree limb had shaped itself into a hand and appeared to be clawing at my window as if to break it.
Immediately I was seized with horror and recoiled from my bed. I spent the rest of that night wide-awake with fright in the corner. I held my axe, cradled in my lap while the scratching at the window grated into my skull.
"That damned tree was possessed," I reasoned. It was trying to get me. Of this I was sure. There was only one solution to put my mind at rest from this demonic thing of the forest.
As soon as the glorious, morning sun shone over the river, I took up my chainsaw and proceeded to march out to the tree. It was then that I noticed that the tree itself had moved approximately twenty feet closer to the house.
I was filled with a mix of rage and fear, and I set upon the tree with the saw. Burying the saw deep into the tree's flesh, I cursed it. I didn't stop to rest. I just kept carving and cutting it into smaller sections. This being completed, I loaded the remains into my truck and hauled it many miles down river finally dumping it into the river.
Returning to the cabin, I went to inspect the remains of the tree stump. My intentions were to uproot it and dispose of it also. But, to my horror, I found it gone without a trace. The ground looked as if it had never been disturbed. The path from the river made a semi-circular path around bare ground.
That night I tried to sleep in the bed again, but the tree haunted my dreams. Its limb seized me as I lay paralyzed and helpless in my bed. I wound up sleeping on the floor away from any windows.
The next morning, I immediately checked the spot where the stump had been and was relieved to find it still gone. So, I started back at the job of hauling river rocks up to the house.
Several weeks passed and I eventually gathered enough rocks to begin building the chimney. The ordeal with the tree faded from my mind as if it were but a dream. It was about mid-Fall when I completed the chimney. So I began to cut firewood for the coming winter months.
One day, while on one of my wood cutting excursions, a strange paranoia overcame me. As I walked, I started feeling like I was being watched. And as I looked warily around me, I realized that it was the trees that made me feel this way. All of the trees.
My heart started racing and I felt claustrophobic. On every side of me was the looming specter of a twisted, grasping tree.
Then the rustling started. There was no wind, but I could hear the trees moving. Always behind me. Then I would turn around to find that the trees had changed position. And then more rustling behind me.
I had had enough. I ran to the cabin and retrieved my chainsaw, then got in my truck and left. I didn't care about gathering any possessions. I just wanted to get the hell away.
I was driving down the dirt road that led to my cabin. I rounded a corner to find the road ended. Before I could stop, I had ran head on into a stand of trees. I was dazed by the wreck, but otherwise uninjured. My God, what was happening? This forest was possessed. What else could explain trees uprooting themselves then moving into the middle of the road and replanting? My mind reeled at the thought of my plight and I was overwhelmed with an immense dread.
I grabbed the chainsaw and started running. Determined to cut my way to freedom if necessary. They, rustling, pursued me as I ran. The forest got progressively thicker as I went. I decided to crank the chainsaw and started cutting branches and limbs in an effort to break through. Then I found my ankles being entangled in roots and before I could escape I fell to the ground. The chainsaw was wrestled from my grasp by limbs and I looked up to see it being carried away through the foliage. Passing from one tree to the next it was soon lost from sight.
I got up and began running back the way I had come. I thought that if I could at least make the river I might have a chance to escape.
Soon I reached the cabin, but I saw that the path to the river was blocked in the same manner as the road. So I tried to make my way down river through the woods. But I soon returned to the cabin. So I tried a different route, but again wound up at the cabin. Several attempts and several routes I tried, but I always emerged at the cabin.
Finally I gave up and collapsed in front of my cabin in exhaustion. Whatever forces were against me wanted me to stay at this cabin. As this thought went through my mind I was hit with a most horrific realization. I walked into the log cabin and sank to the floor terrified at the thoughts of what might happen next.
It was now obvious that the trees were taking vengeance upon me for the slaying of the trees to build this cabin. They were avenging the killing of their brethren. I started wailing in despair, cursing and raving in madness and fright.
Now, as I sit and write this, the trees have fully closed in around the cabin. The doors and windows are totally occluded by their numbers. Shortly before I started writing, I thought about crawling up the chimney, but the passage is too small and the trees would probably block my escape anyway. I also thought about starting a fire in one last vain attempt, but as I thought on this it seemed senseless, as I would surely perish likewise. I would rather wait in this accursed tomb clinging to what little life waits before me than die in that manner.
Occasionally I will hear creaking or scratching beneath the cabin and a couple of times I have felt the cabin shake. It is obvious that the trees intend to bury their kindred by digging the earth out from underneath. And now, as the light fades and it becomes too dark to write any longer, I can only pray that someone will one day find this writing. As for me, my fate is sealed in this cursed log cabin I now call my tomb.
May God have mercy on my soul
After Ernest finished reading, the men quickly and quietly set to the task of covering up the hole and concealing the chimney. The men all attested to what they saw and would vehemently warn any trespassers not to enter the woods. This was made clear by the hundreds of no trespassing signs the men hung up throughout the area.
Ernest never told anyone what the corpse was
clutching in it's other hand. He didn't think even the three
men who accompanied him would believe. He knew that
Harold would believe him, but poor Harold was in a fragile
state of mind these days. Harold didn't need to know that in
the other hand the corpse was clutching his lost shoe.
© 2001 David Garrett, all rights reserved
appears here by permission