An interactive horror short story
The low sun weaves between the trees on the horizon, and the branches hiss in the autumn breeze. The cool shadows of the Abigail Woods call you. On any other day, you’d expect to cross paths with other hikers or joggers, but today is lucky. You’ve had the place to yourself, and you greedily whiled away the hours, lost in a fantasy of traversing a foreign land like a pioneer of old. Just like Abigail, the Colonial woman for whom the woods are named after. She, too, was lost in the woods and never seen again.
You’ve got at least another ten minutes of hiking before you get back to your car. You should pick up the pace, but along the way, you pass a decrepit house. A few houses remain out here, though most are long abandoned, the dirt road now nothing but a footpath. The house sits worn and weathered from decades of neglect, a relic consumed and reclaimed by the woods. Why not pause for a look?
Check the kitchen and living room
The kitchen is barren, and only a pair of rusted pots hold assembly on the floor where they were last thrown decades ago. The fridge is empty, shelves included. Your exploration has kicked up years of dust that now choke the air, dusty stars dancing in the light. In search of air, you back out into the other room.
All around the living room, trash is piled high, but there seem to be discarded personal belongings intermixed. An unfamiliar sadness wells inside you, a sense of lost nostalgia. You take in the room, letting your eyes sail from one wall to the next, absorbing every detail. Somehow it feels far away. A memory you can no longer conjure. But you’ve never been here. Whose memories are these?
You wake up in a cave. How did you… you fell. You remember falling off the trail. You must have passed out. But… this cave seems familiar. It’s as if you’ve been here before, but you’ve never heard of any caves in these woods.
Getting up and brushing yourself off, you consider exploring further, but you’ve only your phone’s light to guide you, and there’s no telling how deep the tunnels could go. And yet, part of you hates to turn your back to the darkness. You force yourself to turn away and start climbing out. Did you fall in here? You don’t remember falling in. You pick up the pace, ready to leave this cave and these woods behind. Maybe for good.
Check out the house
The building leans dangerously, and time has reduced the second floor to unexplorable ruins. You nudge the front door open, and the hinges squeal. Before you is a dark room littered with leaves and discarded belongings: plastic bags, a broken table, water bottles, cans, fast food containers, and who knows what else. Teens and college kids most likely seem to have enjoyed lounging in here and leaving behind their trash. The stairs have collapsed, leaving you with only the first floor.
Photo by KM L on Pexels.
Keep to the trail
You leave the crumbling house behind and go on your way. At a fork in the path, you stop and check your direction. It’s difficult to get lost on these trails, but you’d rather not waste time doubling back to correct a mistaken route. Another hiker approaches, crunching the leaves behind you. These footsteps are familiar; someone you know. “Hello,” you say, but the trail is empty. “Who’s there?” You’re certain someone is there despite the lies your eyes are telling you. A chill passes through you like a breeze. The woods are still. Maybe you just need to get home. You’ll have time to speculate about the noise later.
Check the downstairs bedroom
There is only one bedroom on the first floor, so it won’t take but a minute to explore. You negotiate around the intruding second floor that has caved in. It’s a risk poking around, but you only need a cursory look.
The bedroom door is half off of its hinges, the wood frame having rotted away. You enter and kick an obstructing box aside. In the silence dominating the room, the scraping noise thunders. Only a sliver of light leaks in from outside, painting a line across the darkness and onto the vacant bed like a lighthouse beacon casting out over the darkened seas. Despite the debris covering the sheets, you are called to rest. A sensation takes over, like coming home after a long trip. You brush the leaves and filth clear and lie down. Perhaps you’ve lain here a thousand times before.
A heavy crash snaps you out of your wistful daydreaming. Was it in the other room? As you sit up, there are shuffling noises—someone walking around. You halt and listen. After a moment, the sounds stop. “Hello?” you call. With no answer, you stand and sneak out of the bedroom for a peek. The living room is empty. And you see nothing in the kitchen.
Thumping above on the second floor assaults your rattled nerves. They’re walking around upstairs? But the stairs are in ruin, no one can access the second floor. The room grows even colder, and a familiar presence surrounds you. You know this… person. You’ve met once already. Recently? It couldn’t be. You’ve had enough and rush out the door.