"Hey! Dolan!" I heard my best friend, Rick, call from across the campus courtyard. He was running, trying to catch up to me after our last class for the day. He probably wanted to ask me what my plans for the weekend were, like he does every Friday afternoon. I let him catch up, and he does just as I anticipated. I just watch him as he tries to catch his breath. Rick used to be athletic, but when college hit, it hit him hard. And that was four years ago. When he was once a strapping young man, graduating high school looking more fit than most people do at that age, he is now edging on overweightedness, having the pant after a few hundred feet of running. But hey, looks wise, he's still got the good ol' blonde hair and blue eyes thing going for him. Once Rick catches his breath he asks me the normal question, and after chiding him on how predictable he is, I answer with my usual, "Nothing, and you?" He looks like he's about to explain something when we hear a fight break out in front of the dean's office.
We run to the building just in time to see the best of it. "WHAT THE HELL DO YOU MEAN YOU'RE EXPELLING ME?!" shouted the infuriated student at the smug looking dean. "YOU CAN'T DO THIS TO ME!! I'LL HAVE YOUR HEAD ON A PIKE FOR THIS!! DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA WHO I AM?! WHO MY FATHER IS?!" he shouted before storming off. Rick and I walk up to the dean after the crowd cleared and talked to him, “Eric Schulzhopfer is his name, being the dean of students is his game” as he loves to say. Most people don't like him, but Rick and I think he's okay. Okay enough to acquaint ourselves with in any case. He explains that the newly college-less man that just stormed off had been spreading heinous rumors about the local forest. Something about some kind of abomination and people disappearing. He didn't seem to care, but did take the time to remind us of the school's zero tolerance policy about superstitious and religious spreading. "The college is now, and always shall be a nonpartisan area, in all aspects, including beliefs. Practice what you want, just not on campus grounds." were his exact words.
Rick and I start on our way to the dorms after the conversation with Dean Eric. Once we get there, Rick closes the door, the windows, and shuts the blinds. "THAT'S what I was going to talk to you about, Dolan. The forest" I look at him perplexed by his statement, and ask him, "What about it?" Rick said that he'd been looking into it for a while, interested by a mention at a party a few weeks ago, that there was a challenge to stay in the forest for one full hour. I, beginning to get interested by this, asked what the story about this forest was. Rick didn't hold his findings back, anecdotal, proven, or otherwise. The forest outside of town, named "Demon's Bane Forest" was rumored to have a supernatural being residing inside of it. As the name would suggest, a demon was said being. Obviously, nobody would believe that in today's day and age I thought to myself. Rick continues telling the story, explaining that while, yes, the whole demon thing was outrageous, there was a story, recorded in the town records of a man coming out of the forest one day. This man was allegedly mumbling about something being after him. The man was said to be older, frantic, and had no record, not on the town's files, nor on any surrounding town's file. The news group even went far enough to contact the state. There was still nothing found about him. It’s as if he hadn't even existed. Rick finished the tale by explaining that a few days after his appearance, the man up and disappeared. This is where the dare, the challenge to stay in there for at least an hour comes from, Rick explained.
I couldn't believe the story about the man from the forest, so I decided to look into it. I made sure to keep watch for Dean Eric, I'll be damned if I end up like that last student from earlier today. First I searched the newspapers from the past few decades, trying to catch any hint, any sign of the old man from Demon's Bane. Unfortunately, Rick had not had a time period to give me, so I was stuck looking for a few hours. Hoping for it to have happened earlier rather than more recent, I started as far back as would make sense. But to my annoyance, the story is a relatively recent concoction, only coming to light roughly seven years ago. That means there will be news videos if it was as hyped up and looked into as Rick's story claimed. And the videos do exist. News videos, explaining that a dazed old man was found wandering the streets here in town shortly before dying of a massive heart attack. There was even footage of the man, indeed old and raving, wandering the streets. I’m left dumbfounded by the discovery.
"RICK!!!" I shout as I burst through the door to our dorm. Rick, completely taken by surprise asks me what required me to nearly destroy the door and make him piss himself. I slug him in the arm and tell him to get his facts straight next time. He asks me what I’m talking about, sounding slightly annoyed. I tell him the old man died of a heart attack then ask him what he's doing this weekend. He shrugs, confused by my question, and then says nothing, like he before. I tell him we're going to the forest. "Demon's Bane?" Rick asks. "Yeah" I respond. He asks if I want to go now, I tell him tomorrow night, I want to prepare a bit. Tired from class and researching Demon's Bane, I hit the hay early today.