Pam was a young woman with eccentric tastes. She enjoyed dark tales—narratives involving supernatural entities, witchcraft, and the occult. Despite her love for such things, however, she had no desire to dabble in them herself. They weren’t real, after all, at least not to Pam. Little did she know that on a daily stroll home from work, that belief would change—everything would change.
Pam worked as a barista at a local coffee shop in her hometown of Battered Grove; a bustling but quaint town in New England. There, she would spend several hours making various caffeinated concoctions and delicious pastries to serve to the general public.
It was a simple job, and one that she enjoyed, but it still left her exhausted at the end of the day. One day in particular took a lot out of her because she had to work a double shift. One of her coworkers called out sick, and Pam was far too nice to leave her employer short-staffed. With a genuine smile on her face, Pam continued to serve coffee and desserts to her customers throughout the day.
After her shift was over, Pam pulled off her apron, gathered her things, and headed for the door. She couldn’t get out fast enough. The cool night air hit her face gently, sending a refreshing chill down her spine. It was nice compared to the stuffy coffee shop. She took a deep breath of this fresh air and looked off in the distance. She was in no way looking forward to the walk ahead.
Her house was nearly 5 miles away—a long and arduous trek for an exhausted barista. Not only that, but Pam liked to read on her way home. She knew the route by heart and could see oncoming obstacles out of the corner of her eye as she read. It was an unorthodox way to walk home, but it made the time go by a lot faster. She wouldn’t be able to read on this night, however, as she had gotten out of work far too late. Moonlight would not be enough to illuminate the pages of her latest supernatural thriller. She would have to make do without.
Pam grudgingly began power-walking in the direction of her house. She took a sharp left off of the street where she worked and kept going, her march never wavering. While diligently moving forward at a breakneck pace, Pam decided to take a look around, so as to give her eyes something to do, considering she couldn’t read to please them. Upon doing so, she noticed the local park. It was something she’d never quite fully appreciated before. She always had her face buried in a book, so she had never noticed its beauty or its layout.
The park was simple but stately. It was very small in size, but it had a regal elegance to it that made it appear larger. Surrounding its perimeter was a modern stone wall equipped with marble posts that jutted out every 6 feet or so. The entrance was a run-of-the-mill chain-link fence. It was the only thing that broke up the pattern of stone and marble, and because of this, it seemed very out of place. In the park itself was nothing more than two benches and a statue. You couldn’t see the benches from the street because of the stone wall, but the statue could be seen up to a mile away.
The statue was that of a 30-foot-tall deity. Your average person might call it an angel, but Pam knew better. She’d read enough fiction to know that it was no messenger of God. There was something sinister in its eyes. That, and its wings seemed too birdlike to be that of an angel.
She couldn’t quite place what it was, but she knew it was a being that was malicious in nature. Still, it spoke to her. She fell in love with every detail of its design, even the seemingly evil smile it bore. She was captivated. While staring at the park and its statue, Pam realized something. Just behind the park was an old stone church. It was still in use—she knew this, but what she didn’t know was how close it was to the park. There was just a small pathway separating the two. She found it funny that such a nefarious statue existed in front of a church, of all things. Before Pam walked past the church, thoroughly amused, her attention was drawn to the wooded area behind it. She stopped instantly.
An idea came to mind, one that would potentially cut Pam’s walking time in half. On her normal route, Pam had to traverse many roads and take several turns to get to her house. The woods behind the church would be a straight shot home, if she dared brave them. She wasn’t a fan of walking through the woods at night, but her desire to get home in a timely fashion outweighed her distaste. After mulling it over in her head for a bit, she crossed the street and booked it toward the woods. She was in a rush, and this was her best solution.
Pam walked into the woods confidently. She could feel her nerves getting the best of her upon entering, but she indulged in the idea that acting without fear would in fact render her fearless. This, however, was not the case. As she continued her impromptu hike through the wilderness, Pam began noticing things that triggered her anxiety. The trees seemed to arch over her menacingly. It was as if they were watching her every move. She knew they weren’t, but it still made her feel a bit frazzled. She could also hear the various sounds of nocturnal animals in the distance. Small animals like owls and coyotes—nothing particularly frightening. Nonetheless, the sounds made Pam uneasy.
As the stimuli of the forest set in, Pam began to panic. Her walk became hurried and sporadic until it eventually turned into a run. While running in the dark, Pam failed to notice a large tree root protruding from the ground. It collided with her ankle, causing her to fall face-first onto the forest floor. Uninjured, but still anxious, she got up and assessed her situation.
Pam had two options. She could turn around and head back, or press on in her panicked state. She estimated that she was about a third of the way to her house. The first option was looking pretty good, but either way she’d still be walking through woods, and she still wanted to get home quickly. She needed something to distract her from the perils of the forest, a way to stay calm while she walked. The only thing she could think to do was read a book.
Reading was the only thing that comforted her during trying times. She could read with the light of her phone, but she knew she wouldn’t be able to walk at the same time. She’d mastered this method of multitasking, but it only worked during the day. There was no way she could see the obstacles both below and in front of her in the dark. It just wouldn’t work.