Behind a house in a rural midwestern town lies a dark wood. It is rumored that the wood is haunted, although the only report of such haunting is that of three young girls who encountered a spirit on a single autumn night. The source of the haunting was never investigated, and it is doubtful it ever will be. The house is now vacant and the wood has been left to overgrowth.
It all began when these girls decided to camp out deep inside that wood...
Sally, Jennifer and Britney were all thirteen years old. They had known one another since the fourth grade and were best of friends. Sally lived off a country road outside of town in a house surrounded by dense forest. There were no neighbors around for at least five square miles, with the nearest being Sally's grandmother and the home of an elderly couple. Sally always looked forward to going to school so she could have friends her own age.
One day, Sally had the idea of camping out in those woods and from her previous explorations, knew the perfect site far from the prying eyes of parents. It was in a pine grove where the ground was very soft, with a nearby clearing that would retain their campfire. Sally got the excited agreements of her two friends, who in turn got permission from their parents.
The campout was a plan.
It was a Saturday in late September. The weather was still warm but being early autumn, the nights were chilly and dark. They set up their tent in the afternoon. They also constructed their fire ring, gathered firewood and carefully selected branches that would hold their hot dogs and marshmallows. At dusk, they took their sleeping bags, flashlights, and a cooler full of snacks and headed down the path to their tent.
They joked and shared stories while they started their campfire. Once the flames were to an acceptable level, they formed their lawn chairs into a circle and pulled out the package of hotdogs as well as their pre-made sticks. They were sitting in their chairs, roasting their frankfurters and talking. The night had arrived and a chill was setting in.
If you've ever sat around a campfire, you know that the area outside the glow of the fire is pitch black. It was from this blackness that the sounds of snapping twigs and the rustling of leaves came.
Jennifer was the first to hear the sounds and exclaimed in a loud whisper, "What's that? Shhh--listen!"
Britney froze mid-sentence and Sally leaned forward in her chair, straining to hear.
For a long moment, there was nothing but the crackling of the fire.
Then Sally chided Jennifer for her outburst, "Jennifer, it's nothing. You're scaring us. Now cut it out!"
As soon as she uttered those words, a tremendous wind whipped through the woods, blowing a cloud of pine needles and leaves into the air. The debris hit their faces and stung their eyes. The wind blew their hair and upended their gear. It was so fierce and so abrupt that it almost put out their fire. Sally fell out of her chair in order to avoid being hit by the gust of flames that leaped in her direction. Then the wind stopped as suddenly as it started.
The girls were terrified. They sat motionless for a moment, not knowing what to do next or what to expect. The woods were completely silent.
Then, from the direction of the deepest part of the forest came a wailing so loud and so tormented, it was horrifying. The girls covered their ears with their hands and tried to block out the lamenting shriek. It was a sound they had never heard before and they knew it was not of this world.
Jennifer was the first to break the reverie. She sprang from her position in the direction of the house. Seconds later, Sally and Britney did likewise. Their reaction was so instantaneous they didn't think about grabbing a flashlight. They darted through the inky forest tripping over logs and lumbering through the underbrush. If they stumbled, they quickly righted themselves. Mindless of the tears in their clothing or the scratches they suffered, their only objective was the safety of Sally's house.
They finally made it to the back porch and were met with the confused, sleepy gaze of Sally's mother who stood in the kitchen clenching her bathrobe. Out of breath and shaking, the girls gradually described in broken sentences what had happened. Sally's mom listened while her dad, hearing the clamor, arose from his bed and joined them in the kitchen.
After listening to their story, he quickly dressed and ventured out to the campsite to investigate the matter and to extinguish their fire. He was gone for over an hour.
When he returned, his face was pale. He was solemn and seemed distracted. He didn't say a word, and would not comment on what he had found, no matter how many times Sally or her mom pleaded to know the outcome.
The girls were sent home to their parents and it would be weeks before any of the girls would be able to sleep soundly. They all vowed they would never camp again.
The next day, Sally's family received word that her grandmother had passed away. In the ensuing days, the incident in the woods was dropped from conversation.
As time passed, the family moved on.
The girls remain friends to this day, but the memories of their campout are etched in their minds. That night will never be forgotten.