For a little backstory, Daniel was my childhood’s best friend from my neighborhood and he lived in the building next to mine in the year 1993 if I remember correctly, but we all called him Dan for short, this is his story and he swears it’s totally true.

Since Dan was 8 or 9 years old, his mother, his stepfather and him moved to a small neighborhood in a city in South America, which is located in a valley and is surrounded by a big mountain on all sides. The neighborhood was on the east side of the city on a dead-end street of a closed neighborhood, but there were a lot of green areas all around it, such as small hills with big and small trees, plants, flowers, grass, two parks and a sports court.

When Dan and his family moved to the neighborhood, he was very happy because when they were getting there in his mom’s car, he could see a lot of places where he could play in, so as a kid that was very exciting for him.

Even though the hills, woods and plants that surrounded Dan’s new neighborhood looked really nice during the day and while the sun was up, they looked very dark and creepy at night and he thought they were really scary, he felt an ominous presence from those woods at night. At that age, Dan was afraid of many things (the dark, the woods, wolves, black dogs and cats, spiders, sharks, you name it) just like me and this was because he was a total mama’s boy at 5 years old and for most of his life.

When Dan and I met for the first time, we were both playing in the park while our babysitters were watching us, and talking to each other, we immediately bonded and became friends because we had a lot of things in common, we started talking about our favorite TV shows and movies, such as Star Wars, Dragon Ball Z, the X-men cartoons and Ninja Turtles, among many others.

So, we used to play by pretending we were superheroes or some other cartoon character while running around, using the merry go round, the slides, the swings and funny enough we both had plastic lightsabers, so we fought as if we were Jedis or Ninja Turtles, but we never stayed in the park once the sun went down either because our sitters did not let us or we were scared of the woods around it.

However, Dan was not my only friend in the neighborhood, I introduced him to my other friends who lived in my building, other buildings and houses, their names were the following: Eliza, Diego, JP, Mike, Laura and Gerard (all of us were around the same age), and we all became great friends as the months went by because almost every afternoon we played sports, played in the park, trick or treated, had water balloon fights, played Nintendo together, climbed the hills and woods behind our buildings during the day and did everything together. The neighborhood kids liked to joke around by saying that the woods behind the buildings were haunted.

At that time, we played hide and seek or cops and robbers, so we ran around the street until 7 pm because that was our curfew and we had to do our boring homework, but Dan and I went to bed late at night in secret while we talked quietly on the phone. That night, it was like 9 or 10 pm I think, and Dan asked me the following:

- Did you watch X-men today? -

- Yeah dude, of course! I wouldn’t miss it for the world, did you see the fight against Apocalypse and the Four horsemen? -

- Yeah dude! That fight was awesome, I loved it! But talking about something else, have you heard some creepy noises behind your building at night? -

- No bro, I’m a deep sleeper, so I usually black out everything around me. -

- Wow! I wish I were that lucky, I usually can hear footsteps in those woods at night, and I also sleepwalk sometimes! Well, I think it’s time for me to go to sleep, see you tomorrow and take care bro! -

- Sure thing, man! Talk tomorrow and take care too! -

Dan hanged up his favorite hamburger shaped phone, sat down in bed, grabbed an old fantasy book about dragons that was on his nightstand and started reading until he began to close his eyes and doze off, he fell into a deep slumber, he was now dreaming (or so he thought).

In his dream, Dan could hear the crickets in the forest, but was woken up by some strange steps walking around the forest and the leaves crunching beneath him or it, as if some person or animal was walking in the woods, there a lot of cats in our neighborhood, so he thought it was one of those cats, a possum or maybe an owl. All of a sudden, he heard a low whisper that beckoned him and said: “Daniel, it’s Professor X, the X-men need your help, come to the woods and help us!”.

This strange, but yet familiar voice was very similar to the Professor’s voice from his favorite cartoon and it sounded like it was right outside his window, since he was a naïve and innocent child, he decided to get out of bed, put on his jacket and boots, took his glasses, got out of his apartment and went to the ground floor. Once he was on the ground floor, he walked to his building’s parking lot, he felt a little cold, so he rubbed his shoulders with his hands, the voice kept calling out to him: “Help the X-men, Dan!”

Somehow, he felt extremely attracted to this voice like a metal to a magnet because he could not get it out of his head, he took a small leap to get on top of a small hill, he felt very scared, but kept walking into the dark and creepy woods, while he was walking, he heard other footsteps and leaves crunching besides his, he felt like these steps were approaching his position.

In that moment, he stopped walking so he could hear the steps more clearly, since he thought it was some crazy person or animal that was insane enough to walk in the woods in the middle of the night, there a lot of cats in our neighborhood, so Dan thought it was one of those cats, maybe a possum or an owl, but then he heard a noise that sounded like a ROAR! He thought it sounded very similar to the sounds the dinosaurs made in that movie “Jurassic Park” he had seen in the theater a few weeks before, and the fast steps from somebody or something running in his direction.

Suddenly, Dan broke out of his trance, he looked around and his little kid’s mind felt so terrified that he passed out and fortunately when he fell to the ground, his body was positioned between a tall tree and a large boulder, so he barely heard how this “trickster creature” ran next to him, circled his location while it smelled the air in order to get his scent, but he guessed it decided to leave.

Dan assumed he had passed out for several hours because he was woken up by the sound of a woodpecker, cicadas and birds that were on a nearby tree, the heat and glare from the sun on his face, he rubbed his eyes, opened them, looked all around him and he was in shock and felt horrified when he looked at his Spider-man watch and saw it was 6 am, he had woken up in the middle of the forest! He thought he was going to wake up in his bed because he was dreaming, but he had sleepwalked inside the forest, in order to follow that beckoning voice.

He saw how his clothes were full of fallen leaves, so Dan quickly stood up, brushed the leaves from his arms and legs and ran away from that creepy forest, which looked normal during the day. He climbed down the forest until he got to his parking lot, he ran to his building’s door, opened it, ran into the elevator, he saw himself in the mirror and could not believe what had happened to him.

Dan got to his apartment’s door, he opened the door silently, tiptoed inside his apartment’s hallway and saw that thankfully his mother had not woken up yet, since she would never believe what had happened, so he went to bed and stared at the ceiling, trying to process what had occurred last night, now he completely believed his parents when they told him not to talk or listen to strangers, especially if they are in the middle of a dark and creepy forest.

So, Dan had so many questions and thought to himself: - How did this creature imitate Professor X’s voice? How did it know I would listen to it? How did it know I loved the X-men cartoon? –

Maybe he would never find out or maybe he would, who knows?

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