Every Sign Warned Us Not To Go To The Old Smith Logging Farm — We Should Have Listened

@MichaelDuschl

Vader is a tiny town in the middle of nowhere Washington. I say tiny because calling it small would be way too much credit. It used to be one of the bigger logging city’s in Washington State when it was founded in the late 1800s. A series of events eventually lead to the downfall of the city. Factories shut down. People moved away. Eventually leaving the city a Ghost town. However, that is another story entirely and it isn’t mine to tell.

We moved here about 4 years ago from California. My grandparents thought that since my mom had walked out on me I should be close the little bit of family I had left. I have yet to understand why that means we must live in the groin of Washington State. This town consists of a post office, a general store, a school, and the Police station. You know that picture perfect fantasy, movies give you about small town life…… none of that is true. Sure, everyone knows everyone else…. and all their business. Any secrets that exist in a small town belong to the entire town. Oh, and the best part… I have heard the words my Uncle Dad used in a serious tone on multiple occasions. I hated it here. Until I met him.

You know the boy every girl in high school dreams about. That was the only good part of growing up in this backwoods town. My competition consisted of Buck Tooth Betty pregnant with Uncle Daddy’s newest ungodly offspring. I pretty much pointed and had whatever guy I wanted. Sam wasn’t like the rest of the guys here in Hell. Like me, he wasn’t born here. He was tall with blond hair and the deepest blue eyes that showed right into his soul. His looks were only the topper on the cake. He was smart and even at 14, I knew he was destined for big things. Bigger than this shithole town could offer.

“She threw the fucking baby out the window” Jake exclaimed, pulling me back into reality.

I have heard this story a thousand times. We all have. I wasn’t trying to make it one thousand and one. I decided to step out and enjoy the late autumn air. After all, it is rare to be able to stand outside without an umbrella here. I patted Sam’s knee as I stood up to go.

“Kate, are you ok?” Sam asked putting his hands around my waist.

“Yeah, just didn’t want to listen to Jake talk about that stupid mansion again. Thought maybe the stars would tell me a better story.” I said while turning to stare into those beautiful blue eyes.

“At least he isn’t rapping about it.” Sam joked. I started laughing. Wishing Sam could see the look on Jake’s’ face when he stepped out the door at that exact moment.

“Hey, asshole. I heard that.” Jake said. I decided I better rescue Sam.

“Sorry, Jake. I am just tired of hearing that same damn urban legend all the time.”

“I’ve got a new one. My cousin told me about it last week. You know why the old smith logging farm closed. Right?” Shane said coming outside.

“Of course, genius. We’ve heard the story. Mr. Smith died young. Mrs. Smith took the kids and moved back east with her family and abandoned the farm.” I said. Everyone knew the story. The farm was now just woods with a few rotting structures that sat on the edge of town, but it used to be the biggest logging farm in the state.

“Yeah.” Shane continued. “But, that isn’t the truth. Jason said that gramps told a different story. Remember how I told you guys my great grandpa was a cop here back in the day?”

“Yes, we all remember. You brag all the time about your gramps was a Vader cop back when Vader was cool.” Sam said rolling his eyes.

“Screw you! Anyway…” Shane continued on. “Gramps Told Jason that the Smiths sometimes used to let people camp on the property. A traveling circus had set up camp there, that night. Gramps said that some guy came to the station about 4 in the morning, covered in blood, and told him and Chief Potter that Mr. Smith was going crazy and trying to kill everyone. They went to check it out. When they got there Mr. Smith was in the barn with an axe and right in the middle of the barn was two piles. Mr. Smith had separated the heads from the bodies of every one of those circus freaks. Jason said they walked in just as he finished decapitating Mrs. Smith. He had made her watch as he did each of the kids first. He was standing there with the axe telling them that Stan made him do it. When Chief Potter asked him who Stan was he told him it was the demon that lived in the barn’s cellar.” Shane said.

“If that were even remotely true. Why haven’t any of us heard about it by now?” I asked.

“Katie, that’s the best part,” Shane told me. “Apparently Chief Potter and Ben Daniels was the town’s bigwig back then. Well, they decided that it would be too much bad publicity for a town that was already spiraling into the sewer. So instead of arresting Mr. Smith for the murders, they shot him. Told the town it was a heart attack and that his wife moved back to her family. They demolished the barn and buried all the bodies where the barn was. Instead of using crosses they just marked each body with a numbered stone. They tried to match the heads as best they could with the bodies. Gramps said that it was difficult since they had never seen most of them.” I could have spent my life perfectly content not hearing Shane tell that last part.

“Then why didn’t anyone ever reclaim the property?” Jake asked.

“The town tried to sell it off for years. Nobody wanted to buy property in an already dying town. It sat empty. Gramps told Jason that after about 20 years the town thought it would be a good idea to build a park there. A couple of guys went up there to survey what kind of safety measures they would need where the creek runs along that cliff. Guess they never came back. They sent some guys to find them. Two groups went out to search for the missing men. My grandpa and Chief potter took the West end of the property. Two other officers searched the East where the barn once was. Gramps and Potter waited for the other men, but they never came back. Gramps said he convinced Chief Potter to call off the search since all the guys went missing around where the barn once stood. Gramps said after that they built the fence and never let anyone back in there again. He left instructions for all later members of the Vader Police Force to patrol the outer area but, never let anyone inside.” Shane finished.

“I call bull shit,” I told Shane. He shot me a dirty look.

“The old man was a lot of things. A liar wasn’t one of them.” He said while continuing to give me the bitch I know where you sleep look.

Sam must have sensed Shane’s tension growing because he broke in. “It should be easy enough to check out. If this town is good for anything it’s recorded keeping. Shit all this place has is history. There has to be a report somewhere.” I agreed that if it did happen a report would exist.

The next morning Sam, Shane, and I headed to only building in town that held records. It just so happened that building is what has always been the police station. I don’t know why but that place always gave me the creeps. Maybe the white walls, maybe it was how old the building was. I don’t know but I tried to get out as fast as possible. My fight or flight response kicked in as soon as Shane opened the door.

“This is stupid. Who cares if it happened. Let’s just go.” I said.

“Kate, really! What else is there to do? It’s summer lets enrich our minds with a mystery.” Sam protested. Since I was unable to think of even one reasonable argument we went inside.

Carol looked up from behind the reception desk that looked like it had probably been in the same place since the building was built-in the early 1900s. “Can I help you kids?” Carol asked. Carol was one of the town’s oldest residents. She was born and raised here. “I’ll be god damned if I don’t just die here too.” She would say as cocky as someone’s grandma could. She was never able to have a child of her own so she adopted everyone in town. When she wasn’t working the reception desk at V.P.D she was volunteering her time in our town’s only school.

“We are looking for any reports from the night old man Smith died on the farm,” I told her.

“Well, that would have been about 1914. Give me a minute.” She said as she walked into the storage room behind her.

It took about 5 minutes and she came in with a box labeled 1914 and set it down. “Filing was different back then. This is what we have from that year. If what you are looking for exist, you should find it in that box. Mitch is out for the day. You kids go ahead and use his desk. Holler if you need any help.” She told us. Shane picked up the box and we went into Mitch’s office.

You know how you always hear people say, nothing ever happens in a small town. As I stood there dusting off the top of the box containing all known records from 1914 I realized, it’s true. An entire year of history fit into one small file box. I removed the top and started removing files. Mostly containing reports on small burglaries in the area. Nothing of significance. The box also contained some pictures from town festivities from that year. I found two files labeled deaths and births. I handed Sam the death files and Shane got the births.

I started thumbing through the pictures. Letting my mind think about what life was like back then. My mind is a scary place. Pondering about life back then made me think of the building I was standing in. I contemplated about the negative energy I felt here. I decided it must be all the souls this building had housed since it was built. After all its whole purpose was to confine the most awful of society. I barely noticed the small discolored paper sticking out of the photographs.

“You got something there, Katie?” Shane asked.

“I don’t know yet,” I said unfolding the paper.

“Well, Mr. Smith must still be alive because I can’t find a death record,” Sam said sarcastically.

“Guys this is weird,” I said looking at the report in my hand. Sam and Shane both moved closer to see. Something told me this is exactly what we were looking for. It was a single witness statement from J. Harper. None other than Shane’s infamous grandfather.

“On this 31st day of October 1914 while at the station Chief Potter and myself were approached by a man who identified himself as Darryl Johnson of Dallas, Texas. He reported an incident at…”

This is where it’s weird. The location is blacked out by spilled ink. I try to continue reading.
“Upon arrival, Chief Potter and I found the residence empty. We searched the property.” This time the ink spill covers most the page. It is signed at the bottom but I can’t read anything else.

“That has to be it,” Shane said excitedly. “Well, total waste of time. The ink covers the entire report. I guess we will never know.” I said.

Shane folded the report back up and slid it into his pocket. Sam and I placed everything back into the box and left it on Mitch’s desk. “Thanks, Carol,” I yelled heading for the door. I heard her say something as the door closed.

“I can’t believe you jerks went without me,” Jake said flatly.

“Get up before 2 and you wouldn’t miss out on the fun ass hat.” Sam snapped back.

“When is the wedding again?” I asked. I was met with 2 confused faces. “Sorry, I just figured if you’re going to fight like an old married couple. Well, you might as well make it official.” I said passing the bong to Shane.

“You’d be heartbroken if I was gay.” Sam laughed.

“I’m not a hypocrite. I might be mildly upset for a few hours. Then I’d move on.” I said winking at Sam.

“That’s absolutely genius.” Shane coughed.

“Sam and Jake being gay?” I asked trying to hold back my laughter.

“No. What? I guess if they want too. What the hell, no. What are you talking about?” He asked confused.

“Never mind, Space Case. Continue.” I giggled.

“Friday is the 13th. Right?” He asked.

“I guess,” Jake said.

“Let’s go check it out. I mean how many chances will we get to go to the location of what was possibly a mass murder. On October Friday, the 13th!” Shane exclaimed.

None of us had any plans so when Friday, October 13th rolled around we all loaded our sleeping bags and supplies in the back of Jake’s Honda. Jake’s older brother had bought us some beer and vodka for the night. I heard Shane’s phone go off as I helped Sam load the cooler into the back. “Jake, Christina wants to go. Can we pick her up on the way out?” Shane asked. “Yeah, tell her to be ready in 10,” Jake yelled.

Christina was Shane’s on again off again girlfriend. She was the poster child for the effects of inbreeding. One look at her triggered every gag reflex in my body. Her dad, apparently, had high hopes for himself. He bought the house right next to his parents. Spent most of his time in the yard trying to shoot the aliens that were after him. I’m not even joking. Dude was nuts. When she wasn’t with Shane, Christina was right there with him. She claimed to see the aliens trying to take her dad. Like I said poster child for inbreeding.

Once the car was loaded the thought finally hit me. “Hey guys, we have plenty to drink. Did anyone pack any food?” I asked. You’d think with 4 teenagers that would have been the first thing we thought of. We decided to stop off at the general store on the way to Christina’s.

We agreed on hot dogs and hot dog buns. Sam grabbed a few bags of chips on our way the counter. “Hey, guys must have some good plans for tonight.” Megan smiled looking at our dinner supplies.

Megan is Jason’s wife. They met in college. Love at first sight. You know the perfect fairy tale that always has a catch. I always ask her if she knew that marrying Jason would mean being stuck here. I don’t think she did. She just smiles and changes the subject.

“Yeah, we’re headed up to the old Smith place to camp for the night,” I told her. The smiled faded from her face and I swear she looked like she saw a ghost. “Jason, tell you about it?” she said nodding at Shane.

“Yeah, I know it’s probably BS. I just thought it would be a good way to spend the night.” He laughed.

“Shane Honey, you need to go talk to Jason. Tell him you’re going there.” Megan said pleading.

“Yeah, I will tell him all about it tomorrow morning,” Shane said.

“No, you need to talk to him before you go.” She begged. Shane told her that we had to get Christina and go get our camp set up before dark.

“Jason really should be the one to tell you this. However, you kids need to know before you go up there. Jason didn’t leave for college early because he was upset about Chris moving. He left because he couldn’t live with what happened. Your grandfather had told him and Chris that story right after they graduated high school.” She told Shane.

Jason and Chris were best friends their entire lives. I always heard you never saw one without the other. They did everything together. Until, a month before they were supposed to go to college. Chris’s parents decided that they were going to move to Vancouver while Chris attended WSU. They didn’t say anything, just up and moved one night. Jason was so upset that he left for college a month early. I guess the end of your first bromance is life altering.

“If it wasn’t Chris, then why did he leave,” Shane asked.

“Two nights before Jason and I married he told me that story. Jason and I had been drinking that night and I just thought that he was trying to scare me. Then he started crying. Told me that he and Chris never believed it. They decided to go there one night that summer. Jason said that if he was going to marry me there couldn’t be any secrets. He said I had to know what happened that night. He and Chris started a fire just as it started to get dark. They were settled in talking and having a good time. Jason says that night was eerily still. No wind, no rain. Chris was rambling about some new girl who had just shown up in town when the fire went out. One minute it was going strong. The next, not even a coal left. Then the noises started. Jason said it was like a child screaming. They thought maybe some kid had wandered into the woods and got lost. Chris and Jason split up to go look. Jason said he heard that kid scream for about 5 minutes. Then it just stopped. He thought Chris must have found the kid and headed back to camp. When he got there Chris hadn’t returned yet. He laid down on his sleeping bag. He woke up a few hours later hearing a noise near the creek. When he sat up to look he found Chris standing on the edge of the cliff with an axe. Jason got up to go see what Chris was looking at. He says when he got to the edge of the cliff Chris grabbed him and started lifting the axe. He did everything he could to fight him off. Chris slipped in the struggle. Jason grabbed him just before he went over the edge. He told me that he saw that things eyes and knew that wasn’t Chris anymore. He let go. Your grandpa still had friends on the police force so he made sure they knew it was self-defense. Chris’s parents couldn’t accept that their son had done that. They really did move to Vancouver. Chris never made it to school. They never found his body. The creek must have carried it off. That place has too much bad history for it to be a coincidence. I really don’t think it’s safe for you kids to go up there.” She finished.

“Oh, come on Meg! You don’t really believe Jason murdered his best friend, do you? That guy couldn’t hurt a fly. He was trying to scare you.” Shane told her. “I know my husband. He was ashamed. He wasn’t lying. He saw something that night. He has never spoken of it again but he has nightmares. I was your age once. I know you kids are going to do what you want. Just please be careful. If anything, weird happens promise me you will come home?” she asked as I paid her. “Yeah, we promise.” I lied grabbing the bag.

I spent the drive to Christina’s thinking about what Megan had just told us. The more I thought about it the more I wanted to go home. I realized I was getting freaked out for no reason. Jason probably told Megan that story trying to scare her. He was the type of guy that couldn’t pass up a good laugh. Nothing bad ever happened on that property. Well, except Mr. Smith’s heart attack.

“Hey Kate, you look radiant as always,” Christina said climbing into the car. “Thanks, you look like you took a walk through the ugly forest. I’m assuming every branch attacked you at once. Shane tell your lesbian girlfriend to leave me alone.” I said.

“Katie really. You don’t have to be such a bitch. She was only complimenting you. At least try to get along for me.” Shane pleaded.

“Fine,” I told him.

Shane and I have been best friends since I moved here. He lived across the street and came over to introduce himself. “Hi, I’m Shane. I live in the blue house there. You moving in?” he said pointing at the moving truck.

“No, we just saw that the house was empty and thought, hey our stuff would look really great in there. So, we’re donating it.” I replied.

“I like you. It’s about time I make a friend that isn’t utterly boring.” Shane laughed. “We’re aren’t friends,” I told him grabbing a box. “We will be.” He assured me.

He was right we spent a lot of time together that summer. By the time school started our friendship was unbreakable. We have been through everything together. Puberty, first love, broken hearts. I figured I could at least put up with Queen Ugly until she went back to chasing aliens with Daddy.

There was only one street to get to the farm. It’s still just a one lane gravel road. We bumped our way to the end of the street where it met the dirt that I can only assume a driveway once was. The further back we went the denser the trees were. Before long Jake had turned on the head lights to try and see. I could feel the dirt hitting the underside of the car.

I felt a large thump right under my feet. “Shit, we hit something,” I said jumping.

“I think the dirt was just higher there. We’re good.” Jake said. It seemed like we were driving forever. We had to go slow because of how low the car was. Just as the top of the first structure came into view Jake parked the car. “I don’t want to get the car stuck in there. We going to hike the rest of the way in.” He told us.

Jake and Sam grabbed the cooler and strapped the sleeping bags to their shoulders. I handed our general store bag to Shane. I slung the backpack with the just in case stuff over my shoulder. We decided to set up camp right where the barn was. It was only about a ¼ mile hike to the East.

There was a barbed wire fence that only surrounded where the barn should have been. It was old and very rusty. Jake picked up a branch that had fallen from a tree. As soon as he pushed on it the wire broke. We climbed between the two remaining wires.

Jake and Shane went to go collect firewood while Sam and I started gathering stones to make a pit with. Christina just sat there and watched us. She apparently wasn’t going to make getting along easy. “Hey princess, want to give us a hand?” I asked. She rolled her eyes at me and started picking up twigs in front of her. I decided to drop it. Maybe I would get lucky and she would find one we could use to roast the hot dogs.

While Shane started the fire, I poured Dr. Pepper and Vodka into 5 cups. “We’re going to state this year.” I heard Sam telling Shane as I passed the drinks around.

It was oddly quiet out here. The only sound was the creek. No birds singing, frogs croaking, leaves rustling. Nothing. Just the sound of water rushing between the cliff sides. It was surprisingly relaxing.

“It’s beautiful out here,” I told Sam walking up behind me. I got the typical teenage boy response.

“Yeah, I guess.”

“You guess, look at it. The way the water bounces around the rocks. The plants growing wildly out of the cliff. How can you not be amazed by the beauty? It’s breathtaking.” I asked him.

“Because that beauty is only on the outside. Those waves sing their songs, call to you with their captivating sparkles. Then they drag you into their depths never to be seen again. Those plants Have ripped through the soul of the dirt and the rock. They hang on to the cliff side. Never giving it room to breathe or move. Until they finally dry up and die off. True beauty, breathtaking beauty. That comes from within. That beauty radiates itself to the outside. I’ve seen that beauty. I know it well. How can I appreciate this, after meeting you?” He asked me waving his hand around the woods.

I told you it wasn’t just the looks, or that he was the star quarterback. No, those things only intensified his already, intoxicating effects. He had something that most my generation lacks. He was wise beyond his years. He was compassionate. “Would you just shut up and kiss me?” I asked him.

“Gladly.” He whispered leaning in.

“Feel like going for a walk before it gets late?” He asked me as I drink the last of my drink.

“Yeah let me get a refill first. You might want to grab a couple flashlights just in case.” I told him.

We had been walking hand in hand for about 10 minutes when I thought it might be a good idea to turn around. “Let’s just walk a little further. I think I see something up ahead.” He told me.

“Ok,” I said hesitantly. But, then I saw what Sam had seen.

I had been so lost in my own thoughts I hadn’t even noticed the large Victorian style house in front of us. “If time has a queen, you must be it. He has definitely treated you well.” I whistled at the house. Even with all the wilderness around. The windows and door remained in place, the roof was intact. It looked like someone had sealed the house in a time capsule.

“It’s unlocked. Let’s check it out.” Sam yelled from the doorway. I couldn’t believe my eyes. No broken furniture no dust. The inside had remained just untouched as the outside. The only thing that was out of place was a pot of water that still sat on the stove and an old journal on the table by the stairs. Family Photos still lined the wall heading to the bedrooms upstairs.

“Are you sure nobody lives here?” I asked following Sam up the stairs.

“If someone was living here we would have heard about it. Don’t you think?” he asked.

“Well yeah, but, how else do you explain this immaculate state?” “The cover from the forest kept it protected from the elements.” He told me.

I wasn’t buying it. That make work for a year or two. Not 100. I followed Sam into the Master Bedroom. Cream wallpaper with blue and red flowers covered the wall. A large gold frame firmly held the bed like it was brand new.

“I want a big house like this one day,” I told him.

“Then I will buy you one.” He told me like he was a knight here to whisk me away. “By the sea.” He added.

“That right there is how I know,” I said kissing him.

“Know what?” He asked. He lifted me so I could wrap my legs around his waist. “That you’re the perfect man for me. You not only encourage my dreams. You make them our dreams and then you expand them.” “You’re my dreams. I would do anything for you.” He said sweetly as he laid me down on the bed.

“Katie, Katie, wake up. Katie, you have to go now. Jake is coming for you. RUN! Now!” I knew that voice. It was Shane.

“Baby, you ok?” Sam asked me.

“Yeah, bad dream. How long was I asleep?” I asked.

“A couple hours. We should probably head back to camp.” He told me. “Yeah wouldn’t anyone to think the demon ate us.” I winked at him.

Walking down the stairs I stopped to look at some of the pictures on the wall. “Hey check this out,” I said pointing at the picture in front of me. “I guess we know who Stan was,” Sam said laughing. Hanging on the wall was a picture of a woman holding a happy smiling baby. He looked like he was about a year old. The nameplate read Carolynn and Stan 1913. I grabbed the journal from the table as we walked back outside.

When we got to back to camp Christina and Jake were sitting by the fire talking. “Where’s Shane?” I asked walking up to the fire. “He went to take a piss,” Jake told me. “Come to think of it. He’s been gone about 20 minutes.” Christina added.

Jake sighed. “I’ll go look for him.” “I’m coming with you. If he’s hurt he’ll need me.” Christina said.

“You sure you’re ok. You looked a little worried when Shane wasn’t here.” Sam said after Christina and Jake were out of earshot.

“I don’t know. The dream I had. It’s too much of a coincidence. I think we should go.” I told him.

“Why? What did you dream about?” he asked. “You’ll think I’m crazy,” I whispered.

“I could never believe you are anything other than my angel.” He smiled at me. “Back there at the house. I swear it was Shane that woke me up. He was telling me to run that Jake was coming for us. When I opened my eyes, he was gone. Then we come back here and he isn’t here. I just don’t feel like it’s a coincidence.” I told him.

“Baby it was just a dream. I was awake. It was just the two of us in that room. Don’t worry Shane is fine.” He said.

“Guys hurry up! Come check this out.” Christina yelled. “Did you find Shane?” Sam asked her. “No, but Jake found a cellar.” She shouted.

Jake was standing in the middle of some Ferns near the cliff side. “There really is a cellar. I don’t know about you guys but I’m going to check it out.” Jake said excitedly. Christina was already heading in with him. I grabbed Sam’s arm.

“I don’t want to go in there,” I told him.

“Let’s go enjoy the fire.” He smiled at me.

We sat down in front of the fire with are outstretched. It was a perfect autumn night. I opened the backpack and took out one of the joints Jake had rolled. “I wonder where Shane is,” I said turning to lay on Sam’s lap. “Probably out there watching us. Waiting for the perfect moment to jump out.” Sam laughed.

“Sounds like him,” I said before taking another hit.

“How many kids do we have?” Sam asked.

“What? None last I knew. How high are you?” I giggled.

“No, I mean in the future. A big house like that we have to make a family.” He said.

“Oh that. We have 2. A boy and a girl.” I told him.

I loved our future game. There were boyfriends before Sam. He wasn’t my first. However, future thoughts with them usually consisted of whether I thought we could make until next year. Sam was the first one that I really pictured a future with. I could picture us 50 years in the future. Sitting on the porch of our Victorian style home. The thought of Sam’s and I’s future came so naturally. When I thought about it, I could smell the salty air. I felt the warm summer breeze on my face and brushing through my hair. I could taste the ocean. I could hear the waves coming onto shore.

“Where’s everyone else?” Jason asked running up. I jumped. He was sweating and out of breath. “Katie, where are they?” he asked urgently.

“Jake and Christina found a cellar and Shane is waiting in the bushes to” I was interrupted by screaming that sounded like it was right below us.

“Sam, take Katie out of here. Now!” Jason yelled.

“Why? Dude, what the hell is going on?” Sam asked.

Jason looked turned towards the cellar. “This place is wrong. Now go.” He told us. He ran towards the cellar.

“I don’t know if he is full of shit or not, Kate. We aren’t going to wait around to find out.” He said slinging the backpack over his shoulder. We ran as fast as we could for the fence line.

Once we were on the other side we finally stopped to breathe. Then Sam started laughing. “How is any of this funny?” I asked.

“You got to admit Katie they got us.”

“Who got us? What’s going on.” I asked confused. “They did. Every one of them was in on it. We fell for it.” He said pulling me into his lap.

I still didn’t think this was a joke. Something inside was still screaming to run. I wish I would have listened to it!

“Do you have a rock in there?” Sam asked looking at my jacket and pulling me from my thoughts.

“No, there was a journal at the house. I snagged it on the way out.” I told him pulling it out of my pocket. Sam turned on his flashlight.

“I want to wait awhile before we turn this around on them. Let’s read it.” He suggested.

I opened it and started flipping through the pages. Nothing out of the ordinary. They were a happy Family that moved here to run a logging facility in 1910. A few years later they owned a logging farm just outside of town. They had two girls. Mrs. Smith wanted a boy and they tried without success for years. Then in 1913 Everything changed.

October 30, 1913

Carolynn woke during the late hours of the night. She said we had to go to the barn. When I inquired her reasons, she told me there was a babe in trouble. I feared she might be ailing with hysteria. When we arrived at the barn I heard a babe crying. Carolynn picked him up and brought him into the warm for tonight. She says he is to be our son. I will convince her to contact the authority’s in the morning.

October 31, 1913

Carolynn refuses to contact the authorities in regard to the baby. He cries all the time. I told Carolynn the babe misses his mother. She says she is his mother. She has taken to calling him, Stan. I will still try to convince her he is not our babe.

November 21, 1913

Stan cries all hours. I’ve taken to the drink to help sleep. Carolynn says God sent him to us. So that we may have a male heir.

December 29, 1913

Carolynn and Stan had a photograph taken today. She was so happy. She loves him. He isn’t crying, anymore. Carolynn gave him some raw chicken. That is all he wanted.

January 14, 1914

Stan is growing so fast. He is smart. He said, “Papa I love you.” Carolynn says he’s too young and I must have been on the drink.

I flip through a few more pages about how great his new baby is. He talks about how proud he is and how big Stan is. The amount of meat he eats.
“Things were way different back then. Can you imagine what would happen if you fed raw meat to an infant now?” I giggled at Sam.

“Your house would be swarmed with a swat team of CPS agents.” He laughed.

July 3, 1914

A deer wandered into the barn today. I had Stan with me. He attacked it. I still don’t understand but he took that dear out all by himself without weapons. He wanted to share the meat with me. He told me it tasted best fresh. I tried to decline but, he said it would bond us. He is my only son.

August 18, 1914

Stan will only eat fresh meat now. We had a guest wander into the barn today. Stan said he thought I sent him in for dinner. I know I shouldn’t let him have a guest for dinner. He is my only son.

October 31, 1914

We have guests setting up camp tonight. They came just in time. Stan is starving. I can’t let him starve. If the camp isn’t enough I will bring Carolynn and the girls to him. What is a man to do? After all, he is my only son.

Chills ran down my spine as I read the last entry. I looked at Sam he was ghost white. “Katie, Go back to the car. If I’m not back in 30 minutes leave and don’t ever come back.” Sam stood up.

“Wait, where are you going?” I asked.

“Our friends are in that cellar. I’m leaving without them.” He told me.

“I’m not leaving you here,” I yelled.

“Katie, I don’t know what’s in there. Please just go to the car. I can’t lose you.” He cried. I knew this wasn’t a fight I would win. I headed towards the car.

Once I heard him running through the woods, I turned around. I heard Sam calling for our friends as soon as I crossed the fence. It was dark and hard to see. I dug in the ferns for a few minutes, before I found the cellar hatch. I decided to follow the wall to my left. I was just starting to see light up ahead when I ran into something.

“Katie, what are you doing here? I asked you to go back to the car!” Sam angrily whispered.

“I’m not leaving here,” I said leaning around him.

“Katie stop. Go back.” Sam begged.

“No,” I said pushing past him. The light was coming through a door at the end of the cellar. I slowly pushed the door open.

The room had a single light hanging down. The room was border by stones. Other than that, it was completely bare. “It’s empty,” I told Sam as I stepped in the room.

“Katie, you know what this is?” Sam asked looking around.

“The stoner room.” I joked.

“No, remember what Shane said they did with the bodies?” Sam asked. He picked up one of the stones. Carved into the bottom was the number 27.

“What’s that noise?” Sam asked. I hadn’t noticed the scratching noises coming from just beyond the door. I turn around as Jake walked through. He was dragging Shane and Christina behind him. I screamed. He dropped Shane and Christina and lunged toward me.

“No,” Sam screamed throwing himself between us. Jake grabbed Sam by the throat and threw him across the room. I heard a loud thump. Jake giggled.

“Jake stop this,” I begged to back away. He smiled at me. His eyes looked like they had been covered in sheets of steel. He wasn’t Jake.

I saw a shadow in the doorway behind him. Jake took a step towards me. He whirled around as Jason fired the gun. He didn’t even flinch. He jumped toward Jason.

“Sam, Sam, Wake up baby.” I pleaded. Sam wasn’t moving. I could feel his breath. “Please baby,” I begged. Jason was still trying to fight Jake off.

I really shouldn’t have smoked that joint earlier. The ground was shaking so hard the dirt started to crack all over the room. I heard Sam grunt. “Oh thank God,” I said hugging him. I looked up to see Jason slumped over in the door.

Jake was almost to me when the intensified. He fell back. The cracks were growing bigger. They had a red glow. It was as if lava flowed below them. “The graves are opening!” Sam said. Of course, they are. How fitting that the victims make us one of them.

I saw the first one just behind Jake. One by one the graves opened and out came one of the circus people all still dressed for the show and glowing red. Even if we ran, we couldn’t outrun all of them. This was how we were going to die. I should have run from the crack forming below us. To where though. The Clown reached toward Jake just as the ground opened below us.

When I opened my eyes, we were back in the bedroom. Sam was next to me asleep. “Sam, wake up!” I yelled. “I had the worst dream, ever,” Sam said as I sat up. I looked at the end of the bed and screamed. Shane was standing there. Glowing red.

“Kate, you need to go now. They can’t hold him for long. It’s not safe here. You need to run. Please don’t ever return.” Shane said. “Sam, please keep her safe,” he said as we ran down the stairs.

We made it back to Jake’s car just before dawn. “We can’t take the car. Katie, we’re going to hike out.” Sam told me. I was already exhausted. Both mentally and physically.

“Why can’t we take the car?” I asked.

“Katie, if we tell anyone what happened here tonight they will just think we are setting up our insanity plea. No matter how we try to spin it, search parties will be sent out. That’ll just be more food for that thing.” He said.

“How do you plan to explain what happened tonight? They’re dead Sam. It’s not like they will just be sitting on the couch when we walk in the door!” I cried.

“We walk away, Kate. My parents won’t be home until Sunday. We go back to my place. We’ll call Shane’s phone and leave a message saying we want to know how it was. Then we wait. Their parents will report them missing. When they do we say they went to a party in Portland. You and I wanted to be alone. We watched The Ring and then fell asleep watching The Notebook.” He said.

I knew he was right. No one would believe us. We walked in silence. Neither of us knew what to say. We were just coming up on Sam’s driveway when I saw her. “Oh, my God, Megan.” I started crying. She was sitting on Sam’s porch.

One thing I was sure of, I was finally going to make it out of this town. I just hoped when they sent me away they would opt for the padded cell, instead of cement. She knew we went out there. I started sobbing.

“Megan, I’m sorry. It’s all our fault. We should have listened so you didn’t have to send Jason out there. I’m so, so sorry” I cried.

“Katie, I didn’t tell Jason. He stood up and said Shane was in trouble. That place is evil. Once it has you, it never lets you go. I laid awake more than once listening to Jason say Chris I love you, but I can’t. I don’t know what happened out there. But, Katie, it wasn’t your fault.” She said wrapping her arm around me.

“Meg, there dead. All of them, Jason included.” I screamed.

“I know. When you love someone. The way I loved Jason. Your souls become one. I knew as soon as it happened. I felt a part of myself rip. I came here, hoping. I knew he couldn’t save you all. So, I prayed that he could at least save some of you. Katie, I can accept he’s gone. I also accept that I never saw you guys yesterday.” She said looking at Sam. He nodded.

“I can’t! My best friend is gone. I can’t pretend that didn’t happen.” I sobbed. My world was falling apart. I just lost the only person who ever truly understood me. The one who I knew, no matter what, he was going to be in my corner. Cheering me on. When necessary, throwing himself in front of the obstacles life tossed my way. Best friends, I mean true best friends, you only find them once. Mine was gone and these two wanted me to pretend like that was ok. I ran inside and laid down on Sam’s couch.

When I woke up, he was asleep on the floor. I slowly stood up and stepped over him. I quietly dug around by the door until I found my shoes. I didn’t stop walking until I was back home. I took a shower and was climbing into bed when the phone rang.

“Katie, it’s Sam.” My grandma said opening the door. “Ok thanks,” I said grabbing the phone and shut the door.

“Sam, I’m sorry. I can’t be ok right now. I know you’re right. We should pretend like everything is fine. I’ll do it. But, you and I, we’re not. I can’t forgive you for asking me to do this. When I can, I’ll call you.” I said before hanging up.

I told Mitch that Sam and I watched movies all night. The guys went to a party. “Check accident reports on I-5. Seeing that face in the mirror probably scared them off the road.” I said in my best I’m not worried tone. That was that. They just become some of many sucked in by the big city.

I never did call Sam. Life moved on. I did my best in school. I got good grades. I played soccer. I joined the cheerleading team. I accepted a scholarship from a University on the East Coast. I left and I never looked back.

The nightmares are the worst. Jake telling to come back and join him for dinner. They had gotten better over the years. However, the last week, every time I shut my eyes. I see him. Only now instead of asking me to come. He says, he’ll see me soon. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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