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Dear Julie, Part 3

The Midwest


From: Daniel [last name and email omitted]

Date: Fri, Dec 14, 2012 at 5:26 PM

Subject: RE: FWD: FWD: I need you to read this

To: [full name and email omitted]


You know what they say about the Midwest?

It’s so flat you can watch your dog run away for days.

The Midwest sounds like a pretty nice place.

Yep, I’m still alive. I know that seems like a silly way to start, since I’m clearly alive enough to be sending this, but in light of everything that’s happened, it’s sort of nice to reaffirm to myself that I’m still kicking.

Last night was miserable, I woke up in a cold sweat and almost immediately threw up. Yesterday’s events just kept playing over and over again in my head and I was surprised that I had fallen asleep at all, although I figure it was due more to fatigue than anything. I keep trying to tell myself that they deserved it. That there was something evil out there in the woods and that we did the right thing, that we’re the heroes in all this. But how can I be sure? Maybe it was just some weird cult that was simply surprised by us barging in on them in the woods? Maybe Maggie really did just up and leave Ray? Of course that begs the question of what happened to him then? I know from Julie that, despite there being no body found at the scene, there was a lot of blood in his garage. All his. And then there was that scrap of his jacket I found out at that blasted canyon. I mean, clearly something happened to him. Right? I have all these questions, all these nagging doubts about what we did (and who wouldn’t? We killed people!), but then I remember their faces.

Those faces.

I’ve never seen anything as terrible as the faces of the “people” we saw yesterday night. Cracked and weathered skin. Rotten teeth, barred and barking, hissing and howling. But their eyes were the worst. They just looked so expressionless. I guess that would be the word for it. Amidst the horrible rage displayed by the rest of their face, their eyes were just so blank, unsettlingly peaceful. Ultimately, of course, they were just like us, but it was like everything that had made them human had been stripped away. I wonder if it was ever even there to begin with. There was no cleverness to their attacks, they didn’t try to flank us or even to evade us, they just came straight at us, one right after the other. It was like their only strategy was to try and swarm us with their numbers. It didn’t feel like we were out there in the woods with people, it felt like we were out there with animals.

At least that’s what I’m telling myself.


Julie called this morning. I didn’t know she had my number, but she said she was with Jack and that they were on their way to pick me up. And to pack a bag. An hour and a half later we were away from the mountains and feeling much safer. But we were all still worried.

Julie finally broke the silence.

She told us, with obvious concern, that she had heard on the news that the police were investigating reports of unidentified gunshots in the woods around her uncle’s house. Normally, we all knew, that a few gunshots sounds were generally overlooked because hunting seasons were rarely enforced in the area. It’s hard for the police to arrest you for hunting out of season when they’re out there with you, but we must have made enough noise to make people concerned.

Julie thought otherwise, though. She insisted that for most of the trip we were too far away for the sound to carry all the way back to town. One or two of the closer shots, sure, but not out there at the village. I told her the mountains tend to carry sounds farther than you’d think, but she wasn’t having it. She was convinced that the police reports were the work of the mountain folk. Now, I couldn’t see any of those things we encountered that night using a phone, but she brought up something neither Jack nor I had considered: Maggie.

I had been under the impression that Maggie had, in fact, been forcibly kidnapped by the folk and then hypnotized or brainwashed or whatever into becoming a part of their awful rituals and that that’s what Ray meant by being “taken by the mountains” and that that’s why he dealt with her first, that she was just too far gone. Julie had a different theory: that Maggie had been one of the mountain folk from the beginning. She brought up another thing we hadn’t considered, at least not consciously, we hadn’t seen a single child in the woods (trust me, I would have remembered that). Well, this struck both Jack and I as pretty odd. She said that maybe Maggie was using her uncle to get pregnant, that, for whatever reason, the mountain folk needed to have children with outsiders. Maggie had disappeared almost immediately after finding out she was pregnant and even though Ray hadn’t gone into much detail, the unborn child clearly had some role in whatever he had interrupted that night.

This had further implications, though, awful ones. It meant that there were people out there civilized enough to blend in, but were actually a part of that blasphemous tribe in the woods. Human on the outside, animal on the inside. I had to laugh when Jack made a comparison to body snatchers, but he was right. If this were all true, and it made as much sense as anything else that was going on, then we had no idea who we could trust. Maybe civilized compatriots of the mountain folk has found the ones we had killed and made the reports to the police. Worse yet, what if the police were a part of it, too? Even just one of them.

Then Julie, who was apparently full of revelations and surprises this morning, said something neither of us had expected. She wanted to go back. We had just driven away from the trouble. We could just keep going. I wouldn’t think that the reach of the mountain folk could extend too far past the, you know, mountains. That there had to be some sort of safe distance. But she wouldn’t budge. She said that we knew we could handle them and that she wanted to the see the village and that chasm again during the daylight. Her uncle, or at least his body, had clearly been there, and she wanted to see what else she could find out. Me and Jack understood that she was still wanting justice, or rather revenge, for her uncle, but we had to convince her that clearly someone knew what happened out there and that even if the police weren’t involved, they were still investigating the area. Well, she finally caved and we all agreed that we’d let a few days pass before we did anything stupid. Stupider, at least. We both knew full well that Julie would go back there with or without us, but we also knew that in the end we wouldn’t let her go alone. In for a penny, in for a whole freaking pound.

So here we are, a few towns over, just laying low. Thank God for public Wi-Fi, yeah? I figure we’ll stay out this way for a few days, let a bit of this mess blow over before we try to find out more.

You know, I really don’t like our waitress’s eyes. I don’t like a lot of these people’s eyes.