There isn’t much left of the woods behind my grandmother’s house anymore. Anything that remained after they found the bodies has since been torn down and they have begun building some industrial park. I often wonder what kind of business would feel ok buying or leasing that land, but I guess that really isn’t any concern of mine. The house that my grandmother owned still stands, though is most definitely vacant. That isn’t going to change for a good while. The news of the body parts being found spewed across those woods wasn’t exactly private. Every social media outlet had its own story.
But I can tell you the real one – because I was the only one that was there.
My grandmother always told me stories of the Liars. At first, I believed them to be silly tales that the old people would tell their kids to keep them from doing bad things – kind of the same incentive that Santa Claus had was when I was younger. She would tell me these horror stories about bad little boys and girls who decide to wander off at night and they never come home. I would ask her why they were called the Liars and she would shrug her shoulders and say:
“I only tell you what I know, Little One. I only tell you what I know.”
My mother and father both died when I was four. There was a car accident. I know I say this all pretty forward and bluntly, but to be honest, it isn’t like I had much to remember about them. I mean, think about what things you remember from when you were four years old. There just isn’t much there. It isn’t meant to be cruel or dark or anything of the sort, but rather just the truth. To me, the only parent I ever had was my grandmother. And she was good enough for me. So, for most of my life, I lived in that old house, walking to and from school down the long dirt road out in the middle of nowhere. No friends in walking distance, my grandmother, whose car rarely worked, with only one general store close by enough to keep the house stocked with the things that we needed to get by. My life wasn’t luxurious, but I was never one to complain.
My grandmother noticed that I spent so much time playing by myself, and I guess she thought it might be good for me to socialize more. By the time I was sixteen, she had bought me my first car, so I could “get out and see people besides my old hag of a grandma – maybe even a boy.” My grandmother was not the subtle type, but it made me laugh to hear her even suggest the idea of a boy, seeing as how she was never a fan of the male species; calling them mindless pigs or dribbling hound dogs most of the time. But with the car also came the offer to have friends stay with me at the house. She even said that she would clean up the house if I let her know ahead of time when I would be having company. I was so incredibly grateful and I remember that hug that I gave her as being the tightest I think I had ever squeezed her.
It was less than a week before I had invited to bring a friend to the house. The girl’s name was Samantha. She wasn’t someone I was incredibly close to, but then again, there really wasn’t anyone at school that I was very friendly with. There were only about 150 kids in my high school, so if you didn’t live near the school, then you were one of the last kids on the bus rides home – meaning the only person you talked to on the ride was the driver. It wasn’t a very social kind of life. But now that I had a car – old and beat as it may be – I finally had someone coming to the house.
The evening went by without incident. My grandmother was sweet and kind, just like I had expected her to be and she even offered for Samantha to stay the night if it was “ok with her mother,” which Samantha laughed at before saying that it would be great to stay. I pulled out a cot in my room for her to sleep on and got sheets ready for the night. I had never actually had a slumber party – if that is what a sixteen-year-old would still call them. A sleepover? I don’t know. Regardless, all of it was new to me.
As the night dwindled down, I had just laid my head down for the night, after making sure Samantha was comfortable, when I felt a hand shake my hip.
“You’re not really going to sleep are you?” Samantha asked me, removing her hand ad taking a step back with a smile on her face. “The night is just getting started.”
Confused, I sat up, asking her what she was talking about. She shook her head and chuckled.
“The woods. They’re creepy. And perfect. So I texted a few of the other girls from school and we were thinking, how much fun would it be to go on a little adventure?”
I immediately shook my head.
“No way. We can’t go back there.”
“Why not?” she asked. “Don’t be such a chicken shit.”
“My grandmother said – ”
“Of course she is going to tell you not to back there.” Samantha said abruptly, with a harsh tone in her voice. “She doesn’t want to have to be worried about you. But if you go now, while she is asleep, she won’t have the chance to worry. We will be back in bed before she wakes up and she will never have to know.”
The idea of actually having a few more friends around made me feel a bit more reluctant.
“You are sure we can be back before morning, right?” I asked. “Where are your friends…the others?”
“They just pulled up, actually.” Samantha said, looking down at her phone which illuminated her face in the dark room. “Put your shoes on and let’s get going.”
Taking a deep breath, I slid on my sneakers and slowly crept down the stairs behind Samantha. The wooden floorboards echoed and howled beneath my feet, much louder than I could have ever remembered them doing in the past. This should have been my first warning that this was a bad idea, but being the naïve teenager that I was, I just kept on going after Samantha until I found myself at the edge of the woods with my new friend and three other people I could only vaguely remember from class – all three girls I had never actually spoken to before.
“So, why does your grandma tell you to never come here. It really isn’t that scary.” The girl that was talking shined her flashlight through the trees and up into the canopy of branches above us. “Like, they are just woods.”
“Yea, they are more gross than they are scary.” said another one of the girls, looking at the mud sticking to the bottom of her shoe.
We walked for about ten minutes into the darkness before Samantha put her hand out in front of me, pushing me back a step and forcing me to involuntarily hold my breath.
“What the fuck was that?” Samantha asked, directing her stream of light frantically in front of her. “You guys heard that too, right?”
“Stop being a smartass, Sam.” one of the girls replied. “Come on. I don’t want to be in here too much longer. I’m tired and this place sucks. So much for your new little friend showing us something interesting.”
“Yea!” the other girl chimed in. “She wasn’t worth the trouble coming out here. We should go. This is was a stupid way to spend a Friday night.”
I didn’t have the words to respond to them. I looked at Samantha, wondering what all she had said to our friends…no, her friend…before they all came over. I’m sure it wasn’t anything good. I turned and started walking back towards the house.
“Aw!” hollered one of the girls. “Look! You made the freak cry!”
The laughter chimed throughout the forest around me. I picked up my pace under I heard a loud thud behind me, almost like something coming out from the trees. Before I could do a one-eighty in the mud of the forest floor, I heard a wet crunching noise, followed by the choked screaming of teenage girls. I wanted to run, but my legs wouldn’t work. I wanted to turn and see what was happened, but I couldn’t spin. I was frozen in fear. I listened to a slew of damp and gushing chomps as I heard what I could only assume were the bodies of these girls falling to the dirt and leaves. In seconds, it was silent. I closed my eyes and accepted that I was next. I could feel every muscle in my body tense up, waiting for a gruesome end.
A hand met my shoulder – one that was soft and familiar.
“Grandma?” I said as my grandmother walked around me, wiping the crimson from her chin and realigning her jaw that had been unhinged, most likely to take bigger bites.
“Oh, Little One, I told you not to come into the woods. Now you have to become a Liar, just like me.”
“A Liar?” I asked. “What do you mean?”
“Well, how are you going to explain your missing friends, dear? Probably the same way I explain the lumber workers or the hikers who all disappear from these woods. You become a Liar. But we all need to eat. Your parents did, just like I did, and just like you will soon.”
“What?” I said, tears filling my eyes. “What are you talking about?”
“Our family is a little different. We have held onto to this property for years and years – long before I lived here. It has always been a safe place for people like us. And it will be yours some day to look over and to use as you please.”
“Eat? Become a Liar? Grandma, what are you saying? I don’t think I understand!” I could feel the vomit begin to climb up my chest from my stomach as the smell of flesh came off of my grandmother’s breath.
“When asked about what happened here, you are going to lie. To everyone. Maybe not at first, but then who will believe you. You’ll become a Liar. Just like the rest of us did. Now, if you think you are ready – if you’re feeling hungry – come eat with me. If not, then head on home. You’ll be hungry someday soon enough.”
My grandmother made a shooing motion with her hands as I turned to see the carnage that she had created just moments before. The bodies of the girls were scattered across the ground, drenching every inch of foliage with blood. My feet felt as if they were made of lead as my grandmother continued to shoo me.
“Go one, Little One.” she said. “I’ll be home soon.”
All of that was a few years ago. Since then, my grandmother had gotten sick and, in her old age succumbed to her illness. And it wasn’t even days after that I understood what she meant by “hungry”. But I didn’t want to continue on here. Just one time to get it out of the way – and I’ll leave all the evidence behind. Which is exactly what I did. They found the bodies in a matter of days.
Maybe now, if they ask me, they won’t think I’m as much of a liar.