The Night We Chased Wilson into the Woods
“Wilson, what gives?” Brent stood and called after our friend as he sped off towards the tree line.
I stood up.
“Will!” I shouted after him, but he ignored me also.
Brent looked at me and I looked back at him. Wilson had never been energetic. He wasn’t what you’d call hyper or prone to running. Before that moment, I never saw him move faster than an amble. I never saw him chase after anything or anyone. He was chill and almost shallow due to his lack of care for the fast-paced world.
“We should go after him?” I asked.
Brent shrugged. He put down his beer, and leaned forward in the wooden, Adirondack chair. The wood creaked. We hadn’t seen much of Wilson lately, as his wife of two years had recently left him for their chiropractor. Yes, the kid was eighteen and she was twenty-six. We heard they moved and bought a fancy house in the next city over; she completely dropped her life for a rich baby-faced boy. Wilson was wrecked for months.
This night was the first time he invited us over or even spoke to either of us since it all went down. He was fine though, we thought. He didn’t even mention her name once since we had been there. It was all about beer and pizza and good times.
“I mean, he seems fine. Maybe he just had to take a dump or something,” Brent laughed.
“In the woods?” I asked. I mean, his house was no castle, but it had plumbing.
“Could be a coping strategy?” Brent added.
“No man,” I said and chugged the second half of my beer, “Let’s go get him, this is probably everything he’s been through coming out.”
“No way, let’s just wait for him to come back.”
“You say that like he will come back,” I argued.
Brent finally got on board after we gave it a good fifteen minutes and heard nothing, except forest bugs and pickup trucks in the distance.
The woods behind Wilson’s house were pretty thin. They were only a few acres deep, before opening up to a farm on the other side. There was a deer trail we’d walked on many times back when this was his uncle’s house. When we were teenagers, these woods were the only spot we could smoke and not get caught.
Brent pulled out his phone and turned on the flashlight. Night was looming and while evening ended, it only brought darkness. The woods grew quiet. Without a word, we started in and towards the trail.
“Wilson!” I shout-whispered. “Are you effing with us right now?”
Leaves crunched under our feet and trees stood like silent monoliths around us, looming down over us.
“Yo, dude,” whispered Brent, “What if this is like, some kind of psychotic break? Maybe we should call someone?”
“Yeah, maybe,” I said.
He shined his light across the trees before us, creating beams like hallways through the trees. A subtle midst hug in the air. We saw many bushes and thickets, tree trunks and shadows. Nothing really felt wrong or out of place, but I had a nagging feeling, like Wilson or some monster was going to jump out in front of us at any second.
Brent hummed in agreement as if he felt the eeriness in the air also.
“This is messed up,” I whispered, feeling the coldness of night ride on a breeze. The cold air gave me goosebumps and the soft night sounds of bugs, birds, bats, and the rustling of brush did nothing to ease my growing discomfort.
We wandered forward another fifteen or so minutes.
Brent’s hand gripped my shoulder, with a firm, but silent smack. “Look!” he whispered, with his fingers pressed into my shoulder, hard.
At first, I saw nothing, but the brief flash of light as he dropped the phone into his pocket, turning off the light and leaving us blind. For the instant I saw his face light up as he pressed the screen, the look on his face told me he was freaking out somewhat too. His eyes looked ahead and I slowly turned my head to follow his gaze into the clearing in the farmer’s back pasture.
Before us was a blue glow at the edge of the adjacent tree line. This field had another property’s woods on the other side, and they had the much denser, thicker trees we also explored as teens.
We approached cautiously, our feet slowing and steps softened.
From a good five feet in, we saw the source of the blue light. It was a large, black, rectangular box, like a shipping container, surrounded by a bright blue glow, emanating from the edges.
Wilson stood before it. His face was devoid of emotion and his trucker hat sat back and askew on his head, like he was dazed and out of his mind. His pants looked stained and his shirt was torn, probably from the run there. One hand extended towards the black box, illuminating from the glowing edges, while his lips mumbled something we couldn’t hear.
It was hard to tell, but it looked like his lips were moving erratically, like he was mumbling in an exaggerated fashion.
Brent and I both were crouched down, but he lost his balance, shifted his weight, and accidentally snapped a loud, dry twig, while regaining his footing.
At the onset of this abrupt noise, we saw Wilson’s hand drop.
Then, his head shot around, quicker than what seemed humanly possible. It was uncanny, like he was a doll or a humanesque owl. His mouth opened, eyes widened, and he gave us an unsettling, gaping smile. He became deranged and inhuman at that point. Wilson appeared as some shadow version of himself, about to swallow us whole like a viper.
Then, he took a step, but his body was still facing the large shipping container thing. In the next instant, his movement sped up and he launched himself at the glowing box. When his body should have hit metal or rock or whatever it was made out of, the light intensified rapidly.
Instead of just hitting the thing, side of his head first, he instead seemed to pass through the dark void, as if it wasn’t even really there at all. In that instant, all we saw was the bottom parts of his shoes disappear before hearing a loud crack, like thunder or fireworks, erupting from the field and then the entire black void was gone. Wilson had disappeared and box was missing as well.
It felt like the blue light touched us both, within the noise it made, with a hot and humid feeling, a wave of energy in stark contrast to the cold night around us.
We stood there shaken for what felt like an hour, but was probably only a few minutes. Neither Brent and I were brave enough to inspect the ground that thing had been on, if the opening or whatever it was, was still somehow there and able to suck us in. We crept back to the house, confused, stumbling over rocks and stumps, in the bleak darkness, feeling hazy and waves of dread.
When we examined our skin and clothing in the lights from our cars in the driveway, we saw holes in our sleeves and painful welts on our arms. Both of our faces looked burned, and from the visor mirror, I learned one of my eyebrows was completely singed off.
We ended up at the emergency room, with what the nurse called chemical burns all over our bodies. We didn’t talk about what happened. While getting the most excruciating parts of our treatment, the police questioned us separately about Wilson’s whereabouts. Brent, or maybe I, slipped up and mentioned we followed our friend into the woods and he was then missing, and we came out looking like this.
It was right for the police to be suspicious. Were we just so stupid, we disposed of Wilson’s body in sulfuric acid and this was our cover story? Neither Brent nor I mentioned the box, Wilson’s weird behavior, or the strange blue light.
Things fell out even weirder in the aftermath. Come to find out, Wilson hadn’t been at work at all for months. Friends and family called and texted, but only received garbled replies, from different numbers, after they tried to reach Wilson. His family and boss had been to his home on several, separate occasions, but it seemed like no one was there.
Our chemical burns raised a lot of suspicion in the small community, but with no evidence and nothing to charge us with, the police stopped their pursuit and things went back to a semi-normal state, with the exception of the events of that night still playing loudly in my head, like a bad movie on repeat.
I got a call a week after I was out of the hospital and back to work.
Brent and I hadn’t talked since being discharged. We had
seemed to silently agreed not to tell anyone else the story of what really
happened that night, and had felt the strain on our lifelong friendship from
the loss of our friend, the trauma of the injuries and what we saw, if at all real, and the response from the police.
I nearly let the call go to voice mail, but picked it up instead.
“Hey,” I said.
“Hey,” he answered.
My stomach sunk. I didn’t want to talk about it. Anything but that night.
The line was silent for a long minute. He cleared his throat and sucked in a harsh breath, before speaking.
“Okay, so dude, you’re going to hear this really soon, but you know how my wife’s cousin, Tito, is a deputy with the sheriff’s office? Well, he just got off the phone with me and one of his cop buddies was sent out to Wilson’s place tonight, due to a complaint from one of the neighbors who said they heard screaming from inside the house.”
“Wait, what?” I asked, and my voice cracked, something it hadn’t done since I was 13.
He continued, “Yeah and that’s not the weirdest thing. They found the front door wide open, and the house riffled through, like maybe someone had been robbing it or something, and when they searched the basement, they found Wilson.”
“Holy crap! They found him? Is he okay?”
“No, not by a long shot, dude.”
He sucked in another deep breath.
“Yo, you’re not going to believe this, but they found his body in the back corner of the basement, like stiff and very decomposed, and according to the coroner who showed up, he’d been dead for at least a year, maybe even longer.”
“I know. I know. Trust me, I know. Who did we eat dinner with? That couldn’t have been him. I didn’t go into the basement, why would I? I was barely even in the house. You got there before me, were you in the house?”
“No…” I thought back, “No, he was outside when I got there and we walked around the side to the back. It was late in the afternoon; I didn’t even look around at his house. I didn’t want to seem like I was checking up on him, after everything he had just been through.”
“I know, I know, right?” Brent said, again, his voice was rapid fire, like his mind was racing at all the different implications and panic had set in.
He added, “At least on the bright side, it looks like we’ve been completely cleared. At least, that’s what Tito told me will be the most likely scenario, or whatever.”
“Yeah,” I said, “Hey my girl’s going to be off of work soon, you guys want to like, come over this weekend? I feel like we should protect ourselves, our families, and like come up with a plan or something.”
“Yeah,” he said, “We got to stick together. I don’t know what good it will do, but we might as well.”
We hung up soon after. I checked that my doors were locked and turned on the TV. My phone buzzed and I expected it to be Sydney, letting me know she’s on her way.
I looked down and saw a number I didn’t recognize had sent a text.
“Hey, we should get together this weekend,” it read, followed by a garbled string of numbers and letters.
I put the phone down and flipped channels.
It buzzed again.
This time, it was from another number I didn’t recognize.
“Hey, we should come up with a plan,” it read, followed by numbers, letters, and symbols.
I turned the phone over. After Sydney came home, I didn’t tell her about the phone call or what they found at Wilson’s house. It was a long night where I couldn’t sleep. Many sleepless nights followed, as well as many strange calls and text messages, ones that took over my phone, while leaving me hearing nothing from Brent or any of our other friends.