My family has been going on vacation to Colorado for a long while. We love it there, enough to have recently purchased land with plans of building a nice vacation home. Every year is much the same, the same rental cabin, the same forests and towns, and the same people. This year was different, and I have been hesitant to show my face from the confines of our cabin ever since.
Every year we stayed around Boulder, which is a beautiful area, It has great food in the city and beautiful mountain biking trails in the surrounding forests. That year we stayed in Denver, which is equally, if not more, beautiful. The bright lights in the square will always be one of my fondest memories from my childhood. But the vibrant lights aren’t the reason I remember that year in particular.
That year we decided to go to a local national forest, Arapaho if I remember correctly. I might add that this was right after my sixteenth birthday, and I had already received my license, which somehow equaled that I should be the one to drive my mom’s tank of a car through the rocky passes and crowded tunnels of the park.
We headed off to the park early that morning, 7:00 if I remember correctly, stopping first in the city to get some breakfast. I don’t recall much of the ride there since my body hadn’t yet adjusted to the time zone and decided to sleep the entire way there. When we got there, though, my dad woke me up and put me behind the wheel. The ride through the park was very nice, with my sleepy stupor shocking me enough to let me enjoy the scenery despite my death grip on the steering wheel.
After several hours we ended up at a coffee shop that marked the entrance of some mountain biking trails. When we got there, after many stipulations, my mom and sister finally agreed to stay at the shop while myself, dad, and brother went on one of the easier trails. We changed into our ridiculous biking getups in the bathroom of the shop and took our bikes to the trailhead. We started on a green at first, it had to be an easy one because it was my brother’s first time, but he soon became more confident and we moved on to a blue, which was significantly more difficult than the one we had been on.
After a short ride on the blue, we stopped for a water break. While we sat there on a nearby bench, we saw a father walking his bike past, his son who was obviously injured, was leaning on his shoulder, shuffling awkwardly beside his father down the path. My father confronted the man about what had happened, nodding silently when he was hesitantly told that the boy had slipped off a ridge and tumbled into a dried river bed with rocks at the bottom.
Now, this is where the story starts to get pretty weird, and I'll tell it as best I can since the pure trauma of the moment locked that ride away to the darkest confines of my mind. I can quite clearly remember riding up the side of a ravine and spotting the abandoned bike of the kid that passed us with his father a way back on the trail. I slowed to a halt when we neared the bike, petrified. It was not the fact that the bike was abandoned that struck fear into me, but the four long gashes running down the side of the frame and into the tire. They were ragged cuts, chipping away the paint and leaving scraps of rubber left clinging to the frame of the tire.
Now, I wish that this was the end of the story, I could have gone back to the car and driven away from the forest forever, but it's not. On the way back up the trail, we encountered animal prints that hadn't been there before. These prints made deep indentations into the ground, splitting off into four clawed toes at the end. I had stopped and was reaching down to touch the strange tracks when I heard a croak coming from the forest behind me. I whipped around my head to face the origins of the sound, peering into the forest, ready to pedal away as fast as humanly possible at any moment. Slowly a bear-like creature lumbered into view. It was huge, with glistening black fur, huge serrated claws, and beastly eyes. But the worst part was it’s face. It looked as if it had spent the night in acid, ragged chunks of flesh hanging from its jaw, dripping with saliva and what looked like blood. I even think that I could see bone beneath it. I got out of there as fast as I could, and spent the rest of the trip in a state of timidity, refusing to leave my room in the corner of the cabin.
To this day I still don’t know what I saw, but it haunts my nightmares. I’ll be going home soon, returning from college; my family will be going on a summer trip to the cabin in Colorado, and I have a feeling that the encounter with the beast I mentioned will not be my last.
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