|| Moonlit Night|
It was late, I was out long past the time I would usually have been. Most days, by late afternoon I would be sitting in front of the fireplace with my cat. But it had been a busy day, and time had slipped by without my realizing itÖ
I am lucky enough to be able to walk home from my place of business, and have always enjoyed my trips through the acres of forest that surround my home. But this night, as I walked, my steps seemed to falter, I began moving very slowly, feeling almost like I was wading through water. The woods seemed strange, I noticed the unnatural silence from the moment I had entered it. Having lived in this area all my life, I had walked these paths times uncounted, and I knew the usual sounds of the woods, this kind of silence had never before prevailed in my experience.
I didnít let my mind drift, as I usually do walking home in the evening, going over the dayís accomplishments and thinking about what needed to be done tomorrow. The forest felt much too weird not to keep all my senses on high alert. The further I walked, the more wary I became.
Eventually, I began hearing brief snatches of a strange music, occasional drumbeats, and what sounded like chanting, floating in the air from somewhere further on. My feet turned off my usual path in the direction of the music as I was drawn toward the odd sounds, intrigued. What could possibly be going on in the forest I knew so well?
It seemed that I walked a long time, though my time sense felt skewed. I no longer noticed the lack of animal and bird sounds. The music and chanting were louder now, I found myself beginning to move to itís rhythm, my steps matching the drumís beat. The ground began to flow sharply upward toward a hill, and as I broke through the heavy trees, I looked upon a sight I never expected to see in Ďmyí woods.
A full moon hung low in the sky, almost as if it sat on top of the hill. To my astonishment, there were a number of people up there, some standing, some sitting while beating on drums. They were surrounded by the oddest blue glow, so bright, that even the moon looked blue in its reflection. I stood silently at the edge of the trees for a long time watching, trying to figure out what was going on. A part of me wanted to rush up and just ask these people what they were doing, but something held me back, perhaps just the instinct of self-preservation.
I am not sure how long I stood there, but with a jolt I realized that the music and chants had suddenly stopped. The air felt electric, I could feel the hair all over my body standing on end. I heard a low mechanical whine, barely within my range of hearing, and felt pressure building in my head. My body was as taut as a bow, perhaps waiting for something unknown to be unleashed, or perhaps ready to run like hell, am I not sure which.
I donít tell this story to many people, Iím afraid it would affect my business, most people donít want to hire or work with someone they think is crazy. But, itís still not hard to think about it, to wonder, to keep it out of my dreams, and sometimes it helps to talk about it, for a little while at least.
The sound continued building, until I felt that my head might explode. As I watched in stunned amazement, the people just began disappearing, as if they had never existed in the first place. One by one they departed, at first I thought it was my imagination, that perhaps they had bent down as part of some ritual, and I just couldnít see them from my position at the bottom of the hill. But within a couple minutes, the hill was empty, the glow remained for a short time, then it faded away as if it had all been an illusion.
I stood seemingly frozen in position for what seemed like hours, my breathing and heart rate took forever to resume a normal pace. The sky had begun to lighten once again with dawn, as I was finally able to force myself to climb. I stayed low and moved warily, the normal sounds of the woods had still not resumed. As I crested the top of the hill, I was disappointed to find little that would prove my experience, or help me understand what I had seen. I searched till the sun was bright, looking for some reasonable explanation, but found none.
Itís been more than a year now, I have revisited that place on a number of occasions during broad daylight. I have never again seen the blue glow, or any strangers nearby, but within a week of my experience, every tree and plant that grew on that hill was dead. Not a blade of grass or a single wildflower has ever sprouted up there since. Nor have I ever again seen an animal, bird or even any tracks upon that hill. And frankly, I donít blame them, my hair still stands on end every time I approach that place.
I asked around town in the following weeks, but no one was missing in the local area. Where did those people come from? Where did they go? I donít expect Iíll ever find out, but I hope that someday they will stop haunting my dreams. I donít work late anymore...no more nighttime walks in the woods for me!
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