Screeches from the Woods
Disappearances happen more often than you would think up there in the wooded areas of Quebec, a place where trees surround your step in any direction. That’s where it lives, and where you shouldn’t wander. The nature surrounding its habitat may be particularly entrancing, but the creature most certainly isn't. Once you encounter the creature you’ll know why. It’s a mysterious beast that is known by several names: the Midnight Howler, the Ear Rattler Among the Trees, and Force of the Forest to name a few. The one it’s best known for is the Lac Wood Screecher.
Now, I don’t mean to discourage anyone from taking a relaxing hike through the woods, I’m simply trying to advise all to err on the side of caution. There're telltale signs that will alert you to the presence of the Screecher, and if you find yourself stumbling across any detail that's listed off I encourage you to flee the area immediately. The beast can strike in an instant and leave you powerless to stop it.
The first step of preventing a run-in with the Screecher is to keep to the trails. They may be simple and somewhat monotonous, but you’ll be kept out of harm's way by sticking to them. Now, what may occur if you wonder off these paths? Nothing to begin with. You’ll find yourself on untampered ground with a more exciting view of the terrain, which is precisely what you wanted by wandering off the trails.
It may take a few minutes for you to actually spot the first sign of the Screecher, but you’ll see large patches of hair strewn about the ground as you continue your nature walk. Whatever you do, make sure you don’t make contact with the hair. As soon as the smallest strand interacts with unprotected skin the irritation begins, and it starts as a small itch that you occasionally need to scratch at as you move forward. The itch quickly gives way to the rash, a series of red bumps that cover the area of skin that was exposed. In the most extreme instances the skin itself will peel off of the flesh, leaving open wounds to fester with bacteria.
Now, if you find yourself continuing to move forward then you’re nothing more than a fool, but there are other details that will alert you to the presence of the Screecher. The next clue of the presence of the beast is a low, raspy growl that can just barely be heard from somewhere off in the trees. It may seem like a sound that would come from a normal animal that feels threatened, but it isn’t. An almost human-like quality is attached to the vocalization, and that's how you'll know.
This is the point where your pulse will begin to increase, and a feeling of anxiety will form in the pit of your stomach as the sensation of eyes staring at you will make you even more uncomfortable. If you truly are one who doesn't take to superstitions then you'll continue to push on, even as the troubling thought that something is watching you lingers in the back of your mind. The more you try to push down the thought the quicker it floats to the front of your brain while you try to move over the wild terrain. Only one thing will stop you from completely panicking, and that's the mantra you repeat to yourself over and over again, “It doesn’t exist. It doesn’t exist.”
Finally you'll have pushed your luck too far, and the screech will come. It'll be the loudest sound you’ve ever heard. You won’t be able to stop from trembling in fear as a high-pitched, almost metallic screech fills the air around you, and the noise is so deafening that you won’t be able to process thought. Your body will feel icy as the sensation of pure terror races up your spine. Now you've reached your final chance to escape! Turn and run back the way you came, as fast as you can go. Keep in mind that you can never return to the woods, for the beast now knows your scent.
It will remember you.
If fear has taken hold of your limbs, and you find that you can’t move, then I'm truly sorry. There's nothing that can be done. The first of the beast’s screeches isn't just a warning, it's a way to immobilize those who have wandered too close to it. Once the second screech sounds the pain will begin. Your eardrums will rattle from the sounds of the beast, while your brain will feel as though it's been stabbed by the noise itself.
The creature will continue to screech as you remain frozen in place. After a few moments you won’t be able to hear the sounds of the creature, as your eardrums will burst from the vibrations. Though, just because you can’t hear the screeches, that doesn’t mean your suffering is over. In fact, far from it. The screeches will vibrate against your body with such force that your organs will start to move, and major structures of your anatomy will shake loose. There'll only be a few seconds of time that'll pass before the internal bleeding begins.
From this point on it’s nothing more than speculation what will happen to you next; the only thing that is certain is that you'll suffer. No one has ever seen the Lac Wood Screecher, though victims of the vicious attacks have been found. Margarette Dupont was the most recent to be discovered, back in the summer of 2019. She was covered in deep bite marks and missing most of the lower portion of her body, but the most disturbing part was that her brain had been liquified to nothing more than a gray soup that sloshed around in her skull. A truly gruesome fate which could have been avoided, if she had stuck to the hiking trails and not wandered into the woods.
Wandering too far into the domain of the Lac Wood Screecher is death.
Radar DeBoard lives in Wichita, Kansas, and is a recent graduate of Wichita State University. He writes in his free time as he finds it relaxing and enjoyable. He has had multiple drabbles and short stories published in several different electronic magazines and horror anthologies. He is a regular contributor to HorrorTree, Blake Hare Press, and Siren’s Call Publications. His only goal with his writing is that people enjoy his work enough to share it with others.