01 Feb Lost in the Endless
We walked on and on, the four of us, me, my girlfriend, my brother, and his girlfriend. Hope of a rescue was beginning to fade.
The forest around us was suffocating, pushing up against us as we walked through the thorns and brambles of the undergrowth. Barely any sky could be seen through the treetops, but what could be seen was the dark blue of pre-dawn.
We had been walking for hours, and the sun never rose. My watch said it was 4PM. We had been walking now for about half the day.
The others were starting to panic and I couldn’t blame them. The surrounding forest was dead quiet, no animals made any noise, and no bugs skittered underneath, no birds in the trees. The forest didn’t even look the same. The trees were tall and thin, surrounded by vines of thorns, the trunks only growing 2 to 3 feet apart.
I turned back to my girlfriend ,Kaycee. She was covered with tiny scratches from the thorns, her face stained with dirt and tears.
“What do we do?” She asked frightfully. I thought for a moment. We had followed the compass north. We should have come across a rode, a town, or civilization. Hell, a landmark of any kind would be nice. But it was all flat ground, and the same trees, and the dead silence, and the unchanging sky.
There was a smell though. A wet sour smell. It permeated everything. It even soaked into my clothes, into the taste of the food we brought.
It had all started as a camping trip to the local state park. I had been many times to the park with my brother during the past, and once with my girlfriend. This was the first time we were all getting together, my brother bringing along his new girlfriend.
We left the parking lot to head towards our usual camping ground on a sunny morning. It would be about a 20 minute hike to our chosen camp site. It was a nice cleared out area, next to a pond with big jutting rocks on one side. I would climb those rocks as a kid, and my girlfriend used them to sunbathe on our last visit.
Things went bad about 10 minutes into our trek to the camp ground. The sky darkened and the trees pushed in, getting tighter and tighter. And of course, there was the sour smell, it flooded the area and stuck to the back of my throat.
Our surroundings had become completely different and alien. It seemed like we were in a completely different forest. We were originally heading south, so we promptly turned around to head back north.
We had been walking for hours now, and still haven’t left the strange forest
We finally had to set up camp for rest. We were huddled together, the trees forcing us to be close to eachother. I leaned around a tree to talk with my brother, Dave.
“Did somebody drug us, Like human trafficking or sometime? And we just woke up here in these unfamiliar woods. That why we don’t remember the time between!” I offered up.
“Once I took an Ambien, and I didn’t even know I fell asleep. Next thing I know, I’m at work the next day! I didn’t remember driving or anything!” Jack’s girlfriend, Sharon, agreed with me by nodding her head.
“No, this is some supernatural shit!” my brother Dave interjected. “How do you not admit this, even now?” he scolded at me. To my ire, my girlfriend nodded in agreement with him.
Dave had always been a believer in the paranormal. He watched all those stupid ghost shows and was way too into Ancient Aliens when that show was a thing. He swore to death we had both seen a ghost when we were kids, at our old house. I didn’t remember any of it, and he told me I must have blocked it out because it was too world shattering for me. I think I didn’t remember it because it never happened.
I wasn’t a die hard skeptic. I was vaguely religious. I believed in the afterlife. But call me a doubting Thomas. I needed physical proof before I devoted any physical action towards something. But all this was too much. Did my brother really think we were on another planet or something?
“It’s like the Upside-down,” my GF, Kaycee, said. I looked at her like she was a crazy person. We had both watched Stranger Things on Netflix together. Now she was insinuating we were in the spooky world from the show?
“Or we are in Hell,” said Sharon. I looked at her with a sense of betrayal. How could she go from being a skeptic to full blown tin foil hat?
Her statement held in the air between the four of us. Sharon had a vacant look. Did she believe she deserved Hell?
“It is exactly how I imagined it,” she said, looking down, her voice breaking at the end.
“What? Hell?” I asked back immediately.
“No, the forest. I was a little afraid of camping in the woods at night. A couple of nights ago I had” Sharon paused, thinking of the words, ” a stress dream about the trip. In the dream we couldn’t find our way out. It wasn’t scary, just frustrating, like dreaming you’re back at work or school.”
“I used to have them when I was a sleep deprived server, and full time student last year,” My girlfriend chimed in. ” I would dream I would be triple sat by the hostess, and I couldn’t find my pen, orders weren’t right, and customers were assholes. I would wake up so angry.”
“Exactly!” Sharon responded. ” In my dream it was this same bland, suffocating forest.” she was crying. “Now, I’m just waiting to wake up.”
Since I had been nominated as the defacto leader, I told the three to change the subject. We would eat, sleep a little, and continue north.
The hours past ad nauseam for over the next 48 hours. We had left lots of our food supplies in my brother’s car. The plan was to make a trip back for the cooler after we had the camp set up. So now we only had food for the next three days, if we rationed severely.
We kept heading north, the only direction we had to follow. The woods remained the same, like a lazy video game developer just copied and pasted the same tree over and over again. The sky remained the same, a dark blue with no stars, no clouds. The only thing that changed was the smell.
The sickly sweet smell got worse and worse. I felt the urge to spit, because the taste was heavy in my mouth, but I needed all the liquid I had to stay in my body.
The first day there was a lot of arguing, between all of us. It was a free-for-all of emotions. We all tried to rationalize what was happening, and nothing made sense.
The second day (we counted days by sleep) we all tried to not fight and get along. We had to work together to get through this. We marched forward like soldiers heading to an epic battle. But nothing changed, the supplies dwindled, and hope was flickering out.
The third day all hope was lost. I led us ever north, but they followed with heads down and eyes sullen. It was like we were prisoners on a death march now.
When we called it quits on the third day, we all sat in separate corners, not talking. I turned my phone on for the last time. I had been conserving battery, but it was at 5 percent now, and I need to see something other than the forest around me to keep me sane.
I flipped through my pictures. The pictures went back years. Me and my parents, me and Dave, my pets, and me and Kaycee happy on dates. It was exactly what I needed. I called Kaycee over to look at the pics with me.
Dave and Sharon sat separate, both staring vacantly out into the forest.
“It’s like the backrooms,” Dave said out loud to no one in particular.
“What’s that?” Sharon asked, snapping out of her daze.
“It’s a creepypasta, or an internet story. It’s this world beneath or parallel to ours,” he explained. “It’s just random rooms over and over. Like a video game set to create random environments. You reach it when you glitch out of reality. It’s like a developer failsafe, or that’s how I interpret it.”
“But it’s fake,” I stated. At the same time Kaycee spoke over me.
“Can you escape it?” she asked much louder.
“Yes you can, but it’s convoluted. New writers keep changing up the rules,” Dave said back to Kaycee, ignoring my statement.
“I mean,” my bro continued, ” it makes sense the backrooms are rooms in a city setting, but what if it’s this bland forest in outdoor settings?”
“It’s not real!” I almost screamed. “It’s a story created by edgy teenagers and 30 year olds still living with their mother’s!”
“It makes more sense than marching north continuously hoping to magically end up back at our car!” Dave screamed back. “You’re literally a skeptic living in a real waking nightmare. Now you just look like a dumbass!”
I felt like hitting him, and I almost launched over and did. Kaycee grabbed my arm hard and Sharon spoke up.
“It doesn’t matter” she said, breaking into tears.” We are in Hell and it is very real! Or at least limbo.”
“Have any of you used the restroom since we’ve been here?” Sharon continued, her voice growing angry as tears streamed down her face. ” Have you even taken a piss? Have you even been hungry? We eat out of habit! Do you even taste it?”
We all sat silent, thinking.
“You can’t even have sex,” Sharon spouted. “Me and Dave tried! You feel nothing!”
Dave’s face went bright red, and me and Kaycee got second hand embarrassment from him. We knew they went out of sight the other day. We figured what was up, we just didn’t want to know the details.
“It’s stress,” I muttered. “The body locks up. It cuts out all non essential functions for survival. People in war time have been known to-“
“I don’t care anymore!” She interrupted my feeble attempt at an explanation. “I just want this to be over. If I have to die to do so, then I want to die!”
At that moment I heard two tremendous crashes behind me. I was the one in the group sitting the furthest north, facing back south, to talk with my friends. Something gigantic moved over the trees above me. I saw Sharon look up in horror as a giant object, as tall and wide as an oak tree, slammed down onto her, shattering the tree she was leaning against, and pulverizing her body into red mush.
We all screamed and jumped up. All I saw left of Sharon was a right leg, separated at the knee. I looked up to see massive object blotting out the sky. I realized I was looking up at the underside of a giant creature.
It walked on two large, but thin legs, compared to the rest of its body. One of its legs had come down on Sharon, the other was straddled somewhere behind me. The legs stretched upwards about 50 feet to a large bulbous black mass. The underside of this mass opened up like a curved smile, dropping mucus and spit upon us like rain. Inside this horrid mouth-like opening were white teeth, but these teeth were white human skulls. The skull’s all lined up beside eachother. They all screamed down at me.
To our credit, the three of us all took off in the same direction. Moments after escaping the campsite, the mouth dropped down to slam into the ground where we had been. Trees splintered and exploded. The massive skull filled mouth taking a giant bite out of the earth. As it lifted back up, dirt and mucus rained everywhere.
We ran for at least 10 minutes at top speed. It was easy to keep track of each other, being to only other things making noise and moving in the drab woods.
At first we could hear the massive footsteps following us, but when those faded we slowed down to a speed walk, trying to catch our breaths.
“Did you see that thing?” my brother wheezed, asking the stupidest question in history. “It was a titan, like from the anime!”
“What?” I said. ” It was a blob with human skulls for teeth!” I corrected.
“I saw a clown,” Kaycee added. “A giant harlequin clown, tall like it was on stilts. It killed Sharon!”
The one thing we all agreed on was it killed Sharon. So we kept power walking, and when the booming footsteps got too loud, we sprinted again.
Even though hunger and bodily functions didn’t affect us here, fatigue did. We were always tired, and we were all about to drop from exhaustion.
That’s when my brother grabbed my shoulder and spun me around. We all stopped for a moment.
“I’ll run back the opposite direction. I’ll run by it and peel it off from you two.”
“Hell no! Stop with this hero shit!” I said to him.
“I wasn’t asking little brother,” he smiled. “Besides, there’s a 50 percent chance it will keep chasing you two, and I’ll be free. If we stay together, we all get tired and die together.”
“I have to at least say goodbye to Sharon. I brought her here to die. I at least owe her that,” he said flatly.
With a final “I love you, bro,” he turned and jogged off in the other direction. Me and Kaycee kept heading north, and the stomping from behind faded away.
We walked together, shoulder to shoulder. I held most of her weight as we trudged forward. She had given up, but I hadn’t just yet. The only thing that kept me going was the ‘why’ of all of this.
Why had all of our lives been destroyed in the matter of days? Why did the forest look like the dream Sharon had? Why did the creature look different to all of us? I had to know!
“I just wish we could have found our campsite,” Kaycee croaked. “I was so excited for this trip. I just want to see it one more time.”
And just as she wished, we staggered through the trees a little while longer. We came out into a clearing, and there it was, the campsite she had asked for, the pond with the rocks stacked up beside it. But it wasn’t quite right.
The pond was shaped different, and the water was clearer looking, and the rock formation on the side was bigger, like how I remembered them when I was a kid.
Kaycee laughed a dry life,”It was my death wish.” She urged me to take her atop the rocks. Instead of being 20 feet high, it was at least 35 to 40 feet.
Once we got to the top of the big rock, she went to the middle and laid down, like she would when she sunbathed. I knelt down beside her and she pulled me close.
“This is fine. I want to die here beside you. I just want to sleep, not be killed by that wicked thing.” She pulled me to lay down, but I refused her. “Just lay here with me. Let’s just go together,” she urged.
“I have to know,” I whispered to her. “I have to know why it happened. Why do we all have to die here?”
“Just ask, babe,” she said. She closed her eyes and smiled. “I’ll wait for you.”
And with that she exhaled, and the color left her face. Her red lips turned gray, and her blonde hair turned white. I knew she was dead, just like she asked.
I knelt over her and wept. Once again I heard the booming footsteps approaching. I knew Dave was dead. The thing had caught up with him, probably when he finally said goodbye to Sharon. It was his dying wish.
I stared out to the infinite trees around me. I could imagine it was the same panorama view of trees behind me also. The only difference would be the monster slowly plodding it’s way towards me.
“Just tell me why, and I’ll let you kill me. If not, I will run forever. I’ll make you chase me forever,” I said to anyone and noone.
I heard a thunderous boom behind me, the rocks shook and I fell forward onto my face. In an instant I felt a presence in my mind, and I knew things.I knew the monster had teleported the rest of the distance to land right behind me. I had summoned it. The sour stench was overwhelming and my fear level was off the charts.
I knew if I turned around it would be bigger and more hideous than before. I just knew it had taken the form of something I truly feared. It was now something unfathomable and cruel. A monster customized to terrify only me, to kill only me.
I knew it would drive me mad just to glance at it. So I laid on my face and dared not move. I knew now that the compass was leading us to this thing the whole time. I knew if I pulled out my compass it would say north was directly behind me, where this thing stood. This whole time we had been marching towards our executioner.
Its stench flooded my senses, and I could hear its wet sickly breathing, like the sound of a beached whale dying.
“Tell me why!” I screamed with madness. “Why are we condemned to die here?!”
I felt a tickling in my head, and I felt a full blown panic attack coming on. It was trying to speak to me, and my mind was about to break because of it. I had to hold on to sanity long enough to get my answers.
“Why?” I asked again.
Its voice shot like lightning through my mind. A thousand words in a thousand different languages, all flowing around each other to form a single idea. It felt like millions of years worth of knowledge had been dumped into my brain. Things noone should know. But in this madness I got my explanation.
I began clawing at my face and screaming. It told me I was dying for no reason. It told me there are places on Earth where the veil between realities is thinner. They used to be used by ancient gods from eternity past, from before the big bang, from beyond time. They had eventually built safe guards around these portals to keep entities from invading other realms.
We could have walked into an alternate dimension exactly like our own and never realized. But now the portals were booby trapped. If anyone now tried to travel between realms, it would spit them out in a side dimension, a bleak non-world sealed away from reality. The world would form to whoever had been trapped here, and whoever was trapped would eventually be killed by this creature, this warden between realities.
It showed me that this plain of existence had been darkness before we showed up. As we entered it had been created. As soon as we had entered, we had been condemned to die. Condemned for breaking a law we did not know, made by beings that did not care.
I was now dying in a pool of my own blood, my eyes missing, and my throat torn out by my own hand.
I asked one last thing in my mind before I died.
“Will we be stuck here after death?”
The answer was “No,” we would pass on from this realm upon our death. I died in agony with only this to comfort me.
You see, I was a skeptic, but I believed in the afterlife. At least I would escape this place in death, and maybe Kaycee was waiting for me.