Don't Follow | By: Ben Branham | | Category: Short Story - Horror Bookmark and Share

Don't Follow

Don't Follow

Written by: Benjamin J. Branham ©2001-2010

In the hills of Kentucky there are many places uncharted and unknown. This story will tell of three men that found such a place. A place they were not expecting to find. A place that they would never forget. A forgotten place where evil sleeps.

It was the beginning of fall and the leaves were starting to turn the colors of a dead season. A group of friends were making plans to go on a small hiking trip; into the surrounding foots hills of small town Appalachia. They got up early in the morning to prepare their selves, by packing what they needed and then drove to a place they had already chosen earlier that week. Ted Gillian, Billy Gillian, and Roy Menix were three relatively normal men. Ted, a large dark-haired fellow. He had piercing green eyes and a very straight forward manner. Rarely did he give in or back down from an argument or a fight. He was always called a woodsman by those who knew him. Ted had very good knowledge of survival in the wilderness. Among other things he was also a writer. Ted loved the mountains and had taken in every part of the forest & foothills that rose above the small rural town he called home. He knew this place like the back of his hand. Billy is Ted’s uncle. He’s a small wiry man with shabbily cut hair and always wore a trimmed goatee. He also had a working knowledge of survival on the streets, the wilderness, in life itself. He’s a young man, younger than Ted, but looked much older than him. Often his temper got the better of him, mostly at the least opportune moments.
Roy was a friend of both Ted’s and Billy’s; He had lived out west most of his life, but made a good hillbilly, none the less. Roy was a jack of all trades, and a salesman. But sometimes he had a hard time committing to a task wholeheartedly. Roy was hefty and tall; he was also Mexican, but didn’t look it. One of his eyes was blind. Billy always made fun of him for it because it stayed cockeyed all the time; It strangely made him seem as though, he was looking at you when he probably wasn’t. Roy would sometimes back out of curtain situations or find good reason why we should not get involved. He often kept the peace and was a great friend to have along on such an excursion.

They arrived and began their journey into a place they liked to call “Spaghetti Hill.” They called it that because of all of the old dirt roads that intersected one another. If you didn’t know those roads, you would end up right back where you started. It was a hike of a couple of miles or so and the trail was worn and over grown from years of neglect. Ted and his party were in high spirits walking along enjoying the sounds of the woods and nature. They came to a place where the ground seemed level and setup their camp. Afterward the three went off in search of fire wood.

Ted, and Billy grew up together like brothers instead of a nephew and uncle. They each had their own idea’s about life and survival, but always helped one another out. Roy was a man who said little unless you were alone with him. Sometimes he would let go and tell you what was on his mind. But that sort of thing was rare and looked forward too. They gathered as much dry and fallen wood as they could carry then headed back to camp. Each of them dug in, helped to start the fire, then settled in for the night.
The three began talking; Billy says “Boy’s I didn’t forget ya, I figured we would get bored out here. So I brought us a little herb to help us sleep. I hope you all appreciate me for it. Has either one of you got a paper?” Billy says "yes!". Ted rolled the joint , lit it and they all sat back thinking and talking into the night.

Roy was feeling good that night and started talking up a storm. He says “You know the government is pulling one over on us. I tell you!” He inhaled the smoke and held it in for a bit, coughed and said “You know when it’s thundering and lightening out?
I think it’s the government playing tricks on us, don’t you? I just can’t figure out why they would do such a thing!” Bogarting another hit before passing it.
Billy chimes in and says, “Dude you have got to be the most half cocked son of a bitch I have ever met!” It got quiet, then they all laughed.
Ted then says to Billy, “You aren’t the brightest man I have ever met. You remember that time we told you that mining cap wasn't a dud an blew up right by your foot? Well you didn’t listen and came a hair of blowing you goddamn leg off! You lost partial hearing had to go to the hospital. Dumb ass!”
Billy chokes as he starts to talk, ‘”Uh--Yeah, but--” and before Billy gets it out, Roy jumps in and says “Here’s your sign!” Billy was pissed but shrugged it off laughing.
The evening was going well and they had started to get tired about one or two in the morning. Ted told the other two he would stay up and keep the fire going. The others agreed that he should do it and climbed in their tents and then fell asleep.
As the morning went on, an hour or so after Billy and Roy went to sleep; Ted started hearing strange sounds coming from out of the darkness. He got up and moved slowly to the tent and slipped inside. Ted woke the others alerting them to the noise.
Billy wakes up flustered saying “You’re a gutless asshole! Don’t be a chicken shit and go on out there! It’s just an animal or something attracted to the fire, for fuck sakes I want to sleep!”
Ted in a calm but a pissed off voice says “Listen, I know animal noises and this shit is not animal noises! Get your boots on and come listen, fucker!” Roy hearing the commotion gets his boots on and they all head outside. As they stood there, Ted sees something he had not noticed earlier in the day. Over about a thirty or forty feet from where they had camped, was now a graveyard. Ted looked at the others and asked “Did you guys see that cemetery over there when we came up the hill?” The others shook their heads and said “No.”
“This is weird!” They all said out loud. Billy trussed his self up and says, “Look maybe we over looked it or just didn’t think to look.”
“What does it matter, it’s only a graveyard?” Ted agrees thinking nothing of it. It was just a noise..
Roy with a look of terror on his face says “W–w-hat if that graveyard j-j--just sneaked right up on us in the night and wasn’t th-th--there before?”
Billy now more pissed than ever tells Roy in a hateful voice, “You dumb shit! Graveyards don’t just appear out of no where! You should know that stuff!”
Ted with doubt tells Billy, “Stranger things have happened.”
They stood there in the dark as a thick heavy fog started rolling in around the camp site. Billy and Ted look over at Roy who was now white as a sheet. Roy starts whining a little and says “Ff-f--fella’s what’s going on!” They didn’t say anything, they just stood there as if they were frozen in time. All about the same time as Roy uttered those words, a loud piercing, screeching noise came cacophonous out of the black.
Ted yells at the others, “You see I wasn’t lying! I wanna know what that is!”
Billy excitedly says,“ I don’t know! Leave the shit and lets get out of here!” They ran off into the night no flashlights, no protection, no nothing. Each of them slowly came to a halt, rested awhile and by moon light could tell that they were in a small clearing, with an old brick wall and creek running right near it. Billy sounding out of breath, he says “Now that I think about it, I don’t know why I started running in the first place. You guys just spooked me. Let’s give it a while then we will go back.”
Roy in a soft sounding voice almost child like says “They don’t want us to go back. We are all going to die.” He grabs his head and starts running and screaming into the dark foreboding wilderness.

Ted says to billy hastily, “What are we going to do man? We have to get him before he gets himself killed. He's gone mad!”
Billy in a half grin says “We are family why worry about him? He is an ignorant fool. there is nothing to worry about, just trust me. He will be alright by himself when he realizes how much of asshole he is. I think we are jumping to conclusions, it could be nothing.” Ted says “But I wouldn’t leave you out here and damn sure won’t leave another human being out here either!” Ted starts running in the same direction that Roy took off in. Billy not wanting to be left alone yells “Wait you asshole and I will go with you! You said you wouldn't leave anyone behind!”
Billy finally caught up to Ted and they each started yelling out Roy’s name in hopes that he would hear them. But he never answered back. The morning came and the sun rose over the mountains. Ted and Billy had finally given in and had found sleep. They both groaned as the sun hit them on the face waking them from a terrible night. Ted says to his Uncle “I think we should go back to camp. Maybe Roy ended up finding his way there.?”
Billy cackles back by saying “He was scared shitless! He is probably close by somewhere in the woods. Lets go check out camp and get something to eat. After that, then we will go look for him.” Ted agreed and they headed back toward camp to a look into last night's events.
When they reached the camp, everything seemed peaceful, as if nothing had happened and nothing had been touched. Ted says Billy “We were lucky we brought as much food and drink as we did or we would starve out here. We have enough for a few more days at least.” Billy says “That’s all fine and dandy! I wish that dumb wetback hadn’t run off all half cocked like that! I’m starting to wish we hadn’t brought him with us!”
Ted laughs and says “Maybe if you hadn’t yelled so loud you wouldn’t have scared the poor fellow so badly! He probably shit his self he was so scared! Poor guy seemed like the world was over or something!”
Billy laughed and patted Ted on the back, then re-started the fire. After the two of them had eaten, they headed back out into the woods. To them the woods seemed different and changed some how. Neither one of them could figure out what had changed or if anything had changed at all.
They walked what seemed like miles in search of their lost friend. It seemed fruitless, then Ted sees Roy’s jacket laying in a tangle of brush, a long side a trail that forked off in two different directions.
Billy tells Ted, “You go right, I will go left and we will meet back here in 30 minutes. If you find something, just yell.”
Ted agrees and tells his uncle to get something for protection. Billy grabbed his hatchet and a flashlight. Ted hadn’t told the others that he had brought a gun a long. It was a small caliber pistol he had used to shoot ground squirrels from his front porch with. Not knowing what they would find, they split up to continue their search for the half mad and missing Roy.
Ted was walking along when he sees a man walking on the trail way out in front of him. He squinted his eyes to see if he could tell if it was Roy or not. Thinking nothing of it, with the thoughts of finding his friend before evening, he yelled at the person calling out Roy’s name. To his dismay the shadowy figure kept walking along and paid no mind to Ted’s voice. Ted was wondering about this person so he started walking in the same direction. He got as close as he could and began to yell saying “Hey you over there!”
“What are you doing in this place alone like this?”
“Hey, buddy! I am looking for my friend, he took off running in the woods last night and we can’t find him!”
Ted felt hopeless because this person didn’t deviate from his course. He started running until he got a little closer and began to walk behind this man. Ted asked him the same line of questions when all of the sudden the man stops dead in his tracks.

He turns and looks Ted in the eyes, with a cold forlorn stare and says in a quiet gargled and half-whispered voice, “Please don’t follow me.”
Ted was half shocked and startled by the man’s words. he could only stand their looking at him. The man had hollow eyes like pools of black tar and his expression was that of ghostly quiet serenity; he wore faded old bibbed overalls and a dusty flannel shirt, work boots, and carried a small walking stick that was as bent and gnarled as he was.
Ted cleared his throat and said “I-- I- I am sorry sir, I have to go back to my camp and friends. I didn’t mean to bother you.”
The old man turned back onto the path and walked away . Ted turned and did the same. Wondering about the old man Ted turned around one more time and the man was gone. Mean while, Billy was walking along mumbling to himself, when he came across this huge tree. It was hollow all the way through it and had a whole in the trunk big enough for a man to walk into. He quietly admired the size and beauty of this large oak that stood before him. It was growing along the edge of the hill on a steep embankment. He was about to leave when he heard a small noise coming from inside the trunk of the tree. Billy walked up the hill to get closer to the noise; he put his hand to his ear to listen. There was a branch hanging over his head, Billy leaned on it with his other hand for support. The noise was faint but be he could hear it. He leaned in further to get a little closer when the ground began to feel as if it were going to give way.
Billy grabbed the limb and pulled himself up a little with his feet tiptoeing on the edge, saying in a hard breath “Damn I’m lucky! It felt like there was a fault line maybe an old mine underneath me! Whatever it was I am glad I didn’t fall in there!”
Just then the ground gave way and Billy could do nothing but hang onto the limb. It startled him a little, but he laughed to himself. He was just about to let go of the branch, when he looked down into what looked like to him was the fires of hell. He pulled himself up as much as good and started yelling for Ted. The limb started to break which made Billy all the more worried, so he yelled even louder. Ted wasn’t very far away and could hear his uncle yelling. So he forgot about the old man and ran to go find Billy.
Billy starts yelling “Hurry please, please hurry! I’m about to fall!”
Ted ran up the hill and found his uncle pulling on a tiny branch of a small oak tree standing on the ridge above a small depression in the ground.
Ted looked at his uncle laughing “Why were you crying out like that? You almost gave me a heart attack!”
Billy opened his eye’s and looked down in disbelief. He glared at Ted then said “I swear that I was looking at hell itself and hanging from this branch! I think I have lost my mind Ted! To hell with that Mexican! He will have to find his own way out of here! We need to get back to camp, pack and leave.” Ted was hesitant about leaving and said to Billy, “We should still keep on trying! We have got a couple more days of supplies and then if we can’t find him we will go for help. How about that?”
His uncle was a shrewd man and Ted new from experience that when Billy wanted to do something, he would fight to get his way. Ted looked at Billy and said in a hard tone, "Billy you can’t leave a man in the woods to die, and if he is already dead then we need to find his body. I know you better than that.” Billy angry eyes and teeth bared “Why in the hell should I give a hairy rat’s ass about some wetback?”
Ted was getting disgusted and said to Billy with contempt in his voice, ”I know you can be a prick sometimes, but I can’t believe you would be so callus as to let someone die or to not help out a friend.”
Billy dropped his opposition and said “I just don’t know what has gotten into me. I swear I don’t feel like myself being in these woods.” They gathered themselves together and headed back to camp.
On the way back to camp, Ted and Billy talked about the events taking place around them. As they got a little closer to camp, they saw something white in the grave yard. They came a little closer and there they saw what looked like a bed sheet or soft linen cloth flowing in the breeze. They walked to a part of broken fence that surrounded the ancient cemetery.
Billy with a un-humbled expression looks at Ted and says, “I aint crossing the line brother! You can’t make me!”
Ted was a bit hesitant, but stepped in, to get a better look at the cloth hanging there. As he got a little close he sees Roy laying on the ground. To Ted he looked like he was a sleep. Ted stepped a little closer then using his foot, he nudged Roy on the shoulder. Roy didn’t move.
He walked around to other side of Roy and saw a note written on something that looked like leather. It said “With eyes of dark and pain so hollow. Where I go, PLEASE DON’T FOLLOW!”
Ted and Billy were freaked out when they looked down and saw Roy’s feet were missing. Ted reached down and raised Roy’s head, his eyes had been sucked out of the socket. The two men carried their fallen friend out of the grave yard and wrapped him in the white vale.
They had just completed the task when Billy says ”Ted, we have got to make that hike down to the car if we want to get out of here alive.” Ted replies by saying, “I am going to find that old man. I know he knows something. We are going to go back down that trail I was on and find out what happened to Roy. We aren’t leaving till then.”

Billy spurts out, “Are you losing your mind too? We have to get some help! There might be a lunatic out there ready to take our eyes and cut off our feet too. Come on Teddy we have known each other since we were babies? Let’s get out of here and get the police to come up here and check everything out.” Billy put his arm around his nephew and said “We have always watched out for each other, I’m not going to let anything happen to you, and I trust that you wouldn’t let anything happen to me.
We need to get some help. ”
Ted got his wits about him and started helping to get as much as they could carry and head to the car. It was a great distance down the hill, night was falling and after what had taken place Ted and Billy were shaken badly. Billy put a load on his back and said “Look Ted if anything happens and I don’t make it. You keep running till you get to that car. ”
Ted says, “Look if we stay together and take the same way as we came in we should be all right.” He put his load on his back and off they went back down the mountain. The sun was setting just as they got within a mile of the car and their hopes for getting help seemed even better. Night began to fall as the reached the car. “Billy-boy, have you got the keys? ” Ted says to Billy. Billy patted his-self and told Ted ,“NO!”
Ted screamed, “Damn it! Roy drove and this is his car. What in the hell are we going to do?”
Billy smiled and said “I know, let me at that steering column.” Billy got in the car, pulled the ignition out and started the car. Ted laughed as the two, drove off into the night. After they got a little ways out Ted looked back and could see a light in the woods. He didn’t want to think of it, or what it might be, so he didn’t tell Billy. They got back into town and went to the police. Billy and Ted told them the story about their friend and what had happened and how strange everything was.
The police officer just laughed and said “You know how many youngin’s go up in those mountains and come down and said they seen crazy men and ghosts?”
Ted looked at him crossed and said “Our friend is dead laying up on those mountains! Aren’t you at least going to go with us so you can check it out?”
The officer reluctantly obliged and they all drove back to the place where the two had been. Each of them had a flashlight making the path much easier to see in the dark. The sheriff had brought his deputy with him and a couple of bystanders he deputized on the spot. They hiked back up the hill, till they came just about where they left Roy’s lifeless body. They looked all around and found nothing. Just the extra stuff they couldn’t carry.
The sheriff looked at Ted and Billy and said “Boy’s I tell you what! If you are playing games, I will lock you both up tonight. Now tell me is this the place or not?”
Billy says,”Yeah, this is the place. This is our stuff we left behind, we were up here for 2 days. Roy was right here wrapped up in a white cloth we found hanging on that tree in the cemetery.”
The sheriff walked over to the cemetery and shined his light on it. He walked back over and said “I don’t know what is going on but we are going to get to the bottom of this.”
Just then one of the men screams from out in the dark. Ted and the rest ran to his aid, but no one could find him. They all got anxious and started to panic. The sheriff starts yelling “Take it, take it easy, now we have to find my deputy and get the fuck out of here!”
Ted whispered to Billy, “Man I think we should have done what I said, now they are all going to get killed.”
Billy mumbles back “Let’s get out of here now.”
They back off into the darkness and hear the screams of the sheriff and the other two men cry out into the dark. They were yelling for help but there was nothing Ted or Billy could do. They just stood as still as they could back to back of one another. The screaming suddenly stopped but Ted and Billy still stayed as motionless as they could. Both of them stood that way the whole night. When morning came Ted was asleep standing up and fell. He scared Billy in the process of falling. They each agreed they should do something to find out what was happening all around them.
“The forest seems to eat people and spit them back out missing their body parts.”Billy said.
Ted and Billy hiked back down the trail and drove a few miles down the road to Billy’s house. They laid down to get some rest so they could devise a plan for the next day.
The sun rose and morning came. Both Ted and his Uncle were just waking when Billy’s phone rings. They both jump to their feet and Billy answers the phone. It was silent except for the sound of air or a breeze blowing past the receiver on the other end.
Billy looks at Ted and says, “Must be a wrong number.”
He hangs up the phone and it rings again. He answers and the same thing happens, no one was there. This happened a couple of more times and that’s when Billy told Ted ”Get your jacket, put on your shoes. Me and you are going to do a little shopping.”
”What for? What do we need to buy?”
Billy replied with a smile, “An arsenal!”
The two men were afraid, but they knew if they didn’t do something that they might get the blame for the murders that had taken place. They both got into the car and drove around for a little while, until Billy pulls into the local gun and pawn. He turns to Ted and says “We need to get a couple rifles and some ammo. You get us some halogen lanterns and some flares. If we are going to do this right, we need to be prepared.”
Ted found the lanterns and brought them to the counters. They payed the man and they left. Billy and Ted planned what they were going to do next.. It seemed neither one of them knew exactly what to expect after all that had happened. They each knew the only help they could get was each other and they hoped it would be enough.
They drove to the edge of the forest, got out of the car, then loaded and checked their weapons. Ted still had the pistol he put into the waste band of his pants just in case. He grabbed his lantern and rifle. It was still day light outside when they reached the graveyard. When they finally got in sight of the camp, they saw white veils draped all over the dead trees in the cemetery. Ted and Billy looked at each other, both frightened and they began the hike up to the path from the day before. As they approached the fork in the path, the forest seemed to get colder and chills came over them both.
They took the path Ted had taken and as the y walked the sky grew darker and darker. They reached the place where he had spoken to the old man and Ted tells Billy, “This is the spot where the old man told me not to follow him.”
Billy held his lantern up to Ted’s face and said, “I hope this isn’t the last time we talk to each other.”
They pulled themselves together and continued to walk the trail. They came to an area where, by the light of the lanterns, they could see an arch-way of fallen leaves and crooked tree limbs. The arch looked like the mouth of a beast ready to devour anyone who entered. Ted held his lantern up and said to Billy, “See you on the other side.”
Billy nods his head and they both enter. Ted was in front he reached the end and turned to Billy to see if he was all right. Billy steps out. Ted turns, and he and Billy are now standing in an open area. Billy holds out his lantern and says, “Look Ted there is something over there. It looks like a shack.”
Ted holds his lantern out to look, he and Billy walk a little closer, as they do, a light flickers inside the shack. The wind picks up blowing through the trees making small creaking noises way up in the tops of the branches. Ted gets up his nerve and walks up to the door of the building and just as he is about to open the door it swings open and flings him across the ground. Billy takes aim and starts shooting blindly into the open door.
Ted picks his self up off of the ground and stares at the door. When the smoke clears from the gun fire an old man is standing in the thresh hold of the door way. Ted looks at him then looks at Billy and says, “That’s him! That’s the guy!”
Billy yells at the old man “Hey, what did you do to our friend? Why did you kill all those men?.”

The old man, leaning on his crooked walking stick lifts his head and says in a half laugh, “I am the keeper of the night, I am the watcher in the woods! I told you. Where I go, please don’t follow.”
Ted had dropped his rifle and lantern in the fall and couldn’t get to them because the old man was to close. Ted with his hands behind his back looks at the old man and says,
“Who says you are all these things ? Why don’t you want us to follow?”
The old man turns to Ted and smiles. His eyes were so hollow they matched the blackness, and by the light of the fallen lantern his teeth were a filmy yellow color. The old man looks back around at Billy and says “I am these things and they are not to be questioned! I will say only this. The one that gives me power grows strong with the souls I devour.”After that being said, the old man turns and walks back inside the shack.
Billy motions for Ted to come closer and says, “This guy is nuts! He thinks he is some god or something! We have to go in there and take that old man out!”
Ted pulls out his pistol and says, “Come on we are going inside.”
They walk up to the door and Ted kicks it in. He loses his footing and he and Billy both stumble into the room. When they get their senses about them, they realize they are in a much bigger room than the small shack they were looking at from the outside. It was hot and smelled like burnt rotten meat from a bad barbecue. They looked around and see the old man was standing still in the corner of the room. The room didn’t have very much in it. Just a small fire in the middle of the floor and vast wood panels with strange writing on them. Hanging from the ceiling were clean white veils. The old man turns without moving, like he was on lazy Susan.
He grunts a little and starts to speak, “I warned you and now you’ll pay the price!”
He waves his hands in a fluid motion and the fire jumps higher into the middle of the room. He starts to speak again, “You two young men have no idea what I am or where you are, but you will soon find out! I am the keeper of the watch tower and owner of the eternal void. I walk by unnoticed and touch them softly sending them to the by and by. Boys can you guess who I am? I will teach you to do what your elders say!”
Just then he flies across the room toward Billy and grabs him around the throat. Ted with amazing speed fires two bullets straight into the old man. They hit him in his side and back, he lets go of Billy and falls to the floor. Billy kicks him one good time and laughs “Did you see what he was doing?”
“You did great man, let’s get out of here.”
Billy steps over the man and walks over to Ted, they look at the body on the floor and turn to go out the door. The old man leaps from the floor floating above the m and starts making the noise that Ted had heard that night in the woods.
The old man screaming wildly says, “I told you and you didn’t listen and now you will see what I am really about!”
He falls back to floor and doesn’t move for the longest time. His body then begins to writhe on the floor shaking about causing the shack to shake as well. The body rises from the floor and starts spinning in the middle of the room. It was spinning so fast the two men couldn’t tell what was happening. The spinning stops, Ted and his uncle stand there looking at this creature. The thing stood 8 feet tall and had large hands demonic hands and a face like a bleached dog skull, his body covered with a heavy black robe dripping what appeared be blood.
Ted and Billy were frightened, but Billy still holding his rifle tells Ted, “I will shoot and you get out of here man, just get out here!”
Ted looks at Billy and says, “If you die, I die!”
They both run towards the beast, just then the fire in the room goes out and everything drifts into darkness...
The morning came and Ted and his party were asleep around the camp fire. He rubs his eye’s and says, “That was one hell of a dream!” He gets up out of his tent and looks around and sees Roy asleep and Billy laying half way out of his tent. Thinking of the dream Ted looks over and there was the grave yard. In the tree he sees a white veil hanging, blowing in the breeze and then he hears a whisper on the wind saying, “Please don’t follow me.”

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