Hiram Abiff Hiram
This story took place in the summer of the year 2000. My family moved into a rural area that that just starting to sprout developments. We lived among a few horse farms and ranches that bordered a brand new gated community. The back wall of it ran along the front of ours and our neighbors property. So it was an odd mix of country folk and urbanites.

Two properties over, a park had been built with a playground, hockey rink, picnic shelters, restrooms, and a quarter mile of paved jogging path that wound through the treeline of a dense stand of woods that ran along the back border of the park. There was a massive field between the playground and treeline were we could run around. There was also a gate built into the back wall of the subdivision that would allow those kids to come play play at the park.

Things were always a little spooky around there. The farms and ranches had been there since the 18th and 19th centuries, and it was an active area during the Seminole Wars in Florida. You'd see things in the treeline sometimes, or you'd feel something otherworldly pressing on your consciousness, even during the day, if you wandered too deep into the woods.

The real troubles didn't start until the grave was found. One of the local boys that lived up the dirt road from us had wandered deep into the woods behind the park and came to an old barbed wire fence. He jumped it and found the ruins of a barn hidden in a tree ringed clearing that had nearly been swallowed by undergrowth. It was there that the grave of a lost settler was found. The man had sent his family to a nearby fort when the threat of Seminole raiding parties loomed. He and the other men fought back, but were slaughtered. The men who buried him were killed, so the location of his grave marker was lost for over 100 years. The finding of the grave was a big enough deal to make the local papers, with a photo of the headstone and the boy who found it published on the front pages. It was not long before the grave was desecrated local vandals and things.... escalated.

First came the snakes. We went from seeing a couple of black racers and rat snakes a year, to half a dozen venomous cottonmouths in a month. Then the crows came, screaming every morning from their murders, high up in the tress or on the power lines. It was not just them animals, the entire mood of the area seemed to shift. An early chill came in September, and we started having heavy mist almost every night and morning that would blanket everything. The mist would hang onto the treeline as the sun burned it away, lasting nearly till noon, obscuring the woods within its embrace. Sometimes, I would see things moving in the mist, usually the silhouette of a large doglike thing. In my 11 year old mind, it was large enough to be a wolf. It would steal from tree to tree, its large head low to the ground as though sniffing for a scent.

Weeks passed and the foreboding grew. It got to a point where kids stopped playing at the park altogether. My cousins and their family lived with us at the time. We had a double wide trailer being placed on the back of our acreage for them, and they were living in the main house until it was done being hooked up to power, water, and septic. One night, the eldest cousin who shared a room with my older brother got fed up with my brother staying up late to play his new PS1, so he decided to go sleep in the trailer. They were pretty much moved in, but there was still no power or water hooked up. He gathered his pillows and blankets and made the trip through the darkness to the back of the acre. He was startled by a black cat that darted from under one our sheds and ran across his path. He was spooked, but decided to keep going.

He made it to the trailer and locked it behind him, then made his way to what would be his shared room. He climbed into the top bunk and settled in. A few minutes later, he heard slow and heavy footsteps heading towards his room at the end of the trailer. As they neared, he pulled his blanket over his head and was peeking from under it. He said he could see the top of the door to the room, it swung open and he said he could feel something lean into the room. After a minute or two, the presence left and he eventually fell asleep.

A few weeks later, my parents had some church friends over for a coffee and cake. Two girls came with them, and they really wanted to go play manhunt at the park. I did not want to go, but was overruled by the older kids and off we went with flashlights. I was uneasy at first, but we made the woods out of bounds and that made me feel a bit better. We played a few rounds and I began having a lot of fun, and moon was out full and bright.

The final round, I was hiding under a picnic table, facing the expansive field and treeline. I glanced around and saw a dark mass crouched on the jogging path right were it entered a small stand of pine trees. The mist was already settling in, so it was obscured. I continued to stare at it when it stood up. I dont know if it was the fear, but as I remember it, it was nearly half as tall as the pine trees it stood among, which at the time would be nearly 7 feet tall.

I jumped as one of the girls screamed from nearby. My brother and cousins came running to see what happened, but it turned out she had just been tagged and was being dramatic. I looked back to the treeline just in time to see the tall thing enter the woods. I told them about what I saw, and they dismissed it as one of the people from the neighborhood.

We decided to end the round and sat down in the field next to the hockey rink, which was fenced in with a tall chain link fence to keep errant pucks or balls from injuring non player. We sat in a semi circle with our back to the woods, my older cousin faced us and began telling ghost stories (the one I mentioned earlier in the trailer). Half way through the story, he feezes and stares over our heads, then jumps up and takes off without word. We all look back and see a 7 foot tall shadow man coming towards us, out of the mist enshrouded woods. I say shadow, because it was close enough that we would have been able to make out facial features and clothing if it were a person. There were no features, it was just black, tall, and menacing.

We all got up and sprinted after my cousin into the hockey rink. We formed a circle with our backs to one another and all stared into the growing mist, the shadow thing gone. One of the girls was sobbing, while the rest of us panted in fear. We were there for maybe ten minutes before any of us could muster the will to move or speak, and we realized we left the flashlights in the middle of the field. We decided to stay in a circle and walk the quarter mile back to our house that way. 

We made it halfway through the park when one of the girls broke the circle and ran. We all screamed and did the same, sprinting down the dirt road until we made it back to the house, where we told our parents what happened. The three dads went back to the park, armed and cautious, thinking it was an older kid or adult from the community playing a prank on us 11-14 year olds. They came back maybe 45 minutes later with the flashlights and puzzled looks on their faces. They had not found anyone, but all five flashlights were dead.

We moved to a different city not long after, but that shadow has stayed in my memory and dreams for the last 22 years. I dont know if it was the spirit of the murdered settler, or one of the Seminole that had died there too. All I know is that it was not a person.

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