A Season To Remember 

Freda Wooten

© Copyright 2022 by Freda Wooten

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay..

Winter 2020, Harman Hollow 

Something sinister surrounded us  that snowy December night. Tom and I were sipping hot cocoa by a dancing camp fire when the eeriness first began. We had been giggling, recalling how opening day of rifle season had gone. We had hunted Tom's property that day for the first time together.  

Tom was excited that he'd managed to drop the largest buck of this lifetime. I was excited to camp at the opposite end of his four hundred acre land. Although the snow blanketed the hills like talcum and I wasn't fond of the cold,  I felt it would be a fun venture. Things had been spectacular. But silence  took us when a horrific groan manifested in the distance. 

 "What the hell was that?" I whispered in sudden horror. 

He shushed me as we sat still as the logs beside the firepit. Tom noticed that our dog, Buddy had apparently wandered off wirhout us knowing. Oddly he failed to alerrt as usual when strange noises arose. So we suspected he had trailed a critter into the forest. A rabbit, coon or fox perhaps.  

Neither of us recalled how long he had been gone from the canp site before we noticed. Straightaway we set out to look for him on foot. We freed our small mag lights from our hunting vests and headed northward along hawthorne trail. 

Whistling and calling for Buddy I feared he might have wandered too far to hear us. And I didn 't like how the temperature continued to drop. It made me slide easier up and down the hilly terrain. I was watching how my boots shoveled through the snow when Tom stopped abruptly causing me to bump into him.  

 "Whats the matter?" I questioned. My hair heavy with moisture.  

 " Look. Do you see this? " He asked nervously while shining the light beam over a set of very peculiar foot prints. 
I studied the massive tracks with keen eyes."A deer didnt leave those." I said.
 " No. Theyre not bear tracks either. "  

 I swallowed harshly. "We sure as hell don't have elephants in the Appalachian!" 

My heart instantly pounded  as the trail of foot prints grew longer. There we were, miles from civilization wih no phone to call for help. No one lived close by. The dog whom we considered family was missing and we found ourselves in the path of something chillingly porportioned. This is only getting worse, I thought.  

We looked at one another, puzzled, terrified and deeply concerned. "What do you think could have left these?" I asked, hoping he could offer some sort of reasonable explaination. 

" I have no idea. But I don't want to run into it, whatever it is. "

 The mystetious foot prints were significantly larger than Tom's size eleven hiking boots and broader than his hand when  in a sideways position against the track.  Their shape and disturbing characteristics made me want to pack and leave that minute. But I didn't want to leave Buddy stranded and alone.  

We cautiously continued to follow the trail, still calling for Buddy. My fingers and toes numbed from the cold. About thirty five minutes into the search a second, more drawn out sound erupted. Instant fear made me shrill and tremble. I clutched Tom's arm tightly. 

The epiphanic voice carried for several minutes, as if whatever made the noise was extremely pissed off.  I closed my eyes tightly until the diabolic screaming began to fade. I could only pant frightfully for a moment. During that moment I ushered a silent prayer for help. Then, I lost all courage. 

"I think we should leave now." I told Tom when my  breath regulated. "Whatever the hell that is doesn't sound human and it seemed much too close. "

 " What? We can't just abandon the dog, Frea.” 

 "Can't we return in the morning and look for him?"  

Neither of us would rest,” he told me. "We would feel horrible." 

"Maybe. Maybe  not. But we'd be safe at least." 

He debated briefly. "Okay. If that's what you want to do, we will pack up and head into town. We can rent a room for the resr of the night but I'm coming back at first light." 

 "Fine. We can leave the tent stove and tent in place then. You can break it down tomorrow. " 

Beside myself and beyond terrified, I began to walk swiftly back in the direction of the tent. My mind was a ferris wheel of ghastly thoughts.  I didn't say it aloud but I worried that whatever made the noises and left the foot prints might have abducted Buddy. I didn't want to imagine what such a wicked sounding beast could do to him. And I didn't want Tom or me to be next.  

The moment we reached the camp site and retrieved the jeep keys, Buddy's frantic barking broke through the darkness. I gasped and froze in positiion. Broad-eyed, Tom turned back toward the sound and called desperately for Buddy.  But there was no sight of him. 

Then the harrowing sounds of trees snapping followed by a round of amp!ified knocking noises surrounded us. It felt as though we were being hunted. The sounds grew closer and more intense each second. My heart would p!umnet then skip.I watched anxiety strip the pigment from Tom's cheeks. I could see that he was indescribably fearful. 

I stripped the keys from Tom's right hand and bolted toward the jeep.

 "Come on!" I demanded.  

 The evil knocking echoed throughout the forest.  And the snapping of trees grew even closer as I started the ignition. As Tom opened the passenger's side door to climb inside, Buddy sprang from the ivory woodline. 

'Good boy, "  I said to him as he hurriedly  lept into the backseat.  

Tom and I didn't know what Buddy had seen. We didn't wish to know. We were simply thankful to return to our cozy cabin. However, several local hunters swore they'd spotted Sasquatch in that same area years prior. As for Tom, myself and Buddy, we are happy not seeing. And we heard more than enough to conclude; something unearthly stalks these mountains.  

The nightmarish event caused Buddy to have permanent anxiety about venturing into the deep woods. He hasn’t trailed a critter since that night. It was a hunting season we will never forget. 

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