The kids in my town play like other kids, we look like other kids and we sound like other kids. However, the children of our town are NOT like other kids. Other kids…other towns...don’t have Neumack Woods.
It’s heavily rumored that Neumack Woods is haunted ground. Legend states that if a child under the age of fourteen travels into the woods after 8pm, they’ll very distinctly hear a baby crying. I don’t know why it’s 8pm, maybe because the sun’s been long gone by then? I also don’t know why the age has to be under fourteen, but I can take a guess. I’m assuming that it’s because kids under that age still have most of their childlike innocence. They say that children are more sensitive to the supernatural than adults, so that’s gotta have something to do with it.
My friend Ricky Doyle lives down the block and over aways from Neumack, and I’m staying at his house tonight. We’ve been talking about going out there for months, but just now had gotten the courage to set our plan into motion. We’re going to sneak out at 8:15 and go check it out. Ricky and I are both eleven years old, since his birthday last week, so that checks out too. We shouldn’t have any problem hearing the baby. It was all figured out, a perfect plan. We’d eat dinner, pretend to go to bed, sneak out, hear the baby and be back in bed before anyone even knew we were gone.
This was our chance to bring some credit to the story. No one we had known had ACTUALLY gone to the woods. It was always a friend of a friend, or a cousin’s girlfriend’s neighbor who supposedly went and experienced it. Not much went on in our town, and there wasn’t much to do. I’ve always been mischievous, constantly seeking out adventures, and Ricky needs a friend so it works out for the both of us. His interest in all things creepy and spooky isn’t as enthusiastic as mine is, and I think he mainly goes along with my plans because he’s just happy to have someone to hang out with.
School dragged on forever, and finally it was time to meet Ricky for the buses. My mom wrote a note saying I could ride his bus home with him! Ricky’s already at the bus loop by the time that I get there.
“Aidan, hey! Did you give your note to the front office to ride home with me?” I take a piece of paper out of my pocket and wave it around, like a flag of victory. “I got the bus pass right here!” I told him triumphantly. “What’s your mom making for dinner?” I asked him. He told me we were having spaghetti, my favorite!
We ate quickly that night without a word, not that there was much chance for one. We were shoveling in huge bites super fast, like we had been starved for a week. Ricky’s mother smiled at us, and she brought out a piece of cheesecake for each of us after we had finished. “You boys want some dessert? Aidan, does your mom let you have cheesecake?” I was about to open my mouth to say no thanks, when I caught Ricky’s eye across the table. He glanced towards the plates and nodded quickly at me. “Thank you Mrs. Doyle, I’ve eaten cheesecake with my mom lots of times. It’s really good.”
Before long we were saying our good nights, promising to brush our teeth. We stayed silent in his room after that, just waiting. I felt like I was going to jump out of my skin when it got closer to eight o’clock! Occasionally we’d get a glass of water from the kitchen, or use the bathroom, which were mostly excuses for us to see what his parents were doing in the living room. We were trying to track their progress towards heading to bed for the night, and finally we heard their bedroom door close.
Both of us had agreed to wait exactly fifteen minutes after that to leave the house. With our jacket hoods pulled low over our heads we dropped out of Ricky’s window and entered into the back yard. It was chilly enough outside to where I’m thankful I brought my jacket, but not cold enough to be uncomfortable. Even if it had been really cold the excitement in my blood would have kept me super-duper warm, which was great.
“Aidan, do you have both flashlights?” Ricky asked. I shook my head in response. “No man, I thought you had yours, I just have this one.” I held it up and waved the beam around his face. He winced, putting his hands up. “Come on...It’s bad enough I don’t have a flashlight, now you want to blind me completely?”
I laughed at this, and told him we could try to share mine. I didn’t want to risk sneaking back in and out of the house again just for one flashlight. I’d just gotten old enough for mom to let me sleep over at friends’ houses that weren’t in our neighborhood. We’re just getting started with Neumack, and I couldn’t mess that up. We entered the woods, then spent a good fifteen minutes walking around. We saw a huge, black lump off to the right in the middle of the trees. My breath caught in my throat for a second, and I shined the light towards it. It was an old, broken down, and probably abandoned white car. The windows were broken out of it, so it was easy to see into. We walked to it and peered inside, making sure to keep our distance in case someone was living in there. It happens, you know.
“How the heck did this car even get out here? There are trees everywhere. Maybe it’s been here since they were babies.” Ricky said. I instantly corrected him, not missing a chance to show off. “They’re called, like, saplings or something. There’s no such thing as a baby tree.” I scoffed at him, but then I thought about everything else that he had said.
“Ya know, that is a good question. It doesn’t make sense that the car’s out here like this. Hey, when it’s daytime we should come back and check it for broken glass. If not it can be ours! We can be the only eleven year old kids at school to have a car, or maybe we can make a base out of it!” I suggest excitedly. We continued to walk on, agreeing to check on the car again tomorrow.
The trail was very difficult. Both of us keep close together to share the beam of light, but that made us bump together a lot. I felt like a pair of Siamese twins in some kind of weird, three-legged race. We were bumbling and tripping over any, and every, thing in our paths. It was a blast! We were chuckling and stomping around so hard that I could barely hear any other noises, but something weird got my attention. I shushed Ricky by putting my hand up, pointing to my ear to signal him to stop and listen. There, under the noise of the wind through the trees, I could hear something. I tried to sharpen my ears and block out any other sounds. Yes, that was it! I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t know whether to feel scared, excited or worried.
“Ricky, do you hear it too? The baby! C-c-can you hear the baby?” Even in the moonlight I could tell that Ricky’s face had turned a lighter color than normal. His eyes are wide, and he clenched his hands together. “Yeah umm...maybe we should go now?” He mumbled to me. I grabbed him by the arm a little more aggressively than I meant to, keeping him in place.
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