Darkness in the Woods
Submitted by Robbie Anderson
Montana Mountains, U.S.
When I was younger, I was one of those total outdoors woodsman types. I grew up in the mountains of Montana and used to disappear for weeks into the forests during the summer. Hiking deep, I spent my time communing with the powerful forces of nature.
There are things in the woods. Mysterious things. Dark things. Unexplainable things. There were many a night I sat watching the darkness around me. The night has a life all its own. Shadows move and breathe in the small hours of the morning. As dusk slowly creeps down through the canopy, the creatures of the day steal away to their holes and dens. As the long fingers of darkness reach out, the night creatures crawl from those same holes and dens.
One particular night stands out for me. I was sixteen and on my usual walkabout trek. The forest was unusually quiet as night fell and I woke up just after 3AM with a feeling. Of what? I’m not sure to this day. Of being watched? Sensed? Monitored? Judged? Goosebumps prickled up my arms, but something compelled me to unzip that tent. The stars had been utterly swallowed. I couldn’t tell where the canopy ended and sky began. The flashlight barely penetrated the wall of blackness. Something moved just beyond the beam of light. I could almost see it much the way you catch something out of the corner of your eye. It circled me in the silence of the night. I know animals. I know the woods better than my own home. We have bears, wolves, elk, moose, deer and a varied assortment of small critters around here. This was none of the above. I felt that in my bones.
It didn’t stay long and in the years since, I’ve never felt it again. I don’t go into the mountains anymore, but sometimes, late at night, I watch our backyard. I know it’s still out there. But for what?