My daughter disappeared our walk through the woods. Part 2.

I did not want to return to the trail alone but unfortunately I had no choice. I could not take my partner, even though it would have perhaps satisfied you to see his admittedly arrogant skepticism challenged. However, we only moved to Derbyshire a year ago from the South of the UK and our little family is extremely isolated here. Our wider family are not close to the North of England and I have not made any friends in Derbyshire. My partner works so much that he hasn’t been able to form any kind of social life. So one of us always has to be with Rose.

Following the events of part one, my partner had an unexpected day off work after the heating at his office broke. I saw this as my best opportunity to jump back onto the horse, so to speak. I told him that I wanted to go for a walk alone to try and get my head around what had happened. Ever the skeptic, the idea of me going alone did not scare him at all. In fact, he thought it was a good plan.

I made him promise not to bring Rose out of the house while I was there, telling him that if I suspected she was out and about then it may trigger another ‘episode’. He promised he would not leave the house with her. I knew I could trust him to keep her inside.

In my rucksack I took salt, as advised, in a large tin, and I put a small torch in my jacket pocket. Pepper spray isn’t commonly available in the UK that I know of and I couldn’t take a weapon. If I was having some sort of mental issue and I was running around with a knife in the middle of the day, someone innocent could get extremely hurt.

I set off after lunch, just as Rose started to take a nap. I wanted to make sure there would be plenty of light. I got to the trail quickly. Though I felt nervous, the daylight gave me confidence. I checked along the side of the wire fence as I walked up the path, moving shrubs and bushes to the side to get a good look. Sure enough, at around the same place I had began to do our giant steps I found a small hole that Rose could have just about fit through.

Once I reached the opening to the woods, and was facing the building, I jumped the fence again, landing smoothly. I felt a little uncomfortable at being in the field as whoever owned it clearly did not want people messing around there (hence the barbed wire). I started walking across towards the building regardless, deciding that the worst that could happen was an angry farmer telling me to get off his land.

When I approached the building, I didn’t feel anything, I didn’t smell anything, and I wasn’t scared. Everything seemed completely normal. I entered through the dark doorway, standing just inside it as I got my bearings. Though it was dark in the small building, sunlight shone through the gaps that served as windows and I could see a fair bit of what was inside from my position. There wasn’t a lot in there.

Though from the outside the building had looked as though it would be tiny, it was deceptive – the inside was about the size of my living room and kitchen combined. The floor was made of dark, grey concrete and it was littered with small stones and empty packets of this and that. There was a hole in the back wall that had clearly served as a fireplace for someone, probably kids messing around. Left there were blackened remains of twigs and bark. I noticed something small on the floor underneath the makeshift fireplace and was about to head further into the building to investigate when I felt unease wash over me. My senses alerted me to the far corner of the building, where the light didn’t reach.

All I could make out in the darkness was two small shining circles at a height that wouldn’t have even reached my knees. I pulled the torch out of my pocket, trying to switch it on so I could get a better look. It wouldn’t turn on. The batteries must have gone. I should have checked before I left.

I stared at the shining circles for a while as I tried to figure out what they were. The feeling of unease of the unknown transformed into the shocking realisation that I was being watched by something. The two shining circles were eyes.

I lunged backwards in an attempt to get out of the building. Instead of backing into the open doorway and out onto the field as I had expected, I crashed into stone, hurting my shoulder. I was still inside.

I called out urgently, “Who’s there?” I wanted to sound brave but I heard the fear in my voice.

Then the shining circles began approaching me, quickly. I closed my eyes and flinched, waiting for an impact. Then I heard a gentle mewl and I opened them, looking down. It was a cat. Just a cat. It was a tiny, scrawny little thing, with black fur that was specked with grey. I laughed in relief as it began to rub its side against my leg.

“You gave me a shock,” I told it, as I bent down to stroke its back. Before my hand could fuss it, it hissed and then bolted around me, out of the doorway and into the grass. I made a mental note to remember to check locally if anyone had lost a cat, then continued into the building to find out what was underneath the fireplace.

I could still hear the distant sounds of traffic, the trees rustling gently in the breeze and birds singing. I felt even more relaxed after being so scared by a cat, so I went for the object with only a little trepidation. Yet I couldn’t lift it – it was too heavy.

Now that I was closer, I could see that it was just a small stone bowl. However, it was so heavy that I couldn’t lift it off the ground. There was a small club-shaped object inside that seemed stuck fast to its side. An ornamental mortar and pestle, but an exceptionally heavy one, it seemed.

There wasn’t anything inside the mortar, just dirt from a previous substance. I feared it might be some sort of drug paraphernalia so put it back down, wiping my hands on the front of my jeans. I remained crouched on the floor, took off my rucksack and pulled out the tin of salt so I could reach my hand sanitiser at the bottom of my bag.

As I rubbed it into my hands, I decided it was time to get out of the building and go on to explore the woods. I had confirmed that there was nothing of particular interest in the building and that it had probably just been used by tearaway kids. Then I noticed that the everyday sounds coming from outside that had comforted me just moments before had gone deathly quiet.

With my back towards the doorway, I sensed more than saw that the sun had gone in. My surroundings darkened. Then I heard a deep, heavy rasping from somewhere behind me.

I was too scared to turn around. Whatever it was, it sounded disgusting. With every inhale there was a guttural gurgle, and with every exhale there was a low, long growl. Even when I heard the beginning of the slow drag of shuffled footsteps approaching me slowly, I could not move.

I hoped that whoever, whatever, it was could not see me crouched on the floor. As adrenaline started to rush around my body I knew I had to do something – anything – and so I slyly picked up the tin of salt ready to use it as a weapon. I knew that it could not do much damage, but it was all I had available. I wished I had more strength so I could pick up the mortar and pestle, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to.

When the thing behind must have been surely just a few steps away, the smell hit me. That herb-like, burning, rotten smell. It was how I imagined the insides of a corpse’s stomach might smell, and I was sick in my mouth. I tried to swallow it down but that made me gag even more, so I had to spit it out onto the floor. The bile splattered onto the concrete. If whatever it was hadn’t seen me yet then now it had certainly heard me, so I stood up quickly, swinging around. I flung the tin of salt in the direction of the noise, encountering a physical form for the first time

The tin bounced off it with a soft thud and hit the floor with a clatter, the lid popping off and the contents spilling out onto the floor. It hadn’t acted well as a weapon but perhaps it had shocked the presence, for it stopped approaching me and I had the time to look properly at the cause of my torment.

Standing just an arm length away from me was an extremely tall, female form, but there was something hellish about it. She was at least a head taller than me even though she was stooped down like she had a hunchback. She wore floor length rags that looked as though they had been fashioned from a hessian gunny sack. It was sleeveless, exposing her arms that were as white as bone and unnaturally long. Perhaps, though, they only appeared that way because she was so thin that I could have easily fit her arm into a circle made by my thumb and index finger.

I could not see her face, and I was glad for that. A mass of matted, thick, grey hair that looked as though it could be crawling with unseen insects spilled over the entire front of her head. It covered her entire face, from where her forehead should have been to the bottom of what I guessed was her chin. It jutted out in a wrinkled, white spike. I couldn’t see her eyes but I knew she was watching me. Then the screaming started.

It was the same roar that had chased us through the woods, but now I was facing it head on and it sounded like a thousand different screams all in one. It was as though she had stolen the desperate cries of a mass of hopeless souls. I covered my ears with my palms, but the noise did not lessen.

I could feel her rage, her hatred… it radiated from her like a wave. She stretched out towards me as if to grab me; her long, yellow nails tried to claw at my face. Her body didn’t move, though. As she tried to step forward she was held back by an invisible force. It was as if there was a barrier between us both.

I took the small chance I was offered and ran around her, shoving into her with my shoulder as I passed. It felt like I was pushing against a brick wall and I don’t think she moved more than an inch, but it must have shocked her at least because I managed to get right up to the doorway without her grabbing me. However, just before I crossed the threshold I felt myself yanked back and a tugging pain seared through my head. She was pulling my hair in an attempt to drag me back inside with her!

Adrenaline rushing through me, I fought with everything I had against that pull until I felt a large chunk of my hair rip from my scalp. The pain barely registered, I simply I jostled forward and then ran. I rushed through the field, through the woods, and onto the streets. Only then did I look behind me, and there was nothing. I doubled over, catching my breath. My ears rang and my heart hammered.

As soon as I could breathe again I sprinted home, ran in the door and went straight up the stairs. I locked myself in the bathroom, slid down against the door and sobbed. My partner called through to me for what felt like forever but I ignored everything he said. Even when he tried to coax me out by telling me that Rose had woken up distressed from her nap ages ago and still needed me, I couldn’t respond.

He eventually left me be. When I had calmed a little, I pulled my phone from the back pocket of my jeans and sent him a message, telling him I was ok but needed to be alone for a while. Then I had a searing hot shower, staying under the water until my skin wrinkled.

My ears still rang but it had dulled into more of an irritant than a pain. There was a small bald patch at the crown of my head where the woman had tore my hair away. However, I felt incredibly lucky to come away relatively unscathed, apart from feeling utterly exhausted. That woman had wanted my blood.

I stayed in the bathroom until the sun began to set. The growing darkness outside that dimmed the bathroom began to scare me, and the harsh artificial bathroom light stung my eyes. I could no longer bear to be alone, anyway, so I made my way downstairs, where Rose and her dada were sat on the sofa reading stories.

I didn’t tell my partner what had happened when he asked what was going on, instead telling him that I had experienced a terrible panic attack while I was out. He tried to press me further but I bluntly told him that I didn’t want to talk about it. He backed off, making his way into the kitchen to make dinner, leaving Rose and I alone.

Rose looked up at me warily, as if she was nervous of me. I mustered a smile and picked her up. She relaxed and cuddled into me. I breathed her in like she was my oxygen.

“Oh no, mama,” She whispered into my ear, sadly, as she stroked my cheek. “Oh no.”

Then we rested our foreheads together and cried quietly together for a while. When we both calmed, we cuddled on the sofa.

Shortly after, we had to make our way to the dinner table. I poured myself a large glass of white wine and I listened to my partner talk at me. My body ached with exhaustion. The whole experience must have took a lot out of me because I had never felt so tired in my life.

After a while, my partner started to drift around the subject of what had happened while I was out. I poured myself another glass of Pinot Grigio before telling him again that I did not feel like talking about it yet.

“For goodness sake,” He snapped. “You run in looking like you’ve been dragged through a hedge backwards, you spend hours locked in the bathroom and yet you won’t tell me what the bloody hell is going on!” I could feel his irritation and I could understand it, but I couldn’t answer it.

“Just leave it.” I said, my voice barely louder than a whisper. I didn’t even have the energy to talk.

“No. I won’t ‘just leave it’,” He sounded exasperated. “You’re being extremely unreasonable!”

I started to laugh then. I don’t know what came over me. Perhaps it was the absurdity of the entire situation. What started off as a giggle quickly turned into hysteria. I just couldn’t stop. The pressure had clearly got to me.

When I saw Rose peering at me apprehensively I managed to calm slightly but I was still chuckling.

“What wrong, mama?” She asked, sounded frightened.

My partner frowned at me and I saw him glance at the bottle of wine. It was half empty. I looked up at them both and burst out laughing again.

“Stop, mama! Scary!” Rose whined in a pitch that went right through me. It filled me with aberrant anger.

“Oh, just shut up!” I sneered at her. Rose burst into tears and horribly it gave me a grim sense of satisfaction. I felt a twisted smile flash upon my face.

My partner ran around to her and picked her up, comforting her. “What on earth has gotten into you?” He snapped. “Are you drunk?!”

I looked at Rose burying her head into her dada and listened to her wail. I saw the confusion and displeasure in my partner’s eyes. The anger and hysteria drained away and I was left with a sickening ball of guilt in the bottom of my stomach. The twisted smile melted away from my face.

“I think you had better lay off that,” My partner warned me, nodding towards the bottle of wine. Then he left the room with Rose in his arms.

Was I drunk? I don’t think I was. I mean, I’ve been drunk occasionally around Rose… there was a wedding last year we went to, and a few months back I had one too many glasses of prosecco in a beer garden as Rose played. I had never acted so nastily towards her, neither sober or tipsy. That said, I hadn’t drank around her enough to be able to confidently say that it wasn’t the alcohol causing me to be so cruel to my baby.

I felt disgusted with myself and splashed my face with cold water from the kitchen tap. I went to the bottom of the stairs where I could hear Rose crying and my partner hushing her gently. I made my way up.

I stood in the doorway of her bedroom and saw that my partner was lying on Rose’s bed with her, stroking her head. He looked up at me and frowned.

“I know.” I answered, even though he hadn’t said anything. “I’m sorry. I’ll make it right.” I told him. He nodded, got off the bed and left the room.

I got into Rose’s bed with her and she shuffled as far away from me as she could, facing the wall.

“I’m sorry, Rosie,” I said. Something in my voice made her to turn her face towards me and I saw her tear filled eyes watching me hesitantly.

I continued, “I’m so, so sorry. I’m just… tired. I was so mean to you, and I shouldn’t have been.”

She visibly relaxed and crawled over to me. “Cuggle?” She whimpered. We cuddled until she fell into a deep sleep, then I lay next to her listening to her soft snores. After an hour or so, I was wired. I felt like I could fall into the deepest sleep of my life but my mind wouldn’t let me. I removed myself from Rose’s bed and made my way downstairs.

My partner wasn’t in the living room – I assumed he had gone to bed. I remained downstairs instead of joining him. I couldn’t deal with the questions, the accusations. I settled down on the sofa and I turned on my laptop. I spent next hour writing this, and researching our area.

I didn’t find a lot. We live in a small town in a busy county and any supernatural history seems to have been buried by more mainstream ‘horror’ stories from neighbouring towns and cities. After much searching I did come across an interesting blog by a man called James. He had posted a few times about strange occurrences in Derbyshire, and there were a few similarities to what I had been through in the last few days. I fired off an email to him, explaining what had happened.

I received one back almost immediately, but it was just an automated response telling me he was currently in Australia and would respond to emails as soon as he was able to.

I sat there till after midnight, wondering what to do about the whole situation. Of course, not returning to the building was the obvious answer – but I didn’t feel that that would be enough. Something was going on. I didn’t know what, but I felt that this was not over.

My partner came down at one point and asked if I was coming to bed. He told me that it was clear something was wrong with me, and that he would call in sick tomorrow so I could get better – or at least catch up on my sleep. I was grateful. I knew he was trying to be supportive in his own way. I thanked him and told him I would be up before long, and he returned to bed.

Of course, I could have told him everything that had happened – but I think it is pretty obvious that he would not believe my version of events, instead believing I had had some sort of mental break. Especially with what I did at the dinner table. I know that I need to be careful with how I approach him.

I feel a lot more ‘with it’ mentally now than I did when I first returned home. However, physically I feel honestly awful. My entire body hurts so much and I feel like I am rotting from the inside out. I guess it’s the shock of the events catching up on me. I need to go to bed now, anyway, else I’ll collapse. Please fire any more advice my way. I have a feeling that I need all the help I can get.

Edit: I’ve just woken up. It’s still dark – it’s early morning. My partner and Rose are not in the house. There’s a note… they’ve gone for a walk. I think he might have taken her to the trail. I’m leaving now. I need to stop them.

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