by Jeremiah Edwards/Staff Writer
Drawing by Mario Steverson
Hi, my name is David, I’m 16 years old and I attend Palmer High School. I’m here to inform you about the disappearances in St August’s woods. It all started on the night before Halloween with best friends Jack Early and Miles Cooper. Let me tell you a little bit about them. Jack was tall and slender. He had short wavy blonde hair, hazel eyes, and had a small scar near his lip from when he fell and had to get stitches, and at the time had a brace on his arm from breaking his arm while playing Football. Miles, on the other hand, was slightly shorter than Jack and slender, had black curly hair, blue eyes, pierced ears, and a birthmark on his hand. Now that we have the introductions out of the way, let’s get to the story.
Today was October 30th. I was excited because my favorite holiday was near. There’s so much to love about Halloween: the scares, the festivities, the costumes, but most importantly something everyone looks forward to, the candy. Though today is going to be fun, too; after school I have plans to meet with Miles so we could just venture around town and mess around. It’s kind of a tradition now, four years and counting. A phone ringing had flung me out of my trance. It was coming from downstairs, probably the kitchen. I decided to ignore it. The ringing stopped; my mom had picked it up, I could hear her murmuring. I went back to getting ready. I put on my socks and laced up my shoes. I was almost late so I grabbed a hoodie out of my closet and ran downstairs. A second later I became anxious; as I peered into the kitchen the phone was sitting on the counter, right where it was when I had previously come downstairs. I decided to check the driveway to see if maybe it was just a coincidence. No cars? Weird. She wouldn’t just leave without her phone right? I mean it was literally in her hands. I soon forgot about the incident after remembering I needed to get to school.
“This was Jack’s morning, pretty interesting right? Don’t worry; it doesn’t end there. Let’s see the other side of the story from Miles.”
I felt more sluggish than usual this morning. The sound of something scratching my walls had disrupted my sleep. I declared it was rats and I needed to tell my parents about what happened. I needed to finish getting ready for school. I was only looking forward to what I had planned for after school. Meeting up with Jack at the orchard and venturing around town is one of my favorite things to do during fall. I slipped on my shoes and cleaned off my glasses. I walked downstairs and entered the living room, where my parents were sitting and drinking their morning coffee. On the tv was the news; the news anchor was talking about some myth. I heard something about woods but I didn’t pay much attention. I shifted towards my parents. “Mom, Dad, I think we have rats, I heard something scratching on the walls” I blurted out. They looked at me like I was crazy.
“Honey, we don’t have rats,” my Mom said. “The exterminators came by the other day; they didn’t find anything.” I wasted no time to get out of the house, as there was goosebumps appearing on my arms. No other animal could be scratching from inside the walls.
School was finally over; it was exhausting but I was ready for the night on the town. The thought of what happened this morning still lingered in my head. Something about it wasn’t right. I wasn’t going to let it ruin my day, though. I got onto my bike and started pedaling. I was going to Cooper’s orchard, owned by Miles’ family.Tomorrow we would go over to a Halloween party at our friends house; he hosts it every year. In between those two events we go into stores and buy something for ourselves or something to mess around with. We love to prank each other. I finally got to the Orchard, Miles was sitting there waiting for me.
“Took you long enough,” he chuckled. I set my bike to the side.
“Had to take a detour,” I bounced back.
“You say that every year,” Miles rolled his eyes. We saw our friends in the distance we knew it was time to go.
We had fun at the orchard, though something was off about it. People kept saying that the people we had in the corn maze to scare them was a good idea. My family never hired anyone to scare people. Maybe it was just a few kids that wanted to mess with people. My paranoia grew stronger, all of these weird events happening out of nowhere at the same time? My heart was already out of my chest from what my parents told me that morning.
We walked out of our last store; we didn’t get much. I got a hoodie that has a picture of a ghost. Miles got something like it but his had an outline of woods in the back. Must’ve been the last one, no other shirt or hoodie had that design. Our friends had already gone home, it was just Miles and I. We decided to ride around for a few more minutes to end the night.
“There’s only one place we’ve never been; we should check it out,” Miles said, turning to me.
“Are you sure? That’s pretty long ride on these bikes,” I said, stopping my bike and walking with it. We were talking about the Carson trails: The one place in town we had never once thought of going, there isn’t much there but why not see if we can find anything to tell others about.
The entrance of the trails going into Carson trails was covered with darkness. The only light was from our flashlights and a small crack of the moon’s light creating shadows. We had to watch our step because of bear traps. This place may not have much but hunters love this place. We were halfway through the trail when we got stopped by a line of trees.
“Huh, this isn’t supposed to be here,” Jack looked at me concerned. “Did we take the wrong trail?” He asked. We were using a map and the trail was supposed to be clear for another few miles.
“Must be an old map,” I told Jack. We continued walking forward, we were 20 steps in and suddenly an uneasy feeling overcame me. My stomach sank further and further. Jack looked at me.
“Miles, are you okay?” He asked. I could tell he wasn’t feeling the best. My paranoia was off the charts now. I started to feel dizzy.
“We need to go!” I yelled out. He shook his head, agreeing with me. We walked as fast as we could out of the trail. We were unable to ride our bikes home because we were weak. The feeling of uneasiness never went away but after we got a few blocks away we regained strength. I asked Jack if he wanted to go back tomorrow but with more people; he questioned me at first but after some convincing he agreed.
“After the boys made it home, they still felt uneasy. Neither were able to fall asleep quickly. The next day wouldn’t be any easier. Waking up the next day, the boys were distraught. Having nightmares about the past day had them weary of the woods, yet they knew someone needed to go back. Strength in numbers, right?” I said.
Last night was strange; I could still feel my heart jumping out of my chest. Maybe it was just us getting into our heads or so that’s what I hoped. I had a nightmare about the trail and the woods. Something was chasing me but I couldn’t get a good look because if I turned around it’d get even closer to me. My friends behind me were getting grabbed. I had lost Miles in the chase, he wasn’t grabbed; he just ran his own direction. The dream ended there. Much didn’t happen earlier in the day. All I did was research on the trails. The place was nowhere to be found on any map. It wouldn’t make sense for it to be undiscovered since it’s popular for hunting nor could anything grow that fast. Miles had texted a few friends: Shawn, Jayden, Emma, David, and Kam and asked if they wanted to come with us because we wanted to show them what we had found. Most of them said yes, besides one, David. David was always skeptical of everything and had to give every decision tons of thought. This time was different; he had a reason. He warned us not to go and that something bad would happen to us if we went.
“Is this true? What was your plan with telling them this?’ An unknown voice asked.
“Truly, I was trying to help them, after all look what happened to them, sir,” I replied. “This is where my knowledge of this story stops. The rest you’ll learn from Jack’s journal.” I looked up. “Jack thought it’d be a good idea to take notes of things that happened that night; he was right,” I added before the voice could say anything else.
Entry #1 from Jack’s journal: “Miles and company knocked on my door around 4. They said it’d be good to make it there before sunfall. I wasn’t sure what to expect this time, my paranoia had yet to go away as I felt ill from the previous night. The others have no idea of the events that caused this paranoia, nor did they know I was paranoid.”
Entry #2 from Jack’s journal: “We all packed supplies for at least a night, food, water, flashlights, and clothing. Though Jayden and Shawn weren’t taking anything seriously at the time and we kept telling them that everything was real. Emma was petrified before she even made it to my front door. She’s always like this around Halloween;she can’t stand the smallest frights.”
Entry #3 from Jack’s journal: “We finally made it to the entrance of the trails, but now it’s around 5 and we only have an hour or so of sunlight left. Jokes have been tossed around on the walk here. The laughing is helping me cover up the fear that is instilled inside of me. Let’s say I’ve been walking a little slower after the entrance was visible. Though the place we reached last night wasn’t near it. I was still uncertain of what may happen. Only 2 more miles to go.”
Entry #4 from Jack’s journal: “The walk has me exhausted but thankfully the woods is just up ahead. The group decided that a break was needed to refuel ourselves before heading into the woods. It’s a quarter to 7 and the sun has started to set. Walking through the trails would’ve been scarier at night and would be the cause of the increasing paranoia of the group. The fact is, we haven’t even made it there and everyone is on their guard.”
Entry #5 from Jack’s journal: “Miles swore he had heard walking in the distance. We were only 100 paces into the woods. Shortly after the census was made that it was just wildlife. We took another break to rest; our feet were in agony. We didn’t really prepare for that part. I thought bikes would be compromising because this place is unknown and we could be trespassing. I’ve already gone through 3 bottles of water. It was pretty hot out today.”
Entry #6 from Jack’s journal: “Something seems to be following us. I keep trying to make out what the figure is, it’s definitely no animal. The group’s pace has increased even more and more. Emma is starting to freak out. I’m sure everyone else is too but would prefer not to show.”
Entry #7 from Jack’s journal: “Another figure has appeared behind us. At this point we’re jogging, trying to evade whatever is chasing us. The figure seems to be picking up speed attempting to match ours; it’s getting closer. My heart is beating faster than it ever has before. We need to hide.”
Entry #8 from Jack’s journal: “While finding a place to hide. Jayden had separated from the group. We have no idea where he went. The figures seemed to have gone somewhere else so we slowed our pace. We’re deep in the woods and I’m pretty sure we’re lost. The maps we have are inefficient.”
Entry #9 from Jack’s journal: “A scream jumped out at us. It sounded like Jayden; I hope he’s okay. We need to find him, soon. The trees don’t stop, miles and miles we’ve walked all that has been discovered is trees. Miles has now broken out in a panic chanting that “this wasn’t a good idea.” He also keeps murmuring something about a nightmare. Did he have the same one as me?”
Entry #10 from Jack’s journal: “Some time has passed since the last entry. Still no sign of Jayden and now Emma has disappeared. We heard her scream but by the time we turned around she was gone. I forced the other two to turn around. Help was needed.”
Entry #11 from Jack’s journal: “I came face to face with the figure that had been chasing us. The figure had a dirty face with tons of scars, its skin was completely grey, and its red eyes could be seen from a mile. Shawn had been taken right in front of us. He tried to fight it off but his failure was inevitable. We attempted to save him but it was too late.”
Entry #12 from Jack’s journal: “I’m hiding from the figure behind a tree and a few scrubs. We had found Jayden and Emma a mile back. They were okay, no sign of Shawn. This time we got attacked by 2 figures. The group split admist the chaos. I’m by myself and I’ve lost feeling in my feet. I have no more water. Miles had the food. Something’s coming, I need to hide.
“This was the last of Jack’s entries. The fate of him and the others are unknown,” I said. The investigator looked at me in shock. I’m not sure if he still thinks it’s a joke.
“How’d you get this?” he asked me.
“The morning after a knock was heard at my door. No one was there but on the doorstep was Jack’s journal and other notes that both Miles and Jack took.” Truly my heart sank after reading the last entry. No one knows what happened. Those could be the last words Jack will ever say. Something was odd about the journal; after the 12th entry pages were ripped out like it was intentional.
“Thank you for your time, we’re going to do everything we can to find them. I promise you.” You could see the determination in his eyes light up. He got up and opened the door and signaled that I could leave. On the way out he shook my hand, I looked him hard in the eyes.
“Be careful, sir,” I whispered.
A few weeks later, the name of St August was given to the woods. It was meant for remembrance of the five kids that went missing that night. This incident, though, would be a lesson to the town to not go into those woods, as something sinister and dark calls them home.