I should have kept running; I should not have done it. But, there is no time to regret; I think telling this will make me free of this feeling.
So, it was a cold winter in the northern U.S, just as always. Almost normal, until I wanted to do something different than the usual. There was a forest near home; I went there just to be greeted by a man.
"Let me guess, running from the city to a more natural place, too?" he asked.
"Yep. That's pretty much it." I replied.
"May I go with you?" he asked.
I told him "Of course", and so we started to enter the forest.
"It's quiet here, isn't it?" he remarked. "I should come here more often."
I agreed, enjoying the sounds, sights and smells of nature. "Well, I heard that this place was filled up with demons or ghosts and all those bullshit legends", he said with a smile. "I laughed so loud in the face of the person who told me that" he continued. Laughing with him, we kept talking until we reached somewhere deep in the woods.
"So, do you know where we are?" I asked the man.
"No idea", he told me. "After that little random choice of directions we did an..." he cut off suddenly, looking off in the distance, following something with his eyes. After a few seconds, he turned back to me. "Hey, did you just see something? Because I'm certain did."
I looked at him, taking a moment to wonder if he was kidding, before replying "Right. So, what's next? Now we are lost in the woods, with something stalking us. Great. That sounds like a damned cliché horror movie." Laughing nerviously, I followed up with "Ha! Great. Just fantastic."
"Let's just keep going. Maybe we'll find an exit from here. Did you bring a compass?" He asked me, looking hopeful.
"Nope. I didn't think something like this would happen."
"Are you bloody serious?"
"I sure am."
We blindly hiked for a while, trying to estimate the time based on the movement of the sun. By the late evening, we knew we needed to find a place to stay. We searched, and lucked out, finding a clearing with a medium-sized wooden cabin. The damaged place had windows on the front and sides, and a small deck with a hanging bench. There was also a small wooden shed, with a broken down yellow car parked in the front, but the road was overgrown, and appeared to be that way for quite a long time. Looking around, there seemed to be multiple rooms and a living room with windows, and a back door. "Let's stay in that cabin." I said to my new friend. "It's getting dark and we need somewhere to stay."
He knocked on the door several times and waited for an answer as the bench softly swung. After a minute or two without an answer, he tried the door. Thankfully, it was unlocked. He went in as I waited outside.
"There's nobody here. It looks to have been abandoned" he called to me, after searching it.
"Are you sure we should stay here? I mean, it's not exactly the most safe looking place" I asked, walking in and looking around. There was a big moose head above the fireplace, and the ratty rug was pulled to the side, revealing a door down to the basement. A grandfather clock was also in the room, looking more valuable than the cabin itself.
"Where else are we going to go?" He made a good point. This was the first sign of civilization, if you could call it that, we had seen in hours. We found that, remarkably, the lights still worked, and there was unexpired canned food in the cabinets. The fridge also contained a few beers, dated back to years ago. We ate and went to bed, dragging the beds out to the living room in order to be safe.
That night, I woke up and found that he was at the basement door, it over to the side, open. I asked him why he was there, and he told me that he heard something.
We climbed down the stairs, looking around for a light, fumbling in the dark and hoping that the rotted steps wouldn't give out on us. Suddenly, he shrieked and ran back up the stairs, bolting out of the cabin and into the woods, before hearing an agonizing scream come from them. I paled, listening to him scream, terrified of whatever was out there.
I ran out, looking for him, and finally found him, his shirt bloody, with a vine still wrapped around him, the torns embedded in him. He told me that he found some sort of ritual stone, a sort of shrine, and took me to it. It had several knives, along with what appeared to be fresh organs. He took a knife and shoved it in my hand. "Quick!" He yelled. "It's the only way! I saw it. If you don't kill me, it'll kill you. Kill me. NOW!"
I saw something charging at him, coming right at him. Thinking quick, I grabbed another knife from the shrine and charged right at it, risking my life. I got lucky and managed to stun it with the first two blows, and proceeded to madly hack and slash at it, trying to kill it, not sure if I would succeed. Finally, it stopped twitching, and I realized my eyes were clenched shut. Peeling them open, feeling the blood that had splashed on them, seeing the liquid drip from my lashes, I took a look at the thing. It was a person. It wearing a shirt and jeans, covered in blood. It's eye appeared to have been burnt off, and it's gaping maw revealed a tongue split in two. I tossed the knives to the side, disgusted with myself.
We chopped the body into pieces and burned it before trying to sleep, failing. We also destroyed as much of the shrine as possible, shattering the rocks, burning the organs and breaking the knives. By the time we finished, it was dawn. We heard the horn of an eighteen wheeler in the distance and went towards it, finding the road.
After failing to get any transport, we got picked up by police, and we told them the blood and injuries were from a rabid wolf. We were tested and found clean, and got washed up. It's been five years since then. I learned that my friend was named John, and we stayed in touch. We discovered that we lived in the same city, and we ended up getting an apartment together, deciding that since we both suffered from PTSD over the incident, we'd be the best to support each other.
We both still have nightmares about that night, and that madman, who, or whatever he was.