I am writing this as a complete and total recount of the events I experienced on Sillian mountain almost three months ago, so I can have my facts straight if the police decide to listen to me.
00:16 - No, WHEN they decide to listen to me. They have to, because I am terrified of what will happen if they don’t.
00:25 - I know I already lost my friend Ethan, and I’m afraid that whatever that… thing…
00:31 - was may hurt more people. I’ve already tried to contact the local authorities, the news… hell, even the local wildlife conservation group to see if they know anything, but I’ve either been laughed away or thrown out for “wasting their time”.
00:48 - So this document is a way for me to gather my thoughts, but also as a warning.
00:55 - At this point, I think I have to be the one to do something about this, and in case I don’t make it back and things get worse, I want someone to be brought up to speed.
01:06 - My name is Ned Harris, I have dark hair, brown eyes, missing the tip of my pinkie on my right hand, and a small scar on my left cheek.
01:16 - If you read this, and then later see me casually walking the streets of Jericho, West Virginia, it means I failed.
01:25 - Get out while you can, and for the love of God, do not go into the woods.
01:32 - This nightmare came to be when my friend Ethan Lancaster and I decided to camp out on Sillian mountain for a week, in celebration of his recent promotion.
01:43 - This was going to be a first for us, but one we were more than excited for.
01:48 - Sillian mountain was a notoriously difficult mountain to hike, and even more difficult to survive on.
01:55 - Only a handful of people have ever made it to the peak and returned, more than a handful were never seen again.
02:03 - This would turn most people away, but Ethan and I were avid hikers/campers.
02:08 - We met on a camping forum five years earlier, and becoming close friends almost immediately due to our mutual love of the outdoors.
02:17 - We had been on numerous hikes throughout the years, varying in difficulty, but when Ethan became general manager for the firm he worked at, we decided it was time to finally tackle the big one.
02:30 - After a month of planning and saving up for new gear, we found ourselves in Jericho, West Virginia.
02:36 - Jericho was a small, Gatlinburg esque town that sat squarely at the bottom of Sillian.
02:42 - Consisting of only two roads and a population of a few hundred, it was hardly the Gatlinburg competitor that the ads lead you to believe.
02:51 - It had a few attractions, like bars, restaurants, museums and most famously Sweet Tooth, the concerningly obese Grizzly that spent her days roaming her barren enclosure.
03:04 - Tourists were beginning to trickle in now that the seemingly eternal snow was beginning to melt, but for the most part Jericho wasn’t meant for tourists.
03:12 - It was the place where all hikers began their journey up Sillian, after purchasing all the overpriced gear at the local shops of course.
03:21 - Ethan and I found a motel for the night, and were up the next morning before sunrise so we could get a jump start on the three day hike to our chosen camp spot, which we had marked on our map.
03:32 - Aside from a twisted ankle and Ethan being charged by a particularly aggressive raccoon, the hike itself was uneventful.
03:40 - The steep yet relatively short slopes of Sillian scared most of the ill-fit hikers away quickly, but we trekked up 45 degree slopes with ease, having trained for this journey for months.
03:54 - By the second day, we only occasionally ran into other experienced hikers, in which we would return their friendly wave and continue on our separate paths.
04:04 - By dusk of the second day, we arrived at our chosen camp spot.
04:08 - It was a small clearing that provided some leg room from the suffocating pines that speckled the landscape, and had a small creek babbling away nearby thanks to the melting snow.
04:20 - We had camp set up in under an hour, and began the rituals we had become accustomed to after many years of camping together.
04:28 - I began preparing tonight’s dinner, a lovely pack of dehydrated mac and cheese, while Ethan went to find fire wood.
04:36 - Once I had all the cooking utensils out of their cases and set up how I liked them, I grabbed a large pot and headed over to the creek, so that we could undo that pesky “de-hydrated” part of our meal.
04:48 - The area surrounding the creek was picturesque, like something you’d see on a water bottle wrapper.
04:54 - The crystal clear water trickled softly down the slopes, with evidence of local wildlife regularly stopping by for a quick drink.
05:02 - I took a moment to appreciate the scenery, taking a deep breath of the cold mountain air and feeling the high that made me fall in love with hiking many years before.
05:13 - I knelt by the creek bed and began to fill the pot, whistling softly to myself, when something made me stop.
05:21 - I glanced around at my surroundings, scanning the tree line behind me and the steep, rocky slope ahead of me.
05:28 - My ears strained for a sound that I hadn’t heard, but my brain still warned me of.
05:35 - The hair on the back of my neck shot up as I quickly looked to my right, at the slopes above me.
05:41 - I saw nothing in the cragged peaks above, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was being watched.
05:48 - The once softly babbling creek now sounded like a roaring river as I stared into the rocks above, frozen to the spot with a confusing terror that seemed to come from nothing.
06:00 - I slowly rose from my knee and faced the peaks on my right.
06:05 - It’s hard to explain, but it felt as if they were watching me.
06:09 - Not a creature that resided in them, but the mountain itself.
06:15 - The skin on my scalp tightened and my stomach churned as the chirping birds around me fell silent, as if some kind of predator had just came into view.
06:25 - I backed away from the creek, continuously scanning the cliffs above me.
06:31 - It felt as if I was staring into the eyes of an old god, asleep for a millennia, that had just decided to wake up and stare directly into my soul.
06:42 - A force so old and eternal that my existence was a mere blip in comparison, my life a “blink and you miss it” moment.
06:53 - I was suddenly overcome with this enormous wave of terror that would have caused me to drop the pot and sprint back home, had it not subsided as quickly as it came.
07:04 - The birds began to chirp once more and the creeks deafening roar returned to a trickle.
07:10 - I stood for nearly twenty minutes, unmoving and staring at the cliffs above, before eventually gaining the courage to step away from the creek and return to the camp, never taking my eyes away from what felt like an unseen assailant.
07:26 - A half an hour later I was back at camp, running the water through our purifier and staring off into nothing.
07:35 - My rapidly beating heart had finally begun to slow, and I began to feel silly.
07:40 - “Look at you, Harris. Jumping at mountain ghosts. ” I muttered to myself, chuckling at the absurdity of my experience, but unable to shake it completely.
07:52 - It was like a small rat was inside my skull, gnawing away at my brain no matter how hard I tried to shake it loose.
08:01 - I glanced at my watch and frowned. It was almost nine, Ethan had been gone for almost an hour and it was nearly dark.
08:09 - It wasn’t uncommon for him to take this long collecting firewood, but we both agreed to be back at camp before sunset.
08:16 - I looked East, the direction he had gone, and grabbed my flashlight.
08:20 - I knew he would give me shit for worrying about him, but if he had gotten lost or hurt, it would be damn near impossible to find him in total darkness.
08:30 - I clicked the button and a beam of light illuminated the woods ahead of me, casting the trees and rocks in a harsh white light and everything outside the circle to be shrouded in darkness.
08:41 - I took a deep breath and ventured into the woods.
08:46 - “Ethan?” I called out, following the tracks he left in the melting snow.
08:51 - “It’s almost dark, you should head back. ” The only response I got was that of the crickets beginning to chirp.
08:59 - I swallowed, gripped the flashlight tighter and pushed on.
09:03 - “Come on man, seriously. Let’s get back to camp. ” I passed the beam from tree to tree, my nerves causing me to jump as I expected to see some twisted face peering from behind the trunks, but never seeing anything.
09:19 - I eventually lost his trail as he seemed to turn and ascend upwards.
09:24 - I turned and pointed my light past the trees, and my heart jumped into my throat.
09:29 - The same peaks as before loomed over me, staring down with a smug stoicism that seemed to say “Welcome back. ” My hand trembled, causing the light to dance across the rocks above me.
09:45 - That feeling of existential terror washed over me once more, crashing into my mind with such a force that I immediately turned and ran.
09:55 - Not as a man who made a decision, but as a mindless animal relying on instinct to save it from imminent death.
10:03 - I crashed through the woods, crying out as sharp sticks seemed to claw at my face and arms.
10:09 - I felt the distinct presence of something behind me, an immense invisible force that was bearing down on me like a thundering avalanche, closing the distance between us faster than I was closing the distance between me and the camp.
10:25 - I picked up the speed, pumping my legs as fast as I could and ignored the stinging pain as the branches raked against me.
10:34 - I half panted and half sobbed as I exploded through the brush and fell into the clearing, going into the fetal position and waiting for an attack that never came.
10:46 - After a moment, I peered through my fingers, watching the gently rustling branches in front of me as everything beyond them was now cast in total darkness from the setting sun.
10:59 - I took a deep breath and rose to my hands and knees, desperately trying to slow my heart rate before I either collapsed or vomited.
11:09 - Once I felt like I wasn’t going to pass out anymore, I rose to my feet, backing away from the woods I had just escaped from and turned back to the camp.
11:20 - Ethan was standing in the center of the clearing, his arms held firmly at his sides and his head lolling around lazily, as if he were drunk.
11:30 - “Ethan, what the fuck man?” I panted, glancing behind me into the woods again before making my way over to him.
11:40 - “Are you OK? I was looking for you and then the weirdest thing happ… ” “Ethan, what the fuck man?” Ethan responded, still facing away from me.
11:52 - I froze. His voice sounded rough, as if he had suddenly aged thirty years and smoked a pack a day in that time.
12:01 - Even more strange was that the inflections of his voice, HOW he said, was identical to how I did.
12:12 - Almost like listening to a play back recording.
12:15 - “Uh, yeah… listen I… ” “WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT” He suddenly screamed out, making me jump.
12:26 - “OH GOD PLEASE, I… ” He cut himself off, each word sounding more and more like Ethan’s normal voice, before mimicking a strange snapping noise, like a broken twig, or…
12:42 - “Ethan… ” I said, slowly approaching him from behind.
12:46 - “This isn’t funny, man. You’re scaring me… ” “Scaring… you… ” He responded, swaying slightly as I approached.
12:56 - He sounded totally normal now, which didn’t make me feel all that better.
13:01 - I stretched my hand towards him as he made a sound that still haunts me to this day, a noise that sounded like a mix between a click and a short shriek and seemed almost impossible for a person to be able to make.
13:19 - Before I was able to touch his shoulder, he whirled around and faced me, causing me to jump back and yell out in terror.
13:28 - He bared his teeth at me, a horrific and failed mimicry of a smile.
13:34 - His blonde hair was filthy and hung over his face and his eyes, my god his eyes, were pointing in opposite directions before sliding together and focusing on me.
13:48 - My stomach churned and my hair stood on end as those eyes seemed to stare straight through me, in a gaze that I had only felt before, never seen.
13:59 - “Come on, Ned. I have… something I want to… show you. ” It stammered, like it was still trying to figure out how to work its tongue.
14:09 - “Get the fuck away from me. ” I squeaked out, backing away from whatever this thing was.
14:16 - Every animalistic instinct in me was screaming at once to run, to get away from this foul mimicry of life, of my friend.
14:26 - “It isn’t far… JUST… a few hundred… yards… ” It stammered, lurching towards me in unnatural movements as if controlled by unseen strings.
14:39 - I turned to run and tripped over my hiking bag, landing hard and crying out in pain as my previously twisted ankle became a sprained ankle.
14:50 - “It is… beautiful… ” It cried out as it descended upon me.
14:57 - “WE… are beautiful. ” It grabbed onto my face as I gasped out in horror.
15:05 - The flesh on its hands were rubbery, like frogs skin, and it caused my own skin to crawl in an attempt to avoid contact with this bastardization of nature.
15:16 - “You… are not… beautiful. ” I struggled against the Ethan thing, eventually landing a blow to its face with my elbow.
15:23 - It stumbled, that horrific face still frozen into a false smile, as it rose back to its feet and turned towards me, I jumped to my feet and ran, screaming in agony as my sprained ankle became a broken ankle.
15:39 - The trees around me rustled violently, the branches clawed at my face as if they were trying to slow me down.
15:46 - I cast a glance behind me and screamed in terror.
15:51 - The Ethan thing was behind me, that false human expression unmoving as it followed me at a dead sprint, its arms plastered stiffly to his side.
16:02 - I ducked and dodged the branches as best as I could, breathing so loudly that I didn’t even notice the thing sprinting behind me wasn’t breathing at all.
16:12 - I could feel it closing in, those dead eyes staring hungrily at the back of my head.
16:19 - I was done for. I couldn’t out run it even if I didn’t have a broken ankle.
16:23 - Jesus Christ, it’s legs weren’t even bending, how in the fuck…
16:25 - It continued gaining on me, the branches almost seemed to part for it.
16:30 - Tears streamed down my face as I gasped for air, pumping my good leg as fast as I could.
16:38 - Closer My head pounded from the cold mountain air.
16:42 - Closer I could feel it’s presence right behind me now, it emanated a scent that smelled old Closer Very old Closer Older than everything…
16:58 - I stumbled and began to pitch and spin down the mountain slopes, crying out as I slammed into tree trunks and rocks.
17:06 - I felt my ribs splinter and my vision went white as my head collided with a large root.
17:12 - I rolled off an overhang and free fell for two to three seconds before slamming into something below, causing whatever it was to scream out in surprise and anger.
17:24 - I swam in and out of consciousness as people crawled their way out of the tent I fell upon, their voices sounded distant and echoed in the void I was quickly sinking into.
17:38 - I felt hands pat me down and assess my condition, and heard the distant beeping and worried voice of someone on the phone.
17:47 - The last thing I saw before blacking out were the trees on the ledge I had fallen from, looming above me like ancient giants.
18:00 - That was almost three months ago now. I spent a few days in a hospital outside of Jericho before being released with my injuries tended to.
18:09 - I immediately went to the Jericho police department and told them my story, in which I was reminded that it was strictly forbidden to have drugs of any kind on Sillian, I spent the next month trying to find someone, anyone, who would believe me.
18:26 - I pushed my friends and family away with my hysteria, and was put on leave at work until I could “figure my shit out” The strangest thing? No one seemed to remember Ethan.
18:39 - Whenever I’d bring him up, I would just get weird looks, with people saying that I had done all my camping trips solo.
18:47 - Even Ethan’s family looked extremely concerned as they hugged their daughter, an only child, afraid of the man in their living room screaming about a son they never had.
19:02 - I felt like I was losing my mind, so I decided to return to Jericho and try to settle this once and for all.
19:10 - I walked the streets of the small mountain town, jumping at every noise and recoiling from anyone who walked to close.
19:19 - I took a swig from the bottle of Jameson I carried in a brown paper bag, the closest thing I had to a friend these days.
19:27 - I passed the hotel Ethan and I had stayed at, which of course didn’t have him on record, and continued down main street toward the path that lead up the mountain.
19:39 - I fidgeted with my hands, brushing my unkempt and unwashed hair out of my face as I approached the trail, passing by a group of tourists who were listening to a trail guide.
19:52 - I froze. That voice… I slowly turned towards the group of middle aged tourists, taking pictures and listening to the tour guide standing on a large log.
20:07 - The man wore the tell tale brown and green khaki outfit of a forest guide, pointing towards a map and telling corny jokes to the group as he pushed the blonde hair out of his eyes.
20:21 - Ethan… I rushed towards the group, shoving tourists away from me as I pushed a path towards Ethan.
20:29 - “HEY!” I screamed, startling the people around me.
20:34 - Ethan turned and locked eyes with me, the briefest flash of recognition in his eyes before he smiled.
20:41 - “Hello Sir! If you’d like to join the group, you can sign up at that hut over th… ” I tackled him, ripping him off the stump and slamming him to the ground.
20:51 - The crowd gasped as I slammed my fists into his face over and over again.
20:57 - “WHAT ARE YOU, YOU SON OF A BITCH!? WHAT DID YOU DO TO MY FRIEND?!” I roared, trying to pull his hands away from his face so I could hit him again.
21:08 - I felt a pair of hands grab me and pull me off of Ethan roughly, sending me sprawling on the grass.
21:15 - Two cops pounced on me, forcing my hands into a pair of cuffs.
21:20 - “NO! NO YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND!” I screamed, struggling against their grip.
21:27 - Ethan rose to his feet and wiped some blood from his nose, smiling down at me.
21:34 - “Go easy on him, fellas. ” He said, flashing a warm smile to the cops.
21:40 - “No harm done, just needs to work out whatever he’s on I’m sure. ” I wrenched against the cops and tried to lunge at him, but they held tight and began to drag me away.
21:53 - “NO! NO YOU DON’t KNOW WHAT YOU’RE DOING” I cried, fighting against the men.
22:00 - I whipped back towards Ethan, who only smiled at me.
22:04 - I noticed his assistant watching me too, with an awkward looking smile that looks like she hadn’t quite mastered it yet.
22:14 - “NO! PLEASE!” I yelled as I was thrown into the back of a cop car, hearing Ethan’s voice carry over the lot as the door was slammed close.
22:29 - “Sorry about that folks, some crazy people huh? Anyway, let’s get on with the hike shall we? I have something very beautiful I’d love to show you all. “.