“Unknown and Uncharted” by Collier Dyer

Read the 1st place winning submission from our Scary Story Contest by Warrior Media!

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Image by HeonCheol LEE from Pixabay

First Place- “Unknown and Uncharted” by Collier Dyer: Michael and Tommy plan a prank on their dreadful teacher, Mr. Williams. When the joke goes awry, Michael finds himself in a place nobody’s ever mentioned to him before…

There are so many things in life that humans don’t talk about out loud. The list of topics that no one dares even murmur might be more extensive than people realize. It isn’t because everyone simply doesn’t want to discuss new things or ideas. It isn’t because people are afraid that others might be skeptical about their thoughts. It is similar to an unwritten rule. These things aren’t publicly discussed because people are downright fearful to even approach these mystical and often theoretical ideas. Once something is said, it cannot be taken back. It will float in the air and drizzle down upon the atmosphere like a drizzle of sleet coming down on a windy day. 

The room was heavy and the air was thick at the Anderson house the day after Halloween. Micheal knew he was in for a long and grueling discussion about poor judgment and toxic influences as soon as his mother entered their home. Micheal couldn’t decide if he was regretful of his actions or angry with himself at the fact that he hadn’t gotten away with them. Mrs. Anderson sat down on the velvet chair in the corner of the living room, sighed deeply, and to Micheal’s surprise, flipped open the book that she had been reading over the past several weeks instead of scolding him. Mr. Anderson wouldn’t be home for several hours, so Micheal ran upstairs and called his friend Tommy to see if he wanted to come over to play a board game. When he got back downstairs, he found his mother reading a different book, one that she hadn’t yet began until now. Micheal was no fool. He could tell his mother was distracted by his very presence, which caused his heart to speed up and his face to turn red. Mrs. Anderson looked up from her book, using only her eyes, which felt like burning lasers as they connected with Micheal’s. In a desperate attempt to break the unnerving silence, Micheal uttered, “Tommy is coming over in a little bit.” Mrs. Anderson raised her eyebrows. “Is he now?” Micheal tensed up. “I-I mean can Tommy come over in a little bit?” Mrs. Anderson put the book on the table in front of her, crossed her arms, and chuckled. “Now please explain to me why Tommy would be allowed to come over after the events that occurred last night.” Busted. Micheal turned away and slowly began to head back upstairs to cancel his plans with Tommy, his feet heavy with disappointment and his mind swirling with thoughts of the proceeding conversation with his mother. 

Just like any other teenage boy, Micheal made the most of his free time. Halloween was no exception. This year, halloween just so happened to be on a Friday, which meant Micheal and his friend Tommy could trick or treat with no curfew and no stress about school the next day. For some time before halloween, Micheal and Tommy had been plotting revenge on their teacher, Mr. Williams. It is normal for kids to have teachers that they don’t exactly click with, but the extremely unhealthy relationship that Micheal and Tommy had with Mr. Williams was certainly very far from orthodox. For reasons that Micheal and Tommy prefer not to talk about, Mr. Williams despised teaching his 3rd period US History class, solely because it contained both Micheal and Tommy. Mr. Williams had made life undeniably difficult outside of school for the boys, giving unnecessary amounts of homework and giving tests with information that had never even been taught during class. Micheal had decided that enough was enough and took it upon himself to formulate a plan to make sure Mr. Williams wouldn’t be creating any more misery for him in the near future. Tommy agreed to assist Micheal in his devious ways due to the fact Mr. Williams treated him almost just as poorly as he treated Micheal. 

Mr. Williams lived in a wealthy part of Micheal’s town, which is where they enjoyed trick or treating anyway because of the candy that most people handed out in that area. The quiz that Mr. Williams had administered to the students the day of halloween certainly contributed to Micheal and Tommy’s desire to execute their plan. 

Micheal unfolded his map that he had used in the past to strategize the best route to take in order to end up with the highest quantity and quality of candy that he could possibly get. This year, however, the map would be used to prank their teacher. Tommy studied the map until he understood how Micheal wanted to proceed. They boys would trick or treat at every house in the high end part of town, saving Mr. Williams’ house for last. To find his house, all they had to do was find his old, beaten-down Toyota Corolla. As soon as they were certain that they had found his house, they would partake in one of the most textbook pranks of all time. They would use the eggs that Micheal had stolen from his refrigerator to vandalize the house. 

As they made their way down 44th Avenue, Micheal began to feel guilty and remorseful before they had even done anything. I couldn’t egg a teacher’s house, could I? That would be wrong. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the time for second thoughts. As hard as it was to do, Micheal ignored his instincts and pushed his conscience aside. After stocking their pillow cases with all of the king sized candy bars they could fit, they looked at each other for a moment, gave a simultaneous nod of approval, and set out to find the haggard-looking car. It was quite easy to locate amidst the group of Range Rovers and BMW’s, so they scanned the area for potential witnesses and waited until the coast was clear. As soon as no one was around, the adrenaline-filled teens took off down the street towards the car and began throwing eggs at the house until they saw the porch light turn on. In total, Micheal and Tommy hit the house with eleven eggs. Micheal and Tommy bolted back up the street, hoping nobody else saw them. As soon as they got back to Micheal’s house, they looked at each other and couldn’t help but laugh at what they had just done. Tommy returned home just in time to make curfew, and the two hooligans looked as if they were in the clear… or so they assumed. 

Early the next morning, Mrs. Anderson had received an alarming phone call from Mr. Williams exclaiming that her son Tommy, his partner in crime, had egged one of their neighbors’ houses. Mortified and distraught, Micheal had asked his mother if he would be responsible for fixing the damage done to his teacher’s house. To his dismay, Mrs. Anderson gave him a puzzled expression and said “I don’t know why you would have to compensate Mr. Williams for anything. He was calling to inform me that he had seen you and Tommy egg The Zurn’s house from across the street. He saw you from his bedroom window and actually began recording the incident. Micheal, I cannot BELIEVE this! I will be talking to your father about this as soon as he gets home.” Micheal’s face turned bright pink, and then pale. HE AND TOMMY HAD EGGED THE ZURN’S HOUSE! Micheal realized that Mr. Williams must’ve parked his car across the street because he feared that this exact incident would occur. He also understood why Mr. Williams was able to record footage in such a short amount of time. Micheal was in disbelief. 

A couple of hours after the shocking conversation with his mother, Micheal recollected his thoughts and knew there was only one thing he could do. He and Tommy had to go back and get revenge on Mr. Williams once and for all.

After canceling his plans with Tommy due to the fact that his mother would most definitely be grounding him for and extensive period of time, Micheal began brainstorming ways that he and Tommy could somehow still get revenge on Mr. Williams despite not being able to leave the house or see Tommy. Luckily for Micheal, he was a very intelligent kid with scheming abilities similar to that of an army strategist. Since his mother would be far too busy talking with his father about the consequences he would receive, he called Tommy and told him that he was planning to sneak out late into the night so that he could return home without being caught and getting into any further trouble. Tommy’s plan was to tell his mother that he was going to spend the night at Micheal’s house so that he would have an excuse not to be home late at night. It all seemed to be coming together in favor of Micheal and Tommy in terms of getting vengeance on their teacher. Little did they know, by the time the night was over, sneaking back into the Anderson house would be the least of their worries. 

Micheal lay in bed the next night, waiting until he heard his parents turn off the lights and close the door to their bedroom. Rage and fury were all that consumed Micheal’s young mind. He could hear his heartbeat as if it were a ticking clock, second after second. Breathing fast and heavily, Micheal was anxious to leave, but knew he had to wait for the right moment. Click. The hairs on hairs on his neck stood up. The lights had gone off. He heard his mother close the door to their bedroom, and slowly stood up to look at the clock. It was nearly midnight. Tommy was supposed to be waiting by the bushes by the street in about fifteen minutes. Micheal watched the clock, his foot tapping quietly on the ground, his mind swirling with thoughts. Finally, the moment had arrived. After folding up the neighborhood map and sliding it into his pocket, he opened his bedroom window cautiously, knowing that one wrong move would result in severe punishment. His legs felt like jelly underneath him and his hands trembled with fright. He closed the window and tip-toed down the steep roof. He leapt off of the roof and landed softly on the front lawn. Tommy was signaling him from the nearby bushes. He had made it. 

The rebellious tandem took off down the street and into the neighborhood, their bodies rushing with adrenaline as they approached Mr. William’s house. They noticed the antique and filthy-looking Toyota Corolla, parked in the exact same spot as last time. “Did you bring the eggs?” Micheal asked Tommy. Tommy reached into his overnight bag and pulled out an entire dozen of eggs. Micheal gave Tommy an approving nod and reached his hand into the box to pull out an egg. “NOT SO FAST!” The boys froze in fright. Mr. Williams was standing behind his front door, holding a ferocious looking pitbull back by the collar. Micheal and Tommy, knowing they were done for, dropped their belongings and took off down the street as fast as they could. Tommy, a significantly better athlete than Micheal, left his friend gasping for breath after running nearly half a mile out of the neighborhood, down a hill, and into a field. Micheal, breathing so loudly and so desperately that he had to sit down, was paralyzed with fear. He checked his watch. It was nearly half an hour past midnight. Alone and afraid, he attempted to call out for his friend, but no noise came out of his mouth. He realized it would be up to himself to find his way back home. Micheal reached for his pocket and pulled out the map that he had taken with him. Thankful for this brief glimmer of hope, he now believed he wasn’t completely lost. He looked for Mr. William’s street and located his own house. The problem was that he was no longer in his neighborhood, so the map was essentially useless. Misoriented and by himself, Micheal had absolutely no clue where he was. The boys had been running so fast and so far that they hadn’t paid attention to which direction they were even headed. Micheal crumpled up the map and tossed it aside, feeling hopeless.

After about five minutes of sitting on the grass in hopeless desperation, he caught his breath and decided that his best bet was to pick a direction and walk straight until he found someone who could assist him. He looked up into the sky. The clouds covered most of the light from the moon and the stars. He looked back at the field and began walking. He wasn’t sure where, but he knew it was better than sitting in the open field and hoping nothing would go wrong. He felt cold. His legs felt weak and his hands felt numb. Each step he took was a step closer to a place that was notoriously known for being somewhere that no one entered at night because of the tragic events that had occured, a place that Micheal had unfortunately never heard of due to the fact that nobody liked to talk about it. Micheal had an eerie feeling about where he was headed, but decided to continue walking, thinking that he would eventually find his way back home. By now, his eyes were adjusted to the darkness. He had begun to notice more and more trees the further he went, and heard the crackling on leaves below him getting louder by the step. The air felt thick. He noticed something on the ground that didn’t look like a leaf of any sort. It looked like a crumpled up piece of paper. Micheal, searching for anyone and anything that could help him, picked up the piece of paper. His eyes widened and his jaw dropped as he unfolded the paper. This looked like the map he had crumpled up in the middle of the field. “It can’t be.” He thought to himself. Micheal took a closer look at the map. It was difficult to examine the contents of the map, but something didn’t look right. It was the exact same piece of paper with the exact same words and edits that Micheal had made in red ink the day before halloween, but the map was quite different. The title of the map read, “Forest.” Micheal’s heart skipped a beat. “How is this possible?” He whispered. Micheal, afraid of taking any more steps, turned back. To his utter disbelief, all that Micheal could see were trees. As far as the eye could see, there was nothing but dirt, leaves, and trees. He turned back around. He looked to his left, and then to his right. The map fell out of his hand. He blinked twice. Surely there was no way this was possible. He checked his watch. The time read 12:01AM. “What?!” His watch was frozen, the second hand stuck at the twelve. Micheal began breathing rapidly and uncontrollably running his hands through his hair. Something was taking place that he had never experienced before. He believed that supernatural events of any sort were fiction and only had a place in scary novels and movies, certainly not real life. He pinched himself on the arm to check if he was dreaming, but he couldn’t feel anything in his hands because of how cold it was. All he felt was the subtle touch of his freezing hands on his jacket. Although Micheal believed that paranormal activity was fiction, the situation he found himself in was undeniably real. 

In utter disbelief, Micheal gathered his thoughts and tried his best to pull himself together so that he could continue walking. All he had to do was make it out of the forest. Once he got out of the forest everything would go back to normal. He began walking. The crunching of leaves underneath him was so loud, almost as if it were in his head. He stopped abruptly. The sound of the leaves stopped too, but it was a couple moments after he stopped walking. He turned around to see if he was being followed. Nothing. He turned back around and continued walking, this time, a bit faster. There was no way to tell where he was going since there were endless rows of trees, so he had to try and keep himself from going in circles. As he walked through the forest, he noticed something about 15 yards in the distance. Since it was dark, it was very hard to make out exactly what the figure was. As he grew closer, he saw that it was hanging from a tree. It was a round, flat object that was suspended by a thin piece of string hanging from a branch. He squinted to try and look for details on the object. There was no wind, so it was still. He decided to climb up the tree in order to get a closer look. Once he was no more than three feet away, he noticed that it was an analog clock. “Why would this be here?” He said to himself. He turned the clock so that it was facing him, but quickly drew his hand away because it was scolding hot. This didn’t make any sense. How could an object become this hot on such a cold night. He figured someone must be near. Before he got down, he noticed the time on the clock. It read 12:01AM, and the second hand was stuck at the twelve. “This is preposterous.” Micheal told himself. He must’ve been dreaming. He hopped down back onto the ground, leaving the clock behind. The moon was full and the clouds were no longer covering it up. It was right in the middle of the sky. Micheal looked at his broken watch, took it off of his wrist, and chucked it as far as he could into the distance. 

Micheal was becoming very worried that he might never make it home. The air was growing colder and colder, and his teeth began to chatter. He looked back at the analog clock, only to find that it was nowhere to be seen. Micheal, now believing he was delusional, told himself that the best idea was to keep walking. Suddenly, the wind started to pick up. Micheal started to wander if maybe he should give up and try to find materials to build a fire so that he could wait in the forest until morning arrived. Using his numb hands, he tried his best to gather leaves, sticks, and any other tinder he could find. As he was rummaging through the surface of leaves, he noticed something. It was the map that had fallen out of his hands from earlier. “WHY?! WHY ME?!” Micheal couldn’t contain himself. Feeling panicked, he started running as fast as he could. There was still no end in sight. Micheal felt like he had been in the forest for six hours, but it had only been one. 

By now, Micheal had forgotten all about his teacher, Mr. Williams, Tommy, and even his mother. All he could think about was reaching the end of this treacherous nightmare. Suddenly, an idea popped into his head. If I could climb to the very top of a very tall tree, I could see how far I needed to go in order to leave the forest! This was perfect. He found a tree that looked very tall. Tall enough so that Micheal could see over most of the other trees. At this point, Micheal had realized that none of the events that were happening were by accident. Someone or something was clearly doing this. Ever since he had entered the so-called haunted grounds of the forest, nothing had happened by coincidence or by chance. Micheal knew that he had to put an end to this night once and for all. Filled with determination, Micheal grabbed the first branch of the tree. He pulled himself up and onto the branch, which was about eight feet above the ground. He repeated this process about four more times until he spotted something that he was really hoping he wouldn’t have to see again for the rest of the night. It was the analog clock from earlier. Despite the vigorous wind, the clock was sitting completely still. Micheal told himself that it could’ve been his imagination. He reached out in an attempt to grab the clock. As soon as he touched it, it scolded his hand. This clock felt hotter than the one from earlier. He didn’t bother checking the time, for fear that it would read 12:01AM with the second hand stuck at the twelve. Micheal gave the clock a disapproving kick, and continued up the tree until he reached the top branch. He looked over the forest, and what he saw left him in shock. All he could see was trees. Illuminated by the light of the moon, trees went on for miles and miles. It was as if there was an ocean of trees as far as the eye could see. “DANG IT, DANG IT, DANG IT!” Micheal expressed his frustration and began vigorously rocking the tree back and forth. Micheal felt like all hope had been lost. Never in his life had he felt such disappointment and fear. “YOU WIN!” Micheal yelled, “YOU WIN! YOU WIN! YOU WIN! WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME?!” The tears running down Micheal’s face began to freeze due to the frigid temperatures in the forest. His hands were turning purple and he couldn’t feel his toes. Yes, it had definitely been cold back in his neighborhood and in the field, but this level of cold was certainly unexplainable. Everything seemed to be going against him. Micheal was just about ready to give up and surrender his life to the forest, accepting it as his new reality and future home.    

By now, Micheal had realized that something was happening that was virtually unheard of. He began to question his own reality. Memories that seemed so vivid to him were now beginning to slip away. As he stared down at the ground from the top of the tree, he noticed all of the clock again, which had now somehow caught fire. This was extremely unnerving but also a glimmer of hope at the same time. Micheal went back down from above the tree, which was very difficult because of the brutal wind speeds. He found large rocks and formed them in a circle. Using all of the tinder he could assemble, he held his frostbitten hand up to the clock and caught the tinder on fire. With branches that he had broken off of the tree, he attempted to start a fire in order to warm himself up. It’s working. I have a chance. Micheal’s thoughts were both optimistic and fearful at the same time. The rocks were doing their jobs of containing the fire, and Micheal took off his shoes and held his toes and feet up to the warmth. Suddenly, he heard something scurry through the leaves behind him. He abruptly turned his head back in efforts to discover what he had heard. There was no sign of anything peculiar. He turned his body back toward the fire, but was severely disappointed with what he saw. The fire was gone. There wasn’t even smoke. The tinder and branches looked as though they hadn’t even been lit on fire before. He threw himself into a fit of rage, wondering if the natural laws of nature were even in effect in this forest. Flakes of snow began to pelt his face amidst the vicious winds. There was nothing he could do. 

Looking back at the clock, Micheal noticed it was still on fire. He then saw another clock, and then another, and then another. The hanging clocks lit up the forest, creating a path that was barely visible. In a desperate final attempt to make it out of the forest, he set out onto the path, his hands no longer functional and his feet completely numb. He looked up into the sky. The moon was still hanging directly overhead as if it hadn’t even moved one bit closer to the left or the right. Discouraged and utterly exhausted, he set his eyes back onto the path ahead of him. He noticed something in the distance. Something was moving towards him. It was very difficult to determine with any degree of accuracy what the figure could’ve been. It looked to be about the width and height of himself. As he got closer, his lips quivering in the icy temperatures, he noticed that the figure was walking on two legs. Micheal’s heart skipped a beat. Could this be a human? Could this be my savior? Standing only about fifteen yards away from the figure, he noticed that it was wearing his clothes. This is when he figured out that the figure was a pre-existing version of himself. This version of himself didn’t look cold, hopeless, discouraged, desperate, or even scared. Micheal noticed that the unphased Micheal was holding the map that he had carried through the forest after discovering it on the ground in front of him. He remembered that he had found the map just after he started noticing trees pop up around him more frequently in the field. Micheal yelled out to the other Micheal, “DON’T TAKE ANOTHER STEP!… CAN YOU HEAR ME? DON’T GO ANY FURTHER!” The boy still holding the map didn’t even bat an eye. Micheal started to think he was hallucinating. No, he isn’t real. None of this can be real. This is when Micheal saw himself pinching his arm, as he had done hours ago. No. That isn’t possible. Micheal was beginning to think he was seeing the past. In his mind, he began to put it all together. The broken watch. The moon that had been stuck. The clocks that were on fire. Time didn’t work in the forest. Micheal saw another figure in the distance. It looked like the same one he had just encountered. Events were repeating. The loud sound of a flame igniting in the distance caught his attention. He glanced over, and surely enough, there was another clock on fire suspended from a string. The clock, stuck at 12:01AM of course, had such a large and vibrant flame that it could be seen from over fifty yards away. The string holding up the clock was the longest out of them all. Below the clock was an image so horrifying that it caused Micheal to forget everything he had seen in the forest thus far. Below the clock, he saw a gravestone engraved with the words, “M I C H E A L  A N D E R S O N.” No. No, no, no, no, no. Micheal was beside himself. Thinking about how the forest had gotten its way just about every time since he had entered it, he understood the inevitable future that lay ahead. 

The neighborhood that Micheal Anderson had grown up in was home to some of the nicest people on the planet, but some can’t help but wonder if the young boy would still be here with them today had they simply talked about the unknown forest or brought up the tragic events that had occured there years ago.  It isn’t because everyone simply doesn’t want to discuss new things or ideas. As mentioned earlier, people despise conversations about the unknown. It isn’t because people are afraid that others might be skeptical about their thoughts. It is similar to an unwritten rule. These things aren’t publicly discussed because people are downright fearful to even approach these mystical and often theoretical ideas. Tread lightly. Don’t be afraid to talk about things that may be out of most people’s comfort zone. A future may be changed, and a life might even be saved.