My friend and I from childhood hung out together all the time. Almost every waking moment, we’d either be playing games in our yard, riding bikes, or just exploring interesting areas of our small town. The freedom we had was unprecedented, especially for the current times. Our little town seemed untouched by the rest of the world, a fact that my parents reveled in. We’d heard stories about how things were in bigger cities, so we lived up the freedom we had in the safety of our small town. Although we came to learn one year that not all danger comes from the expected places.
One day, we decided to built a treehouse. Our backyard was a decent size and had one large but desolate tree. Someone had carved something at the base that looked like initials that lovers would make, and we thought nothing more of it. Ted and I were climbing it for the millionth time when I had my treehouse epiphany. Ted was more than ready to help me beg my dad to build our fortress of solitude. It would be a sanctuary for our boyish ways, and my dad was more than excited to have a project to do. Besides, any excuse to dodge mom’s “to-do” seemed like a good idea to him.
So dad got to work right away, and I noticed that while dad seemed excited to build our treehouse, he would get these funny looks from time to time. Every time we’d ask, he’d change his expression real quick and say something like “I’m fine, just thinking about what to do next.” Yet, I couldn’t shake this feeling that he was lying to me. It didn’t take very long for him to finish the treehouse, but he seemed to get hurt alot in the process which was especially weird for my dad. He was very good at everything he put his hand to but he was also a careful man. Perhaps he felt pressured to make it perfect for us.
Yeah, that was it...
One night, I got up to use the bathroom and heard muffled talking from my parent’s bedroom. Being the stereotypical nosy kid, I tip-toed to their door as close as I would dare. Some words were muffled, but the gist of the conversation went like this...
“...telling you, there’s something weird about that tree.”
“Honey, you’re just tired. You’ve been working on this thing non-stop. You should have taken a a break.”
“That’s just it. I’m NOT tired...in fact every time I went out there, it was like I got this weird surge of energy...I know how that sounds but it’s true.”
“You’re just excited to....”
“No, that’s not it! I’d be dead-tired from work, and I’d go out there just to look at the progress. When I would get near the tree, it was like something was...calling me. And suddenly I’d feel energized and...don’t look at me like that! I’m not crazy.”
“I’m not saying that. In fact, I think I did feel something weird about that tree when I went out there to check on you.”
“Gives me the absolute creeps, but I can’t just NOT make the treehouse because I get a weird feeling. Maybe I’m more tired than I realized...”
I continued on to the kitchen as I heard my father’s footsteps and didn’t want to chance him catching me. After getting back to bed, I thought about what they said over and over again. My dad was not the kind to be superstitious or get weird vibes. It was totally out of his character. But nevertheless, I eventualy found myself falling back into a deep sleep.
And I dreamed...
I awoke to a strange sound, softly stirring in my bed. Slipping from my covers, I sauntered about my room until I realized the source of the noise. With a gulp, I approached my window and heard what seemed to be humming. My treehouse was within m line-of-sight, but the sound wasn’t coming from there. I looked down and gasped when I saw a group of men circling at the bottom of the tree. A fire roared in the center of kindling and they chanted in a husehd tone. My throat closed up and I tried to scream, but something wouldn’t let me.
“Get away! Help!” I willed my vocal cords to say, but nothing worked.
I stumbled out of my room, trying to make it to my parents. My hand touched the doorknob just as I felt something pull me to the ground. I grunted in pain and looked back to see a horrible creature leering back at me, showing rows of serrated teeth from a vertical mouth. It had no eyes, yet I knew it was staring into my very depths. My screams muted, I thrashed to get away from the horrid thing that would surely drag me to my ill fate. The thing only dragged me faster, and I felt every bump of the stairs as it dragged me down and out of the house.
The grass burned the bare skin of my back as it pulled into the back yard. Arms of multiple men grabbed me and bound me with leather rope. They sat me up just in time to witness something that will never leave my memory. Hanging from the ropes of the tree branch were both my parents. Hands held my head still, forcing me to look into their bloated blue faces as they swung back and forth with my treehouse as a backdrop.
The creature came back into view, and the men began chanting fervently as it opened it’s mouth wide and engulfed my head right before...
I awoke in a sweat, and began crying immediately. Being at the age of ten, I made the unspoken pact to never get upset at nightmares again. This however, was an exception. It took my parents a while to calm me down, and it was almost an entire week before I stepped foot near that tree.
When my friend and I eventually saw the inside of our treehouse, all my thoughts of that horrible dream immediately went to the backburner. My dad had done me the favor of hanging up all the decorations we had planned, and it was nothing less than awesome. I practically jumped off thela ladder to hug my smiling dad. As he hugged me back and smiled, his eyes darted upward to the treehouse and I saw a glimmer of dread in them.
One of the first tricks my friend I learned was how to use the treehouse to communicate without my parents knowing. If I was ever confined to my room, he would sneak over to the treehouse and talk to me through a tin can phone. This might sound more dubious than it really was, but our backyard lined up with his backyard so it’s not like he was getting far from the safety of his home. He’d go to his backyard to “play” and slip through the fence to make his way into the treehouse. Whether I was in trouble or our parents thought we needed a little away time, we had a system to work around. And it was a good thing we did, because three months later I got the flu.
Ted and I spent more time than ever talking through the tin can phone, and we even rigged up a a clothesline with a small bucket so we could share video games, comics, and anything else you can think of. My mom would kill me if she knew we were doing it. She was really concerned that I would get him sick. We of course didn’t care because I needed new things to do being stuck in my room most of the time.
One night, I was getting ready for bed when I heard sound coming from the tin can. I dismissed it at first, since it would pick up things like squirrels and the wind if it was a drafty day. But it persisted, and I brought the tin can to my ear.
There was an eerie silence on the other end, but I swear I could hear movement. So i tugged on the clothesline, hoping to rattle the bucket to get his attention. I held the line for a moment until I felt a familiar tug back. I picked up the tin can and said, “Hey, what are you doing in there?”
“Sorry,” I heard Tim whisper. “I was trying to be quiet so your parents didn’t hear me. I have something for you.”
I watched as the bucket slowly came into view and held out my hands to grab it. Strangely, I noticed that there was no light coming from the treehouse.
“He really went into stealth mode for this one,” I thought as I unclipped the bucket. Placing the metal container down as softly as I could, I reached in and pulled out a...
“Ouija board?” I gasped, and quickly put it back in the bucket. My parents had warned me to never mess with them. Whether you believe in spirits and demons or not, you could open yourself up to them. Either way you think about it, it wasn’t a risk worth taking.
“Ted, why’d you send me this?” I said, my harsh tone evident.
“You don’t want to play with it?” Ted said.
“No! Those things can be dangerous, plus I’ll get in huge trouble for messing with them.”
“Aw, c’mon it’ll be fun.”
I stopped for a second, thinking of how weird this was. Ted was acting weird, and now that I thought about it, he felt the same way I did about Ouija boards. Why would he suddenly want to send one to me? I couldn’t stand the idea of getting in trouble for some stupid idea he had, so I immediately clipped the bucket back and began feeding the line back to him. When I saw it made it into the treehouse I sat back on my bed.
“Here, take. I don’t want it here.” Ted said nothing back. “Ted?”
There was an eerie silence, and then I heard the familiar sound of the bucket being unclipped and set down. I tried calling him a couple more times, but he never responded. Yet, I knew he was there. Despite his silence, I could faintly hear labored breathing.
“Ted, stop. You’re creeping me out. Maybe you should go back home.”
My pulse quickened at his repeated silence and the fact that it was so late dawned on me. Ted never came here after ten o’ clock, and his weird behavior coupled with that made me very uncomfortable.
“One more thing before I go.” Ted whispered suddenly, making me jump. I heard the squeak of the clothesline moving, and I looked out the window. This went on for a moment, but the bucket wasn’t coming my way.
“Hey, what are you sending?” I said into the tin can, but was again met with an unnerving silence. I sat back on my bed, then felt something small drop on my shoulder. It was wet, so I looked at the clothesline and noticed something looked off. The light from my bedside lamp was too low to illuminate it, so I grabbed a flashlight. Shining the light on the clothesline, I had to suppress a scream when I saw the clothesline was covered in blood. I had to wait a second to calm myself down. Whatever game Ted was playing, I needed him to stop.
I touched my fingers to my shoulder and brought back my hand into the light. It was blood that had dripped on me. Just as I started to stand up and look out my window again, I heard the familiar sound of my door open. My heart leapt into my chest and I began to turn.
“Honey?” The sound of my mom’s voice echoed into the room. She peered in, and I instantly felt relief.
“You have a visitor.”
Ice cold needles pricked my skin as I saw Ted walk into the room, a puzzled look on his face.
“Josh? You’re not in the treehouse?”
The blanket of cold made me visibly shake as I turned to look back at the treehouse window. There was a light on inside, illuminated the face of a ghastly creature covered in a dark smoke. He smiled back at me and waved a bloody hand. I rolled to the floor to avoid the creature’s gaze. I felt like I would go insane if I looked at it any longer.
“Josh, what’s the matter?” My mom rushed over to me. I don’t remember much about the rest of that night, but I do remember stuttering out the entirety of what happened. Apparently Ted saw a shadowy figure climb up into the treehouse. He begged his parents to take him over to check and see if I was in my room to make sure it wasn’t a prowler. My dad had rushed outside with a gun, but found nothing except the bucket which had the Ouija board still inside. He promptly burned it.
My mom didn’t tell me until later, but they researched the history of our home and found out that there used to be a cult that lived in our house. They used a tree in our backyard for ritual sacrifices, some of which included hanging people from a tree limb. The next day, my dad destroyed the treehouse and we never played in that backyard again. For years, my dad swore swore he heard chanting and an occasional scream from that horrible tree. He took it one step further and even cut the tree down. Even then, he would hear the rhythmic creak of wood as if something was swaying from some phantom tree limb...ns126.96.36.199da2