22 Dec The Whistler – Creepypasta
When I was a kid, I had a mostly typical suburban childhood. White picket fences, crackerbox houses all the same, endless concrete for my friends and I to ride our bikes on, and the only “strangers” we saw were the occasional drifter or traveler that wandered through our town. My dad worked at the steel mill, my mom was a homemaker, and I remember afternoons off from school filled with bike rides, trips to the arcade, boy scout meetings, and, of course, exploring Stokes Woods that lay just off the secluded neighborhoods we all lived in.
Stokes Woods was where my friends and I had so many firsts.
It was the first bit of real freedom we had, spending summer days exploring, making maps, and setting up “camps” that would be found again later to our great amusement. It was our first brush with death, finding birds or animal carcasses on the trail. We poked them with sticks and ooo’ ed, never guessing that one day we might share their fate. I was in the woods the first time I swore, yelling “Damn it!” as I skinned my knee when I was eight. I was in the woods the first time I saw a naked woman, the glossy pages of Terry’s dad’s PlayBoy held gripped in my sweaty hand as we sat around a campfire when I was eleven. It hosted my first camping trip and was the first place I was allowed to camp alone; well, with Terry and Reggy at least.
It was also where we found the Tree House.
The Tree House was a relic of kids gone by. It was in a big old tree set into a clearing, a fire pit dug in its shadow, with a dumbwaiter to pull things up and rope ladder to climb up through a trap door. It had been built in pieces, and there was a wall inside with the signatures of kids who had added to it. When we came across it one afternoon, our nine-year-old eyes growing wide with wonder, we knew we had found something special. Over the next few weeks, we replaced the rope ladder, cleaned out the firepit, replaced the rope on the dumbwaiter after a disastrous incident that sent our stuff spilling twenty feet to the ground. We painted it too, finding some paint at the junkyard and painting the faded treasure in a wash of purples and browns and gold. We added a bike rack, again with wood from the junkyard, and the easy trip to and from the yard made me believe that the treehouse might have been constructed from things they found in the junkyard. We asked Old Man Macey, the caretaker, and he said that kid had been coming and going for years, taking stuff for a “project in the woods”.
He was glad it had been put to such good use.
We had been playing and camping and using the treehouse for a couple of years when Terry suggested a Halloween sleepover.
“It’s on a Friday. We can camp out in the treehouse, eat candy, and tell scary stories.”
I thought it sounded like a great idea, and my parents agreed. This may sound weird to some of you, but the town we lived in was very rural, and crime was almost non-existent. Our town had a population of around twelve hundred. Besides the odd traveler that sometimes blew through, you knew your neighbors very well. We had camped in the woods for the last few years, and the boy scouts had taught all of us how to camp safely and not burn down the woods.
That night, we all hit the streets as soon as the lamps came on, pillowcases in hand, and embarked on a sweet journey. We had a theme, as we always did, and we were all dressed as Avengers when we went out to Trick or Treat. I was Hawkeye, bow slung over my shoulder and cheep mask covering my eyes, Reggy was the hulk, body painted green with absurd foam hulk hands on his real hands, and Terry was Captain America, his store-bought costume topped off by a trash can lid shield that he had painted a star on. We moved from house to house, striking poses and delighting adults as they filled our pillowcases with candy. By the time the porch lights started going out, we had bulging sacks ready to burst from candy. We stopped at our homes, dropping off a little excess candy and getting our camping stuff, and told our parents where we were going. My mom kissed me goodnight and told me to come straight home if there was an emergency.
And with that, we set off.
We walked the familiar trails into the woods, backpacks and bulging candy sacks weighing us down, and the night was lit by a full and ghostly moon. Terry and Reggy talked excitedly about the candy, wanting to tell ghost stories as we ate it, but I kept getting distracted. I could swear there was a noise out in the woods, a bird or a high pitched wind, and as we moved towards the treehouse, it seemed to follow us. The other two were oblivious, but the sound made the hair on the back of my neck stand up.
We came to the treehouse at long last, and in the light of the full moon, it looked ghostly and strange.
Once we were safe inside the treehouse, lanterns on and candy spilled onto the floor; I began to feel at ease. This was our sanctuary. Nothing bad could happen to us here. We were children who had yet to experience loss or real trauma, and we were secure in the knowledge that no matter how bad it got, our parents would still protect us from anything. We were foolish, but children are supposed to be foolish, I guess.
Reggy was halfway through one of the full-sized candy bars the Hudsons had been giving out when Terry suggested we start ghost stories. Terry loved scary stories, and he usually had a pretty good collection of them from the internet or wherever. Reggy pulled a beanbag chair over from a corner, and I drug a chair over so we could group up around the lantern. Normally, we would tell our stories around the fire pit, but I think we all sensed that tonight it was better to be inside.
Halloween was unique somehow, best to be inside after dark.
Terry brought the flashlight up under his chin, tilting the light nob down on the lantern, and grinned at us ghoulishly.
“This is a true story. I swear it on my life!” he said theatrically before beginning his story.
He told us a story about a kid plagued by the ghost of a hobo he and his friends had accidentally killed. They had been playing a trick on him, and he had choked to death on a sandwich. After he died, the boy kept seeing him around, in windows or on street corners, but his friends wouldn’t believe him. Then, while the boys were at a sleepover, the ghost struck.
I found myself distracted as he told the story, though. The wind blew against our treehouse, creaking it in the branches of the old tree, but beneath the wind was a sound. A whistling was coming from outside, a high pitched keen that was not altogether tuneless. As I listened to it, it almost seemed to move through the surrounding trees as Terry wove his story.
Terry came to the climax of his story, the boy’s friends dying badly, as he escaped the sleepover and ran back to his home. The ghostly hobo dogged his heels, screaming his name as he chased him through the quiet streets, and the boy had made it home and slammed the door in his rotting face. He had leaned against it, safe at last, but as the banging began, he remembered one important fact.
“His parents were gone,” Terry said, grinning in the flashlight beam, “he might have made it home, but he was still at the mercy of the ghostly apparition.”
Terry told us how the door had bowed inward, the ragged hands pushing the wood like wax paper, but I felt my attention dragged away again. I could still hear the whistling again, closer now, and I could swear there was another noise too. Rustling leaves, maybe, or leaves crackling underfoot. Was someone outside our treehouse?
“And as Patches pushed at his door, trying to catch him, the boy snuck out of his window and disappeared into the night, never to be seen again.”
Terry seemed to notice then that I wasn’t really paying attention.
“Oh, come on, that was a great story.”
“Huh,? Yeah, sorry. Something was distracting me outside.”
Reggy looked quizzically at me, “What was it?”
“I thought I heard someone outside moving around on the leaves.”
Terry turned to look at the bare window, and Reggy walked over to look out into the inky blackness. The moon cast an odd light over his face, but as he scanned the ground, it gave away no sudden surprise. He shrugged his already broad shoulders and returned to his bean bag chair. He reached for a candy bar and started unwrapping the silver foil.
“Nothing there,” he said after Terry, and I stared at him for a few seconds, “must have been the wind.”
Terry began another story about a shadowy creature that lived in a stairwell, but as he laid out the narrative, I could hear the whistling again. It wormed into my consciousness, spinning through the trees outside like a drunken bird. I could hear the leaves crunching again, the wind making them rustle like skeletal windchimes, and suddenly I too wanted to go to the window and look into the night. I was trying to listen to Terry’s story, but the more attention I tried to pay attention to it, the more I heard the noises from down below.
Terry looked miffed when I interrupted his story to go drag up the rope ladder.
I latched the hatch and came back to find him with his arms crossed and an indignant look on his face, “Think you can do a better story? Well then, hotshot, have at it.”
He tossed the flashlight at me, and I caught it by reflex. I thought about it for a moment and realized that I did have a story I could tell. Maybe by getting it out, I could alleviate the fears that had been consuming me. I was ruining my Halloween campout for what? Some noise outside the treehouse? It was probably just a raccoon or something that had been spooked when we arrived.
My unease had given me the perfect story, though.
“So these three kids were walking in the woods. They were going camping and were going to a familiar spot in the woods to set up. They left their homes at dusk, wanting to camp out under the stars in just their sleeping bags. Their parents told them that if anything went wrong, they could come home and sleep there, but the boys had done this a hundred times and felt that they knew the woods like the back of their hands. They felt like nothing in the woods could surprise them.”
“They were wrong.”
Terry sneered, but he sat close to the lantern and listened nonetheless. Reggy opened another candy bar, the story drawing him in as the stories almost always did. Reggy didn’t really seem to like scary things, he was kind of a scaredy-cat, but he liked the story. He would sit and listen, getting more and more terrified, but always beg for another when you were done. “They walked towards the determined campsite, talking animatedly about the smores they would make and the scary stories they would tell, but one of them kept hearing something as they walked. He heard the snap of a twig here, the crutch of a leaf here, and it made him warry. He told his friends, but they shrugged it off as nothing. It was late afternoon, the sun was setting, and animals were coming out to forage. They were probably just hearing animals moving around in the dry leaves. The two of them went back to walking, talking between themselves, but the third kept listening, kept looking over his shoulder to see what lay behind.”
Terry and Reggy were paying attention, Terry a little begrudgingly, but Reggy’s eyes were large and starry as he listened. And as I told the story, I almost thought I could hear the leaves crackling outside the treehouse. The wind in the trees rattled the dying year’s foliage against the limbs, and a low whistle could again be heard outside. It was tuneless and wafting, and as it warbled across my sanity, I knew just what was stalking these kids through the woods.
“He kept asking them to listen, telling them it was important, but they wouldn’t listen to him. They kept walking, kept talking, and all the while, the crushing of leaves and the rusting of limbs followed them, getting closer and closer. The boy became afraid, the steps sounded large, but he couldn’t see anything in the trees as they proceeded down the trail. One of the others finally turned to him and yelled at him, telling him to stop being stupid and just enjoy the trip. There was nothing out there. No one but he could hear it. He was being stupid. He needed to relax.” I paused for dramatic effect, seeing Terry roll his eyes at the description of the boy in the story.
“That’s when they heard the whistling.”
And I imagined I could still hear that whistling outside the treehouse. It was getting closer and closer as I told the story. Was the story drawing it in? Was I calling it to the treehouse? But by now, I couldn’t stop myself. The story needed to be told, and I had become a conduit for it. I would tell it to the end, even if the whistler came right up the tree after us.
“They all froze when they heard the whistling. This was no wind through the bowes of a tree. This was a tuneless, monotonous whistling that cut across the dying afternoon like suckle through wheat. It was behind them, seemingly on the trail, and they could hear it getting closer and closer. They began to make their way towards the campsite, walking a little faster, but all three looked over their shoulder now. They were all made uneasy by that whistling, and they all wanted to put some distance between themselves and it.”
My friends sat forward, hanging on my every word, entranced by this new development.
Outside, I imagined I could hear the whistling coming from just outside the clearing.
“They didn’t talk anymore, they didn’t laugh, and they didn’t joke. They let their feet take them ever onward, but the whistling followed them. The friend who had insisted it was nothing said that maybe they should speed up a little bit. The campsite couldn’t be far. Once they were there, they could take a side trail and get back to town. Or whatever it was would leave, and they could get back to their campout. The other two agreed, but all of them knew that the camp out was already canceled. None of them would sleep here tonight, not willingly. They sped up, but the whistling followed them, followed them steadily. One of them said they should stop and confront the whistler. He must be human; who else or what else could whistle? The other two shot him down, though. The whistling was discordant, jangling against their nerves, sounding like nothing they had ever heard before. Both agreed that they didn’t want to find out what whistled like that and kept moving.”
Something bumped the bottom of the tree, but my audience didn’t seem to notice. It wasn’t a hard bump. It didn’t shiver the whole tree. It felt more like an inquisitive tap, a gentle knock. Someone trying to get our attention. I put it out of my mind, maybe the wind or something, and kept telling.
“They kept moving, deeper and deeper into the woods, all the time being chased by the whistling. They broke into a run, the campsite still not coming into view, and still, the whistling grew closer and louder. The whistling took on a life of its own, rising and falling as its chaotic tune became less and less discernible. The children put their hands over their ears, the noise scraping across their minds like a rusty scalpel. The hands would not block out the whistling, though. They heard it inside their heads as it battered their senses, and when the first one tripped, the other two did not stop to help him. They didn’t hear his screams, but they felt a change when the whistling thing got him.”
A night bird called out from the forest, but now, the whistling was in my own head, and I only registered it as something different.
I told the story frantically, hoping it would stop the whistling in my head somehow.
“They dropped their packs then and ran. They sprinted, flat out, knowing that the rail must be just up ahead. They would round the bend, and there it would be, it would be there as it always was, and they could cut back towards town. It never occurred to them that the creature could just cut through the forest after them. The trail to town had a talismanic effect on them. If they could make it, if they could walk it, they would be safe. They ran, they wept, but the whistling followed them on and on. Their feet crunched against the leaves and pine needles, sounding like gunfire, but they hardly noticed over the eerie whistling in their heads.”
My two friends were leaning close now, the lantern making their faces look like Jack-o-lanterns as their eyes begged for the climax.
And still, that whistling assaulted me, threatening to drive me mad.
If they noticed it, they gave no indication. “When the second boy fell, the first never noticed. He ran and ran, trying to outdistance the whistling, trying to get it out of his head, and when his friend was found, the whistling again took on a different tone. The lone boy ran and ran, hoping to outdistance the crazed whistling, knowing that his fate would be the same as his friends. Some say he runs to this very day; some say the whistling got him in the end. No one knows for sure.”
I heard the whistling abate a little. It didn’t leave, but it did lighten slightly. I felt like crying as I came to the end of my story. Maybe I would be allowed to live where the boys had died.
The search parties found their backpacks two days later, animals having worried them to get at the food. They found the campsite bare, no fire having been lit in weeks, but of the boys, they found no sign. No trace was ever found of the boys, not a scrap of clothing, not a footprint. They were never seen again, but the children in the area say that you can hear the whistling in the woods on quiet nights, and on those nights, it is best to stay indoors. The whistling takes all who venture too close, and the whistling will haunt you for the rest of your life, however long that is.”
That was when the whistling stopped. It stopped so abruptly that I wondered if it had ever been there at all. For a ten-year-old to question his mental stability is a strange feeling, but, at that moment, I was just glad it had passed me by. The other two shook off their rapture, looking as though they had been hypnotized, and Terry blew out a long breath.
“Well, damn, that was a good story. I can’t top that, and suddenly I’m feeling kind of tired.”
“Yeah,” Reggy said dreamily, “me too. I think maybe, we should go to bed.”
I would have argued with them most nights, but tonight, I was as drained as the rest.
We laid out our sleeping bags and burrowed down, dropping off quickly without the usual talk that proceeds it.
I’d like to tell you that this is where the story ends.
I wish I could.
But that wouldn’t be doing justice to the memory of my friends.
I awoke in the wee hours of the morning when someone threw a pillow at me. It was not thrown playfully. The throw was hard, angry, and directed at my face. I sat up, rubbing my cheek, and became aware of the keening whistle that had returned. It was louder than ever, and it chilled me to the bone.
“For God Sake, stop it!” Terry yelled, staring daggers at me, “Your story was good, we all said so, but trying to scare us with this stupid whistling isn’t funny.” I heard someone crying and looked over to see Reggy in the corner with his hands against his face. The whistling was loud and discordant, just as I had described it in my story, and it appeared that I wasn’t the only one who could hear it now. Terry looked madder than I had ever seen him, and Reggy was clearly terrified after the story I had spun.
“It’s not me, I swear,” I told Terry.
He glared at me for a few seconds before realizing that I was right. He moved to the window, and I joined him, trying to see the source of the whistling. Most nights, we would have seen nothing in the inky darkness, but under the light of the full moon, the yard shadowy but visible. As we scanned the yard, we could see little. The firepit below, the logs we sat on as we toasted our marshmallows and weiners, the woodpile we had tarped against the rain.
I had almost decided to go check the other window when Terry gasped like a stepped-on cat.
I looked and saw a man in a long cloak step out of the tree line.
He was dressed in a dark gray cloak, a tall cowboy hat making him look almost seven feet tall as it poked for the skies, and the toes of pointy boots poked from beneath the cloak. The wind seemed loath to touch him, but by the way, he pulled the cloak around himself, you’d have thought he was freezing. I could see a pair of eyes reflect the moonlight as he looked up at us and thought he must be wearing glasses. Of him, we could see very little under the cloak, but he made me very uneasy.
The whistling seemed to be coming from beneath the cloak, and when it stopped, he began to speak, and I wished for the whistling again.
His voice was raspy, pinched, croaksome.
A dead mans pleading last words.
“I’m so cold, boys. Might I take shelter in your treehouse for the night?”
I shuddered, not knowing what to say.
Somehow, Terry found his voice.
“Go away. Our mothers told us not to talk with strangers, and we don’t know you.”
“Please, boys, kind boys. Didn’t your mothers teach you hospitality? Let an old man come in out of the cold.” he pleaded.
“No,” Terry said and moved away from the window as though the man might somehow leap through the window. The man didn’t yell, he didn’t plead, he just sat on the log beneath our tree and continued to whistle. The jagged chords wafted up into the treehouse, and I saw Terry shudder as he began again. He picked up a boot that had been part of my costume and went to the window to throw it at the man. Terry sent it sailing but hissed when it didn’t connect. As the whistling continued, he threw several other things, but the old man never seemed to be where he was aiming. Terry cussed loudly, reaching for the lamp. I wrapped my arms around it, begging him not to.
“It’s all the light we have, Terry. Please!”
He tore it out of my arms, growling as it came free, and chucked it at the old man. It broke on the ground, shattering and fizzling with an electric pop, and the inside of the treehouse was darker for its passing. The whistling went on, though, the man never seemed to run out of breath. Reggy began to rock in the corner, sobbing loudly as the man whistled and whistled below. Terry screamed at him from the window, his rage never-ending, as I covered my ears and tried to keep the threads of my sanity together. It seemed to last for hours, for days, and as I sat with my eyes closed, I prayed it would end.
When I heard the floorboards creak, I opened my eyes.
I saw Reggy standing by the window, his foot already on the ledge.
“Reggy?” I breathed, half getting up, “What are you doing?”
Reggy looked back at me, snot runners creeping down his face. His naked face looks tortured, tears cutting lines down his dirty cheeks. He smiled gruesomely at me as he framed himself in the window, and i didn’t have to ask what he intended to do. I tried to stop him, I pulled myself up from the floor to go to him, but it was already too late.
“I just want it to stop.” he breathed before he threw himself out the window.
We never heard him hit the ground over the loud and terrible whistling.
Terry stormed over to the hatch and had unlatched it before I could throw myself across it.
“What are you doing?” I breathed.
“What do you think I’m doing? I’m gonna go do something about this guy!”
“He’s an adult, Terry. You can’t do anything to him!” “Get out of my way. I’m going out there.”
“He’s scary, Terry. You shouldn’t go out there, you’ll end up like Reggy, you’ll…”
Terry kicked me, sending waves of pain through my guts, and I rolled off the trap door. I heard him throw it open and toss the ladder down, descending in a shrieking rage as he made for the whistler. As scared as it had made Reggy, the whistling had made Terry a furious juggernaut. I drew myself up, my ribs hurting and hobbled to the trap door. I looked down before closing it and gasped in horror against my throbbing chest.
The man was at the bottom of the ladder. His face was still hidden by the cloak, his eyes a glittering twosome amidst the swirling dark void, and I could see thick red fluid around the collar of the cloak. He was two rungs up the ladder, temporarily frozen by my gaze, and I slammed the hatch and threw the lock a second before he slammed into it. I crawled away from the hatch, seeing it buck wildly and hearing him scream at me to open it. He cussed and howled like an animal, wanting to get in but stopped by the strong bolt some past child had installed on the sturdy hatch.
Maybe they had installed it to keep him out, I thought after.
My fear overtopped me at some point, and as I watched the door jump in its frame, I must have passed out.
When the banging woke me up, it was daylight, and I screamed loud enough to startle whoever had been banging.
“Easy kid, it’s Sheriff Blaske. Are you okay?”
I dragged myself to the hatch, my ribs aching, and threw the bolt before falling back, panting. If it was the whistler, I hoped he was quick, at least. My ribs would turn out to be broken, and their healing would encompass two of the worst months of my life. Every time I breathed in, I was reminded of the whistler and that last encounter with Terry. At that moment, though, I didn’t care what happened. I just wanted it to end.
Sheriff Blaske pushed the flap open, and I guessed I’d get to live another day.
He took me to the hospital. He took me to the waiting arms of my parents, who pulled me into the warm embrace of their arms and threatened to never let go. I had been missing for two days, they told me, and when the police had seen the state of our treehouse, they feared the worst. They never found any sign of Terry or Reggy. I told them what had happened. I told them about the whistling man, about Reggy’s fall, and Terry charging from the treehouse to attack him. I told them about how I’d locked the trap door and passed out as I watched the man try to batter his way in. That was eight years ago.
I’ve seen that night in my dreams every night since. The events live on in my memories in living color, and I often wake up screaming as the man tries to break the hatch open. In my dreams, I don’t pass out. In my dreams, the hatch doesn’t hold. In my dreams, I wake up as he wraps his hands around my throat and drags me towards that pitch-black maw he hides behind the coat. I haven’t been back to the forest since that day, and I don’t think I ever will.
Lately, though, I’ve been hearing the whistling as I lie in bed at night. I look out the window, my backyard butting up to the woods, and see two small figures hovering on the outskirts. Sometimes the man in the coat is there too, but I know better than to try and tell my parents. All of them are gone when they get there, and I just end up looking crazy. I leave for college next week, and I’ve chosen one in the middle of a big city. I planned to attend it because the closest collection of more than four trees is sixty miles from my dorm. I’m hoping that distance will stop these apparitions, but I don’t know.
I can hear the whistling now, even as I write this. I can hear my dead friends’ soft calls as they entice me to come out and play. I can hear that whistling as it scrapes against my nerves yet again. I hear it, and I hope that I get to leave for college before it becomes too much to bear.
Before, it calls me back to the treehouse once more.