The Journal | By: John Christopher Cook | | Category: Short Story - Dark Bookmark and Share

The Journal

The Journal


If you could ever imagine a world so lost and hidden beneath darkness, then imagine this place. A world covered in forests and mountain ranges hidden away within a blanket of mist and moonlight. A place where the wind blows harshly and the trees dance beneath the moonlight to the cries of hungry creatures that lurk behind every turn of the path. The twisted and dark paths seem as if they are the roads to doom as the clouds overhead travel past at such indescribable speeds. Constantly you would have to look over your shoulders to be aware of danger and run for every inch of your life. In this world it is not wise to defend yourself for most fail. It is in these woods and this twisting cobblestone path that we meet a young man. This man is but a humble farmer who has ventured out in search of an evening meal. He has traveled miles by foot and tries to stay to the path. He has grown very weary and stops to rest. As he sits down against a tree and lifts his jug of wine to his lips he hears a rumbling in the branches. Not the type of rumbling a bird would make, but a much more terrifying sound. He rises to his feet and starts off again faster than before. As the sound encircles him, he finds himself twisting and turning around in circles to see what is hunting him. He sees nothing, only mist and branches dancing in the wind. Suddenly the noises cease and he wipes the sweat from his brow. When he comes to senses he looks at the path only to discover that it is no longer there. Somehow in this fear he had ran off in an odd direction. The moon was now hidden behind hazy black clouds and there was no way to know which way was home. His hands were trembling in fear as he noticed a little hut standing in a dark thicket close to a dying stream. As he slowly and carefully approached this place within the mist he noticed that it was made of broken twigs and branches. There was no light peeking from the cracks and crevices only the sound of crows cawing in the branches above. After a moment of petrified horror he collected himself and continued towards the beaten and battered door. As he knocked on the door he felt pain on his knuckles. He covered his mouth and shouted out with pain under his own breath. His hands dripped with blood as the door was covered with thick vines with thorns. It is only then that he leaned against the door and crept inside. This, my friends is where our story truly begins.
Before his first step touches the dust-covered floor, he feels an amazing coldness that crept into his skin and struck deep in the heart. Then a loud shriek came from across the dust filled room. He held his hands to his ears to contain the pain and fell to his knees. As he looked up in terror he saw a gruesome decaying body hunched over on a table covered with over-flown candle wax. An old woman's body looks as if it has been sitting there for years and is covered with parasites and cobwebs. The hardened wax is blood red and covers the entire table along with the woman's fingertips. Under her fingers is a hardbound journal that looks to be made out of human skin. It seems to be written in strange black ink that has crusted up and chipped off. He soon realizes that it is the dried blood of the woman that wrote this journal. What kind of evil madness could have over came this woman to cause her to write with the blood from a wound of her own arm? Slowly, with the journal in his hand, he backs away from the table and looks around the room. In the darkness he sees the disgusting half-eaten crows hanging from their claws from the ceiling. Their heads have been bitten off and the wings are hanging only by broken bones. The bones have been gnawed on and the flesh and feathers have been ripped apart. The man stumbles backwards and falls towards the door that suddenly shuts tightly in front of him. The wind begins to blow and the sounds of hanging bones begin to sound like wicked wind chimes. The floor is covered with decaying flesh from rats and crow bones are scattered every where. The wind chills his soul and his blood crawled through his veins like parasites under his skin. The window shutters are blown off the hinges and lost in the forest as he sees shadows between the walls of twigs and branches. They are surrounding him with dimly lit torches and the cries of hungry wolves. He suddenly feels a chill down his spine and turns around ever so quickly only to see a hooded figure looking into the broken window. It is standing still as a tree and gazing right through him. He could not see a face, but caught a glimpse of bone as it turned towards the moonlight. He jumped to his feet and the shadow did not move. The wolves were howling louder now and clawing at the walls. The little hut was almost shaken apart as they backed off and retreated into the forest. The man blinked and the hooded figure was no longer there. He then lowered his head and fainted with his face falling flush against the bloody floor. It was only moments later that he awoke and fled for his very soul back into the depths of the forest. As he flew through the woods he realized that he was still holding the journal in his hands, he was clutching it out of fear.


Years later the man had grown older and a bit wiser when it came to traveling through the forest. He lived with his two children and his precious wife. His daughter was very quiet and ever so beautiful as she was still a child. His son was coming of age but still a boy. The boy had learned so much from his father about hunting and how to be a good man. His loving wife was the loveliest woman alive in the eyes of many. They were a happy family that was surviving miles away from the nearest village. Their home was a tiny hut that was built in a grassy clearing deep in the heart of the woods. Not many travelers had ever come across them, for the journey there was almost forbidden. It was just too dangerous to travel during the night in the forest. The howling of wolves was their only company in the darkness.
It came upon an afternoon that the boy and his father were chopping wood for the feast they were planning that night. The boy had killed a deer on his first hunt. To this family, it was a very joyful occasion. His sister was inside playing with her wooden toys and his mother had left that morning in search of something special for him. As his father sweated at each swing of the sharp axe, the boy looked around for more wood to cut. There wasn't any in sight, so the boy began to walk out into the woods. His father yelled in the background " Son don't stray too far, and stay near the house!" The boy yelled back sarcastically " Dad, I'm a man now, I can handle myself!" He knew where there was a giant tree and it wouldn't take long to get there as he often played there with his sister. The boy tried to remember the twisted path to the tree. He drifted further and further into the dark thickets and came across the tree he had remembered. He felt cold at the very sight that stood before him. There was something strange about the tree. It was split in half from lightening and there were ropes tied around it. As he crept closer to the tree he could smell something terrible and the ropes seemed to be soaked in human blood. He swatted at the flies and knats only to reveal a human body that was bound on the other side. He covered his nose from the horrific stench and dropped to his knees. He screamed as loud as he could, but he was too far for his father to hear him. It was time to be the man he thought he had become. He touched the head of the person that was dripping with blood to see who it was. He could not recognize the face as it was torn completely off leaving wet muscle and bone exposed. He stepped back from the body and through his tears of fear looked over the entire body. There were bits of flesh ripped off and thrown about on the ground. The guts had been sliced through and were dangling low to the ground. With every turn of his head he saw blood everywhere. It was on the trees all around him and on the leaves that were lying on the ground. The sun was slowly setting and the wind grew colder and harsher. Suddenly he noticed something nearby in a puddle of blood and flesh. Black berries were floating in the dark pool of blood. He knelt over to pick up a shiny metal necklace. As he wiped the blood away he realized who's it was. It was his own mother's that his father gave to her long ago. She had ventured out that morning in search of berries for her pie that she was planning to bake for him. He screamed in terror as he began to hear the most terrifying noise he had ever heard. It was a dark wicked laughter coming from the trees around him. It was growing louder and louder as complete darkness took over the forest. A dark coldness ran down his spine and went right through his soul. He felt like ghosts were flying in and out of his body. He was frozen in complete terror. The woods were dark and the insane laughter was closing in on him. He covered his ears and started running home as fast as his feet could move. He was running out of breath quickly and was too scared to scream now. He hurled himself through thorns and vines running faster and faster. He could see the branches moving all around him and the laughter was right behind him. He could feel warm breath on the back of his neck and the sound of horse's hooves pounding on his heels. Suddenly, the clouds broke and rain began to fall. He could feel the wind from an axe slicing the air behind him. He looked ahead and through the darkness he could see a clearing, it was home. The boy only ran faster and faster, never realizing that the thorns had sliced him all over his body and he was covered in blood and vines. As he fell onto the clearing the noise behind him stopped, but the laughter did not. The wicked laugh began to multiply and the boy realized that dark hooded creatures surrounded him. With all of his might he cried out in terror " Father help me!" There was no answer. The boy fell to his knees and looked up through the mist only to his sister nailed to the front door. Her white night gown was drenched in blood. Her blood was dripping from her toes onto the entrance of the once happy home. He screamed and screamed but his father never came to his rescue. He cried out up to the heavens in terror " Father, where are you?" A stiffness came over his body as he watched dark hooded figures come out of the dark woods on horses. They had surrounded the clearing and had wolves bound in chains latched to their saddles. The boy could do nothing but watch the wolves drool over the blood that covered his entire body. They clawed and scrapped at the ground trying to get to him to rip him apart and eat his flesh. He could see crows flying over head and cawing as the wickedly evil laugh pierced his soul. Then the world fell silent within an instant. There was no sound at all as if he had lost his hearing. As he gazed out at the hooded terrors that surrounded him he could feel the wind blowing through his hair. He knew that he was doomed and was going to die. With an evil glare one of figures stepped towards him. He pointed to the blood drenched body of his sister and with the voice of evil said, " You have until dawn to bring us the book!" The boy could only see the shadow of a human skull under the hood and then fell to the ground. As he began to faint, he heard the sound of wolves howling and hooves disappearing back into the woods.


A few moments later the boy awoke in pool of rainwater and blood. He stayed on the muddy ground and tried to clear his head. As he wiped the blood away from his eyes he looked at the house and began to feel extreme pain in his chest. He held himself tightly and tears fell from his eyes. He lowered his head only to raise it and curse the heaven's above. He cried out again for his father, only to hear the caw of the crows in the twisted branches that surrounded him. The rain was washing the blood of his sister towards him and he began to walk on this path of blood to his home. Without looking at his sister he pushed the door open to reveal that the home had been ripped apart. The table had been smashed into pieces and the hay filled beds were torn apart. His mother's pots and pans were tossed around and the fire had been drowned out.
He began to look for any book he could find, not knowing which book the hooded figure had commanded him to find. He sat down near his parent's bed and looked around the room. He knew the night was still young and he had to think hard and remember anything about a book. There were the stories that mother had read to him and his sister each night before bed. There was mother's recipe book. Then he remembered his father long ago reading a strange book. He had crept up on his father reading as a child and his father jumped at his touch on his shoulder. His father was frightened by something in that book. That must be the book they are looking for. The boy knew nothing about the book other than it scared his father half out of his wits. He closed his eyes and pictured his sister playing with her blocks that day. He remembered his father's words " Son, don't stray too far, and stay near the house!" The words echoed in his mind. What if he had stayed close to the family? What if he was there, what would have happened then? It doesn't matter anymore. His family was slaughtered and his father was missing. He knew that his father was murdered and hanging from a tree in the woods somewhere. The boy sat there for a long while trying to remember where his father had placed the book. He remembered that his father a couple of years ago had it in his hand when he went to visit his grandmother. He and his sister were never allowed to travel to that end of the woods, as it was far too dangerous. He realized that he didn't have a choice he would head off in the direction his father would travel to get there and that was all he knew. The boy gathered his father's axe and some bread that had been baked early that morning and began his descent back into the wicked forest.
The boy was still trembling as he started running off through the woods. Jumping over vines and thickets he never stopped to catch his breath. He had no idea what he was looking for, but felt the presence of the dark figures all around him. His fear began to take him over and all he did was run without thinking. He could still hear that wicked laughter only it was very faint and hidden in the mist. The rain was still falling and seemed to hurt more and more as the drops touched his skin. His wounds were still dripping with blood and he was growing weary. He had never been so deep in the woods before on his own, but was determined to find this hidden home in the catacombs of the darkness. He could hear the wolves begin to howl again as the full moon came out from behind the clouds. He knew that they were close and would kill him any moment if they wanted to take his soul back to hell with them. He thought of how proud his father was of him and continued on. Suddenly, he came across a ditch within a row of trees of in the distance. The roots of trees had taken it over and it seemed as if a stream was once there. This place was terrifying and the sounds of the wolves were growing closer and closer. He climbed through the roots of the giant trees and saw a hut that had fallen apart. It was barely standing and covered in vines. As he approached he heard the gallop of the hooded figures come into the clearing. He stood there in fear as he watched them come from the depths of the forest once again. The only stood and gazed at him like hungry vultures. Their wolves snarled and snorted as they tried to break free from the chains that bound them. He quickly pushed the door of the hut open and jumped inside. He closed the door quickly behind him and peered through the crevices of the door at the shadows that awaited him. He turned around and looked around the little hut. He saw the bones of crows hanging around the room and a decayed carcass of a human leaning over a cobweb covered table. He crept over to it and noticed a feather pen lying on the table. He looked around for the book, but didn't see it. He heard the wickedly evil laughter again and began to tremble in fear. It grew louder and louder and within a moment there was a knocking at the door. With a loud and evil tone the words " Open up this door in the name of Satan" rang out.


The boy turned back to the table quickly and fell to the floor. As he looked up he noticed a book on the floor drenched in blood. He crawled over to it quickly, grabbed it and backed into one of the corners of the rooms behind a rocking chair. The voice outside was growing louder and louder and more ferocious with every breath. He opened the book and began to read the words scribed in blood.

I am writing this journal to tell a story. This is a tale of madness and deceit that has rendered me helpless in my evil confinement. This is a story of my son. As I raised my son deep in these woods I recognized an evil personality. There is an evil wickedness that thrives in him and has broken away out of my control. As a child he had a secret invisible friend. Throughout the day, he spent countless hours listening to his friend and doing what it told him to do. It started out as simple pranks and the humor of a child. It began innocent and now has turned to pure evil and his dark friend has taken him over. My son has Satan in him! He has confined me to my own home and performed evil experiments with me. It was only one night ago that he severed my foot so that I wouldn't run away. He then ate it in front of me and offered me a taste. I am writing to whoever finds this book and pray for forgiveness from the Lord above. I am sorry for bringing this creature into this world and I feel sorry for his new wife. His madness is split in two. I grow weaker each day and do not have the strength to warn her. His shadows haunt him, and he haunts me. I pray that he never come home again.

The rest was covered in blood and could not be read. The boy dropped the book on the floor as the door to the hut was smashed through with an axe. The boy grabbed his axe and rose to his feet. He stood face to face with the dark figure. It walked slowly around the room and stopped and starred right through the boy.
A voice of evil rang out the words " Boy, give me the book!" The boy wielded his axe and shouted out in pure fear " You killed my family over this book!" The figure took a couple of steps closer to the boy and stopped again. The boy was petrified with fear; the figure was huge and shrouded in black. The hooded figure turned to the body of the woman at the table and started to laugh. That laugh which haunted the boy all night. Then the demon turned to him again and slowly removed a mask. It was then that the boy's heart nearly dropped out of his soul. The figure starring back at him was sinister yes, but it was his own father. The evil man spoke once again " I'm proud of you son, you have discovered my lord and master Satan!" and then whispered " You deserve to walk with him in the kingdom of hell!" The boy fell to his knees and cried out " Why Father, Why?" His father walked around him and laughed and poked at him with his axe. " Boy, I was once proud of you, but like my mother you failed me. Your mother and sister were but mere sacrifices for your new birth into darkness. For years I was haunted by a hooded figure with a face of human skeleton. I soon realized that my Lord was showing me the way to darkness and it felt divine. I wanted so much to raise my son to stand by my side. We no longer need the others, only Satan and his wisdom." The boys' blood began to boil with anger and he rose to his feet. His father dropped to his knees and said " That's it boy, let him in and send me on my way to hell!" The boy didn't hesitate; and with one swift blow he severed his father's head and dropped the axe. He turned and walked away from the little hut out into the misty darkness of the cold forest. He looked up to the blood red moon and the evil horsemen reared their horses and raised their axes to him. " Hail to our new lord, Hail to the Prince of Darkness!" The boy began to laugh as the chants continued. He laughed louder and louder!

These woods are filled with nightmarish stories of evil my friends, but it's just too bad that this story is not over. It is only the beginning.

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