Some nights a strange sound comes from the direction of the tree. Paralyzed in our beds, Freddie and I hold our breath and listen. This sound at first comes as a deep vibration, like floor boards rubbing underfoot, and then slowly grows louder, the sound expanding into a chest-humming moan that blinds us with fear.
One night, I summon the nerve to I go out the back door, and start walking toward the interior of the property, following this sound toward the tree. Frederick yells down from his bedroom window, begging me to stop, his voice full of fear. I look up at him and gesture in futility, palms up. I cannot help but think this is part of what we’ve been forced into, or perhaps even given.
I cannot feel my feet or hands, and have no sure sense of my own body as I move in the cool air. I force myself down the path we cut through the grass, the clumps of bushes and grass forming greyish shapes like clouds. I expect to see around me the shapes of the people from the tree, but I do not. They await me.
I turn the corner under the limbs of the dogwoods, and come out into the wide clearing. The huge oak stands before me. This is the path every dead soul must have followed when forced to walk or dragged to this place of death. It is the path our father must have followed when he, too, heard the long moaning and had to go see for himself.
The moaning stops, and then they appear—all of them, that group of shadows that forms and fades. They hover under the tree. I walk closer, and they disappear.
On impulse, I start walking around the tree, and the night becomes a churning hallucination of colors—channels of dark blue and brown, streaks of green and gray, flashes of silver, and explosions of darkest red. I feel like I might be running. I do not know. I feel sick. I have no control over the sounds coming out of my mouth.
Suddenly there is one by my side. I see a man, more shadow than man, but I see a light in his eyes, and I can see his face. He studies me dispassionately. Several more figures walk in front of me. I can see their shoulders and arms, their heads shrouded in swirls of light. They march me into the woods.
Everything becomes still. I hear no sounds. I’m on the ground, on my back. I landed here, feeling very heavy, as if I had fallen from a great height.
# # #[In honor of Halloween, Scott Bowen Creative will be running excerpts from the recently completed collection, Horror 12: Stories of Terror & Possession. A previously published story appears here, at HorrorZine.com.]