The house sat on a clearing deep inside Mystic Woods. It was more of a cottage, really, with a slanted thatched roof, brick sturdy walls and crooked windows. Not a sound could be heard from inside or outside the house.
He found it almost by accident. He had been lost in the woods for days. It was rumored that Mystic Woods was haunted and that no one who set foot in it ever got out. As a paranormal investigator, he’d come here with the intention of getting documented proof of the existence of ghosts. Apart from the personal satisfaction he would feel over that, it would look great for the blog- Bump In The Night.
He had tried wandering around looking for a way out or another living soul, but had found nothing. He’d foraged for food and water, all the while hoping that he wouldn’t be some wild animal’s supper. He considered it a testament to his skill as a good researcher that he’d been able to avoid food poisoning and being eaten. It helped to know the name of plants and what they were for, as well as the habits of various wild animals.
The closer he thought he came to civilization, the more he found himself walking around in circles. To his tired mind and dehydrated body, everything looked the same. He had just been about to lie down somewhere and let himself die when he saw it. The only thing he could think of was, salvation was finally here. He hobble-walked up to the door and knocked. The door swung quietly inwards. If he had been in a better frame of mind, such a thing may have given him pause, but at the moment he didn’t care. And why would anyone choose to live so far from civilization? He went in.
It was sparsely furnished inside. There were three wooden chairs and a table that looked crooked from where he was standing. A small area to his left was obviously the kitchen. There was a charcoal cooker, a few rudimentary utensils, and a tiny sink, more brown than white. The light from outside was muted by the curtain that fluttered at the only window. Who hang it there, he absently wondered, even as he moved to the sink for water.
When he turned the tap on, at first nothing happened. He almost cried, thinking about how close he’d come to salvation only to be denied. Slowly, brownish water started to trickle down slowly, and he ducked his head beneath the tap and begun to drink. He didn’t care if the water was unhealthy; if he was to die, then he would die with his thirst sated.
Afterwards, seated on the floor after drinking what felt like gallons of water, he suddenly realized how quiet it was. It was like he was the only person in the whole wide world at that moment. Did no one live here? And if anyone did, where were they?
Upon closer inspection he saw a door that seemed to have been carved into the wall. In fact, he would have missed it altogether if he hadn’t looked twice. Since he was here, he might as well explore. He opened the door.
There was a room beyond it. The only thing there was a bed. On it was a note. It seemed to be beckoning to him, so that he found his feet moving almost before his mind gave the order. He sat down and looked at it. It was a handwritten note, hardly legible as if the writer had been in a hurry. He started to read.
” If you’re reading this, that means I’m dead and no one will ever find me. ”
His eyes bugged out at that. A chill of foreboding raced down his spine. He knew he should stop, but he was too intrigued. He kept on reading.
“I should probably start from the beginning. My name is Zoe and I’m a scientist. I first came to Mystic Woods to study why some specific types of trees were going extinct. I came here with a group of other scientists. Originally we were all twelve, but seven finished there work and left. The rest of us decided to build this cabin and finish our research here. It was a bit isolated, yes, but our company took good care of us. Every week, they would send us food and anything else we needed.
The first winter I spent here was very cold. Temperatures were in the negative. You could hardly see more than an arm’s length in front of you due to the snow that hampered visibility. If you stood in one spot for too long, you were liable to get stuck. Very soon, the company could no longer bring us what we needed and we were left on our own. Soon my colleagues started to succumb to hypothermia.
The first time it happened, it was almost by accident. Ten minutes earlier, I had watched as my best friend on this project took her last breath.I looked at her lying there and I decided that if I was going to die, I would put up one hell of a fight.I was so cold and hungry; I would have done anything to change that. I must have blacked out for a while because the next thing I knew,I was seated beside her body with my teeth gnawing on her outstretched arm. “
He had to stop now and press a hand to his roiling stomach. He felt dirty just reading this, but he knew he’d have to continue.
” Everyone says that any type of foreign meat tastes like chicken. I thought human meat tasted more like beef. Whenever I started to feel queasy I told myself I was only doing this to survive.
Well, miraculously, I got through the winter by eating all the others and using their clothes to keep warm. I could hardly recognize myself in the sunlight. I had clumps of dirt stuck to my body, I was really smelly, and my teeth were falling out. I went to a nearby stream and tried to repair the damage as much as possible. When I found some wild fruits and ate them, I vomited everything in my belly. I didn’t know it then, but my body had adapted itself to digesting human flesh only.
That is how it started. I would venture into the woods and look for a lone hiker every two weeks or so. With the right lure, they would come back to the cottage and it was easier to overpower them there. One of the side benefits of my new diet was superhuman strength. ”
A sick feeling invaded his insides. In another time, he would have been that lone hiker lured here by the promise of shelter.
” After some time, I became lonely. As you can guess my kind of lifestyle didn’t allow for friends. Any person I met was just food for me. I thought it was about time I got a pet, someone I could mold into my liking who would entertain me and keep me company.
The first time I saw him, I knew he was the one. He was carrying a backpack and a video camera hung around his neck. I could see a sleeping bag poking out from the top of his bag.
He came into the woods with a group but soon, the others left him when it got dark. There was a rumor going round that Mystic Woods was haunted, that anyone who stayed there after dark was never seen again. Of course, that didn’t stop die hard ghost chasers from coming to seek out trouble. I found them instead.
As for my mystery man, I captured him and took him home. I tied him up and treated him as I would a pet dog. He ate what I ate and he slept where I slept. At first, he was very resistant to my attention but he realized very quickly that he had no choice. He became an animal, my pet.
I thought I could control him, but one day when I came back from hunting I found he had broken free of the bonds. I tried to search for him but it was all in vain. He came to me in the dead of night and broke my legs.
I decided to write this in my last hour so that someone may know my story. I know he’ll be back to finish me off, and when he is done pieces of me will be scattered all over. One more ghost to add to the pile.
Dear reader, please go. NOW. He’ll be back and-“
The note ended in mid sentence. He didn’t want to think why that was.
He stood up quickly and went back to the other room. When he heard the growl, he looked at the door and saw two figures. The sound had come from the one who was crouched down like a dog. As he, it, started stalking him, he knew he was finished. They say that the last few seconds of living you see your life flash before your eyes. For him, it was just knowing he would never go home. Wasn’t it sad that no one would miss him much, or even think of looking for him until too long a time had passed?
It had been a very good day, Zoe thought. She had fresh meat now and all was right in her world. It would feed her and her pet very nicely for about two weeks, then they’d have to find someone else. Not to worry, though. Now that the woods were ‘haunted’ there were no shortage of people coming around. It had been a stroke of genius on her part to create that rumor and make sure it circulated. As long as she made sure people kept disappearing, the story would stay alive and others would be lining up to replace them.
Thank God for human predictability.