Well, we headed out to the clearing pretty late last night. My neighbor (I'll refer to him as Dan from now on so I don't have just to keep calling him "the neighbor") and I decided that, until the clearing was at least further examined and its position notedas detailed as possible, it would be best to investigate ourselves. We were hoping that approaching the shack in the middle of the night would give us an advantage: if it was inhabited, he would more than likely be there asleep. This gave us the opportunity to simply analyze the area and check for his presence, then return home so we could call the police. If we were to somehow wake him, we would still more than likely have the element of surprise on our side.
I've really felt uncomfortable about reporting anything that could be hallucinations to the police. Dan seemed to be in it for the adventure, but I was simply worried of the possibility of cops arriving, surveying the area, finding nothing, and then eying me suspiciously as my wife whispered things to them about me. I don't want the local yokels to have a good laugh at me or the irony of an "insane psychologist" or whatever they'd think.
We spoke to our wives and told them that if we were gone for over an hour, they should call the police.
I took a small notebook, a couple of pens, and a flashlight. Dan was generous enough to let me borrow what looked like a miniature Bowie knife. He carried a gun, following my own flashlight and taking "mental pictures" of places he thought were important in locating the shack.
There was a light fog, but it really had no huge impact on our little adventure. There was a steady hum of wildlife resonating through the woods. We headed to the area of fence I had repaired the night before, and I turned to the section of forest I had first wandered into to find the source of screaming. I only told him I had heard strange sounds of activity in the woods. I never told him about the screams.
I was actually quite pleased with myself when it came to remembering the paths I had taken. I think we circled some small areas once or twice, but the rest went really well. Finally, we spotted the clearing and the shack.
We quietly crept around to the front, and I temporarily turned off the flashlight.
Peeking in the doorway, I realized that the shack was a little bigger than I had first thought it to be. It was by no means roomy, but there was enough space for a sleeping area, a table, a chair, and a large box. The squatter's bed was composed of what looked like a few layers of sheets and a pillow. The chair was collapsible. The box looked just small enough to carry with relative ease. The table was the only thing that would be difficult to procure and move. Still, Occam's Razor would say he just lifted it from the local junkyard and carried it all the way here.
The place was, as you should have been able to tell from the last paragraph, empty. For some reason, we decided it'd be good to go through things before heading back home. Opening the box, I found two books: what seemed to be a fairly new copy of Johnny Got His Gun and an older print of Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises that was missing its cover. We found four audio cassettes and one unmarked VHS tape. There was also a yellowed notebook full of yellowed paper and a large number of pens and pencils. For reasons that will become obvious, we were not able to examine these. There was also a matchbook, a clawed hammer, and a jar full of some black fluid,
There were only three things on the table: an old candle, a few pieces of paper, and a cheap pen with green ink. I wasn't sure how long ago the paper had been written on - the pen and the paper both looked pretty old and weathered. The writing, however, was still legible. I was about to read the top paper, and Dan had preoccupied himself with the notebook. Suddenly, we both stopped moving. Someone was breathing heavily. We turned to the doorway. A dark figure stood in the doorway. I knew I had to act fast. I had to choose between using my first move to pull out my knife or aim the flashlight at him. I did neither - I was paralyzed with fear.
Dan seemed to be suffering from an identical affliction. No shots were fired, and I don't think either of us even said anything. The figure simply stood there. After a moment, I realized I couldn't move. My chest was tight, and the sound of my heart beating was pounding in my head. The air seemed to be rippling somehow. I heard a strange slushing noise behind me. I couldn't move, though. I couldn't see it. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, I got my hand moving. After that, the rest of my body followed suit. I ran through the doorway, pushing the figure down. He didn't fall down right. There was something in the movement. He fell heavily and flatly - like a cardboard cutout.
The air was still rippling. I felt my legs go limp, but I managed to pick myself up quickly.
Very solemnly, just loud enough for me to hear him, I heard the figure speak.
"Don't go that way."
I just kept running. The ground was moving all around me. I saw something that looked like worms rising out of the ground. Briefly glancing at them, I realized they were squirming, human fingers. I screamed and ran off in another direction.
Watching the ground became one of the last things I wished to do, so I promptly ran into a small pond. I realized that I was quickly sinking. The pond seemed unnaturally deep. Looking below me, I saw what looked to be a strange swirl of life - maybe a weird school of fish or something - coming up towards me. As it grew nearer, I realized I was looking at what seemed to be a cyclone of hands, still somehow attached to long, tentacle-like arms, surrounding me. They wrapped around my body. I felt like I was being crushed alive. As I tried to scream for help, one particularly large hand stretched up to my face and grabbed it, covering my mouth, nose, and eyes. I was being suffocated.
In the morning, I woke up laying in grass near the part of the fence all of this had started at. I was mostly dry, but my hair was a little damp. The sun had just started to rise. I also appeared to be wearing only a pair of boxers and a t-shirt - what I would normally wear to bed. Groaning as I realized I'd most likely receive a "you must've been dreaming and sleepwalking" explanation, I headed off towards my house.
Everyone was still asleep, and I just sat in the living room watching the local news until my wife finally woke and came downstairs. She asked if I was planning on going to work, and I told her no. She told me that she didn't think he'd be coming back, and I didn't need to worry. This perplexed me.
Apparently, the experience with Dan was not entirely a dream. We did indeed head out into the night to investigate a possible squatter, and we seem to have found one. We came back to the house half an hour after leaving, laughing about stumbling upon a man in the shack mumbling and snoring in his sleep. We had decided to call the police, and an acquaintance of mine was fortunately on duty at the time. He came along with a back-up or two, but the squatter woke as they approached the shack. He quickly took off into the night, making a beeline between the trees and eventually escaping. There had been nothing in his besides a makeshift bed, a chair, and a couple of cans of food.
The police tried to capture him, but the fog, darkness, and trees made it difficult. He got away, but they told me not to worry about it. He had little reason to return.
I took all this information in with disbelief. According to my wife, I also went to bed with her last night. Despite the creepy circumstances of a homeless man living on our property, we had taken it stride and had all made light of it. I spoke with Dan, and he simply reiterated what my wife told me. I called into work and told them once again I wasn't feeling well.
Then I made an epic discovery - the piece of paper I had been holding when the figure walking into the shack was stuck onto my fridge. Same green writing, same yellowed paper.
The note is as follows:
no reason to fight it i am feeling fine
when you find me you will just begin to tip in
i am a caregiver first
but i on some ocassions[sp] must destroy
i was|am a profesional[sp] hypocrite
he feels good
with god you're never alone
but does it hurt
i hope not"
I have spent most of the day and night resting or trying to understand this. I must've taken it from the shack before I started to hallucinate. I had to have found it important, but maybe it isn't. I'm going to answer a few questions, but then I must sleep.
P.S. Unless he gets held up by something, I should be meeting with Greg tomorrow (er, Friday) night.