A decade back I lived in a quiet, forest surrounded town called pine bluff. I loved it there. Especially since we lived out in the boondocks where it'd take you a good 20 minute drive to reach the center of town. Our little rural homestead was a dirt road off a dirt road surrounded by evergreens. It was absolutely beautiful. The first thing I noticed about the place was it's refreshing smell. Sadly, any smell disappears as you get used to it.
During the summer, my family wanted to go out onto our land and do some camping. We had several acres or so as dad thought he'd be doing quite a bit of hunting after we moved down there. He was wrong.
We ended up camping for a week in a couple of different clearings, passing the days with fishing, stories and board games. It was and still is my favorite family vacation in memory, even after things started getting weird. And creepy.
Now, our family of five couldn't all fit in one tent (we didn't have very large ones), so my mom and sisters shared one and my dad and I took the other. A few days in, during the middle of the night, I was so close to falling asleep until I heard footsteps. I could hear the feet or paws of some forest critter skulking about our dark, quiet camp in the clearing. It wasn't too surprising - I'm sure we left many crumbs and scraps from the messy smores we had eaten. But that doesn't mean it wasn't spooky.
I tried to play Sherlock Holmes laying there in the tent in the dark, trying to figure out what kind of animal was outside based only on the sound of its footsteps. They were a bit heavy and spaced sporadically, more like a cautious person rather than a curious creature. Slowly but surely, the hairs on the back of my neck stood on end as I began to suspect that we weren't the only people out here. On our property.
Then came the moaning. It sounded like a frail, old woman crying. Like seriously crying as if she had lost the thing she loved most. Worst of all, it came from right outside the nylon tent, a few feet from where my head rested.
Have you ever been so sad or maybe terrified that tears started to flow down your face without you ever sobbing? That was me, laying there under my blanket, listening to the most frightening presence I had ever experienced.
Slowly, I turned toward my sleeping dad. But he wasn't asleep at all. He was looking at me with a finger over his mouth, shushing me silently. His eyes were wide and aware. What scared me most was the fact that my father seemed as scared as I was.
I don't know why we sat still there when some possibly dangerous stranger roamed around our camp. Our family could've been in danger, but maybe we were all too scared to confront whatever was outside our tents.
The moaning got louder, and I saw the faint shadow of five fingers, a hand, appear on the nylon of the tent just above my head. The fingers appeared thing and boney. Better yet, they twitched about as if the person couldn't keep their nerves in check.
Then, all at once, both boney hands came down on the tent as this woman began clawing in at us. That's when my dad jumped up, grabbed his torch light and ran outside. Curious and scared, I ran with him, if not just to get away from the scratching woman.
Outside, I heard to thing running towards the woods. In a nick of time my father shown the flashlight in its direction, and sure enough we both caught sight of something that will forever be burned into our minds.
It was a pale, sagging figure if a thin person. It was definitely a woman. She was naked, with dirty gray hair and bones protruding from her skin like she hadn't eaten in weeks. Her fingers ended in nails that curled around themselves as they hadn't been cut for so long. Despite being thin, she had a tiny, pot belly like you'd see on a child.
The worst part was the fact that, before she disappeared into the woods, she glanced back at us, eyes turning yellow in the glare of the torch light.
Needless to say, we didn't pursue the strange, bestial woman.
Immediately my dad ran over to check on the girls, all of whom were wide eyed and huddled together. They had heard the wailing woman as well.
There were two more days of vacation left, and lucky me, dad wanted to finish the vacation in spite of the witch woman because, in his own words, this would be the only full vacation he'd have in a year.
His choice to not call it quits is the reason why the story didn't end there. Because the next two night I didn't sleep. It was difficult to sleep when the sound of a crying woman echoed from the nearby treeline. Both of those nights, I made sure my dad was awake with me. After the first night, he had gotten his gun from the truck and kept it near him in the tent. It didn't make me feel any safer.
I don't know what we encountered that vacation week. It was terrifying to say the least. The sight of that strange, haunting ghost of a woman is something I can never forget. My family has given a name to this woman who has caused us endless nightmares since.
She is the Witch of Pine Bluff, and you'd better hope you have more than a thin layer of tent protecting you the next time you go camping.